Data centres are considered the backbone of banking and financial services. The more efficient and innovative the data centre, the better the services provided to the users and clients. As banks embark on a digital transformation journey, data centres need to be transformed to enable banks to operate effectively, sustain growth, provide innovative services, follow regulations and partner with creative start-ups and fintechs.
This is where hyper-converged infrastructure comes into play.
Hyper-converged infrastructures are a better approach to designing, building and managing banking data centres. Compared to the multi-tier-based infrastructures used in traditional data centre operations, hyper-converged infrastructures are simplified and provide better business agility. The traditional data centres have individual components for every service that is provided i.e., compute, data and files storage, network. The big load of administrative overhead, multiple software tools and contracts with suppliers can be hard to deal with. If something goes wrong, you need to locate the problem yourself and then find the exact vendor to resolve it.
The hyper-converged infrastructure waves goodbye to these complex processes. Existing large setups of racks for individual data storage, network, etc. can be condensed into just a few. All components are placed inside one box (called an appliance) with one homogenous software stack. Only one vendor is providing the different tools required, which interact well with each other and are easier to manage, as there is only one incident management contact point.
By moving to a hyper-converged infrastructure, the DXC Banking Centre in Switzerland for example, will reduce the entire virtual server infrastructure — consisting of over 1,200 Virtual Machines in over two dozen racks — to two racks per data centre.
Hyper-converged infrastructure enables automation of all manually operated data centre processes. Automated tasks are completed more quickly, safely and reliably.
For example, at DXC’s Banking Centre, two main software tools will be used to help set up servers and applications within minutes, as well as handle services such as ticketing, help desk, incident management, and allocation of people and resources.
Hybrid cloud management = controlled environment
Another key advantage of hyper-converged infrastructures is using hybrid cloud management platforms to enable greater protection and security. Whatever is deployed in a public cloud could be taken back to the data centre locally and vice versa, depending on the load and security requirements. But why would banks still want to have local hardware when everyone is talking about cloud? With the cloud you don’t know the location of the resources you are using. On the other hand, the hyper-converged system enables benefits of cloud environments to be placed in-house, in a very controlled environment, but still be able to scale out and leverage public cloud services where appropriate.
And why is this important for banks? Hybrid cloud management helps banks comply with national regulations. Switzerland, a banking giant, has strict regulations about accessing banks’ customer-identifying data. No one outside Switzerland is normally allowed to see personal data related to a Swiss citizen owning a banking account in the country. This can happen only if consent is given by all banking customers of a bank that wants to leverage services requiring such data access outside of the country. Having a data centre based on a cloud outside the country won’t work. Using the hyper-converged infrastructure data centre is a nice save in this case, as you know the data will stay inside the country. And the local hybrid cloud can always benefit from the big cloud, e.g., test features for new developments in the global cloud without it affecting the data centre and its operation according to the regulations.
Increased efficiency in all aspects
Reduction of costs, energy consumption, space, time and resources are just a few of the advantages for data centres with hyper-converged infrastructure. Companies that have implemented this new infrastructure paradigm are already seeing positive changes. In an IDC total cost of ownership (TCO) study comparing hyper-converged to multi-tiered infrastructure, large companies using the new infrastructure reported significant reduction of overall operational costs, as well as cost-effectiveness for maintenance, power, facilities, licensing and disaster recovery.
Staff productivity is another benefit. According to the study, it took 61 per cent less staff to deploy, manage and support the process. There were fewer unplanned outages, and issues were resolved faster than in the legacy system. The hyper-converged foundation enabled highly predictable and linear performance growth and improvement of life-cycle management for infrastructure components. Overall, we are talking about great business results, increased agility, scalability and higher user productivity.