Arab Bank grows with greenfield IT

IT now a proactive business enabler

Arab Bank Australia may not be on the same scale as the larger financial institutions, but its rapid growth rate called for a rethink of how information was managed and how it could be leveraged to support new ventures.

With offices in NSW and Victoria, two years ago the bank began experiencing accelerated growth and put out a tender to a "closed group" of suppliers, according to IT information manager Farid Khoury.

Arab Bank selected a set number of partners, including EMC, Cisco, and IBM, and together with service provider Dimension Data put together a "well defined solution" to replace its ageing infrastructure.

"Arab Bank is a traditional relationship bank that wants to deliver better service," Khoury said, adding the project helped grow the company's backups as its infrastructure grew, including for business continuity and DR.

"We utilized VMWare to consolidate servers and give the agility to move services around and we used RSA for two-factor authentication."

Overall, the intent was to move IT from being reactive to proactive and enable the business to grow and "add to the bottom line".

Khoury said this project has led to others based around how to correctly structure information in the financial service industry.

"We were doing a greenfield infrastructure roll-out - from data centres to security all tied together," he said. "For us Dimension Data was a one-stop-shop and had everything we needed."

Arab Bank may only have some 250 employees in Australia, but it has the luxury many other larger banks don't - hot data centres.

With two CX500 SANs across data centres set to "on the fly go live" Khoury said the bank would experience very minimal downtime and "it's redundant and allows us to grow".

EMC Australia and New Zealand managing director David Webster said the combination of Di Data, Cisco and EMC is working well in the local market.

"In the past there was an approach by customers that was much more siloed," Webster said. "Customers now want to work with one, two, or maximum of three vendors. IT professionals are consistently telling us they want to deal with less vendors."

Dimension Data's general manager for data centre solutions, Ronnie Altit, said the infrastructure has been established that will enable Arab Bank to carry forward its projected growth for five years.

"It's easily scalable so the bank will be able to add new business capabilities without having to rebuild."

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