UCO Bank is one of the early adaptors of technolog y. In fact, the bank came out with a Technology Vision way back in 2005, which is manifested through the various technolog y initiatives under taken over time. Use of technolog y can be considered concurrent with the changing demands of the customer and the staff being taken care of through technology.
In the words of UCO Bank, HP has been a strategic technology partner. The banks say Says Sinha, GM-IT, BPR & BT department of the bank: “HP has offered best of breed technology assistance and has lent us with strategic advice. We have seen use of effective technology, timely asisstance from HP, knowledge and banking domain- rich humanb resources and on-time delivery of projects. These have helped the bank.”
In its modernization and automation plan, the bank encountered two challenges – the challenge of catering to the diverse geography and second the challenge of resources. There were also problems relating to telecom, internet and staffing. The bank has presence in remote locations of India and extending automation, especially CBS to these locations had been a major issue. However, the bank could cover its last 850 branches in a matter of 3 months, completing its 100% CBS ahead of time schedule. Initially, it also faced problems relating to legacy systems and governance issues. Says Sinha, “With most public sector banks, legacy data management is a major concern. In terms of old accounts, tracking data is still challenging. Retrieving transactional data is a little easy. But, sometimes we have to go back to the old application to retrieve customer details.
Over time, the bank has added several interfaces and layers. Many of them have been completed in-house. From a security perspective, the bank has also conceptualized 2-fac tor authentication to secure Finacle. Sinha adds: “In Finacle, we have the option of using biometrics, which we are leveraging for our internal security as well as for customer satisfaction.
Sinha says extending CBS and real- time connectivity to overseas branches in Hong Kong and Singapore were difficult tasks indeed. “Migration to CBS in these branches was challenging. But, with the cooperation of HP, which has been the service provider, has been of immense help. Even our Business Continuity Plan could become a success” he says.
Since 2006, there have been 3 application version migrations and 2 database migrations. The bank is set to roll-out a new version of Finacle as the present versions of both CBS and internet banking are set to change. It is planning to upgrade to Finacle 10. Says Manish Kumar, DGM-IT BPR & BTD: “We are comfortable with the current version, but Version 10 is considered the current standard. Once the stability is ensured, we will migrate to the new version. There are additional functionalities in Version 10. There is data privacy and data integration and additional modules.”
The bank commissioned its state- of-the-art data center in Kolkata in September 2006. The facility has been designed and built by HP and it hosts the server, storage and connectivity infrastructure for the bank. At that time, the bank was considered as one of the first among PSBs to have a CBS platform, own data center and DR site and an effective and efficient BCP in place. Says Sinha: “Our data center operations have been unique. We have a building management system to monitor the center. We have 2 generators and 2 UPS systems to back up for n +1 power requirements. There are fire engines on call. Over 70 plus staff ensure the DC operations function smoothly. We have dedicated teams to manage infrastructure, servers, data and applications. From an operations perspective, access is restricted and sec ured with biome trics. We also conduct regular DR and BCP drills. As I told you, HP is the system integrator and our DC architect.”
The data center performs with optimal latency objectives. The bank was earlier using a Misys system in Singapore, but the new system has brought down latency. Sinha says: “In our new system within 90 minutes, the DR site gets activated. This is acceptable to the regulators. In fact, internally it is faster since within 30 minutes all necessary DR tools are switched on.” The bank has been obtaining optimal RPO and RTO objectives from the data center. Says Manish Kumar: “Strategic uptime is 99.99% and branch uptime is 99.95%. At any point of time, the data center is never down beyond half an hour. This has resulted in average response time for any transaction to be in just a few seconds. We are using an infrastructure management tool called HPOpen View, which enables us to solve issues relating to critical business areas. So, the time for resolving L1 query is 7 minutes, for L2 it is 30 minutes, and L3 queries are resolved within 3 hours.”