IBM Mainframe Keeps Major Chinese Bank Up and Running

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has tapped IBM's Active-Active mainframe technology for continuous availability and disaster recovery.

IBM mainframe

IBM announced that the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) is using its novel System z mainframe technology in a system that provides continuous availability and disaster recovery to ensure that key business apps remain up and running at all times.

ICBC's big iron computing solution, known as IBM Mainframe Active-Active, provides near-continuous availability and disaster recovery, IBM said.

IBM said the advantage of the ICBC Active-Active system over traditional data mirroring and disaster recovery solutions is its ability to have two different data centers possessing the same application and data simultaneously. Thus, should there be any interruption in one of the data centers, key financial transactions are instantly routed to the other data center within minutes, Big Blue officials said.

"ICBC was the first commercial bank to introduce IBM mainframe computer in Mainland China nearly 30 years ago, and since that time each new model of the IBM mainframe has played an important role in all of our IT operations," said Lin Xiaoxuan, CIO of ICBC, in a statement. "The IBM mainframe has and will continue to help ensure the smooth and secure operations of our information systems."

Xiaoxuan said ICBC's data center in Shanghai is responsible for providing IT services to global branches in more than 40 countries and regions across Asia, Europe, America and Oceania. Its global footprint presented numerous challenges in meeting various international financial regulations when using traditional data mirroring capabilities to perform scheduled upgrades to applications, software and hardware systems, IBM said.

These challenges were compounded by customer demand for continuous service availability via mobile devices and online access. Since deployment, the IBM Mainframe Active-Active solution has helped reduce system downtime by 95 percent, providing almost uninterrupted services for ICBC global clients, IBM said.

For its part, ICBC's IT systems handle hundreds of millions of transactions annually. The loss of even one instant of one of these transactions could cause significant business risks and loss of funds. Moreover, the bank's IT architecture and data mirroring is significantly more complicated because financial transaction processing requires "real-time" integrity of messaging, and it is completely different from the social, internet, or even e-commerce transaction processing, which only require "final transaction" integrity rather than real-time integrity, IBM said.

The IBM Mainframe Active-Active solution helps to guarantee the accuracy and real-time delivery of the more than 2 terabytes of account data that change daily at ICBC and provides additional security and reliability for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of financial IT services.

After 30 years of development, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has become one of the largest commercial banks in the world. The bank has more than 17,000 offices offering comprehensive financial services to over 4.70 million corporate customers and 432 million individual customers worldwide.

IBM has continued to increase its investment in China. For instance, last month IBM announced a major collaboration with China's education ecosystem focused on addressing the burgeoning big data and analytics skills opportunity in China. The move came out of a Memorandum of Understanding that IBM signed with the Chinese Ministry of Education in the first quarter of this year.

Dubbed IBM U-100, IBM said it would donate a range of IBM big data and analytics software worth $100 million and provide expertise to support 100 universities in China to create the next generation of data scientists at three levels: set up big data and analytics technology centers in 100 universities, launch undergraduate and graduate programs in 30 universities and create a Center of Excellence at five universities. The effort aims to reach 40,000 students per year to gain expertise in big data and analytics, a skill increasingly in demand by employers in China.

"IBM is privileged to extend its collaboration with the Ministry of Education and universities in China," said D.C. Chien, chairman and CEO of IBM Greater China Group, in a statement. "Together we will be able to accelerate the nurturing of skills in big data and analytics and help prepare future business leaders to apply these technologies to tackle complex societal issues, from health care to transportation and public services."