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Founded in 2004, the Ukrainian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (UBRD) was specifically established to develop banking services and products for enterprises, an effort to strengthen the country's banking industry. Right from the beginning, the young team's ambitious aim was to become the most competitive, innovative bank and a leader in trade banking services.
With the current speed of digitalization, financial institutions must be tech-savvy. Besides, done right, technological modernization yields numerous benefits in terms of operational efficiency, the customer experience, and future flexibility. In addition, all banks need to be able to cope with myriad new regulatory requirements and be ready for new challenges that the future may present.
Simply put, only banking infrastructure that is adaptable and resistant to rapid changes in the external environment can survive in the current climate. Yet, any bank must still remain attentive and innovative to customer needs. Clearly then, effective data management and real-time information flows are increasingly important across all aspects of modern banking.
As such, UBRD works hard to stay ahead of technological trends. By keeping a keen eye on the latest banking solutions, it is quick to adapt to changing market conditions, immediately introduce new solutions, and improve the performance of business applications.
"The main task of our bank was to build a new information infrastructure, as the old platform was not modernized and did not meet the requirements of both the market and financial regulators." — Anton Koba, Deputy Head of Information Technology (IT).
To achieve its goals and be able to scale to a large number of customers, the UBRD team knew that it had to be equipped with the most advanced technology. Moving forward, the first step was to run a full-scale audit of the IT system, detecting any flaws or weaknesses. While its legacy equipment had served it well for more than ten years, by 2019, IT performance had fallen behind what the institution needed, and a full upgrade of the hardware platform was required. URBD's next challenge then arose: how to choose the right vendor for their precise needs?
With a wide array of vendors available on the market, it was Huawei's solution that stood out for URBD, meeting all of its criteria in terms of simplicity, security, and ease of use. To achieve the bank's many technological initiatives — which included developing backup strategies and systems to store copies of data, enhancing network security, and Data Center (DC) expansion to improve the performance of business applications — Huawei technicians suggested a powerful hyper-converged infrastructure solution, which combined full self-service capabilities with cost-effectiveness.
Zero business interruptions, rapid product delivery, and smooth transition — all are crucial when implementing new infrastructure in the financial sector. Accordingly, UBRD's new equipment was successfully delivered in Ukraine in a single month, with a span of only six months from the very first meeting to successful project implementation.
"We would like to express our thanks and appreciation not only for the reliable solution but also the maximum efforts put forward by Huawei's team, supporting such fast delivery in such a short time." — Оleg Loktionov, Chairman of the Board.
System replacement was conducted in two phases. The first involved the full reconstruction of the bank's existing IT and Internet Protocol (IP) infrastructure, to create and rollout all the services necessary for its new strategy. More specifically, this meant designing the bank's core IP infrastructure, with a key focus on network perimeter creation, virtualization, database computation capacity planning, and the implementation of a centralized all-flash storage system, with effective capacity improvement mechanisms. The bank also needed advanced backup infrastructure to handle its increasing data growth and data protection needs.
The second phase involved the rollout of separate infrastructure to test new banking services , while focusing on expanding storage and network capacities.
"Thanks to comprehensive cooperation with Huawei and partners, we've successively launched this project together very fast. It was all made possible through migrating services to a new infrastructure, but this was no easy task. As bank executives were making changes to information systems and business processes, some tasks required on the spot thinking and adaptable action." — Anton Koba, Deputy Head of IT.
The specific solution chosen was a hyper-converged infrastructure solution, consisting of Huawei's FusionServer V5 rack servers and OceanStor Dorado V3 all-flash storage. This advanced platform helped the bank move its legacy virtualization and database services from an active-passive infrastructure to a more agile active-active configuration.
To manage such potentially complex enterprise Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure, UBRD deployed eSight management software, which was optimized for specific banking needs. In addition, Huawei offered an all-in-one backup solution that uses Commvault software and Huawei hardware. Initially, only IT solutions were planned, however, with such appealing network and security solutions also available, their adoption was seemingly inevitable.
The campus network was built on S-Series switches, suitable for any level of network complexity. For the core layer and servers connections, UBRD also used Huawei CloudEngine (CE) Series switches, while deploying Huawei Unified Security Gateway (USG) firewalls to provide the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and outer perimeter safety.
The project is a unique example of technologically advanced, cutting edge innovation devised by hugely creative teams. Moving from aging infrastructure that was complex and fragile, the bank's IT experts now have total control over a network that is simple to manage day to day and less costly to maintain. Moreover, this new platform makes the integration of future systems, services, and applications less time-consuming, complicated, and costly.
The chosen hyper-converged infrastructure solution maintains its excellent reliability and delivers higher performance than ever. Huawei all-flash storage covers 100% of the bank's needs, provides automated provisioning, capacity on demand, easy failover, better resource utilization, and secure data migration. Addressing infrastructure frailties also helped UBRD to reduce operational risks, by allowing the bank greater all-round oversight of its operations.
The Huawei support team has been closely involved throughout the process, from the initial stages of infrastructure design to the implementation and integration of the solution. The newly-deployed system has been in operation for almost a year, now, operating without issue or break in service:
"The question of whether we are satisfied with the equipment or not is no longer worth asking. All the systems and Huawei equipment have been working perfectly well for more than a year. If there are any technical questions, we manage it quickly enough with Huawei's local team support. In general, Huawei proved to be a reliable partner and supplier." — Anton Koba, Deputy Head of IT.
Huawei solutions helped UBRD ignite a company-wide technology transformation. With a new approach and trusted partner to help them turn ideas into reality, UBRD is well-equipped to stay ahead of the game, respond to future changes in the industry, and provide faster innovation processes. And all that will translate into increased benefits for customers.