OCBC Bank made headlines way back in the 1930s when three of the largest Chinese banks, in what was then called Malaya, joined forces to meet the onslaught of the depression years. OCBC's pioneering spirit is still evident some seven decades later.
Today, OCBC Bank has assets of more than RM20 billion (US $5.26 billion) with 25 branches throughout the country and close to 2,500 employees. The bank delivers superior-quality service to customers through a broad range of financial products and services.
One of OCBC Bank Malaysia's major concerns is to ensure the bank can continue serving its customers quickly and efficiently. Any interruption or breakdown in its IT system will have immediate and serious repercussions, damaging the excellent reputation the bank has forged over the decades.
When it comes to banking and finance, risk management is obviously of the utmost importance. As its IT operations grew, OCBC Bank Malaysia knew that to fulfill its responsibilities it had to further strengthen its systems to mitigate against potentially damaging disruptions to its core banking operations.
With its IT production center located in the heart of the financial district in Kuala Lumpur, OCBC Malaysia was faced with the challenge of ensuring its entire IT operations are not interrupted by power disruptions, communications line failures, or system downtime.
Building IT Capability Par Excellence
As part of its mission to become a world-class financial institution in the Asia-Pacific region, the Singaporean-owned bank instituted a dynamic three-year strategy known as OCBC 3.0. It was clear that one of the prerequisites to becoming a world-class bank was to implement excellent IT capabilities. The bank committed to creating IT systems that were second to none by implementing OCBC 3.0.
As a direct result of its hard work toward that goal, OCBC Bank (Malaysia) Berhad earned the distinction of being the first bank in Malaysia to obtain the ISO 9001 certification for Quality Management in Information Technology.
Bank Director and CEO Albert Yeoh stresses that OCBC Bank Malaysia is continually striving to provide its customers with quality service and that the foundation of this commitment is supported by the latest advances in IT.
"This IT commitment translates to an improved and superior way of getting things done more efficiently, thus increasing the productivity of the bank within a shorter time span. Most importantly, the bank will be in a better position to provide customers with new products and services that can only be delivered using cutting-edge technology," says Yeoh.
With these goals in place, it was no surprise that high on the bank's list of IT priorities was to implement a world-class high availability solution to keep its network operating around the clock. It was also an opportune time to put in place a real-time replication solution because the RENTAS (Local Money Fund Transfer) system was being implemented by Bank Negara Malaysia, the Central Bank of Malaysia.
To begin the project, OCBC Bank Malaysia rigorously evaluated the offerings of various high availability vendors. IBM Malaysia proposed Lakeview Technology 's MIMIX ha1 solution to provide high availability and continuous operations running on the IBM eServer iSeries servers. After reviewing all the options, the innovative features and superior architecture of MIMIX ha1 tipped the scales in Lakeview's favor.
"MIMIX ha1 is stable and easy to configure and manage. It is very user-friendly," says Destine Lim, head of OCBC Bank Malaysia's Information Technology. "In addition, MIMIX ha1 allows for intra-system replication within the same computer, a feature other vendors' offerings did not have."
OCBC Bank Malaysia's core banking applications—such as retail banking, credit card, treasury, credit leasing, and RENTAS—are kept active on the production iSeries Model 840 system at its main branch in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital.
In the event of planned or unplanned downtime, availability of data and applications is assured through MIMIX-managed automated switching to a backup iSeries server on which real-time, change-based, replicated data and applications reside. The backup system is located at the bank's Disaster Recovery Center in the township of Petaling Jaya outside of Kuala Lumpur. Replication between the production center and the recovery center takes place via a leased line.
Reaping the Benefits of MIMIX
The MIMIX ha1 solution was a significant enhancement to OCBC Bank Malaysia's IT operations. Previously, when the system came down for whatever reason, the IT staff had to send the backup tapes to the Disaster Recovery Center, where the data was restored on the backup machines.
"Before MIMIX ha1, we had no real-time backup, so if there was a system problem, we had to back up the database at the production center and bring it to the Disaster Recovery Center. The database would always be one day behind," says Lim.
The biggest hassle would be that staff at the branches had to re-key all the transactions for the day or, more specifically, all transactions entered since the last backup. If the system came down near the end of the day, the recovery period would take longer as nearly an entire day's worth of transactions would have to be re-keyed after the latest backup data was restored from tape at the Disaster Recovery Center.
Actual experience showed that it typically took about eight hours to restore the data, according to David Hah, OCBC Bank Malaysia's Assistant Vice President of Information Technology.
"We had to restore everything, including the profiles and the database as there are so many applications," Hah explains.
Now, with MIMIX ha1 in place, the restoration process has been significantly cut to a fraction of the time it previously took.
With the real-time backup that MIMIX maintains, the bank staff no longer needs to re-key the day's transactions when the system goes down. This has helped to greatly improve work processes and efficiency at the branches. This is especially important when you consider that OCBC Bank Malaysia's 25 branches generate an estimated 1 million transactions every day.
"The MIMIX ha1 solution has definitely helped reduce downtime and has improved our response to branches and customers," says Lim. "MIMIX has helped us maximize customer satisfaction by ensuring the continuous availability of systems responsible for their transactions."
The implementation of a high availability solution like MIMIX ha1 has also enabled OCBC Bank Malaysia to meet the stringent requirements of the Central Bank in the area of effecting money transfers to other Malaysian banks under the RENTAS system.
The worth of MIMIX has been demonstrated on several occasions when downtime at the production center threatened to delay money transfers under RENTAS. However, through MIMIX-managed switching to the backup iSeries system at the Disaster Recovery
Center, all of OCBC Bank's obligations under RENTAS have been met.
Since implementing MIMIX ha1, the task of upgrading systems also has become much easier and faster. During the planned downtime for system expansion, application upgrades, and maintenance, OCBC Bank Malaysia strives to minimize inconvenience to its customers, particularly for its 24-hour channels such as ATMs and Internet banking.
With MIMIX ha1, it is no longer necessary to expend up to 10 hours of planned downtime for system maintenance. Upgrades are usually done on a non-banking day, and the 24-hour channels are supported from the backup machine at the Disaster Recovery Center, says Hah.
The significant reduction in planned downtime means that OCBC Bank Malaysia can focus on delivering quality banking services to customers rather than worrying about limiting the impact of system upgrades and maintenance.
"Now, with our Internet banking channels and 24-hour banking, MIMIX increasingly becomes more important. With MIMIX ha1 in place, we are able to very quickly resume our IT operations and services, and we have peace of mind," adds Lum.
As one of the first banks in Malaysia to implement a 24-hour replication solution, OCBC Malaysia's lead has been taken up by other banks, which have since also opted to use MIMIX high availability solutions to ensure continuous operations for maximum customer satisfaction.
Lakeview Technology is the information availability company, providing high availability, data protection and data management software solutions to businesses of all sizes. Easy to install, manage and use, Lakeview solutions support applications in i5/OS, Windows, UNIX and Linux operating environments. For more than 15 years, companies around the world have made Lakeview Technology the one to count on for information availability. For more information, visit www.lakeviewtech.com.