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Stay connected: Keeping Asia’s FSIs running across all branches

Tony Gaunt, Director for Internet Data Centres & Global Enterprise Accounts (Asia), Emerson Network Power | May 6, 2016
Tony Gaunt of Emerson Network Power talks about how edge computing can ensure seamless business continuity by improving delivery of services at the branch level and reducing the Mean Time to Repair in an outage situation.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

The rise of social, mobile, cloud, and analytics have enabled banks to innovate on a number of fronts, from creating new services and offerings for customers, to streamlining and optimising processes within the bank itself. Although these data-intensive trends have been a boon for financial institutions, many of them are still faced with the challenge of ensuring their data centres and IT infrastructure are able to support such initiatives.

The world's leading banks operate many of the most modern data centres that have ever been created, providing customers exceptional access and availability, 24 hours a day. In Asia, government bodies like the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) have put in place guidelines to ensure that financial institutions are guarding their critical IT infrastructure to ensure that their processes and services are not disrupted: ensuring high uptime, availability, and reliability.

In an increasingly connected world, a single "disconnect" can be potentially disastrous for financial institutions. In 2014, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) suffered an outage due to a malfunction in the uninterruptible power supply, causing losses of $1 million to businesses, including SGX. Even for world class banks like HSBC and DBS, both of which have suffered significant outages in the past few years, ATM services disruptions due to mainframe outages are a reality that need to be planned for, and addressed when creating redundancy measures.

However, the same care needs to be extended to the bank branch level, particularly in Asia, where the level of IT infrastructure can differ greatly from the branch to the main in-city operations. Deploying edge computing allows performance IT and networking equipment to be placed closer to where customers are, which ensures quicker delivery of services.  Most financial institutions maintain significant IT functions/servers to support the tellers, training, loan officers and ATM. In markets like Malaysia or the Philippines, where the level of infrastructure may be less consistent outside of business centres in the country, these hundreds of remote branch IT locations have become a significant time and cost investment for banks to operate.

The management of these systems is often expensive as many disparate hardware platforms are maintained across the branches leading to higher cost in maintaining equipment and preventing outages. The training across multiple types of IT equipment for support staff and the needed availability of local contractors to provide emergency coverage in case in-band management is not possible can quickly escalate IT support costs.

In addition, when an outage does occur or connectivity is lost, IT has to deploy technical resources to personally travel to the site and ensure a quick recovery from the outage - often at the cost of thousands of dollars in both wages and lost branch productivity. This problem is not just for local banks with remote branches: EY predicts that regional banks in Asia Pacific will arise as financial institutions in Asia and Australia move towards building regional presence through local branches and subsidiaries to combat sluggish domestic growth. As Asia's banking landscape becomes a more diverse mix of new regional players and entrenched local players, maintaining or increasing productivity, and minimising losses will be key to gaining an edge against the competition.


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