Volume 12, Number 35 -- December 11, 2012

IBM Flexes Its Power Systems Muscle with Wins at Overseas Banks

Published: December 11, 2012

by Alex Woodie

The IBM i platform has long been a favorite among midsize American banks and credit unions. But increasingly, IBM is doing a brisk business selling Power Systems servers to banks overseas. Since August, IBM has announced deals in India, the Philippines, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Ghana. Not all of these deals are IBM i deals, but Bank Ekonomi Raharja (BER) in Indonesia certainly is.

BER is a longtime AS/400 customer that sought to modernize its banking platform following its acquisition by UK banking giant HSBC in 2009. The bank acquired two Power Systems servers, including a Model 770 and a Model 750, and implemented an Enterprise System Storage DS8700 array equipped with 13.7 TB of storage and loaded with PowerHA data replication and high availability software.

Its new Model 770 is equipped with 12 CPUs, 100 GB of memory, and nine LPARs, and will be used to run HSBC Universal Banking (HUB), a proprietary, IBM i-based core banking system that HSBC developed for internal use and with its subsidiaries. The Model 770 replaces a System i5 Model 520 that was used to run its legacy i5/OS-based banking system. The Model 750 will primarily be used to run AIX, and was instrumental in the BER deal, as it will be used to run workloads that previously ran on BER's X86 servers. As BER was a longtime AS/400 customer, this was a competitive displacement component of the deal.

BER tells IT Jungle that the new IT setup will be instrumental in "transforming operations and enabling growth" at the bank, which has about 100 locations in Indonesia. In particular, the newer systems should provide a clear boost in reliability in core systems, including Blackberry, email, servers, desktop, voice-video-data network, ATMs, and call center operations.

The new setup will boost segregation of duty between those who run the bank and those who change the bank's systems, BER says. Among those tasked with changing and improving the bank, the new system provides a clear benefit in the area of regulatory compliance. Those tasked with running the bank will benefit from a new monitoring system that should enable IT and help personnel to respond more quickly and collaboratively to ticket requests and system events.

Mobile banking is growing in Indonesia just as it is in many countries, and this is another area where BER expects the new system to deliver benefits. Most of BER's customers are small and medium businesses that don't require a lot of mobile banking functionality at the present time, BER says. However, the bank views mobile banking as a must-have, in light of the competitive landscape and the growing use of mobile banking. At the present, the bank offers basic mobile functionality, including balance inquiry, utilities/bill payment, and transfers.

Thanks to the HUB software, BER is poised to expand its mobile capability quickly if needed. BER is closely watching the mobile landscape in Indonesia. Smart phone service providers are rolling out new mobile banking services, and merchants and businesses are starting to offer mobile banking services as well. "It is just a matter of time until mobility will reach a transaction number as high as ATM or EDC" (electronic data capture), a BER representative tells IT Jungle.

BER's is just one of the stories coming out of IBM's increasingly global operations. While the US is still by far IBM's biggest market, much of the company's growth these days comes from emerging markets. In particular, IBM seems to be having quite the run of wins in the international banking market. In addition to BER, IBM has recently sold Power Systems to Ghana Fidelity Bank in West Africa; Pakistan Monet, a mobile banking provider in Pakistan; PR Savings Bank in the Philippines; and Punjab & Maharashtra Co-op Bank Ltd. in India.

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Editor: Alex Woodie
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Timothy Prickett Morgan
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