When sluggish performance of its core banking system left customers waiting in branches for their transactions to complete, Dubai Islamic Bank Pakistan Limited (DIBPL) knew that it had to take action.
DIBPL invested in cutting-edge IBM Power Systems servers and IBM FlashSystem storage to support the Oracle Database underpinning its core banking system, solving performance and availability issues.
81% cutin end-of-day cycle ensures branches are ready for trade each morning
50% cost savingon Oracle Database licenses
Business challenge story
The Islamic banking sector is thriving across the globe, and Dubai Islamic Bank Pakistan Limited (DIBPL) is no exception. Since its founding in 2005, the bank has grown rapidly, and it now serves more than 200,000 customers via its network of 200 branches and 43 branchless banking booths.
However, this rapid expansion has not been without its challenges. In particular, a dramatic rise in transaction volumes placed immense pressure on DIBPL’s Oracle FLEXCUBE core banking system. Several incidents occurred in which system performance dropped, leaving branch staff unable to complete customers’ transactions, so customers either had to wait or return to the branch later.
The problems were particularly acute during the holy month of Ramadan, when branches operate shorter hours and the system faced a significantly higher load during opening times. In their efforts to resolve the issue, DIBPL’s IT team stayed late, sometimes even breaking their fast at sunset in the office. Additionally, sluggish performance sometimes caused the bank’s end-of-day cycle to overrun, resulting in the core banking system being unavailable when the branches reopened for business in the morning.
Understandably, the issues were embarrassing for DIBPL and frustrating for customers. To solve the performance and availability problems, the bank undertook an urgent review of its IT landscape.
Eyes on the prize
After engaging IBM to perform a health check of its IT infrastructure and evaluating proposals from several leading vendors, DIBPL decided to deploy state-of-the-art IBM Power Systems servers and IBM FlashSystem all-flash arrays to replace their slower, disk-based storage.
Shaikh Mashhood-ur-Rahman, Head of IT at DIBPL, recalls: “We selected the proposal from IBM, because we know from experience that IBM Power Systems servers are extremely reliable. In fact, we have been running IBM Power Systems servers for 13 years and I have never witnessed an unplanned outage.”
Working with IBM, DIBPL discovered that the issues affecting its Oracle FLEXCUBE core banking system were driven primarily by slow performance on the underlying Oracle RAC solution, which is a clustered version of the Oracle Database. To solve the problem, IBM Systems Lab Services and IBM Business Partner i3PATHFINDER helped DIBPL migrate the Oracle RAC database supporting Oracle FLEXCUBE to two IBM Power Systems S822 servers, which are virtualized using IBM PowerVM® and run the IBM AIX® operating system. For high-performance data storage, DIBPL deployed an IBM FlashSystem 900 solution.
Malik Irfan Ahmed, Head of IT Operations & Infrastructure at DIBPL, remarks: “Initially, we were concerned because both IBM POWER8 and IBM Flash Storage were brand-new technologies – in fact, we were one of the very first POWER8 deployments in Pakistan. We would like to thank the IBM team for showing us how the solutions worked in detail and for convincing us to take the plunge, because we haven’t looked back. The new IBM Power Systems and IBM FlashSystem infrastructure has entirely solved the performance and availability issues affecting our core banking application.
“IBM Systems Lab Services and IBM Business Partner i3PATHFINDER provided excellent support during the migration, helping us achieve a smooth transition to the new infrastructure.”
Since the initial deployment, DIBPL deployed IBM Power Systems and FlashSystem solutions at its secondary data center to ramp up its disaster-recovery capabilities. The company is now able to fail over rapidly in the event of a disaster at the main site, so that trading can continue as usual.
Turning heads in the industry
With its core banking application running fast and reliably, DIBPL can provide seamless, top-quality banking services for customers.
Shaikh Mashhood-ur-Rahman remarks: “Thanks to the ultra-fast IBM Power Systems servers and IBM FlashSystem storage, we have dramatically boosted the performance of our Oracle FLEXCUBE core banking system, so branch staff can complete customer transactions quickly and easily, without interruption. Even during the exceptional burden on the system during Ramadan, we haven’t experienced a single problem with reliability and performance. In fact, we are running at 99.9 percent system availability.
“Moving to the latest IBM Power Systems servers and IBM FlashSystem storage has enabled us to shorten our end-of-day cycle by 81 percent. As such, we have complete peace of mind that Oracle FLEXCUBE will complete the processing run overnight and be available in good time before branches reopen for trading in the morning.”
Malik Irfan Ahmed remarks: “The improvements we have made are already having a tangible impact on customer service. People know they can count on us to provide great service every time, and our year-on-year profits have doubled. It has been a huge success.”
All of these improvements have not gone unnoticed: in fact, DIBPL has received calls from top five banks in Pakistan, asking how the IT team has achieved such dramatic enhancements to the core banking system. Furthermore, DIBPL’s parent company in Dubai is now following its subsidiary’s lead and adopting IBM POWER8® servers.
The benefits don’t stop there. With the advanced virtualization of IBM PowerVM, DIBPL can run its Oracle RAC database on fewer processor cores, halving Oracle licensing costs. Additionally, IBM Power Systems servers and IBM FlashSystem storage offer DIBPL plenty of performance and flexibility to support the bank as it extends its portfolio with new offerings around online and mobile banking.
Shaikh Mashhood-ur-Rahman concludes: “Thanks to IBM and Oracle, we can provide better service to our customers than ever before, and our investment is already paying off as profits have grown two-fold. We look to IBM to help us stay at the top of our industry in future, showing us where to invest and how to harness the latest technologies to achieve long-term commercial success.”
About Dubai Islamic Bank Pakistan
Dubai Islamic Bank Pakistan Limited (DIBPL) is one of Pakistan’s fastest growing Islamic Banks, serving over 200,000 customers via its network of 2,000 branches and 43 branchless booths. DIBPL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dubai Islamic Bank UAE, the world's first Islamic Bank.
- FSS: Banking - Back Office - Core Systems Transformation
- IBM Power S822
- STG Lab Services: Power
- STG Lab Services: Storage
- Power Systems running AIX
- Storage: IBM FlashSystem 900
Take the next step
i3PATHFINDER Solutions provides enterprises solutions built on innovation, intelligence and integration using cutting-edge technology. The company is headquartered in Karachi, Pakistan, and also operates offices in Islamabad and Lahore. To learn more about i3PATHFINDER Solutions, please visit: www.i3pathfinder.com