Success story

ING-DiBa prepares for future growth with open source solutions

ING-DiBa is the third-largest retail bank in Germany. As a branchless bank with a direct banking model, the underlying platforms powering its services are critical. The introduction of Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® and Red Hat Satellite helps ING-DiBa achieve increased efficiency, performance, and scalability by migrating from the SPARC-Solaris servers to x86 systems running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Customer Since


Frankfurt, Germany

Financial Services Industry


Replace SPARC-Solaris systems with x86 systems running Red Hat Enterprise Linux.


  • 40 x86 HP servers (DL-380 with 384 GB RAM, 2 CPU sockets)

As a financial service provider, we cannot make any compromises as far as the reliability and stability of the solutions used in datacenter operations are concerned. And it is exactly here that Red Hat Enterprise Linux as a platform has convinced us completely, without question.

Heiko MicHelson, team leader for Virtualization and Cloud Services, ING-DiBa

Bank's proprietary systems reach their limits

The Virtualization and Cloud Services team at ING-DiBa, Germany's third-largest retail bank, faced a decision. Its hardware had reached its limits, and a system upgrade or replacement was essential. It could upgrade its existing proprietary hardware and software, remaining locked into an IT architecture it had already outgrown, or it could migrate to a much more scalable, open source environment.

Hardware was fragmented

At this critical time, ING-DiBa was running a total of 100 physical servers. On the server side, Sun Solaris systems were being used together with a highly fragmented range of hardware systems, including Sun's SPARC servers, Sun x86 servers, and 25 unmanaged Linux servers.

Old equipment posed risk

Out-of-date hardware increased the risk of unplanned downtime. The heterogeneous IT infrastructure caused challenges for system administration, such as the large number of manual operations required to service applications across the server estate. Almost all Java applications had reached their upper performance limits, and the limited scalability of the systems made it difficult for the IT department to keep pace with the increasing requirements of the business.

IT wanted flexibility

ING-DiBa's IT mission was clear. IT wanted to lower server deployment time to fewer than 3 days. It also needed to cut overall costs and administrative effort without sacrificing quality or performance. The solution also needed to be standards-based and feature a high degree of flexibility, with the ability to upgrade in the future.

Open source has competitive edge to meet requirements

ING-DiBa examined several options and narrowed its decision down to two main contenders. One was the infrastructure variants consisting of Solaris VM and Solaris 10 on Oracle x86 machines. The other included VMware ESX 4.1 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux on HP x86 machines. The solution combining products from Red Hat had a clear competitive edge, but there were reservations about migrating to open source technology.

Banks avoid risk

Companies in conservative, risk-averse industries like financial services have been slow to consider open source solutions over proprietary, despite rising popularity and trust in open source technology. In ING-DiBa's case, it might appear less risky to upgrade its existing proprietary system, but that would inevitably lead to the same decision being made in the future as the bank continued to grow.

IT team examines Linux

ING-DiBa did an in-depth evaluation of enterprise-class Linux solutions and realized its initial concerns about operating reliability, software quality, and flexibility were unfounded. The IT team decided to migrate to Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Its ABI/API stability allows for changes to be made with a very low risk and is one of its most valuable features. It has been proven by thousands of certifications from independent software vendors and original equipment manufacturers that cover the operating system's 10-year life cycle.

Open source offers security

"Decisive criteria in favor of this mix included the reduced administration workload, higher flexibility, shorter deployment times, and increased reliability and availability. The fact that the Red Hat solution offered us security for the future was also a big plus," said Heiko Michelsen, team leader for Virtualization and Cloud Services at ING-DiBa.

Smooth migration in record time

Red Hat facilitated the migration to Red Hat Enterprise Linux by providing a step-by-step implementation architecture and roadmap called Standard Operating Environment (SOE). It was delivered by Cologne-based Red Hat Advanced Business Partner DASS IT, which specializes in developing and implementing customized open source solutions.

Because Red Hat had experience meeting comparable requirements to those of ING-DiBa, the migration was completed smoothly in parallel to ING-DiBa's daily business. "Red Hat used its standard operating environment to present a well-established methodology and solution that perfectly fit the project requirements and contributed towards the success of the migration," said Michelsen.

