Banks look to build continuous IT: IBM

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Banks look to build continuous IT: IBM

Midnight downtime no longer acceptable.

IBM has targeted the Australian financial sector with plans to replace 'nines of availability' with services that never go offline.

According to the company's operational risk expert Andrew Fry, customers demanded continuous access to core services from their banks and telcos.

While he could not name IBM's clients, Fry said he had worked with "major banks" on designing infrastructure that addressed both business and technical resiliency demands.

IBM has worked with Westpac on in a ten-year, $2.3b outsourcing deal since 2000, and with the National Australia Bank (NAB) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia since late-2007.

Fry recommended that IT and business executives work together to prioritise their IT operations into three to four tiers, in terms of what produced the "biggest brand hit" in the event of an outage.

"A lot of the time, IT executives are focused on availability, when business executives are focused on continuity of their core business outcomes," Fry said.

"The impact [of planned and unplanned outages] has increased because expectations in the market have increased.

"Banks are aiming for continuous availability ... certainly, that's going to be on the higher end of the investment scale."

Fry said a market for highly resilient infrastructure had emerged from the disaster recovery market.

US market intelligence firm ABI Research in March forecast that the global market for business continuity and disaster data recovery solutions would grow from $US24.3b ($27.4b) in 2009 to exceed $US39b in 2015.

In 2009, Gartner estimated the market for business continuity management planning software to be worth $US76m, driven by a 24/7 business delivery model, increasing operational risks and globalisation of business operations.

Gartner expected recovery and continuity to drive the uptake of cloud services, with a quarter of large enterprises adopting a combination of local infrastructure and cloud services "to improve their recovery and continuity readiness" by 2014.

Fry said IBM was taking a "consultative approach", offering clients services and advice about linking their business requirements with technology.

"Years ago, the ability to perform disaster recovery within 24 hours was king. That moved over the years to availability. Midnight outages nowadays are not acceptable," he said.

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