Business challenge

To attract new customers and nurture the long-term loyalty of its account holders, a major bank wanted to launch innovative data-driven services—but legacy on-premises infrastructure slowed development.


The bank partnered with IBM to build a scalable, integrated, security-rich hybrid cloud environment. With open and standardized resources on IBM Cloud™, the bank is embracing agile development.


10x faster

development of new digital services enhances customer experience

3x lower

operational costs enable the bank to drive investment in new offerings

Hybrid cloud

empowers the bank to nurture customer loyalty and attract new business

Business challenge story

Preparing for 21st-century services

Around the world, digital banking services are exploding in popularity. For a major bank in the Asia-Pacific region, shaping seamless, high-quality digital experiences is a key strategic objective.

Banking customers are increasingly tech savvy, and expect to be able to access banking services anytime and anywhere. To maintain loyalty and appeal to new prospects, the bank needed to be able to develop and launch new digital offerings faster. However, its traditional approaches to on-premises infrastructure made it difficult to make new resources available to internal developers rapidly or cost-effectively. Setting up new development environments could take up to three months, and this long lead-time also meant that development teams tended to hold onto resources once they had them.

As a result, bringing new services to market was costly and time-consuming, and the bank saw that nimble fintech startups—unencumbered by legacy systems—were poised to step in. Recognizing an opportunity to harness cloud computing as a means of breaking down operational silos and launching customer-centric services faster, the bank sought an expert partner to help make its vision a reality.

The IBM Cloud is helping us accelerate development by a factor of ten.

Spokesperson, major international bank

Transformation story

Transforming to a cloud model

With an immediate requirement to reduce costs, accelerate development, and integrate new acquisitions into a cohesive operating model, the bank saw the cloud as an ideal solution. Knowing that its on-premises infrastructure would remain critical to its success for years to come, the company recognized that adopting cloud would enable it to start the journey to digital transformation with speed and without excessive risk or disruption.

As the target state of its hybrid cloud environment would only become clear as the project progressed, the bank looked for a partner to work side-by-side with on every step of its cloud journey.

Based on its positive experience of working with IBM for the management of mission-critical infrastructure and applications, the bank engaged a multi-disciplinary team from IBM Global Technology Services® to help design and build an innovative hybrid cloud environment that will unite on-premises and IBM Cloud in a seamless whole.

In addition to being the model of choice for many fintechs, the hybrid cloud approach enables the bank to take an iterative approach to development while still ensuring tight governance and control over data, and reducing operational costs.

Viewing cloud as a journey rather than a fixed destination, IBM prioritized openness and standardization in the bank’s hybrid environment from the outset. By focusing on the desired capabilities rather than the infrastructure, and by choosing open, standardized technologies, the team created a future-proof architecture in which the bank will be able to move services seamlessly between on-premises, the IBM Cloud, and public cloud environments.

IBM and the bank embraced a co-development model enriched with IBM Design Thinking and Agile expertise, collaborating to boost speed while addressing the bank’s demanding requirements across security, availability, and regulatory compliance. Over a three-year period, the joint project teams met every week to discuss challenges, celebrate milestones, and set goals.

Today, the bank operates mission-critical applications across a range of public cloud, off-premises private cloud, and on-premises platforms in a true hybrid, multi-cloud architecture.

The off-premises private cloud solution is VMware vCenter Server on IBM Cloud (vCS). The joint teams migrated the existing virtual machines and the mapped application loads including key customer-facing systems for core banking, payments, fraud detection and more to IBM Cloud.

The IBM Cloud bare metal servers that run the bank’s growing VMware landscape are hosted in two separate IBM Cloud Multi Zone Region data centers, in an active-active configuration that offers exceptional availability and protection against unplanned downtime. Other key VMware components used in the solution include ESX Server, vSphere, vSAN, vRealize Automation, and vRealize Orchestrator. IBM is continuing to help the bank migrate applications and the underlying virtual machines to the new VMware landscape; the goal is to move approximately 15,000 virtual machines over the coming five years.

Results story

Building a customer-centric offering

With a continually evolving hybrid cloud platform supporting its services, the bank is bringing new offerings to market faster than ever. Instead of being tied up in making changes to core systems, the bank is free to focus on building exceptional experiences for its customers. With APIs that integrate with key systems in a standardized way, the bank is breaking down operational silos and building, testing, and launching new services more quickly.

A spokesperson for the bank comments: “The IBM Cloud is helping us accelerate development by a factor of ten. Services that previously took months to launch now go into production within a matter of hours, giving us the freedom to experiment with new ideas in a highly agile way. And at the same time as achieving all these improvements, we have reduced our operational costs by around 65 percent.”

The IBM hybrid cloud takes advantage of IBM Services Platform with Watson™, which provides dynamic automation and continuous compliance capabilities to seamlessly patch systems against new threats, boosting security at high speed. Automated features like these help ensure that the bank spends less time working on the underlying infrastructure and more time on the customer experience. By shaping a customer-centric offering, the company is making it easier to attract and retain customers—sharpening its competitiveness in the retail banking market.

As the bank shifts from selling products to focusing on customer service, its IBM Cloud platform helps by enabling greater efficiency, speed, agility, and security.

major international bank

This is a major international bank headquartered in the Asia-Pacific region and with offices in key financial centers around the world.

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