Major Macau Bank Tames Unstructured Data Growth with Cloud Object Storage

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For banks, data is a complex matter.

Unlike many other industries, data in banking is regulated and critical for daily operations. Their services rely on it to respond fast, while regulators require it for compliance. So, it is not surprising that banks face a tsunami in data growth.

Unstructured data adds another level of complexity. With more banks relying on non face-to-face services, from customer acquisition to daily financial services, unstructured data is experiencing hyper growth. Unprepared banks risk becoming overwhelmed.

This is the situation that a major Macau bank faced. To understand the challenges better, IBM did a storage infrastructure optimization analysis. We dove deep into their existing storage infrastructure and studied areas where they can manage future growth for unstructured data better.

The analysis showed that the Macau bank had to rethink their storage approach if they do not want their data to hinder their growth. Their traditional approach of storing them in departmental network attached storage and keeping them silo-ed was not working. Besides, managing sensitive information stored in a geographically dispersed manner posed a great data security risk.

The bank was also looking to deploy a container platform to speed up deployment. It would play a lead role in making us more responsive to changing customer needs, but depended on the availability of a modern cloud storage architecture.

So, we proposed IBM Cloud Object Storage.

Bits and bytes of cloud transformation

Cloud object storage is not new to banks. However, for the bank’s operations in Macau, it was new. It will also be their initial foray into the world of cloud. To allay initial cloud security fears and offer a good transitional step into the cloud, we proposed a private cloud storage infrastructure based on IBM Cloud Object Storage.

One key reason for choosing IBM Cloud Object Storage was its ability to scale on demand. It offered a single, centralized and high-performance hybrid platform to manage all their data — structured or unstructured — across all departments and operations, whether on premises or in the cloud. Support for flexible storage classes, storage tiers — such as active, cool and cold — fast recovery via a single API, and archiving capabilities offered additional advantages.

The automated tier classification with Smart Tier helped them to classify their data based on their value. The 99.99999999% data durability answered the bank’s resilience needs, while the use of encryption keys besides role-based policies provided an additional layer of protection against prying eyes.

IBM built the new infrastructure to run blazingly fast. Native integration of IBM Aspera high-speed data transfer capabilities allowed quick transfer of data to and from IBM Cloud Object Storage, across multiple sites. That there was no cost for data ingress was a bonus that the client appreciated.

IBM SQL Query simplified queries and setting up complex ETL processes was no longer required. The immutable object storage design preserved the bank’s records and reinforced its integrity in a WORM, non-erasable and non-rewritable manner. It meant accidental data deletion before retention periods ended and legal holds removed was now a thing of the past.

Geo-dispersed capabilities offered a vital advantage for backup and recovery. IBM Cloud Object Storage dispersed the bank’s data across multiple nodes, data center locations and regions. When disaster strikes or the bank experiences multiple failures, we could restore data from other active sites quickly.

To meet local banking rules, IBM partnered with LinkAPP. The combination and tight integration made our proposal a powerful use case for the Macau bank.

Designed for data resilience

As planned, IBM Cloud Object Storage broke down departmental silos for more efficient storage management — whether for files, videos, pictures or any other unstructured data. It improved the bank’s ability to take on extra business workloads without worrying about running out of space.

The solution ensured the bank kept a lid on any runaway storage costs. Centralized management put them in control of their storage infrastructure resilience, which will be crucial as their end customer behaviors shift toward mobile and online.

More importantly, IBM Cloud Object Storage gave the Macau bank the confidence to grow their business and take further steps into becoming a cloud-driven financial services business. The bank is now considering the use of the cloud object storage architecture for active-active multi-site disaster recovery and exploring fresh use cases.

Finding the right solution is only half the puzzle. Having the right partner that can understand your changing needs and be at your side to address them in a timely manner makes all the difference.

The IBM team’s commitment to client success was a key reason for the bank’s eventual selection. It is also why, in less than six months after the purchase, the bank went live — and never looked back since.

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