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Cloud computing, IP-based applications running on resilient Virtual Machines (VMs), and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) are key technologies transforming data center operations for leading financial services providers. Under pressure to provide more personal and flexible services, large banks and insurance companies are finding competitive advantages in migrating to high-performance, high-availability, and centrally managed data centers for agility, resiliency, and proven ROI.
Ranked at the top of the Forbes Global 2000, the Agriculture Bank of China (ABC) and China Construction Bank (CCB) serve millions of customers with hundreds of thousands of employees in over 30,000 locations. Demand for specialized financial services for China’s rapidly growing entrepreneurial businesses has forced these huge companies to focus on innovative services, accessible on multiple devices, all delivering a smooth and intuitive end-user experience.
With its broad range of high-performance, high-availability IT infrastructure, Huawei provides scalable, secure, and agile data center network solutions enabling large financial institutions and insurance companies to create and deliver innovative services for their customers.
Because of its separation of data center operations into two distinct physical networks — one for financial services operations and the other for Office Automation (OA) — the Agriculture Bank of China found it difficult to offer new services. Originally designed to ensure data security, the two-network architecture presented roadblocks to new applications that involved both OA and back-end data processing applications; security policies were complex to implement; integrating applications running on OA servers with those on the production network caused contention and traffic congestion, and increased O&M costs as IT staff time was consumed by configuring and maintaining secure access between the two environments.
To overcome this challenge, ABC announced a strategy to centralize operations and back office systems, impacting three main data centers, five service processing centers, and over 20,000 branches — not to mention providing secure access to hundreds of thousands of employees.
In the case of the China Construction Bank, a high-powered loan underwriting application was developed for the bank to thoroughly analyze customer information using Big Data analytics to quickly review first-time loan applications from small and micro-sized enterprises. The comprehensive analysis takes into account the applicant’s interpersonal relationships, educational background, hobbies, and shopping habits, and predicts changes to the customers’ credit ratings and ability to make payments in order to provide automated risk analysis and establish a risk warning mechanism.
CCB’s existing data center supporting 10 Gbit/s server access speeds and 40 Gbit/s to 100 Gbit/s core networking interfaces would be unable to support the exponential increase in traffic due to the Big Data analytics loan processing system. Bandwidth bottlenecks in legacy data center networks, combined with labor-intensive O&M, are especially limiting to large organizations looking for growth opportunities in emerging markets.
Ancheng Property & Casualty Insurance Co., Ltd (ACIC), based in Chongqing, China, faced similar challenges with its Gigabit Ethernet (GE) data center network, which provided painfully slow response time to applications and limited the company’s plans to offer new products and services. ACIC’s network could not be virtualized or automatically configured, resulting in inefficient resource utilization, limited security features, and time-consuming O&M along with poor flexibility and scalability.
ACIC needed to upgrade its data center architecture and IT infrastructure as quickly as possible.
Drawing on its broad portfolio of high-performance networking products and cloud computing technologies, Huawei helped these large financial services companies transform their aging data center and network operations.
At the heart of each solution was a core network designed with non-blocking, high-speed forwarding performance and virtualized IT infrastructure, including network management to enable central O&M and provisioning of new services and applications. Huawei’s high-end CloudEngine CE12800 Series Data Center Switches provide high-bandwidth, low-latency switching, easy scalability through iStack clustering with total switching capacity in excess of 300 Tbit/s. Comprehensive SDN support and virtualization features enable up to 16 physical CE12800 switches to be virtualized into one logical switch for resilience and simplified management.
Following a rigorous selection process, ABC partnered with Huawei for transforming its data center network — including the bank’s tier-1 backbone and 36 tier-1-connected branch data processing locations. All core networking equipment is designed for redundancy — including dual main control boards, multiple switch fabric units and power modules — providing carrier-grade reliability with uptime availability in excess of 99.999%. Backup and fast disaster recovery are supported between the three main data centers, and the bank’s OA and back-end production services are integrated on a single, centrally-controlled network. Data center network bandwidth was increased from 2.5 Gbit/s to 10 Gbit/s, with scalability to 100 Gbit/s to support ubiquitous 10 Gbit/s switching.
Switching loads in the upgraded network were reduced to 10% of total capacity, paving the way for ABC’s growth for the next five years.
Likewise, CCB chose Huawei CloudEngine (CE) Series switches for upgrading its data center network. With 40 Gbit/s interfaces and non-blocking fabric design, CE Series switches provide the high-performance forwarding needed for the bank’s Big Data-crunching loan underwriting system. All core and access switches are connected using 40 Gbit/s interfaces, and networks are connected at 40 Gbit/s to 100 Gbit/s speeds.
Ancheng Insurance upgraded their complex GE network to a flattened architecture with CE12800 core switches and Huawei’s S5700 Series Campus Network switches at the access layer. Both switches support virtualization, making the upgraded environment simpler to manage, faster and more reliable, and with improved resource utilization and lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
Adopting a strategic technology plan — taking into consideration organization-wide, long-term requirements — gave Agricultural Bank of China a solid foundation for innovating new services without running into limitations due to network performance or O&M burdens. Server-based applications can be rapidly developed and provisioned to capture new business with existing customers, and for targeting new customers.
Working with Huawei’s Enterprise Solutions team assured ABC — Number 1 on the 2015 Forbes Global 2000 list of largest public companies — designed and built the converged, scalable, and secure data center network it needed to continue its rapid growth.
China Construction Bank — Number 4 on the 2015 Forbes Global 2000 list — enabled its cutting-edge loan origination system to leverage the crush of Big Data, giving the bank a significant advantage in serving existing customers and expanding into new markets. Looking ahead, CCB has a scalable, extensible platform positioned to leverage cloud computing, massive virtualization, and modern, server-based applications without the data processing limitations facing many of its competitors.
And Southern China insurance company ACIC has migrated from an aged GE data center network plagued by disruptive cyberattacks and slow performance to a more responsive, virtualized network that is more secure, easier to manage, and that makes working for the company a more pleasurable, productive experience.
Huawei Enterprise provides the end-to-end planning, design, and implementation services needed to fully exploit cutting-edge data center technologies. From startups to global leaders in financial services, Huawei provides the expertise and ICT infrastructure smart enterprise, government, and institutional customers rely on for world-class data center solutions.