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Ensuring optimum database performance to support critical banking systems

With hundreds of database instances underpinning mission-critical IT systems, Nordea Bank’s database administrators (DBAs) are constantly seeking to optimize performance and availability. IBM technology provides actionable insight into queries and configuration issues, enabling fast troubleshooting to keep systems responsive and data safe.

Business challenge

Nordea Bank’s complex database landscape supports its core banking and customer data systems. How could its DBAs monitor hundreds of databases and keep everything running smoothly?


Working with IBM, Nordea Bank implemented database management tools that instantly alert DBAs to problems—helping them keep database performance high and maintain an excellent user experience.

Results Simplifies
database monitoring, enabling consistent high performance
significant time savings, helping DBAs focus on application support
high availability for database instances supporting critical banking systems
Business challenge story
Supporting vital financial services

Nordea Bank provides millions of customers across the Nordic region with everyday banking services such as savings accounts, loans and pension plans, as well as furthering the growth of small and large businesses through commercial and business banking, wholesale banking, and wealth management. To support its mission-critical banking systems, Nordea Bank relies on hundreds of IBM® Db2® databases, running on multiple operating systems across many physical servers in its data center.

Björn Söderlund, Chief IT Infrastructure Specialist at Nordea Bank, explains: “We run a very large and complex enterprise Db2 environment that underpins many of our key services. Our core and private banking systems, our master data and legacy customer data, and our payments and anti-money laundering systems run on Db2.

Previously, the DBAs at Nordea Bank used scripts developed in-house to collect data on the performance of Db2 instances. Coding and maintaining these scripts was time-consuming, and each time a new database instance was added to the landscape, scripts would also have to be updated to ensure that the new data was captured properly.

When the bank embarked on a major project to consolidate and simplify its IT resources by moving much of its infrastructure to a new data center, the database administration (DBA) team saw an opportunity to look for a smarter, faster way to monitor their databases, and reduce their maintenance burden.

“Ensuring the health and high performance of our database instances is critical to ensure we comply with financial regulations and provide seamless customer service. However, monitoring all our databases, picking up errors and correcting them quickly, is a challenge for our DBAs. If a database is running slowly, or suffering downtime, or is not configured properly, we need to know, fast.”

Björn Söderlund explains: “We needed a new approach to manage our Db2 setup, especially as we are now beginning to use advanced features like HADR and pureScale. We looked for a software solution that could give us rapid, detailed insights into Db2 performance, and monitor these new database features at a more granular level.”

Data Server Manager helps us understand database performance across the business and maintain a seamless user experience. Björn Söderlund Chief IT Infrastructure Specialist Nordea Bank
Transformation story
Delivering rapid insights to DBAs

After looking at data monitoring tools from several vendors, Nordea Bank selected IBM Data Server Manager to help its DBAs work smarter and more productively.

Björn Söderlund elaborates: “It was important to find a solution that delivers deep insight into our databases, as well as integrating with our existing IBM Tivoli® Monitoring software, which tracks the performance of other aspects of our IT architecture.

“We have years of experience working with IBM, and Data Server Manager ticked all of the boxes. Moreover, since the tool is available as part of Db2 Advanced Enterprise Edition, we incurred no additional costs to implement the solution.”

Now deployed across Nordea Bank’s systems in the new data center, Data Server Manager collects data from each of the Db2 instances, and saves it to a central repository to form a comprehensive record of database performance, availability and configurations. The Db2 databases that the solution monitors support many of the bank’s core banking systems, as well as its customer master data, which is administered through IBM InfoSphere® Master Data Management.

The solution then analyzes the collected data and delivers rapid, actionable information to the DBA team in the form of alerts and notifications. For example, if it detects any changes to a particular database’s configuration, or any variances from the correct baseline settings, it helps DBAs identify and correct the problem immediately.

Data Server Manager also provides the capability to carry out in-depth monitoring of advanced database features, including IBM Db2 pureScale® to improve performance and scalability, and IBM Db2 High Availability Disaster Recovery (HADR) for business continuity.

Björn Söderlund continues: “The installation of Data Server Manager was quick and easy. We had the software up and running after just a couple of hours, and with the expert guidance of the IBM team, we were able to follow the best practices for setting up database monitoring profiles. Since the implementation, we have run several upgrades, and on every occasion the new functionality has been highly useful.

“Working with IBM continues to be a good experience. We enjoy a strong relationship with the product development team, with regular meetings held once a month to discuss further additions to the tooling. They are always open to our feedback and focused on improving the experience of the end-user.”

Working with IBM continues to be a good experience. We enjoy a strong relationship with the product development team, with regular meetings held once a month to discuss further additions to their range of software tools. Björn Söderlund Chief IT Infrastructure Specialist Nordea Bank
Results story
Saving time and lifting database performance

With IBM Data Server Manager monitoring its Db2 landscape, Nordea Bank now enjoys consistent high performance from the database instances that support vital banking services.

Björn Söderlund explains: “Data Server Manager makes it easy for our DBAs to gain a greater level of control over our highly diverse Db2 landscape. The monitoring capabilities and alerts help us understand database performance across the business, and maintain a seamless user experience by fixing problems as quickly as possible.

“High availability is critical for our core banking systems, from both a customer experience perspective and to help us meet regulatory objectives. Data Server Manager has become a vital tool that helps us maintain the level of performance we need.”

Data Server Manager also keeps a close watch on the performance of SQL queries, and enables developers at Nordea Bank to troubleshoot any slow-running code. Björn Söderlund says: “The query optimization function makes it easy to detect and correct any problems that limit the fast retrieval of data from our databases. We can see whether the issues are caused by inefficiencies in the query itself, or if we need to make a structural change, such as adding a new index. This helps us take quick action. We also make full use of the Historical SQL Monitoring feature, which keeps us updated on long wait or run times, or if SQL is using an unusually large amount of compute resources.”

He adds: “Configuration management is also now much simpler, and any issues are visible instantly. If, for example, a configuration is changed during an upgrade or maintenance and the DBA forgets to reset back to the baseline setting, Data Server Manager notifies us and swift action can be taken to fix the issue. This helps to ensure optimal database performance and keeps our critical database landscape highly available: any faults are remedied fast to keep systems online. Crucially, the risk of human error impacting the security of our mission-critical systems is kept to a minimum.”

Since they are no longer required to spend time developing and maintaining data collection scripts, Nordea Bank’s DBAs enjoy far more time to focus on supporting key business applications. “Thanks to the implementation of Data Server Manager, one of our DBAs is saving around three weeks every year, because they no longer need to constantly update our home-grown monitoring tools,” says Björn Söderlund.

The solution also provides Nordea Bank with detailed reporting on the amount of database resources used by each of the applications run by its individual departments. This granular data enables Nordea Bank to track and assign IT costs in a much more detailed and accurate way than was previously possible.

Björn Söderlund concludes: “We look forward to extending our work with IBM in the future. We hope to roll out further updates for Data Server Manager to improve integration with our incident management and alerting tools. Thanks to the expert support of IBM, we have transformed our database monitoring and lifted the burden from our DBAs.”

Nordea Bank

Nordea Bank provides personal, commercial and business banking, wholesale banking and wealth management services to customers across the Nordic region, the Baltic States, and Russia. Formed in 2001 following the merger of four banks from Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark, Nordea Bank is headquartered in Stockholm and serves 11 million customers through 700 branches. With 30,000 employees, the bank is among the top ten in Europe in terms of market capitalization, and also maintains a presence in the UK, United States, China, Brazil and Singapore.

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