State Bank of India (SBI) is India’s largest commercial bank serving more than 440 million account holders. That’s even more than the entire population of United States.
Through its network of more than 22,000 branches across the country, and footprint in over 30 other countries, SBI has been driving radical changes to pave the way for an agile and digitally- enabled banking.
It has always been responsive to changing customer preferences. New product launches, like You Only Need One (YONO) app, is one example that has been well received by customers and has proven to be a huge success.
While SBI stepped on the accelerator to hit the digital highway in a big way by launching new products and services, it was also focusing to complete the integration and merger process of its five associate banks and Bharatiya Mahila Bank.
“With increasing customer base and launch of new applications, our technology and resiliency requirement was increasing manifold. There was a need to centralize our operations for ease of use and effective management,” says Amol Pai, Chief Technology Officer, State Bank of India. SBI’s primary data center is hosted in Navi Mumbai. While this site caters to the applications hosted for different services offered by the Bank to its customers and branches across the globe, the IT team felt a need to set up a production grade data center that could double up as a disaster recovery (DR) site as well.
Creating a network for the future
The network infrastructure underlies every piece of technology layered on top. SBI knew how imperative it is to have their data center secure and available, no matter what. With integrity and flexibility being the Bank’s core values, it wanted to create a network infrastructure with the same attributes.
“We wanted to create a futuristic data center, and were looking for a networking partner who had a vision on how the business-technology landscape will evolve over the next 5-7 years,” shares Pai.
The IT team from the Bank along with professors from the Indian Institute of Technology started to carry out assessment and evaluation of various network infrastructure solutions available in the marketplace.
After an intense evaluation, SBI selected Juniper to set up the network infrastructure for its data center. The Bank took help of Juniper’s professional services for the design and implementation of the project.
“We were clear that we wanted a software-defined networking (SDN) solution to provide the necessary security, be intelligent, flexible, resilient and agile enough to support the applications and services that power our customer-first experiences,” says Pai.
This also meant that that whenever new network updates were to be scheduled, there would be minimal downtime for the applications on the network.
“Juniper brought a futuristic solution and expertise to the table. In addition, they gave us an assurance that the project will be executed in the stipulated time frame without any cost escalation,” informs Pai.
The joint team from SBI and Juniper finalized the design to implement the network for the data center. It also involved integration of various other components of the infrastructure like security etc.
A project of this size and magnitude needed to be tested thoroughly to remove any element of doubt and discrepancies. The team from Juniper brought in their expertise and carried out simulations to test the various network paths, and scout for issues. Similar tests were carried out for intrusions systems and firewalls. Within a span of 18 months, one of the largest data centers in the country was brought into the production environment.
A fine balance of security and ease of use
Data center projects are complex undertakings. But when it’s done right, like SBI, a brand new data center emerges to support business objectives and meet current and anticipated future needs.
“One of the primary measurements of success in this project has been the feedback from our users. The implementation has enabled faster access to applications with ease of use and management. Our core banking system has also been running in a smooth manner,” says Pai.
The new data center is highly resilient, not only in terms of the network equipments, but also in terms of the network design. It also has security precautions that maintain the operational agility of the entire network infrastructure.
“Juniper has met our security requirements and brought in new practices that helped us to further strengthen our security posture,” says Pai.
Pai says the network solution from Juniper has helped bank to become significantly more efficient, and the reliability of the network has minimized any need for troubleshooting. “The network is now the least of concerns for my application owners, and they can focus on other areas of the business,” says Pai.