ING Vysya's IT plans for focused business ops

As part of this year's IT plans, leading bank ING Vysya is focusing on what it's good at, and leaving everything else to the experts.


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 Bengaluru-based ING Vysya Bank has had a clear IT plan for some years now—stick to its core business first. So, wary of straying beyond its core competency, the bank has been using the outsourcing route for managing its IT and meeting its changing IT requirements.

ING Vysya Bank was formed after ING, the global financial institution, acquired a 44% stake in Vysya Bank in October 2002 and took over the management. Established in 1930, the aim of the founders of Vysya Bank was to offer banking services to the underprivileged. The bank currently has about 470 branches spread all over India.

To start with, because of the need for convenience in the provisioning and de-provisioning of servers, the bank decided to implement server virtualization at its data center in Bengaluru in 2009. The bank then started looking out for a virtualization solution in mid 2009 as part of its IT plan, and decided on VMware.

As of June 2010, ING Vysya has finished the first phase of server virtualization on VMware. It now uses server virtualization for a mixed platter of critical as well as non-critical applications. A proof of concept (POC) was conducted on non-business critical applications. "We have a lot of applications, but some of them are not certified on the server virtualization platform, so we tried to stay away from them," says Prasad CVG, the CIO of ING Vysya Bank. ING Vysya's server hardware is a mix of Sun and IBM severs, with the AIX and Intel platforms being used. These servers are connected to IBM SAN storage.

From day one, ING Vysya's IT plans have been a cost-neutral proposition. Making a very smart move, investments in procuring new servers has been neutralized by redeploying the old ones. The old servers have been redeployed in different branches (which have their own server rooms, but are in need of a server). Thus, there's not much wastage as bank's implements its IT plans.

Apart from instant provisioning, server virtualization has brought major benefits in terms of space savings. Though power savings invariably come with server virtualization, this was not much of an issue because both the data center setups are in technology parks, with the disaster recovery (DR) site being in Hyderabad. These parks come with redundant dual power supply. ING Vysya makes sure that there are sufficient backup cooling options. Most of the critical systems pertaining to banking have been replicated to the DR site.
ING Vysya's IT plans include a structured exercise (as part of the project initiation exercise) which determines the application's DR requirements. Says Prasad, "We did a business impact analysis of the availability of applications, and based on that the DR was done." If an application requires high availability, then local resilience is achieved through clustering for that application. That is the first level of resilience according to the IT plan. Thus, systems high on the availability front form part of DR. Synchronous replication of data is also performed as part of the IT plan. The DR site and data center are connected by MPLS leased lines. The DR site is in a colocated setup managed by IBM. The entire data center's infrastructure management has been outsourced to IBM right from the stage when the bank began implementing its IT plans. "We have always had such an arrangement. Since managing IT is not our core competence, the idea was to focus on what we were good at, and outsource the IT," explains Prasad.

ING Vysya has business continuity planning (BCP) strategies in place, of which DR is a major part. "One cannot have DR and BCP for everything. One has to look at the business criticality of applications. There has to be a structured process wherein you identify the processes which are critical. It cannot be static, and one has to keep reviewing it on an annual basis," says Prasad.

As of now, the bank's execution of its IT plans has met all of ING Vysya's needs. Future needs will determine new IT initiatives.

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