Making the leap to a digital enterprise is by no means a simple task. It involves myriad technologies and enormous changes in the business processes – and who knows that better than the IT team at RBL Bank, who, until recently, were having sleepless nights and then finally chalked out a strong digital strategy for the organization?
The Mounting Tech Challenges
As one of India’s top ranking banks in the mid-size bank segment, RBL Bank has a network of 392 branches and 1,221 correspondent branches across 28 Indian states. Tejas Mehta, Chief Technology Officer at RBL Bank told CXOToday about the mounting technology challenges the bank was facing a year ago.
“Our previous infrastructure was slowly becoming dated and needed to be upgraded to a robust digital infrastructure to ensure the delivery of a quality banking experience for customers,” he said.
There were a number of issues that needed to be resolved. The company was using a Citrix-based end-user computing (EUC) wasn’t performing well, and employees regularly saw their virtual desktops go down for up to a 5 minutes during office hours because of problems with the legacy infrastructures. As a result of which, opening applications and accessing data was frustratingly slow.
During peak periods, the bank experienced a heavier toll on our infrastructure which requires us to either add more hardware that is left unused for the rest of the year or suffer outages. At the same time, the performance of the MS SQL and Oracle databases was poor; reducing the number of customers that call-center staff could serve, in turn impacting the company’s ability to cross sell and upsell products.
It didn’t take long for the IT decision makers at RBL Bank to realize that an upgrade to the infrastructure would allow them to increase automation of its IT processes which in turn can help them cater to the growing customer demand. In the process, the bank was also looking to resolve its contact center and branch productivity delays.
While a progressive shift to the cloud was the need of the hour, Mehta said, “For our cloud operations, the main aspect we were looking at is flexibility and scalability.” This means that the upgraded system should be a more agile one that would support the prompt and efficient delivery of its applications and services.
Choosing the Right Partner
The first step on the journey was to find an agile IT solution that would ensure faster delivery of our applications and services to our customer. Mehta said the bank decided on Nutanix as our trusted partner because of their company’s associations with India’s largest banks, broking firms and lending institutes.
According to Balakrishnan Anantharaman, VP and MD-Sales, India and SAARC, Nutanix, “RBL Bank’s shift from an “operating platform system” to a more agile system was needed to address the challenge of under-utilization owing to the fragmentation of IT resources provisioned across the business. Given this situation, RBL realized that they could achieve a lot more with cloud capabilities and automation as part of their IT processes.”
He also explains that RBL Bank needed simplified IT and sought to replace its existing hardware-based infrastructure with software-defined solutions. Doing so would help RBL Bank reduce the delay in processes caused by existing 3-tier architecture.
The organization implemented a 14-node Nutanix Enterprise Cloud cluster to support approximately 5,000-plus VDI users. The impact of Nutanix on the performance of its EUC was transformative from an end-user and IT perspective, eliminating outages and simplifying administration. In fact, it was at this point that the bank gained a real insight into the possibilities of a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI).
Continued discussions within the bank led to the Nutanix HCI being chosen to resolve the wider IT issues that tied up the IT team in management complexity and reduced the organization’s agility. RBL Bank opted for Nutanix Enterprise Cloud to deliver a database as a service (DBaaS) solution that would deliver the application-level transformation needed for speed and agility.
To the existing 14-node Nutanix cluster, the bank added eight nodes to support the DBaaS solution—enabling the bank to reduce its hardware footprint by 40% in the process and saving huge significant sums in hardware costs annually. In the process, the bank migrated support to Nutanix for banking systems and critical MS SQL databases, along with SAS analytics, other business applications, and document management systems.
Building on this core of management solutions, RBL Bank added Nutanix Flow to simplify network security and Nutanix Calm for application management and orchestration. The bank also added Nutanix Era to deliver DBaas solution in order to create copies of multi-terabyte databases automatically and refresh them every day with consistent timing and performance.
Significant gains from the deployment
Even before the impact of Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform was felt, RBL Bank saw significant improvements in its operations through the EUC migration. As Mehta believes, moving away from the tradition 3-tier approach has ensured that we experience a 5-year cost saving of at least 25% over our previous system.
The other significant gains from the implementation was that the time-to-market for new services dropped from 2-4 days to 4-6 hours and IT downtime virtually eliminated with 99% cut in EUC service tickets.
He says, “Call-center applications and databases now run six times faster—with login times reduced from 180 seconds to 30 seconds—enabling staff to deliver a better level of service and attend to more customers.”
The call centers’ 5,000-plus staff could spend more than 160 hours extra each day working with customers, cross selling and upselling services. When bank staff ran the numbers, it had a 35% improvement in contact center workforce efficiency.
At the same time, he highlights the sales of credit cards increased multifold. Over time, the improvements led to a 99% reduction in service tickets around EUC, but more importantly, the transformation helped RBL Bank accelerate growth in its credit-card business and reduced the cost of customer acquisition by half.
RBL Bank has simplified database management with its Nutanix HCI platform for databases and Nutanix Era—reducing DBA workloads and enabling the organization to respond faster to new opportunities.
As Mehta informs, besides, with compute and storage resources, and database copies available in an instant, time to provision a new database has been cut by 90% and we can create zero-byte clones in just 4 hours instead of several days,” says Mehta.
Further, in a Covid-19 world where business agility is more important than ever, the bank now not only has the tools to maintain its business operations when employee movements are restricted but can also quickly launch the services it knows customers require. As Mehta says, the bank benefits from the remote management capabilities of Nutanix and the ease of ramping up EUC if employees need to work from home.
The Roadmap Ahead
Currently, RBL Bank runs critical business apps such as contact centre and branch banking, CRM, SAS fraud detection, cash management system (CMS) as well as document management system (DMS) on Nutanix, says Anantharaman.
“There’s room to improve resource utilization through the automation of routine IT tasks, which then freed up resources to support other areas of the business. We also worked to create an automated Private Cloud Platform to support both current and future fintech applications,” he says.
Mehta agrees that the bank’s digital transformation journey is continuing, with a proof of concept for Nutanix Beam underway. Using the solution, the bank will analyze its current cloud spend on AWS and Azure and optimize security. Already Nutanix Beam is highlighting potential savings of 20-27% on current cloud expenditure, establishing a strong business case for its deployment. It’s these kinds of savings that will enable the bank to invest more resources in key areas such as software development, which in turn will reconfirm IT’s new position across the organization as a key business enabler.
The bank is also in the process of deploying Infosys Finacle DA on the Nutanix Karbon container platform to trigger its containerized application journey, concludes Mehta.