Emid relies on IBM Z servers to host its SaaS core banking offerings. Given rising security and compliance pressures, as well as continued growth in demand, the company wanted to upgrade its infrastructure.
Emid deployed an IBM z14® ZR1 server to support growth in demand and deployed the platform’s pervasive encryption capability to provide additional data security and peace of mind to clients and their retail banking customers.
Protectscustomer data in flight and at rest with pervasive encryption
Scalesseamlessly to meet continued growth in demand
100%availability for the past 15 years
Business challenge story
Meeting new banking needs
The financial services landscape across Africa is transforming rapidly. Outside of South Africa, where the retail banking sector is well-established, demand for retail banking services is booming among a rising middle class, as well as among formerly unbanked citizens. For people in these widely distributed communities where visiting a physical bank branch may be impractical, mobile services are vital.
As a leading provider of managed ICT solutions and a pioneer of cloud-based banking systems in Africa, Emid is helping banks and financial services providers across the continent to tap into this opportunity by providing remote and digital banking services.
Johan Bosch, Executive Director at Emid ICT, says: “In many rural areas the nearest branch can be 80 to 100 kilometers away, and getting there will cost an arm and a leg – this means that, without access to digital banking, most customers simply won’t use a bank at all.
“If a customer cannot get to the branches, we need to put the bank in their hands. Although not all customers have access to branches or a PC, most have a smartphone, so the easiest way to bring financial products to them is through a mobile experience. At Emid, we provide innovative, cloud-based banking solutions to enable our clients to provide banking products over great distances straight to customers’ mobiles and devices, enabling more citizens to gain access to financial services.”
Growing security demands
Facing constant growth in demand, and increasing regulatory pressure around security capabilities, Emid wanted to upgrade its infrastructure to take advantage of the most secure and reliable platform available.
Johan Bosch continues: “Today, the security and privacy of customer information is paramount. That’s going to be the big thing going forward, because if your information gets leaked, you lose customer trust and those customers will just move to your competitors. This is an especially sensitive issue in Southern Africa, where banks already suffer from a weak reputation.
“There is also regulatory pressure on banks to maintain good security credentials – and compliance is perhaps our biggest challenge. South Africa’s PoPI law, much like GDPR in Europe, requires every organization which stores personal information to comply with strict security rules.”
Requiring an IT infrastructure capable of supporting numerous banks simultaneously, and offering exceptional performance, reliability, scalability and security for its cloud-hosted C4 core-banking solution, Emid has relied on the IBM Z platform for many years.
“Our core banking solution encompasses retail banking, transaction accounts, loan accounts, online services, all as a single “bank-in-a-box” service, available 24/7,” says Johan Bosch. “For over 15 years, we have relied on IBM Z to provide the reliable, scalable, secure infrastructure we need to manage all of this securely for our clients.”
To meet expanding demand and security requirements, Emid invested in a zBC12 server early in 2017, upgraded to a z13s® server towards the end of that year, and then became one of the first companies worldwide to invest in the latest IBM z14 technology in May 2018.
Emid continues to use IBM z/OS® on its z14 ZR1 server to run multiple, highly secure client environments, ringfenced to ensure no unauthorized access to data. To further increase security with the pervasive encryption capability provided by the new z14 technology, Emid has undertaken extensive training on this new Z security feature, protecting its clients’ critical data in flight and at rest.
“Pervasive encryption was the single biggest factor that led us to upgrade to IBM z14 ZR1,” recalls Johan Bosch. “It enables us to put encryption on top of all of the data – so when a transaction comes in, we can secure it at the flick of a switch. With the IBM z14 ZR1 server handling all the encryption, I can rest assured that all our customer data is safe, without the need for any developer input on the application layer – which makes my life a lot easier.”
Delivering secure remote banking on a vast scale
With pervasive encryption on its IBM z14 ZR1, Emid can deliver exceptionally high standards in data security to its clients, reinforcing its popular services and helping its clients to satisfy increasingly demanding regulators.
Johan Bosch says: “As we handle millions of transactions from customers across Southern Africa, we needed a solid solution to protect that data. Now, all of the data can be encrypted automatically. This encourages complete confidence from our clients and their customers, as they know that, in the unlikely event there is a hack or a leak, the data is still protected with encryption, preventing hackers from seeing any personal information or using the data in any way.”
Unlocking new capabilities
Backed by enhanced performance and security on IBM z14 servers, Emid’s banking services enable established banks to increase their agility and compete better with FinTech start-ups. Emid also helps the FinTechs themselves to rapidly roll out trusted customer services, including transactional accounts, lending, card management services, and omni-channel banking services.
Johan Bosch says: “In our client Service Level Agreements, we promise the ‘five nines’ SLA – that’s 99.999 percent uptime. To support this, we need a reliable partner, with a robust, scalable and secure platform. IBM has continued to provide that, enabling us to achieve 100 percent uptime over the last 15 years, and the upgrade to z14 ZR1 has only further improved this performance and security.”
Emid also provides each customer with separate database and transaction handling resources and runs separate logical partitions (LPARs) for development and test environments, helping it continuously add new capabilities to the core C4 solution.
Emid has begun to migrate production Linux workloads, including open-source MongoDB databases and its VoIP telephony system, from a distributed x86 landscape to the z14’s enhanced Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) engines for improved qualities of service and security.
Johan Bosch says: “By migrating Linux from x86 to the same z14 ZR1 server that runs our core-banking systems on z/OS, we can simplify operations and admin work, without the need for additional staff, as managing the IFLs requires the same discipline as managing the z14. We expect to achieve significant cost savings but also to enhance the security and resilience of those Linux workloads.
“With operations back on our enterprise server, we can keep the data closer to us, more visible and easier to control. As we continue to grow, I know I can rely on the amazing scalability, security and performance of IBM Z servers.”
Emid is a leading provider of managed ICT solutions and a pioneer of cloud-based banking systems in Africa. Based in Pretoria, Emid began as part of a major South African retail bank, providing core banking capabilities for other financial providers, and was acquired in 2015 by EOH, the largest technology service provider in Africa. Today, Emid provides managed services including networking, infrastructure, and IT support for businesses across industry sectors, as well as offering its C4 cloud-hosted, core-banking omni-channel platform.
Take the next step
To learn more about IBM Z solutions, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/it-infrastructure/us-en/trusted-digital-experiences/