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In recent years, Widiba has intensified its technological innovation. With a goal to build a one-stop financial service platform to serve high-value customers, Widiba chose Huawei as a partner to build a future-proof IT data management platform.

Background

Founded in 1472, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena S.p.A. (MPS) is the oldest bank in the world. Headquartered in Siena, Italy, MPS employs more than 25,000 full-time employees to provide retail and commercial banking services worldwide.

Created in 2014, Widiba is the online banking arm of MPS. Its aim is to support customers with simple, convenient, and innovative fund management services. It prides itself on delivering high value through the use of an IT platform that can be customized to suit user requirements and a 600-adviser network that offers a wide range of telephone-based financial advice services.

Challenges

Demands: Business Agility and Resilience

Traditional financial services transformation is being driven by fast-changing and pervasive Internet information technologies. The applications of cloud computing, big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and mobile interconnections promote development of e-Commerce and mobile financing services that tend to be socialized and data-based, and require financial enterprises to upgrade their IT infrastructure.

With its focus to build a one-stop financial service platform to serve high-value customers, Widiba actively deploys wealth management services. It covers additional customers by providing intelligent investment advisory services through an Internet-based financial platform that meets diverse financial service requirements.

“When Widiba was first set up, it was reliant on using Monte dei Paschi’s data center infrastructure to host its core services,” explains Massimiliano Belli, Head of IT Monitoring at Widiba. “Although this worked well in its initial start-up phase, it soon became a problem as its customer base started to grow. The fast growth we were experiencing meant we needed to improve the speed at which we could handle the increasing flows of data. We also wanted to launch new products to keep up with what our customers were asking for, but we just didn’t have the agility and resilience we needed. We soon realized that the only way forward was to build a new data center network.”

Belli continues, “Most banks choose solutions based on what the big vendors give them. They are often told what they want but this is not the way we work. Our requirements are driven solely by our customers. With this in mind, we wanted a system that uses open-source software that we can adapt as we need.”

Solution

One Unified, Converged Storage System

Widiba has enhanced its technological innovation in recent years. It uses an interactive model similar to Google search and leverages big data engines to recommend banking services for users based on their behavior algorithms and feedback information. After several rounds of communication and repeated demonstrations, Widiba chose Huawei as a partner to build a future-proof IT data management platform.

The platform is powered by Huawei’s OceanStor 5500 converged storage systems in Widiba’s new data centers. The OceanStor 5500 supports converged active-active (HyperMetro) for SAN and NAS. The high-performance SSD-based all-flash SAN storage delivers online transaction records and other critical business systems, as well as maintaining check images on the large-capacity NAS storage.

During the IT-enablement process, Widiba made penetrating insights into big data trends and user experience monitoring. It believes SSDs will be the most-appropriate data storage media to meet the requirements of massive storage capacity and high performance necessary to ensure satisfactory user experience. Therefore, Widiba has built a high-performance storage resource pool composed of SSD-based OceanStor 5500 systems to meet the core business systems’ performance and efficiency demands. The pool helped increase core service processing efficiency, and reduced average transaction and query response time. The storage system latency was reduced from three to five milliseconds to less than one millisecond.

One unified converged storage system meets different workloads’ varying demands (online transactions, ERP financial services, customer management system, and check image management system) and outperforms the legacy hosting system threefold. The SAN-NAS convergence has delivered elastic storage, simplified service deployment, and improved storage resource utilization, to reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by 30 percent.

Continuous Service Stability Pursuit 

Data is a valuable, strategic asset for enterprises that promotes high-quality development. Widiba realizes that the key to maximizing data value is to ensure that the data is accurate, up-to-date, consistent, and secure. However, in this mobile Internet era that includes a sweeping wave of big data and ever-escalating threats to data security, the reliability of data storage has been confronted with unprecedented challenges. As a money-management company, Widiba cannot allow any disruption to IT systems that might result in heavy financial losses. Service system operations stability and security is of paramount importance.

To address the challenges of the mobile Internet era, Widiba cooperated with Huawei to design a converged active-active (HyperMetro) SAN and NAS solution. Huawei deployed one set of OceanStor 5500 systems in Widiba’s Siena Production Center, and another in its Florence Data Center, in an active-active configuration. Storage resource pools at the two sites provide backup for each other, achieving 99.99 percent data availability. The two linked sites are 100 kilometers away from each other. One storage system of the SSD-powered active-active SAN provides 100,000 IOPS at 1 millisecond latency, and one storage system at the other site offers 78,000 IOPS at 2.4 milliseconds. This design meets the storage performance requirements of IBM MQ, VMware virtualization, and PostgreSQL databases on the live network.



“Huawei even helped us in developing our end-to-end business continuity services in both the qualification and delivery phases, to make sure we could meet the very challenging service performance requirements we had set,” adds Belli.

Huawei’s OceanStor 5500 system adopts a scale-out architecture with a multi-layer reliability design (RAID 2.0+, full component redundancy, and converged active-active). A storage array supports up to eight controllers and provides million-IOPS level and one millisecond latency. It offers petabytes of storage capacity with system performance and capacity linearly growing as the number of controllers increases, allowing Widiba to configure controllers on demand without concern about performance bottlenecks during future capacity expansion.

“Widiba’s new IT infrastructure has made a huge difference to its operation and has allowed it to accelerate significantly the introduction of new services,” concludes Belli. “Moving from an infrastructure that was complex and fragile, it now has one that is more adaptable and less costly to maintain than its predecessor. With Huawei’s powerful infrastructure, these targets are very easy to achieve. From start to finish we have been very impressed by Huawei’s approach. The company is very responsive and the support provided by its engineering team has made a big difference.”

Benefits

Customer Testimony

“Widiba’s new IT infrastructure has made a huge difference to its operation and has allowed it to accelerate significantly the introduction of new services. Moving from an infrastructure that was complex and fragile, it now has one that is more adaptable and less costly to maintain than its predecessor. With Huawei’s powerful infrastructure, these targets are very easy to achieve. From start to finish we have been very impressed by Huawei’s approach. The company is very responsive and the support provided by its engineering team has made a big difference.”

— Massimiliano Belli, Head of IT Monitoring at Widiba

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