Vietnam is a frontier market on the cusp of huge growth. With demand for its banking services skyrocketing, how could Techcombank ensure its core banking systems could keep pace?
Techcombank chose IBM LinuxONE to power a bold new approach to banking, delivering rapid, reliable performance for new customer-centric services and scaling seamlessly to meet fast-growing demands.
4x risein transactions during peak season handled effortlessly, supporting smooth service
44% lowertotal cost of ownership projected by migrating to LinuxONE platform
Modern, future-proofbanking services help Techcombank win new customers
Business challenge story
Trailblazing in frontier markets
Vietnam ranks as one of the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia, with a large and growing middle and upper income population. At the same time, financial inclusion remains low, as 65 percent of the adult population in Vietnam do not have a bank account.
The market is at an inflection point, primed for massive growth. And Techcombank, one of the country’s leading commercial banks, intends to make the most of this opportunity.
Chester Gorski, Chief Technology and Operations Officer at Techcombank, begins: “Vietnam has a fast-growing population of upwardly mobile consumers, and their demand for banking services is only getting larger. We have a great opportunity to bring banking to a whole new generation of people, and help improve their financial lives.”
Techcombank knew that it had to go further than simply offering conventional products and services – it aimed to deliver a differentiated banking experience that would fit perfectly around modern customer needs and lifestyles. To fulfill this ambition, the bank recognized that it needed to transform both its IT infrastructure and the way that its people worked with that technology.
Gorski continues: “We’re continuing our transition to a customer-centric model of doing business, and looked to put the right systems and processes in place to support this transformation. As we launch new services and scale up to handle greater transaction volumes and customer numbers, we need an infrastructure that can grow with us, and deliver great performance, stability and availability – all without breaking the bank, so to speak.”
He adds: “Technology was only one part of the picture. We were also looking to drive a broader cultural change in the IT department. We believe that to succeed, innovation must be driven from the inside out, and so we want to encourage our team to think differently about how they work with technology and to embrace new ideas, rather than simply sticking to business as usual.”
Newfound speed, scalability and savings
Techcombank undertook a rigorous selection process to find the perfect technology fit for its needs. IBM quickly emerged as a strong contender, proposing a solution built around the enterprise-grade IBM LinuxONE system.
“We were looking for a platform with the performance and flexibility to handle very large and variable workloads, combined with strong security and cost-efficiency – IBM LinuxONE delivered on all fronts,” recalls Gorski. “We need to protect our customers’ data security, and as a bank it’s vital that we maintain the highest possible standards in this area.
"And, technology aside, we were blown away by the professionalism and commitment of the IBM team. Unlike other vendors, who made us feel like little more than a transaction, IBM took the time to actively listen to and understand our needs, and brought in people from across the global business to help us explore our options. We found a true partner in IBM, and we knew that they were invested in our success from the outset.”
The IBM team rounded out its rock-solid proposal with a carefully crafted total cost-of-ownership (TCO) model for the solution, which played a key role in helping Techcombank secure the all-important buy-in from the business.
“When the TCO model came out it was jaw-dropping: we stood to make substantial savings by moving away from a distributed infrastructure to LinuxONE, particularly in terms of software licensing costs,” confirms Gorski. “The IBM offering was already very solid, and having these very compelling economic figures to back it up was the icing on the cake. The TCO model was a huge enabler for us, and we moved through a substantial systems purchase without any pushback or issues.”
Working closely with local and regional IBM teams, Techcombank implemented two IBM LinuxONE Emperor II servers, running Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The new servers feature proprietary IBM Secure Service Container technology to increase protection against cyber-security threats both internal and external, meeting Techcombank’s requirements. The bank then started the ongoing process of migrating its Temenos core banking systems, the supporting databases, and other production workloads to the new platform.
In addition, Techcombank refreshed its storage infrastructure, replacing legacy disk storage with powerful and efficient all-flash IBM DS8886 arrays. These systems provide the necessary speed and availability to deliver data at the speed the LinuxONE landscape can process it, closing the loop and optimizing performance.
