Life Financial Group outsources additional IT systems

Customer: Probiznesbank

About the client

Life Financial Group was founded in 2003 by Probusinessbank as an association of 10 banks and other financial institutions that focus on excellent customer service and partnership. Today it has over 1,200,000 private and 30,000 corporate clients in more than 60 Russian regions. Its members strive for long-term relations with customers, provide fast response to client feedback and use the most advanced business technologies.

The group consists of Probusinessbank, “Poidem!”, Bank24.ru, Express-Volga and other banks and financial institutions.

Objectives

Probusinessbank forms the core of Life Financial Group, whose ongoing expansion leads to a continuous increase in the number of branches and users that rely on its centralized IT infrastructure. Since Life’s bank branches are located in various time zones from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok, its overall business day lasts virtually 24 hours and puts a heavy workload on automated banking and card processing systems.

At a certain stage in its development, Probusinessbank realized that its own resources were inadequate for dealing with the ever-increasing pressure on its IT services and decided to outsource its ABS, card processing and a number of other systems.

“Business continuity in banking is a must. Any downtime may lead to operating losses as well as a reduction in the client base. Outsourcing IT services has therefore been an element of our strategy for a long time," comments Alexey Pirogov, VP Information Technologies, Probusinessbank. “This policy reduces personnel costs and makes it possible to focus on strategic issues.”

The RS-Bank and Interbank automated banking systems (for corporate and private clients respectively) are deployed on a sophisticated platform that needs a skilled support staff. It was fairly logical to outsource them to the third-party banking software developer. However, all underlying business-critical systems, down to the level of database management, were outsourced to Jet Infosystems, a highly experienced and competent company capable of providing remote administration and monitoring.

Врезка: Facts and figures

  • The monthly number of support requests related to all systems under SLA has increased more than tenfold from 2010 to 2012.
  • The total number of servers supported has doubled.
  • All the systems are supported on a 24*7 basis.
  • The maximum allowable downtime for RS-Bank and Interbank systems cannot exceed 1 hour per incident.
  • The same parameter for the “Poydem!” bank card processing system and ABS cannot exceed 30 minutes.

When two independent companies provide outsourced services to one client, it is crucial to develop detailed rules of procedure that reflect the interests of all parties. As the SLA was being prepared, the client, the outsourcer and the developer clearly divided their responsibilities, wrote detailed descriptions of all processes and procedures, and defined protocols for interaction. The agreement also specified response times and maximum allowable downtime (1 hour per incident for RS-Bank and Interbank).

Any ABS downtime has a direct impact on the quality of banking services. Therefore all scheduled maintenance during which a system must be shut down is performed strictly between 10 PM and 7 AM (Moscow time).

Jet Infosystems staff workers are charged with administering, monitoring and evaluating the performance of IT systems on a 24*7 basis. They examine the functionality of components, the performance of applications and background tasks, as well as workload on equipment and the adequacy of available resources for standard operations. Administration of Oracle database manager also involves the evaluation of database availability.

System administration consists of a set of operations to ensure stable performance of the entire system: services management, log reviewing, planning and implementing configuration changes.

A review of the IT infrastructure revealed certain flaws in the backup system. “Probusinessbank’s backup system turned out to have no capacity for copying on the fly,” comments Vladislav Anufriev, deputy director of outsourcing at Jet Infosystems. “In-house IT staff would bring the database management system to a complete stop to make copies, so the entire ABS was down for several hours a day. Also, in the event of a disaster the bank would be unable to recover any data generated since the most recent backup before the emergency. This period could be as long as 24 hours.”

To make the system capable of hot backups Jet Infosystems proposed a solution that required only a few adjustments in the database manager settings without any changes in hardware. Data now can be restored virtually at the moment of an incident. Jet Infosystems also introduced scripts for scheduled automatic backups. The entire backup process was thus optimized and the time needed for maintenance was considerably reduced.

FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROJECT

As the Life Group has grown, it has continued expanding the scope of its IT outsourcing to Jet Infosystems. In 2011 Jet Infosystems began to provide administration, support and maintenance for four additional systems: IBM FileNet, Data Warehouse, OpenWay and the ABS at Poydem!, a Novosibirsk bank. In addition, Probusinessbank’s data backup system, which includes 65 servers with about 4 Tb of storage capacity, has also been outsourced. Therefore, Jet Infosystems is now responsible for the entire core of the bank’s IT infrastructure.

Since card processing systems and ABS are particularly critical to performance, the strictest demands were put on their operation. For example, at Poydem! bank downtime for these systems cannot exceed 30 minutes per incident and 60 minutes per month, i.e. just one half of the downtime limits set for the first two outsourced ABS. Serious preparation is needed to meet these requirements. Jet Infosystems is now planning an IT audit at Poydem! with a view to upgrading its ABS and card processing system.

The monitoring system used for timely trouble-shooting at the level of the OS, databases and hardware components is based on BMC monitoring software. Jet Infosystems has also developed and deployed a monitoring solution for the Interbank ABS that goes beyond status reports to analyze the bank’s business processes for fast problem detection and global-level control. A similar solution for RS-Bank is currently in development.

“Our cooperation has been steadily expanding in terms of both the amount and level of services. The monthly number of requests for support in 2012 has increased by a factor of 10 compared to what it was in 2010 and has reached an average of 300 a month. The number of supported servers has increased more than twofold after the recent additions to the outsourcing arrangements,” reports Vladislav Anufriev, deputy director of outsourcing at Jet Infosystems Service Center.

Jet Infosystems now supports the core IT infrastructure of all Probusinessbank and Poydem! Bank branches and offices regardless of their physical locations, since all of them are connected to the centralized system in Moscow. The company guarantees trouble-free operation of key systems such as ABS, card processing, backup, document management and data warehousing. The client’s IT personnel costs have been considerably reduced.

Alexey Pirogov, Deputy Chairman and CIO, Probusinessbank, says: “Outsourcing numerous IT functions gave our in-house IT division a chance to focus on strategic objectives. While virtually no new staff members were hired, the division now features considerably better performance.”