Mumbai's Thane Bharat Sahakari Bank might be a small co-operative banking institution at the outset, but they come across as an entity that spares no effort in getting best practices in technology to surround their internal and external infrastructure.So,when the bank needed to renew its processes, Finacus Solutions suggested a revamp, and a revaluation of its existing vendor. The move worked.
Finacus Solutions, Thane Bharat Sahakari Bank
Cost of Implementation:
Total transition from one vendor to another, no earlier benchmark or reference as the implementation was the first PureFlex adoption in the BFSI sector
Datacenter revamp and virtualization
Post Implementation ROI:
Increased transaction load intake and performance of core systems three fold, expected payback period less than 5 years, savings in AMC
Sriram Date, CEO, Thane Bharat Sahakari Bank; Ramesh Govindan, CMD, Finacus Solutions
IBM (PureFlex Systems)
Mumbai's Thane Bharat Sahakari Bank might be a small co-operative banking institution at the outset, but they come across as an entity that spares no effort in getting best practices in technology to surround their internal and external infrastructure. Proof: The banked adopted Core Banking Solution (CBS) and got a class datacenter, both in 2008.
Fast-forward to 2012; there still was no room for complacency. It was time to renew existing processes that were now almost five years old. Sriram Date, CEO, Thane Bharat Sahakari Bank says, "The hardware in our datacenter had started outliving its warranty and use. The cost of maintenance was going to be a burden as a result." With one application on one server, a small scheduled corporation bank could not possibly justify or realize the activity volume, it felt. Also, more importantly, an expansion was around the corner. Date says, "With a network of more than 20 branches in Maharashtra, we were looking at 25 more outlets in other states too over the next couple of years."
As the bank was thinking about these plans and issues, they turned to Finacus Solutions, their long-time consultant advisory. Finacus had earlier assisted them in the CBS implementation. The consultant astutely told them that they must consider a revamp of their infrastructure and use virtualization for optimization of resources. Once the composition was decided, Finacus also suggested that the bank must ideally invite multiple OEMs and then take the best call. Ramesh Govindan, MD, Finacus Solutions, says, "The existing datacenter was built on HP, but we counseled the bank that they must evaluate HP vis-à-vis other vendors and then decide."
Best Man Wins
The main challenge that the bank faced was to actually contemplate a cross over of vendors, in understanding which vendor had the best offerings that would suit their current and future requirement with a clear roadmap of five to six years. Transition, despite a 5 year old relationship with a competitive vendor such as HP, and also getting the optimal deal would be the crux of the new project that Thane Bharat had embarked upon.
Govindan says, "In April this year, IBM's team came in and did a demonstration of their latest PureFlex Systems. We went to Avnet's (IBM Partner) Bladecenter, tested the benchmarks on the model solution to see how much better PureFlex was in relation to others." IBM's Bladecenter apparently excelled. The solution seemed to reduce the cost and complexity, provide additional security and also reduce new application deployment times. IBM was offering the bank with a solution consisting of IBM PureFlex System, Flex System Manager (FSM), V7000 Storage, Flex Chassis, BladeCenter H, and Tape Library TS 3100. Govindan says, "IBM gave us two options while competition came up with only one. So, based on value for money, the low installation time among other features, we recommended IBM."
As a specialist banking consultant, the main limitation for the ISV was the fact that there were few fully integrated solutions in the market for the banking sector. "As a consultant, I had the responsibility of providing a dispassionate counsel to a long standing customer without prejudice to IBM or bias against HP. Moreover, there were no earlier benchmarks with PureFlex that could be easily studied. So, from a decision making and strategy perspective, I was personally present for all key discussions," says Govindan.
The fact that the bank was potentially the first banking customer for PureFlex in India was not really on anyone's mind; all that mattered was the quality of deliverables. "We were not aware of the milestone because that was not priority. We were very particular about PureFlex matching our needs as an upwardly mobile banking institution," says Date. Apart from the detailed POC, the fact they offered future proofing and that they were also open to discussions held them in good stead. What actually won the day in favor of IBM was another sub plot that had happened last year. When Thane Bharat effected the RTGS fund transfer process as per RBI guidelines, they had turned to IBM as the 'vendor of confidence', as suggested by RBI. "So, the decision making post the POC though was easier, it was not a cakewalk,"
Finacus had the onus of convincing the bank that this was indeed the right transition, without forcefully imposing anything upon them. This evidently delayed the final decision making process by three months. Finacus guided the bank in doing an audit of the latest features and finalize the deal. "Their presence helped in insisting on certain things that might not have not incurred to us like future proofing, most importantly," adds Date.
Govindan clarifies, "From the lead generation process when we called in the OEMs, to the time we settled for IBM for deployment, we had a lead time of seven months." Finacus further deployed two architects and a database administrator towards the project while IBM and Avnet also put in their respective technical personnel to complete the transition.
As is expected of all deployments, ROI is the key bone of contention. The initial feedback on the PureFlex deployment has apparently been very good. "We have observed that the process of speed, transaction load intake and performance have gone up three fold," says Govindan. The bank, which was incurring huge AMC costs earlier, post the PureFlex transition, saw a savings in the same. "We got state-of-the art technology from a reputed vendor with a promise of no further cost," he says. The bank is also expecting a payback in less than five years.
From Finacus' point of view, the company got exposed to a new solution that could broaden their vision and understanding of what could fit the requirements of customers in future. Govindan clarifies, "While we would never blindly recommend any solution without completely mapping customer processes, we do believe Thane Bharat Sahakari Bank has got the best fit in PureFlex, as against the HP infrastructure."
Thane Bharat Sahakari Bank's case is possibly the first converged infrastructure success story in the Indian BFSI that would possibly encourage more banks to try newer solutions with an open mind.
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