As the fifth largest private bank in Pakistan with over 600 branches in 200 cities, Bank Alfalah has set its sights firmly on becoming the preferred banking partner for the region. The bank turned to F5 to strengthen its core services to continue delivering a superior customer experience.
In 2007, Bank Alfalah began its journey of digital transformation when it first started to move away from a legacy IT system that was built for 9-to-5 branch banking, and had been patched over time to meet evolving needs. The bank had previously used two load balancers to manage all their services: Cisco ACE for their core banking services, which were supported by Temenos T24, and Citrix NetScaler for all other applications.
With the Cisco load balancer reaching end of life and the Citrix product unable to scale up to handle a surge in application and web traffic, Bank Alfalah sought a single load balancer that could help IT manage all their applications. Most importantly, the solution had to be able to keep pace with the exponential growth in data and web traffic brought about by the digitization of banking.
Furthermore, as part of its overall digital transformation, the bank had to build a more comprehensive IT infrastructure that facilitated the smooth delivery of services and responded to consumer demand for more personalized banking experiences.
“We needed to better organize and run our own technology if we were to continue being a technology leader,” says Mohib Hasan Khan, Chief Information Officer of Bank Alfalah. “That starts with having the right building blocks in place for us to construct our ecosystem of digital products and services.”
Bank Alfalah approached F5 partner, Innovative Integration, to recommend a solution that would support and ensure the load balancing, high availability, and security of their five key applications. Additionally, the advent of always-on, anytime, anywhere Internet and mobile banking, meant that the solution had to be flexible enough to rapidly adapt to changing market and regulatory requirements.
Having successfully deployed F5 solutions in other banks using core banking system Temenos T24, Innovative Integration was confident that F5 BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM) would be up to the task.
“We carried out a detailed proof of concept that tested the hardware and software portioning, multi-tenancy support, and other features,” says Umair Nomani, Head of Network and Communications at Bank Alfalah. “We were pleased to note that F5’s technology passed all our tests with flying colors.”
He adds, “This gave us the confidence that BIG-IP LTM was capable of delivering a better performance than our previous load balancers. What surprised us was how much more visibility we had into our network’s application traffic, which paves the way for reduced downtime and better application delivery.”
In consolidating its five key applications onto a single load balancer, Bank Alfalah has noticed significant improvement in performance, starting with an increase in application uptime and smoother application delivery. This led to an enhanced user experience, both for the customers who use Bank Alfalah services and the IT administrators troubleshooting any issues.
BIG-IP LTM gives Bank Alfalah better visibility into their network traffic, allowing them to better monitor activity and resources. By breaking the view down into different objects and modules, the IT team can zoom into granular detail when issues arise.
The dashboard also allows the IT team to get real-time updates on how their applications are performing, giving them the power to resolve problems before they escalate.
With F5 iRules, the IT team has comprehensive control over how to handle application traffic within the application transaction or flow. Because they are able to inspect and customize the behavior of application traffic, the team can now account for a wider range of contingencies. This also supports better provisioning of services should Bank Alfalah choose to increase their array of products and services in the future.
F5 iApps templates also help the IT team save resources in the migration and deployment of applications. By simplifying the configuration process, Bank Alfalah has managed to save time while reducing errors that can arise from manually following application deployment guides. This newfound efficiency was demonstrated in the bank’s deployment of Microsoft Exchange, which only required 20 minutes to be fully functional.