The Smart List: Isbank builds a resilient future for its customers and the Turkish economy

Isbank and IBM worked together to migrate servers, applications and operational data without disrupting banking services

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Isbank is no stranger to the cutting edge. The Turkish financial institution has grown to 1,357 branches and serves 20 million customers. But with growth comes growing pains. In 2013, a system-wide computer network outage knocked out Isbank’s services for 16 hours, prompting it to modernize its data centers for more resilient and agile IT infrastructure. Isbank CTO Sabri Gökmenler and IBM Financial Services Leader Aydin Gulcur discuss how Isbank and IBM worked together to migrate the bank’s servers, applications and operational data, without disrupting the banking services Isbank’s customers depend on.

What is Isbank’s business + technology vision?

Sabri: As Isbank grows, it’s critical to have resilient data center infrastructure that not only supports a seamless customer experience, but also maintains economic activity for customers in disaster areas and prevents disruption due to natural, manmade or cyber-related disasters.

Aydin: The unique thing about Isbank’s business is that it’s one of the main building blocks of the Turkish economy. It’s more than a profit-oriented company; Isbank has a great responsibility to the Turkish community and contributes to both the country’s banking system and its economy. And because digital banking is now a must for every bank in the world, it’s essential to have the proper infrastructure and resiliency.

Read more about Isbank's transformation

How have you gone about bringing that vision to life?

Sabri: Before we started the data center migration, we spent time in a high-level migration planning process. After that, we migrated around 6,000 servers with more than 750 applications and around 4 petabytes of data to the new data center with minimal downtime during the migration and without any data loss.

Aydin: The planning phase is so important in a big data center migration project. Like any other bank, Isbank has many applications working in a complex environment. It’s absolutely critical to identify all the dependencies, all the critical applications, all the possible results that we might face during the migration.

What trends are you tracking on the horizon?

Sabri: The evolution of digital banking in Turkey is moving quickly. About one-third of retail customers have become fully digital customers in the last few years. We anticipate that our customers will soon expect to have banking services without feeling that there is a physical bank behind it all — and without compromising sustainability, speed or security.

Watch Isbank’s full story.