Gorski says: “Techcombank is a bank of many firsts. For example, we were the first local bank to bring a global core banking system and a digital payment system meeting global standards to the local market. IBM is helping us continue that tradition of innovation, as we are the first company in Vietnam to deploy a LinuxONE system. We are also among the first wave of companies worldwide to deploy Temenos core banking on LinuxONE, and the performance we have seen so far completely vindicates that decision.”
In the near future, Techcombank plans to move all Tier-1 workloads to LinuxONE, and have all critical customer-facing applications running on the platform. It will also make use of IBM GDPS® to automate failover and recovery procedures, helping enable round-the-clock availability for key business applications and seamless disaster recovery. In fact, the bank anticipates that it will improve its recovery time objective to 60 minutes or better, helping it rapidly resume normal operations in the event of a disaster.
Today, Techcombank has moved away from a fragmented approach to IT to a highly centralized and scalable model – unlocking impressive efficiency gains and cost savings in the process.
Gorski notes: “We’ve been able to switch from a distributed platform and horizontal scaling to a consolidated, incredibly scalable server platform, which has enabled us to simplify our operations significantly. In fact, we expect that moving our Temenos core banking and other Tier-1 systems to IBM LinuxONE will help us reduce total cost of ownership by around 44 percent. This will be driven by lower software licensing and maintenance costs, improved hardware utilization and reduced floorspace, power and cooling requirements.”
The shift to this new technology is also helping to bring about a shift in mindset within IT, Gorski explains: “At first, people were unsure about the new platform as it was such a departure from our traditional, distributed architecture. Now that the team has first-hand experience of LinuxONE and has seen how it has improved and simplified our approach to IT, they have really embraced the new technology. As we move more systems to LinuxONE, the savings we will make in time and effort can be reinvested in innovation, so that the IT function can truly help the business bring new offerings to customers.”
In addition, with LinuxONE delivering lightning-fast performance, even during times of heavy transaction load, Techcombank can provide responsive, reliable service to both business users and end customers.
“IBM LinuxONE has greatly improved our capacity to absorb dynamic workloads without compromising on normal production performance,” states Gorski. “We received clear confirmation of this during the Lunar New Year, which is one of the busiest times for our bank. Even as transaction volumes increased to four times their normal daily levels, IBM LinuxONE delivered flawless performance, so we didn’t miss a beat.”
He adds: “We’ve also been able to significantly shorten batch processing times. In the past, our batch cycles ran on so long that we were often at risk of missing the cut-off period for our data warehouse runs, meaning that we could be under great pressure to give finance and risk management the figures they needed on time. With LinuxONE, we have cut batch processing times from eight hours to five and a half hours – an improvement of more than 30 percent – so that data is readily available for reporting, empowering business users with the up-to-date figures they need to make sound decisions.”
Importantly, the IBM solution also makes it quick and easy for Techcombank to scale up resources as demands increase, giving the bank more room for rapid expansion.
“With IBM LinuxONE we are ready for growth,” says Gorski. “As our resource demands grow, we can simply activate additional cores or memory as needed, without having to worry about the underlying architecture. This is a real advantage in a high-growth environment like ours. For example, the transaction volume and value of our e-banking services increased at a compound annual growth rate [CAGR] of 107 percent and 129.6 percent, between 2015 and 2017, respectively, and being able to spin up greater capacity and memory on demand means we can seamlessly accommodate increased demand from our customers.”
He concludes: “The banking market in Vietnam is rapidly evolving, and IBM LinuxONE provides the fast, flexible foundation to support our growth trajectory and the dynamic needs of the future. With IBM by our side, we are confident that we can make the most of the opportunities that the market has to offer, and strengthen our position as a banking leader.”
Vietnam Technological and Commercial Joint Stock Bank, commonly known as Techcombank, was founded in 1993. It has since grown into one of the largest joint-stock commercial banks in Vietnam. Techcombank offers a broad range of banking products and services to more than 5.4 million retail and corporate customers in Vietnam, and operates a network of 315 branches across the country.