Ratnakar Bank is a 70-year-old financial institution with operations across India. In the last financial year, the bank's deposits grew by 132 percent, loans and advances by 116 percent, fee income by 219 percent and operating profit by 496 percent. Based on this stellar performance, the bank was rated as India's best bank (Growth) and ranked overall fifth in mid-sized segment in 2012 as per the Business Today - KPMG study.
With a focus on improving technology and customer interface, the bank has raised its capital base to around USD 250 million from USD 50 million in the last two years with a plan to upgrade people, systems, processes and technology.
Ratnakar Bank wanted to brace itself for business growth in view of the challenging business environment. Therefore, its priority list included a roll out of Bring-Your-Own Device (BYOD), de-centralization of banking platform and reduction in cost of application delivery per user. The company wanted to increase end-user satisfaction without increasing the cost of IT and meet its financial mandate of inclusive growth by harnessing centralized hosting and highly secure advantages of cloud computing.
“The bank realized early on that the challenges lay in redefining the existing overall application delivery architecture and the decentralized nature of IT computing. The way out was to migrate Ratnakar Bank's 130 branches, its National Operations Centre and the Regional Processing Centre to centralized, cloud-based application delivery architecture,” said Anup Purohit, Head, IT, Ratnakar Bank.
In effect, the bank wanted to replace its traditional desktops with a desktop virtualization solution, thereby improving management and supporting seamless transition to new core banking platform. However Ratnakar Bank also decided that virtualization must lead to an improvement in end-user experience and manageability of its IT and therefore chose Anunta Technology Management Services Ltd. (referred to as Anuntatech) a company specializing in Application Delivery as a Service (ADaaS), to deploy the virtualization as a solution.
Given the bank's goals, Citrix's technology combined with Anuntatech's expertise in optimizing application delivery and binding them with end-user SLAs was a winning combination.
While deciding on a suitable solution, Ratnakar Bank evaluated products from several vendors. Those in the fray included Citrix, VMware and Microsoft. However, Citrix won the race. “The technology team at the bank had gone by its past experience and decided to leverage the proven technology expertise of Citrix-based virtualized solution,” said Purohit.
In September 2012, Ratnakar Bank signed the pact with Citrix for deployment of Citrix XenDesktop. It took the bank six weeks to complete the project.
The implementation of the solution saw custom designing of application delivery architecture using private cloud, based on extensive user-profiling. The user profiling included studying applications used, establishing productivity expectations of each user profile, base lining of productivity threshold for applications of each user profile and determining threshold application performance needed.
A roll-out of this scale and complexity (given the concurrent core-banking roll out) meant that the team gathered data on all infrastructural dependencies including the most micro of dependencies right from printers and fonts to application speeds as well. Anuntatech prepared checklists and baselines for all layers – hardware, network, storage, Hypervisor, OS and applications. All major configurations were kept ready, including infrastructure to manage multiple OS builds to face any compatibility issues from an application perspective. End-point roll-out and installation documents and requisite staff trainings were conducted.
One of the key features of Citrix winning the race was its ability to deliver Desktops on low bandwidth very efficiently. Also Citrix had different ways of delivering different types of Desktops according to the role of the user in the organization. This provided Ratnakar Bank the flexibility to provide different types of desktops as per the needs of the user.
It took the bank just six weeks to complete the project. To ensure that the project would complete on time, Ratnakar Bank inducted the business project team into the core project council and assigned responsibilities. Besides, a governance structure was put in place and senior management was involved for addressing any escalation.
By the end of 4 weeks, Anuntatech had conducted the user acceptance test by testing 779 simultaneous user sessions to Anuntatech's cloud. A bridge was then created to the Bank's existing solution. Finally, 1000+ users from 130 branches across India, National Operations Center & Regional Processing Center in Mumbai transitioned from a physical infrastructure to a cloud-based one. All this was done while rolling-out a new core banking platform seamlessly, with zero business interruption across all 130 branches.
To ensure that the end users were comfortable with the new solution, the bank provided handholding during the initial stages. It also embarked on 'Train the Trainer' program to further support easy adoption.
The innovative use of Citrix XenDesktop has made it possible for Ratnakar Bank to deliver banking applications to all branches with greater efficiency. A key imperative was to achieve Reserve Bank of India's stipulated goals on inclusive banking by lowering cost of IT while moving to remote locations where support from IT was hard to come by.
The deployment has also resulted in lowering the cost of application delivery/user/month by more than 25 percent. By adopting a centrally-hosted, remote monitored model with enhanced security allowed the bank to increase IT effectiveness and return on investment (ROI).
“Most importantly, end-user experience has been improved, while reducing the desk-side support requirement,” Purohit said.
“Post the deployment of the solution, there has been a significant improvement in the time taken for branch rollouts. Earlier the infrastructure rollout used to take 10-14 days. However, it now gets completed in two days,” he said.
Previously, with conventional desktops, the power consumption was very high. With Citrix XenDesktop, power consumption has reduced by over 65 percent. As a result, cooling requirements have come down by as much as 50 percent.
The new solution has also resulted in employee mobility. Desktops and laptops used to be the standard norms adding to restraints on mobility. With the new solution, tablets and other mobile devices can be used, thus adding to employee mobility.
“Proactive monitoring approach helps in detecting more than 70 percent issues before even end-user performance is impacted. Also, 99,5 percent guaranteed desktop availability to business as the solution incorporates n+1 redundancy at the primary site with a site-level DR to provide business continuity,” added Purohit.
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