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Global 500 bank grows with Huawei

Background

The Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) is one of China's "Big 4" commercial banks and ranked 64th on Forbes magazine's 2013 Global 500 List. It has 23,400 branches across the country and provides corporate and retail banking products and services for:

  • Investment banks
  • Fund management
  • Financing and leasing
  • Life insurance

With more than 420 million customers, daily transaction volume increases 30% every year. In 2013, ABC processed 224 million transactions, shattering their historical record.

Challenges

Banking is a fast-moving, rapidly growing industry and one of the most IT-intensive business in the world.  According to Forrester Research, 85% of enterprises with turnover exceeding $1 billion (USD) suffer severe problems with IT system performance, so ABC needed to make changes to stay competitive.

ABC originally built all application systems on an open platform, except for several core business systems at headquarters. Layer 1 and lower branches used a combination of thousands of midrange computers and PC servers.

Midrange computers handled online transaction processing (OLTP) databases and PC servers handled analytical databases, some OLTP databases, and application servers. The bank's PC servers used x86 Intel® or AMD processors. Midrange computers had more than 4,000 cores and PC servers had more than 6,000.

The bank was satisfied with reliability.However, they suffered high costs for purchase and management because of high equipment costs. The costs limited midrange computer purchases every year. With cheaper PC servers offering similar performance and reliability as midrange computers, ABC saw an opportunity to cut some of the 80% of their budget spent on servers.

ABC required about a thousand servers (with thousands of cores). Most were 2 and 4-socket PC servers. They planned to deploy them in central equipment rooms in Beijing and at each branch and wanted to use them for:

  • Building production environments
  • R&D and test resource pool supply
  • Program promotions for headquarters
  • Applications for branches

Solution

ABC required servers with multiple form factors for building production environments and the R&D test resource pool. They included:

  • 2-socket PC rack servers with two E5-2620 processors and 128 GB memory
  • 4-socket PC rack servers with four E7-4820 processors and 256 GB memory and several different network configurations
  • A fully configured blade server with two E5-2620 processors, 96 GB memory, and SAN switch modules
  • 2-socket RH2288 V2 rack servers, 4-socket RH5885 V2 rack servers, and blade servers with support for flexible configurations

ABC's open platform credit card center, headquarters promotion applications, and branch applications used Huawei RH2288 V2 2-socket PC servers with two Intel® E5-2600 processors and 126 GB memory.

The servers have redundant key components with rich RAS features providing comprehensive hardware reliability for applications.They support stable operation at 104ºF (40°C) and common IT products support operation at 95ºF (35°C). They are also extremely adaptable for equipment room environments.

Huawei provided end-to-end R&D capabilities, laboratories, and engineers to build the entire system including:

  • Interconnection
  • Chips
  • Energy efficient and code-level commissioning capability for the BIOS, drivers, and operating system to ensure high-level quality and performance

Benefits

Huawei has more than 10 years of R&D server experience. Their carrier, government, and Internet applications usually have a 15% lower failure, shattering Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) test records. They are highly reliable and fast.

Huawei x86 open architecture servers are compatible with standard virtualization and database software for:

  • Excellent resource sharing
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Elastic expansion for the open platform of the distributed cluster architecture to improve user experience and promote stable development

Using x86 servers for large-scale deployment of open platforms greatly reduces on the number of midrange computers, lowering maintenance costs by 50% and TCO by 30% (when offering the original services). The efficient, high-availability, elastic open platform is great for developing online banks and mobile phone banks with a much improved user experience.