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The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. (ICBC), founded in January 1984, is the largest commercial bank in China, providing services to 4.38 million corporate customers and 393 million personal customers in 39 countries and regions.
Over the last few years, commercial banks in China have embarked on large-scale ICT-enabled system construction in an effort to achieve “data centralization.” To date, most of China’s commercial banks have attained data centralization. As information technologies develop and change, ICT-enabled systems play an increasingly important role in bank operations and have become a core competitive advantage for commercial banks. Against this backdrop, an open platform, which is called “the extension of host systems,” has emerged.
The open platform is different from the mission-critical host systems, which use relatively closed software and hardware platforms to offer a variety of services, such as managing VIP customer information, processing customer accounts, general ledgers, and providing deposits and loans. The open platform uses normal IT platforms to run specialized, as well as common business software applications that provide services for the banks.
In 2005, ICBC set up a team to maintain and manage the open platform. Since then, this dedicated team has developed various kinds of IT applications and financial products based on the platform. ICBC has successfully developed and deployed IT application systems to facilitate internal bank management (operation analysis and electronic files) and provide customer-facing services (mobile banking and online banking). As the largest commercial bank in China, ICBC has approximately 18,000 locations in China and provides services to nearly 400 million customers of all kinds. The rapid business expansion contributed to the rapid development of ICBC’s open platform, allowing it to carry an increasing number of IT applications. The growing number of applications, in turn, sharply increased the volume of data that needed to be stored.
“When we first started the open platform, there were only a few applications, and they were mainly innovative products such as payroll service and online banking. To ensure high data security and reliability, we deployed expensive mid-range and high-end storage devices. These devices are now still functioning; however, since the open platform carried more and more IT applications, solely using mid-range and high-end storage devices for all applications, this hindered ICBC’s ICT-enabled system construction. We began to realize that this storage mode may result in low Return on Investment (ROI).”
The issue of “low ROI” mentioned by ICBC is actually common to all of China’s banking industry in the process of ICT-enabled system construction.
The department in charge of ICBC’s data center also mentioned, “Now, all the tier-1 branches and branches directly managed by ICBC have deployed an electronic document management system. ICBC completes millions of transactions every day. These transactions generate large amounts of electronic files to store, several times, or even tens of times, larger than the data volume generated by other applications. The electronic document management system is used to archive documents and provide query services for internal employees; therefore, it is unnecessary for this system to use the high-performance, expensive mid-range and high-end storage devices. As such, we need cost-effective storage devices that ensure high reliability without compromising storage capacity.”
Working with the customer, Huawei found that none of the ICBC branches had deployed near-line storage to support the electronic document management system. Without near-line storage, the storage system regarded all files as historical data and directly backed up the data to the off-line storage zone. Compared with near-line storage, off-line storage was harder to query efficiently, which in turn affected the operating efficiency of ICBC branches, because, in the banking industry, employees must frequently look at the historical data for handling services.
The department in charge of ICBC’s data center concluded, “We need to re-strategize the existing storage solution and select new low-end storage devices.”
To meet the challenges ICBC faced with the open platform system, Huawei offered its flagship OceanStor S2600 storage system. The Huawei OceanStor S2600 is a low-end storage product for small and medium-sized businesses and features high cost-efficiency, large capacity, and high scalability.
After comprehensive analysis and comparison of products and solutions offered by multiple vendors, ICBC chose Huawei as its exclusive supplier of the low-end storage devices for ICBC’s open platform. “We chose Huawei because Huawei OceanStor S2600 is the most cost-effective among rival devices. Huawei has a solid track record in developing products and solutions and providing in-time globalized services, helping ICBC manage and maintain its data center.”
In addition, Huawei provided a multi-level business and storage solution for ICBC. This solution spanned a wide array of ICBC applications, including electronic document management, reports, and OA. This solution also introduced near-line storage (OceanStor S2600 as the carrier) to the existing storage system, selecting the best storage mode, depending on the application level and application scenario. This helped implement multi-level storage and supported information lifecycle management.
Huawei’s highly cost-effective OceanStor S2600 has been installed in ICBC’s 31 tier-1 branches and in 5 branches directly managed by the head office. Huawei provided strong and comprehensive IT support for ICBC’s on-going development and helped ICBC dramatically reduce its Operating Expenses (OPEX) and increase its ROI.