Challenge: Increasing competition and 30% data growth.
Solution: Accelerate mission-critical services with Hitachi enterprise storage management and data protection solutions.
KBC is an integrated bank-insurance group, catering mainly to retail, private banking, small and medium-sized enterprise (SME), and midcap clients. The group has organizations in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Ireland. Part of KBC, K&H Bank is one of the largest commercial banks in Hungary, with more than 200 branches nationwide, 1.6 million clients and a EUR 4.5 billion loan portfolio.
At a time when innovative financial technology companies are entering the industry, it is crucial for established banks to respond fast to the changing market. Data analytics has become increasingly important for fine-tuning internal operations and helping customers to manage their finances. However, with data volumes expanding all the time, it can be a challenge for financial services companies to manage the growth effectively.
As the result of a previous data center consolidation project, K&H Bank data centers also manage data for several of the KBC group countries, including Slovakia, Czech Republic and Ireland. The data is managed in the bank’s two data centers, located 40km apart in Hungary. After experiencing a 30% increase in business data volumes, K&H Bank was looking for a better way to ensure that it could continue to provide staff and customers with the rapid insights they need.
Head of Server and Storage Department at K&H Bank, Balázs Gáti, says: “With the new challenges from emerging companies in sight, we wanted to build on our experience and optimize our IT services. The quick data growth had put our existing infrastructure under pressure. For example, making data available for analysis was taking two days and in some applications we experienced latency issues, which slowed down internal processes.”
Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform G1000
Hitachi Accelerated Flash
Hitachi Storage Virtualization Operating System
Hitachi Command Suite Analytics
Hitachi Command Suite Data Mobility
Hitachi Local Replication
Hitachi Remote Replication
Yearly performance analysis by MHM Computer Hungary and Hitachi Vantara Global Services
K&H Bank started a comprehensive evaluation of different storage solutions. After running a two-month benchmarking project, the bank decided to replace its high-end storage tier with four Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform G1000 (VSP G1000) systems.
Gáti comments: “Based on our business and benchmarking requirements, Hitachi was the clear winner. They offered cuttingedge technology and were highly ranked across all our criteria. In our benchmark, Hitachi VSP G1000 provided the fastest remote response time, which is important for us as we run applications centrally and then use them from all branches and offices. For example, when compared to the ‘Load Windows’ procedure in DWH, required time was reduced by 50% from 24 to 12 hours.”
K&H Bank relies on Hitachi solutions to power its more than 100 mission-critical business applications, including Equation Branch Automation running on SQL and e-bank information systems for retail banking. These apps also include the K&H Bank and Insurance websites, latency sensitive virtual machines with VMware virtualization, Oracle Database with Oracle Real Application Clusters, and Oracle Data Guard to ensure high availability of its data warehouse.
Gáti adds: “Beyond solution fit, we also wanted to improve maintenance and support to minimize unplanned downtime. MHM Computer and Hitachi provided constant support throughout the migration and continue to do so, now that the systems are running. In addition, MHM and Hitachi Vantara Global Services provide annual performance reviews and help us to fine-tune and reorganize our storage volumes for optimum performance.”
The upgrades and improvements to K&H Bank infrastructure allowed staff to rework data loading processes, so business figures are now available in the bank’s data warehouse much faster. Gáti says: “Previously, our data analysts always had to wait two days before new business figures became available in our data warehouse. With the Hitachi solution, we reduced this to one day. This has enabled faster data analysis, helping us to make better decisions and respond more quickly to market trends.”
K&H Bank has also changed its backup and recovery processes to take advantage of the snapshot technology. Gáti elaborates: “By using the snapshot feature of the Hitachi VSP G1000, we cut recovery times by 50%, from 30 hours to 15 hours. The faster backup and recovery process makes it much easier to meet our recovery time objectives.”
In addition, K&H Bank also leverages the snapshot feature to provision test and development systems much more quickly than before. Today, developers can start using a new instance the same day they request it, a possibility that did not exist in the past.
The bank is also highly satisfied with its new storage management capabilities, including those provided by Hitachi Storage Virtualization Operating System and Hitachi Command Suite. The user interface for storage administrators is very easy to use, streamlining system management and boosting staff productivity.
A key feature of VSP G1000 is how easy it is to scale and adapt, providing K&H Bank the opportunity to use faster disks or more cost-effective options, depending on their needs. K&H Bank has been so impressed by the performance, support and total cost of ownership of the Hitachi solution, that it has subsequently acquired two more VSP G1000 systems. Plus, K&H Bank is now planning to deploy Hitachi Accelerated Flash to boost performance for the most demanding workloads, such as those from its all-important database systems. The Hitachi flash technology features integrated high-speed data compression, which will enable the bank to use the additional capacity even more effectively.
Gáti concludes: “The Hitachi solution helps us provide better services to our staff and our customers. Looking to the future, our strategy is to move as a company towards greater digitalization. Our new Hitachi solution is easier to scale and adapt, providing the foundation we need to support that strategy.”
Thanks to the positive experience in Hungary, KBC Group data centers in other countries are also selecting Hitachi Vantara solutions. Standardizing their environments will facilitate training, as operations and support engineers can learn from each other. As a result, storage administrators can work across data centers and even countries to make best use of the infrastructure and minimize disruptions.
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