Challenge: Harness the potential of 5G connectivity to allow brank branches to adopt more efficient ways of working and accessing data.
Solution: Dispense with local storage, using 5G and Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) Anywhere edge file share version to implement cloud-connected resources at the “edge”.
Telefónica Spain is the country’s leading telecommunications operator. Multinational companies rely on its IT services. Acting as an IT expert as well as an IT operator, the company is keen to take full advantage of the business benefits that fifth-generation telecommunications technology (5G) has to offer.
The arrival of 5G telephony opens up a wide range of possibilities, especially around transmitting large volumes of data.
Not only is 5G immensely faster than its 4G predecessor — data transmission speeds can be increased from 200 Mb/s to 20 Gb/s — it also reduces network latency from 100 milliseconds to just one millisecond.
“5G will transform how businesses continue to digitalize their processes, connect with customers, and extract value from their data,” says Javier Ordóñez, storage product manager for large companies at Telefónica Spain.
With 5G such an important technology for the future, Telefónica Spain anticipated intense competition from rival telecommunications companies. The company wanted to demonstrate its 5G capabilities by conducting a proof of concept with a company in a key sector.
Telefónica Spain decided to partner with Banco Santander, installing advanced 5G pilot networks in two of the multinational bank’s Spanish branches. Telecommunications equipment company ZTE built the required 5G infrastructure and Telefónica Spain completed the proof of concept early in 2019. Storage was just one of three use cases brought to life; the other two were 4K videoconferencing between the two branches and innovative virtual coworking spaces based on immersive reality technology.
Banks traditionally have local offices and branches dispersed across the regions in which they trade, with each site operating its own storage infrastructure. Banco Santander is no exception.
“Bank employees need to access a growing volume of ‘hot data,’ which increases the demand for storage capacity,” explains Ordóñez. “At the same time, banks also need to store and access less frequently used data for regulatory and operational purposes. We needed a solution that could address both of these needs cost-effectively.”
The 5G proof of concept gave Banco Santander the perfect opportunity to eliminate local storage. But rather than migrating storage to a central data center, the bank wanted to take advantage of the low latency of 5G telecommunications to create a regional storage resource at the Telefónica Spain telephone exchange closest to the local branch. Users would then be able to access data through 5G without any impact on performance.
Telefónica Spain deployed HCP Anywhere edge file share version in a record time of just six weeks to support the 5G proof of concept. "Our collaboration with Hitachi Vantara first began in 2015 and it was the perfect partner for this high-profile project,” comments Ordóñez. “HCP Anywhere edge provides the cloud-connected storage at the ‘edge’ that the bank needed to support the 5G project.”
The solution, which has a capacity of 50TB, holds the critical “hot” data that the bank employees access most often. With a fiber network acting as a backup, users can continue to access their data, even if the 5G network suffers an outage.
Telefónica Spain also deployed Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) object storage in one of its data centers. The bank’s HCP Anywhere edge solution connects to the HCP storage, which can be scaled to any volume required. The initial 2PB of storage holds the banks less frequently accessed data.
The proof of concept has revealed new opportunities for the future for Banco Santander. "Block storage on PCs and servers could be dispensed with and moved to the head office, eliminating the need for direct IT support and increasing data protection via a centralized resource,” explains Ordóñez. Bank staff would not need to change their way of working as network folders could be mapped in exactly the same way as before.
The pioneering project has been a great success. Two of Banco Santander’s offices near Madrid have become the first bank branches in Europe to be connected by 5G technology. As a result, the population of Madrid has become part of the 5G Technological Cities initiative.
"We have combined the best of both worlds for the bank,” explains Ordóñez. “It can leverage the pay-per-use and performance benefits of the cloud without each branch needing its own storage infrastructure.”
The unlimited scalability of HCP means the bank can eliminate the cost of buying more disks to boost storage capacity and accommodate growth more easily.
The early adoption of 5G by Banco Santander will allow it to better understand how it can leverage low-latency services and storage to evolve its financial products and meet customers’ changing needs.
"With Hitachi Vantara, we delivered an innovative and transformative project for Banco Santander,” says Ordóñez. “The solution successfully unites modern 5G, edge computing and object storage technologies, which we can now offer to other clients in other sectors.”
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