GE Money Bank Scales IT Infrastructure for Business Growth with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Virtualization

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January 25, 2010

Customer: GE Money Bank

Geography: EMEA
Country: Czech Republic


Business Challenge:

Needed to consolidate its technology infrastructure in order to scale with business growth and reduce dependency on high-end hardware and space resources for mission-critical operations

Migration Path:

Sun Solaris on SPARC servers to Red Hat Enterprise Linux with integrated virtualization on AMD Opteron-based servers

Solution:

GE Money deployed Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform on commodity hardware to consolidate its applications, the company utilized Red Hat virtualization and clustering technology for further system consolidation with the help of Red Hat Consulting

Software:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform including integrated virtualization, clustering and file system technologies, Red Hat Network Satellite, Red Hat Consulting, Oracle DB, IBM WebSphere, and Apache webservers

Hardware:

AMD Opteron-based servers: x4100, x4200, x4600, x4440, x4140, v20z and v40z

Benefits:

Increased operational flexibility, security, and reliability for its mission-critical infrastructure; reduced space required for servers by approximately 60 percent; scaled IT infrastructure for continued business growth.

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Background:

GE Money Bank is one of the largest financial institutions in the Czech Republic. It is a full-service bank with an extensive network of branches and ATMs. It focuses both on retail clients and small and medium-sized enterprises. GE Money Bank is a subsidiary of GE Capital, the global finance unit of General Electric, offering financial solutions to customers in 26 countries worldwide. The bank boasts a continuously increasing number of clients, upwards of 960,000, with more than 220 branch offices, and an ATM network of more than 600. As a result, the bank focuses on providing easily accessible, simple, and beneficial products through continuous innovation. GE Money Bank was the first large bank in the Czech Republic to introduce services such as a full-fledged electronic statement of account, communication with clients through a secured instant messenger, and the unique analytical addition to its Internet Bank, which allows clients to have control over their income and expenditures and to plan their budgets.

Business Challenge:

Due to the huge amount of critical data being passed through the GE Money network, performance, reliability, and low latency are business-critical. As the bank’s customer base grew, alongside the amount of services offered, the organisation’s technology infrastructure grew as well. The result was a huge a number of applications running on high-end, disparate servers. Not only was this expensive, both from a space and hardware perspective, but it was also becoming increasingly difficult to manage.

The team at GE Money recognized that in order to reduce any future technology shortfalls, it needed to review its technology infrastructure. The bank carried out a benchmarking exercise with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Sun Solaris on Intel, AMD, and IBM hardware. Red Hat performed well in comparison to the alternatives in regard to virtualization, performance, reliability, and the provisioning of a centralised management system. With these results, GE Money decided that Red Hat Enterprise Linux and its integrated virtualization and clustering technology would help to alleviate its technology challenges.

Solution:

Initially, GE Money rolled out Red Hat Enterprise Linux on commodity hardware and consolidated all of its applications onto a standard platform. Once the benefits of the standalone system were recognised, the Bank then looked to Red Hat virtualization and clustering technology for further systems consolidation.

During the deployment process, Red Hat also impressed GE Money with its level of consulting expertise. Understanding that the move to a virtualized environment with minimal disruption and adhering to the level of service that is critical to a high transaction environment, GE Money utilized Red Hat Consulting services to help with the migration.

“We recognized that virtualization technology was crucial to the consolidation and high-performance gains that a business such as ours required,” said Pavel Bartos, lead analyst IT infrastructure, GE Money Bank. “Red Hat came with a package of related benefits, in comparison to the competition. Not only was the technology impressive, but Red Hat Consulting’s local experience backed by Enlogit, a Czech Republic Red Hat Premier Partner, gave us peace of mind during roll out.”

“Our team of technicians were already comfortable developing and working within a Linux environment. Not only did this mean that we could up-skill relatively simply, but we also could channel the investment usually required for internal training into additional solutions and functionality for our clients.”

Benefits:

Most importantly, GE Money benefited from the flexibility that virtualized environments provide, running multiple operating systems and providing a framework for future applications with Red Hat Enterprise Linux. With the new solution, when servers need to be created there is no need to wait for additional hardware to be ordered as servers can be created on demand. At this time, more than 25 percent of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers are virtualized.

As with any financial institution, cost savings and customer service are at the heart of any technology exercise. GE Money eliminated license fees, witnessed increased reliability, and now runs on an infrastructure that can be more easily maintained.

“We now have the foundation on which our organization can thrive without facing the challenge of huge server rooms, maintaining expensive hardware, or relying on third-party, proprietary vendors to keep us up and running,” said Bartos. “Red Hat Enterprise Linux with integrated virtualization is a lean solution that was implemented with no impact to the wider business or our customers.

Bartos continued, “This frees up our internal resource to focus on value-add services to our expanding customer base. Innovation is at the heart of our business, and this project has focused up our time and investment to provision additional services on an infrastructure that can grow with the business. Currently we have more than 250 Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers operating in our test and production environments and this number is still growing.”

In the near future, GE Money plans to implement Red Hat Directory Server to simplify and automate user management and maintenance. GE Money recognises the security benefits associated with Red Hat Directory Server as administrators have the ability to control policy management and access rights across its multiple UNIX and AIX management systems.

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