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Need For Speed: Flash Banking To Go Mainstream

Banking in the 21st century and the distant future will need to adopt an adaptive approach as per the demands of customers.

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Fans of comic series are well accustomed with the word Flash. Unlike other superheroes, Flash boasts of fantastic response time, faster than the speed of light for mission-critical activities. When it comes to enterprises, their business outcomes matter most, whether that is saving lives or making movies. Many factors in the storage system contribute to these outcomes but foremost is often system performance. Similarly, banking depends a lot on how banks address customer needs in record response time and enhance the customer experience.

In response to the ongoing pandemic, banks have accelerated their digital transformation which results in managing IT environments both on-premises and in the cloud. As per IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Enterprise Storage Systems Tracker 1Q2020, All-Flash Arrays (AFA) contributed 37.6% to the overall external storage systems market in 1Q20 and with the advent of NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express), more organizations are expected to adopt new-age flash technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning/ deep learning and real-time analytics to address the growing demand for high-density applications. This coupled with the demand to provide ‘seamless banking experience’ from any location through any device has augmented their need for speed as a key competitive advantage.

A Happiest Minds report further outlined that financial institutions do need an omni-channel strategy because customers irrespective of their income groups could start a transaction on any channel and finish on another. To achieve this capability, there is a need for a strong IT infrastructure along with the adoption of technology to stay ahead in the digital curve. 

Banking on the power of flash

We might think that our social media accounts hold most of our personal data, when infact, it is banks that have the deepest and personal datasets available on any individual. While banks have stored and have had access to a tremendous amount of personal and transactional information, they haven’t really capitalized on it.

So, what changes in the post-covid world?

The need to leverage data with agility, resilience, and speed.

While the government’s Digital India mission has given birth to a new era in the country’s banking ecosystem, we need to ensure that the Indian banking system continues its journey towards becoming a technology driven entity. PwC’s survey mentions that India is set to become the third largest domestic banking sector by 2050 after China and the US. This can only be fulfilled with a long- term vision of strategic investments towards the right technologies in IT infrastructure.

Again, let us ask – do they really have the infrastructure in place to tackle the requirements, as we slowly move towards a neo-banking culture?

The Flash Advantage

Banking in the 21st century and the distant future will need to adopt an adaptive approach as per the demands of customers. Banks should be able to completely change the face of customer experience by unleashing the power of data with flash systems as they adopt more technology, run new workloads such as AI, DL, ML, and shift towards a ‘Cloud Must’ strategy to tackle the new normal.

What if we were to plan the future requirements of IT teams of financial institutions in a post-covid world. We would realize that they would want to simplify data management operations on-prem or in the cloud, accelerate traditional banking applications while making sure that mission critical data is available and secure at all times.

The answer lies in cloud connected all flash storage powered by robust data management software. Adoption of flash storage technology promises extreme business application performance with millisecond latency to accelerate databases and speed up data processing. With the dramatic impact that flash can have on application response time and bandwidth, financial institutions can accelerate their ever-increasing workloads without compromising the way they deploy, manage, and protect data across their environments. Flash storage, therefore, plays a critical role in making high storage achievable with the least amount of risk and the lowest amount of cost. It is designed to help organizations deliver performance, flexibility, provision storage in minutes, and simultaneously get the best performance from the most demanding applications in the most demanding AI/ML environment.

Flash everywhere and anywhere

The penetration of internet and the subsequent rise of mobile banking, even in remote rural areas, is an opportunity for Indian banks to bridge the gap with the unbanked population. Bharti Airtel with a subscriber base of over 340 million, created Airtel Payments Bank (APB) to serve the nation through simple, easy, and accessible banking solutions. To manage the anticipated volume of data – customer data, transactional data, and call data – the company deployed a production storage infrastructure built on all flash hardware. With a robust underlying technology infrastructure, Airtel Payments Bank can support banking services now and into the future.

The real transformation will however begin when old legacy infrastructure will make way for data centric systems integrated with the power of flash storage. Superior performance translates to a massive scale, which is the key to success in today’s digital transformation. On the other hand, financial institutions need to empower themselves for consolidating more and more applications on fewer storage systems, leading to dramatically smaller storage footprint, less power consumption and reduced IT support costs associated with performance modifications. Combined with the unmatched versatility and cloud-connectivity, the flash will help customers discover the gold mine of their data in an unprecedented way.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Puneet Gupta

Managing Director, NetApp India Marketing and Services

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