Established in 1939, Dena Bank offers personal and corporate banking services to around seven million individuals and businesses across India. Dena Bank, which was nationalized in 1969, was the first bank in India to introduce a minor savings scheme, a credit card for Indians in rural areas, a drive-in ATM counter, and smart cards at some branches in Mumbai. The bank is based in Mumbai and has 21 regional offices across India.
Dena Bank operates around 1,500 automatic teller machines (ATMs), which are a crucial part of the service it provides to customers throughout India. The company’s customer base has been growing by around 20% annually, placing a great deal of pressure on the specialized application used to run these ATMs.
“During peak load times when large numbers of people are using our ATMs across the country, up to 10% of transactions would be declined,” said B.M. Nanda, general manager—IT, Dena Bank.
“We realized that we needed to upgrade our existing Sun servers and Oracle Database to handle the increased transaction load as a result of our business growth.”
In early 2011, Dena Bank engaged Oracle Advanced Customer Support Services, Oracle Consulting, and Oracle Partner HCL Infosystems to deploy eight SPARC Enterprise M5000 servers, running four UltraSPARC processors each and Oracle Solaris, across its primary and disaster recovery facilities.
Dena Bank’s ATM application, core banking system, and Oracle Database run on three SPARC Enterprise M5000 servers, while one SPARC Enterprise M5000 is used for application and system reporting tasks at its primary data center. The servers are connected to 9TB of Oracle disk storage. The Oracle disk storage system runs a database that stores the bank’s ATM data and reporting services, payment reconciliation, and core banking information.
The infrastructure is mirrored at the bank’s disaster recovery site using Oracle Active Data Guard, which helps the bank replicate data in the database layer and quickly rebuild databases in the unlikely event of a disaster. The product also helps the bank carry out replications much faster than traditional replication methods.
Dena Bank is also using Oracle Real Application Clusters 11g to provide performance improvements, high availability, and redundancy features that will support transaction growth as the bank adds more customers in the future.
The new SPARC Enterprise M5000 servers enabled Dena Bank to increase the speed of ATM transactions by up to 80%, even during peak load times, improving customer service at its 1,500 ATMs across India.
In addition, the average number of ATM transactions that are declined during peak load times has dropped from 10% of all transactions to less than 1%.
“This is because the two-node Oracle Database with Oracle Real Application Clusters infrastructure running on the SPARC M5000 servers is doing an outstanding job of handling high transaction loads,” said Amit Sharma, IT manager, Dena Bank. “If we do experience any performance decline due to increases in transaction loads, we simply add more processors and memory to the system.”
Currently, the bank’s ATMs are processing around seven million balance enquiries and withdrawals per day, up from five million in 2010.
“In addition, our core banking system is processing between 40 million and 50 million online transactions per day, including settlements between banks, government, and corporate payments,” said Nanda. “That will grow by between 20% and 25% per year.”
“The performance improvements and scalability features provided by the Oracle infrastructure gives us confidence that we can continue to provide a high level of service to our personal and corporate customers, even as our transaction load increases in the future,” he said.
Dena Bank is expecting 20% annual growth in its customer base, year-on-year, and the infrastructure will easily support that growth.
The SPARC Enterprise M5000 servers are more cost-effective to purchase and maintain than previous infrastructure. According to Sharma, the total cost of ownership of these servers—including the cost of purchasing the hardware, software licenses, and maintenance—has decreased by 20%. The bank also expects to achieve a return on its investment within the next three years.
Sharma added that the SPARC Enterprise M5000 servers also use less power, which will cut the bank’s electricity costs by US$3,000 per month, amounting to a 30% reduction over six months. “The SPARC Enterprise M5000 servers, running Oracle Solaris, are very reliable—we haven’t experienced a single minute of downtime that affected our normal operations,” said Sharma.
In addition, the Oracle and Sun hardware with Oracle Solaris also requires very little maintenance compared to the bank’s other systems, which run Microsoft Windows or other operating systems. “The overhead in running Oracle/Sun hardware is far lower than for traditional systems,” Sharma said.
Dena Bank also runs Oracle Solaris Containers for its critical applications—such as core banking or ATM applications—which has improved system availability and decreased server utilization from 90% to 35%, leaving plenty of room for expansion.
“Oracle Solaris Containers enables us to proactively create resource partitions for available databases, reducing overhead related to utilization rates,” said Sharma. “Even if we add more computing resources to the system, we can still easily manage resources using Oracle Solaris Containers. Overall, we have cut the overhead for systems running on Oracle/Sun hardware and utilization rates by 15% to 20%.”
Oracle Real Application Clusters 11g has provided Dena Bank with automatic failover capabilities, which means that if one server node fails, the processing load will instantly move across to another node.
This ensures that its core banking and ATM applications, and Oracle Database, will always be available, and the bank can continue to serve customers in the event of a system failure.
The high availability features in Oracle Real Application Clusters 11g also remove the need for the bank’s IT staff to schedule planned downtime when they have to complete system maintenance and patch upgrades. IT administrators can move the processing load between nodes when they are completing system upgrades to keep the infrastructure running smoothly, ensuring the performance of the bank’s Oracle Database and core applications are not compromised.
Dena Bank has engaged Oracle Partner Wipro Infotech Ltd., which manages the core banking operations for the bank, to upgrade to Oracle Database 11g. The database upgrade—which will be completed by 2013—will enable the bank to improve database response times by 24%.
“This means we will be able to serve millions of customers even faster than we can now,” said Sharma. “Oracle Database 11g also requires less storage space than preceding versions due to better data compression techniques.
“This gives us peace of mind that our storage area network—based on Oracle disk storage—will support growth well into the future,” said Sharma. “We have around 2.4TB of data stored in our Oracle Database at the moment, which we expect to grow by about 25% per year.”
Oracle disk storage enables the bank to simply add disk capacity when required while saving five rack units of space in the data center. Oracle disk storage also uses 40% less power than older generation storage systems.
Dena Bank had been an Oracle Database and Sun server hardware user since 2006, so it made sense to continue using Oracle solutions.
According to Sharma, Oracle Database licenses for the SPARC Enterprise M5000 servers are also less expensive than competing hardware. “As the Oracle Database core multiplier is half that of other RISC servers, the cost of ownership is less with Oracle servers,” he said
“Our Oracle infrastructure has always performed well, and we always get a fast return-on-investment,” said Sharma. “The support and service provided by Oracle Consulting and Oracle Advanced Customer Support Services was also very appealing.”
During the initial stages of the deployment, Dena Bank engaged Oracle Advanced Customer Support Services to move data residing in the core banking system and ATM application to the new SPARC Enterprise M5000 servers.
Oracle Advanced Customer Support Services staff then installed, configured, and tested the Oracle Real Application Clusters 11g, Oracle Database, and Oracle disk storage.
“Oracle Advanced Customer Support Services completed the implementation in about two weeks and spent a further 30 days on system testing,” said Sharma. “The support provided by Oracle Advanced Customer Support Services was exemplary.”
Oracle Consulting helped Dena Bank implement Oracle Real Application Clusters 11g and migrate Oracle Database, core banking, and ATM applications to the new SPARC Enterprise M5000 servers. It also implemented Oracle Active Data Guard and ensured it was correctly configured for disaster recovery purposes.
HCL Infosystems Ltd provided skilled Oracle resources to manage the day-to-day operations of the servers and storage. The company worked with the bank’s various business units to ensure that business users received sufficient resources when needed.
“HCL Infosystems Ltd also provided a project manager onsite to ensure that the infrastructure was implemented on time,” said Sharma.