IBM Expands Cloud Push in Emerging Markets

IBM's move to focus on growth markets is paying off with new cloud business in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia.

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IBM continues to expand its cloud footprint in emerging markets, with new installations in Tunisia and Egypt, among other places.

Big Blue announced that Zitouna Bank, an Islamic bank in Tunisia, has tapped IBM for its cloud computing expertise and is using IBM systems, software and services to transform its core banking platform and develop new services for customers.

More than 50 percent of the Tunisian population does not have access to modern, reliable financial services and more than a quarter have no bank accounts at all, IBM said. Under this IBM-led project, Zitouna Bank plans to open 15 new branches per year and roll out new mobile and Internet banking services. Benefits are expected to be reduced waiting times for customers, a greater choice of banking channels and services, and services extended to the nation's unbanked and under-banked citizens.

"Our aim is to provide a diversified portfolio of modern banking services to enterprises and individuals, and establish ourselves as a leader in Tunisian banking," said Lasaad Jaziri, CIO for Zitouna Bank, in a statement. "IBM's cloud capabilities will help us roll out a wider range of services and products, such as new mobile and internet banking services, while also improving efficiency of internal banking processes and reducing our operational footprint."

Zitouna Bank has been using IBM systems and software since it was founded in 2009. IBM said the new cloud capabilities will improve Zitouna Bank's application availability and reduce end-of-day batch processing time for daily transactions by more than 85 percent, from over 13 hours to 70 minutes.

The new cloud infrastructure is based on IBM Power Systems and other servers, IBM PowerVM virtualization software, IBM Storwize V7000 storage systems, and IBM Cloud Manager with OpenStack cloud management software. IBM Global Technology Services is providing implementation, maintenance and disaster recovery services, as well as training for the bank's staff.

Since the bank's inception, IBM has provided a range of solutions and services for Zitouna Bank's IT infrastructure, including Power Systems servers; DS5000 storage systems, Tivoli Storage Manager software, unified collaboration, networking and network security, and telesurveillance for ATMs and office branches.

Meanwhile, IBM also said it is providing cloud computing expertise to 100 Egyptian software companies to help drive innovation and new cloud development skills. This is part of a collaborative agreement with the Egyptian Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), in which IBM will offer its expertise to the ISVs with the aim of boosting Egypt's efforts to become a center of cloud computing excellence in the region.