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    Huawei All-Flash Storage Meets Piraeus Bank's Ever-Growing Demand for New IT Services

Athens is the capital of Greece and associated with Athena, the goddess of wisdom. The city is a center for the arts, learning and philosophy, as well as a center of Greek economy, finance, industry, politics, and culture. In this liveable city, historical, modern, classical, and popular elements are well incorporated.

One of the city's landmarks is Piraeus Bank, with a history spanning over 100 years. Founded in 1916, Piraeus Bank is the largest bank in Greece and occupies the largest share of customer loans and deposits, accounting for 29%. The bank provides comprehensive financial products and services for more than 5.4 million customers through its network of approximately 540 branches in Greece.

On August 21, 2018, Greece concluded the 3rd Economic Adjustment Programme, and for the first time since 2010, the country will not rely on official sector loans. Prior to that,on June 21, 2018, Eurogroup agreed a number of measures to ensure Greek debt sustainability for the medium and longer term.

Τhe country will remain under Enhanced Surveillance Procedure for many years to ensure continuation of fiscal and structural reforms. Greek Banks will continue to cooperate with the European Authorities in the post-programme period, to ensure that Greece remains well on the way towards becoming a sustainable and competitive economy.

The Greek economy has been growing and unemployment has been falling since 2017 and both trends will likely accelerate in the following years.

• The macroeconomic fundamentals and prospects of the Greek economy improved further in 2019, positively affecting the economic climate. This event has contributed to the improvement of banking sector financing and liquidity.

• In the nine months of 2019, GDP growth rate reached 2.2%. Under the assumption that the quarter-on-quarter rate will remain stable for Q4.19 (i.e. +0.6% quarter on quarter), the annual growth rate of 2019 is anticipated at circa 2.3% and a strong carry over effect will impact favourably 2020 GDP growth (1 percentage point) leading to an estimated growth of +2.5%.

• The majority of business sector leading indicators reflect the recovery of economic activity (PMI etc.).

The Greek banking system is stronger, following major consolidation, restructuring and deleveraging efforts. Challenges to banks’ profitability include the high stock of NPEs, the low interest rate environment and increasing regulatory requirements. Interest income makes up a large part of banks’ operating income and Greek banks are addressing this issue by adjusting their business models to further diversify income and lower their cost base.

Greek banks are stepping up efforts in becoming more efficient, with key drivers being in exploiting new technologies, rationalizing their networks and optimizing resources.

Piraeus Bank keeps advancing

Piraeus Bank has committed to play a leading role in the restart and development of the Greek economy by actively supporting economic activity and extroversion through specialized and personalized solutions and high-level services to its approximately 5.4 million customers.

Piraeus Bank is turning the page, building on the successful completion of strategy. The Bank is committed to fully leverage on its capacity to serve and support the Greek economy and deliver for its customers, shareholders and employees. Piraeus is fully focused on producing results and generating value for all of its stakeholders.

By adopting these winning strategies, Piraeus Bank is on track to attain its medium-term aspirations, while continuing to invest for the future.

Digital business becomes a strategic driver for Piraeus Bank

Piraeus Bank has been actively embracing digital transformation and become a digital leader in Greece. The bank launched an automated electronic branch, known as "e-branch", to provide transaction services and unique experience in 2016; Redesigned winbank and launched an online real estate website for the public in 2017. The e-branch solution has played an important role when the bank cut physical branches and costs.

Agenda 2023 specifies the strategic digital business drivers, covering efficiency through migration to digital, digital differentiation and engagement, and online sales. The bank aims to achieve world-class digital results by 2023. Digital business and transformation drive the implementation of Piraeus Bank's business strategy.

Piraeus Bank's ever-growing demand for new IT services and Huawei's solution

To meet the ever-growing demand for new IT services, Piraeus Bank has to use flexible systems that are able to sustain this trend. The bank needs to cover new modern trends like big data, AI, containers and at the same time continues to support older technologies including legacy systems. To meet this need, Huawei has actively cooperated with the bank on digital transformation. Huawei all-flash storage is an example for this.

The existing storage devices had various technical problems. For instance, these devices failed to scale on demand due to their degraded performance, slow response, and limited scalability after deduplication and compression were enabled. In addition, limited storage capability could not process the ever-increasing data volume or exponential data growth during digital transformation. To solve these issues, the bank needed a new storage system featuring automated provisioning, capacity on demand, easy failover, better resource utilization, and secure data migration.

In July 2018, Huawei discussed with Piraeus Bank's IT O&M team on its requirements. After several rounds of in-depth communication, the two parties reached an agreement that Huawei's all-flash storage products could enter the PoC test. Based on the understanding of the bank's needs, Huawei recommended the OceanStor Dorado V3 all-flash storage system for the PoC test and replacement of existing storage systems.

The two parties initiated the PoC test and successfully completed it in October 2018, winning recognition from the bank. In addition, to ensure the security of the legacy system and suitability of Huawei all-flash storage, the bank had tested storage devices in the test environment as well as in production with heavy workload demands for more than six months. Through all these tests, the bank thought that Huawei all-flash storage covered 100% of its needs.

“Huawei was chosen following a very demanding PoC during which we applied several tests to verify its performance, reliability, compatibility with existing infrastructure and of course support from Huawei services. These tests lasted more than six months during which Huawei AFA covered 100% our needs. We had the opportunity to use it not only in test environment, but also in production with heavy workload demands. So, when we were confident for the suitability of the system we proceeded with the adoption of Huawei as one of the enterprise storage providers of the bank.”

Mr. Haris Voutsas, Assistant General Manager, Group IT Operations, Piraeus Bank

Huawei all-flash storage provides uninterrupted availability and flexibility in handling a mix of diverse systems

In June 2019, Huawei OceanStor Dorado V3 all-flash storage system replaced the existing storage system. Since the system went live, the bank has been continuously migrating production services and data to the system, such as virtual servers, databases, application servers, and BIs. The system has run properly and improved IOPS performance linearly while maintaining fast, reliable, and stable response. As a result, it has effectively alleviated Piraeus Bank's business growth pressure, improving its operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Powered by intelligent chips, advanced architecture, intelligent algorithms, and gateway-free active-active solution, the OceanStor Dorado V3 greatly improves service performance, reduce latency, and ensure high reliability. The system architecture and embedded technologies deliver high cost effectiveness so that Piraeus Bank can economically configure immediate and future storage capacities, minimizing its total cost of ownership (TCO).

Piraeus Bank was impressed by the successful collaboration.

“As I have already stated, before we proceeded with Huawei we had a very thorough PoC that confirmed the suitability of Huawei AFA for our needs. So yes, our experience so far is excellent, and we consider Huawei a trusted partner that we can rely on.”

“Huawei has a very strong technological background and its products are in par if not better to ones of the major IT vendors. During the last year we have seen a constant improvement of the AFAs with new versions, which implies investment in R&D and commitment to its products.”

Mr. Haris Voutsas, Assistant General Manager, Group IT Operations, Piraeus Bank

The successful cooperation between Huawei and Piraeus Bank in the all-flash storage field is a miniature of the cooperation between Huawei and Greek banking industry. Huawei has collaborated extensively with Greek banks by providing a wide range of competitive products and solutions. It is committed to becoming a preferred partner of digital transformation for Greek banks.

Archimedes, a great Greek scholar, said: "Give me a place to stand and I shall move the earth." Now the Greek banking industry is undergoing tremendous challenges and digital transformation. Huawei is willing to work with Greek banks to create more "places to stand" and propel the development and digital transformation of the sector.