HDFC Bank : Its about Storage



Data is expanding, but at the same time traditional storage systems have low
disk utilization (30-40% is common among most storage systems). In traditional
storage implementations, space allocations are tied to physical disks, and
administrators usually provision more storage than is immediately required since
they do not want to change allocations frequently. This space over-allocation
then expands multiple times considering that the same volumes are backed up at
least once for business continuity purposes. This can lead to rapidly increasing
storage costs. CIOs are challenged with improving disk utilization rates in
order to save costs. When organizations buy systems on their own, an
unstructured storage infrastructure is created. Here technologies like storage
virtualization provides a way to simplify the resultant management complexity by
providing a single interface and makes for unified data management.

In todays business, many copies of data are created, especially in
environments like software development, application upgrades, patches, bug
fixes, testing, etc. Obviously, if each copy has to take up the full storage
space, as is allocated to the production data, thats inefficient use of
storage. Virtualization technology enables virtual copies instead of full copies
and still provides individual copies to each group.

Whenever technology concepts like network storage and virtualization are
debated, questions on its successful proof-points and the benefits it brings to
table hog the limelight. HDFC, a leading bank in India with hundreds of branches
across the country leveraged storage and virtualization to its advantage. For
improving upon its operational efficiencies, the bank adopted SAN and created an
agile storage environment using tiered storage.

Key Advantages
  • SAN and virtualization offered the bank an
    optimal storage backbone that led to a significant tweak in its
    performance
  • Virtualization capabilities enabled the
    bank to keep the cost low for multiple snapshots of large production
    databases

Scaling Challenges
Being a bank that is growing in leaps and bounds across several of its
services, there was a constant strain on scaling in sync with the growth. The
bank faced a big challenge in the area of storage. By upgrading its storage
infrastructure the bank has nearly doubled its number of branches and has been
able to scale effectively and meet the demands. In this backdrop, revisiting the
IT infrastructure became inevitability for the bank. HDFC faced specific issues
like slowing user response times, shrinking backup windows, and aspects like
complicated regulations compounded the problems.

The IT team of the bank looked at ways and means to mend the ailing areas. It
became evident that the main culprit hampering effective scalability was the
banks servers. The servers were attached to DAS which led to fragmented storage
upgrades, which in turn created a huge turn-around time during month-end and led
to downtime. With a plethora of OS and hardware cutting across Solaris to AIX,
HDFC decided to go in for SAN.

Benefits
The company went for storage solutions from Hitachi Data Systems. The
initial agenda while rolled out SAN was to consolidate the DAS environment with
SAN. Since then the company has come a long way in managing its storage
infrastructure and has created a robust and pro-active storage backbone. To
maximize flexibility and responsive prioritization across the banks storage,
SAN was extended with tiered storage. The up-gradation of its storage together
with virtualization capabilities have given it the required storage bandwidth to
manage its growth. Moreover, SAN and virtualization offered the bank an optimal
storage backbone that led to a significant tweak in its performance.

For an organization like HDFC the high available storage system has provided
faster response times for users and is enabling the bank to improve efficiency
and productivity. Over a period of time, post deployment, the bank has worked
out ways and means of effectively leverage its SAN environment for deploying new
business intelligence. It also gained robust data protection capabilities.
Meanwhile on the disaster recovery front the bank was able to manage it
effectively, as it gained high degree of manageability.

For instance post the SAN deployment it is now able to scale without any
issues and can even double the storage size without impacting the throughput
rates. In the last one year the bank has significantly upgraded the storage
infrastructure with much newer solutions from Hitachi and was able to equip
itself with state-of-the-art storage that forms as a critical IT infrastructure
at HDFC.

Shrikanth G
shrikanthg@cybermedia.co.in

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