The migration project saw 100 SPARC systems replaced with 40 HP x86 systems. Migration of the Solaris banking environment to a virtualized system based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux was achieved quickly, cost-effectively, and with minimal effort. ING-DiBa cites its new infrastructure's flexibility in several ways:

  • A single employee installed 74 virtual machines in just four days, and 13 Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers were installed in 23 minutes.
  • A SAP machine was restored in four minutes.
  • A complete new parallel banking environment was introduced within three days.

System supports new business models

With the standardized architecture of their online banking, ING-DiBa can easily provide new infrastructures to support new business models. Only minimal time and efforts were needed to provision a parallel banking environment for mobile devices with the high degree of reusable components and existing automation.

App server offers more availability

By the end of 2012, a total of 850 virtual servers were in active use, and that number rose to 1,230 by mid-2013. Beside their SAP infrastructure, the complete application server and web tier of ING-DiBa's online banking infrastructure now run on top of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. "The application server tier, which is based on Red Hat JBoss® Middleware, has heavily increased the availability and scalability of ING-DiBa's banking systems," said Jörg Forstner, head of Technical Engineering and Application Services at ING-DiBa.

Red Hat had best fit

"The critical success factor of this project was the perfect combination of platform, tools, and methodology," said Dirk Herrmann, head of Strategic Consulting, Red Hat Germany. "Red Hat Enterprise Linux as the best-fit platform solution offers a high level of stability and flexibility and a huge ecosystem of solutions and support. Red Hat Satellite, a flexible, scalable tool, is an integrated systems management solution that offers significant potential for integration, expansion, and automation. Last but not least, our standard operating environment methodology has matched perfectly with the business needs and targets of ING-DiBa. Achieving this level of standardization, automation, and internal knowledge in the extremely short timeframe of one year is a powerful proof of the value of our SOE solution offering."

Simplified system management with Red Hat Satellite

To deploy, scale, and manage Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the bank uses Red Hat Satellite, a system management solution that includes all of the tools necessary for efficient system administration. Red Hat Satellite supports management across the software and system life cycle and enables the bank to automate provisioning and install operating systems on all servers. Red Hat Satellite can apply software updates, carry out configuration management, and monitor physical and virtual Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers.

Automation reduces error

Automated management is especially important for companies like ING-DiBa that need to remove potential sources of human error, as well as reduce the required time, cost, and additional personnel needed over the long term.

"As a financial service provider, we cannot make any compromises as far as the reliability and stability of the solutions used in datacenter operations are concerned. And it is exactly here that Red Hat Enterprise Linux as a platform has convinced us completely, without question," said Michelsen.

Bank gets efficient operations, low workload, and reduces costs

Productivity rises with right tools

A study on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux platform by research firm IDC found that deployment consistency, tools, and lack of diversity were the main drivers for productivity and efficiency. ING-DiBa has significantly reduced the administration workload since the introduction of the new solution. A single administrator can manage up to 250 servers without complication.

Incidents reduced

The fully automatic, wave-based patch management has enabled the IT team to apply patches to their 1,200 servers in waves of up to 150 systems at a time. With Red Hat Enterprise Linux's reliability, automation, efficiency, and quality testing, the number of incidents has been reduced significantly. ING-DiBa has decreased their on-call service use from two to three times per week to one to two times per month.

Service calls decline

Dirk Janssen, system engineer at ING-DiBa, explained the changes in regard to IT service reliability and dependability with the following example: "In the past we received 2-3 calls per week on our on-call service mobile phone to fix some incidents in our IT services. Now my biggest concern is if the mobile phone is still working since it does not ring anymore."

Costs lowered

Finally, the replacement of the old systems has resulted in ongoing cost savings for the bank. Hardware maintenance costs are more easily and cost-effectively managed thanks to a three-year inclusive hardware maintenance contract. Software licensing costs have been lowered by replacing the UNIX systems.

Red Hat exceeded expectations

"The successful implementation of the project exceeded expectations. Red Hat Enterprise Linux has proved its value as the operating system platform for mission-critical applications and the Red Hat Satellite management system is a flexible solution that offers a high level of potential for expansion and automation," said Michelsen.

"It is important to stress the very high level of expertise that Red Hat and its partners have to offer. The next project will review the remaining Database Systems still running on Solaris and benchmark it to Red Hat Enterprise Linux," Michelsen said.

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