UAE EXCHANGE CONSOLIDATES DATACENTERS TO AID GLOBAL EXPANSION

 

 

The need for consolidated infrastructure

Over the last three decades, UAE Exchange has grown from an organization with a main focus on global remittance and foreign currency exchange to one that prides itself on being “a complete financial supermarket.” Today, in addition to its two core activities, the company specializes in payments for credit cards, utility bills, subscriptions, and airline tickets as well as many more services.

With over 600 branches across 30 countries, UAE Exchange has a large and quickly growing customer base. The company had always successfully relied on its IT infrastructure when adding new services in line with market needs. However, rapid expansion caused the distributed systems, which consisted of servers running various versions of NCR UNIX and Solaris, to raise performance and availability concerns.

As it diversified its business with new service offerings, UAE Exchange began a program of continuously deploying new Java™ and Enterprise JavaBean applications at lightning pace. Within its diverse computing environment, however, scaling these applications was proving to be a formidable challenge.

“Running a 24x7 operation that serves customers across different time zones required a platform that can perform consistently and reliably. Our applications are all web-based, and as the majority of these mission-critical applications are customer-facing, there is no room for performance gaps or downtime,” said Sarath Chandra, CIO, UAE Exchange.

“It was fast becoming clear that if we hoped to maintain our exceptional level of service and our reputation as a technology-driven business, we would need to standardize our systems on a platform that could offer flexibility for innovation while guaranteeing performance, availability, and scalability,” said Sarath.

Consulting services make platform migration easy

UAE Exchange’s large in-house development team was well-versed with a variety of frameworks and technologies. “We already had NCR UNIX, Sun Solaris, Microsoft Windows, and even SUSE Linux running on our servers which gave our team broad exposure. The hands-on experience they gained working with these disparate systems also gave them a keen understanding of the shortcomings of each,” said Sarath.

UAE Exchange’s IT decision makers were already aware of Red Hat's position as the global leader in open source solutions, and they were solidly convinced by the vendor's impressive customer base. The team was backed by the world-class services and assistance provided by the Red Hat Consulting team. Knowing exactly what it expected of the new environment, UAE Exchange began its consolidation by deploying Red Hat Enterprise Linux. To streamline this deployment, the company used management platform Red Hat Satellite, coupled with the Smart Management Add-On for Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

“This completely eliminated the challenges we could have faced during provisioning and enabled us to rapidly roll out Red Hat Enterprise Linux onto our servers,” said Sarath.

In one week, Red Hat consultants managed to install Red Hat Satellite, configure and roll out the servers, and provide a knowledge transfer to UAE Exchange's operations team.

“The value of Red Hat's consulting services lies in the team's ability to expertly aid the implementation while conveying best practices,” said Sarath. “Despite our own team being very technically proficient, their exposure was limited to working within our environment. So the additional knowledge provided by Red Hat's industry experts helped us in a number of areas such as configuration, fine tuning, performance management and security. It was also a pride point for us, as we could then match our systems to global benchmarks.”

 

Scalability enables unrestricted expansion

Achieving ISO 27001

With its fully consolidated computing platform now in place, UAE Exchange was confident that it could secure an ISO 27001 certification, the highest attainable credibility ranking and internationally recognized standard for information security management. The security benchmarking and hardening of the operating system conducted by Red Hat consultants ensured that UAE Exchange could easily meet the stringent requirements and standards.

“We had the range of services and were recognized by our customers as having the best vision. With the ISO 27001, we also deliver unparalleled trust,” said Sarath.

Scaling with stability

“In our experience, the stability of the operating system is remarkable,” said Sarath. “At any given time, we have 80,000 to 90,000 users connecting globally through our many web-based applications. All these applications are served by our datacenters here in the UAE, and despite the staggering load, the systems have never dropped their performance.”

And the challenges previously arising out of varying loads no longer exist. “During peak times such as festivals, we see a sudden spike in the utilization of our remittance services. But because the Red Hat platform is so robust and scalable, even these peaks and troughs cause no degradation in service quality.”

Simplifying maintenance and expansion

UAE Exchange also commended the platform's ease of maintenance. “It is highly predictable and easily meets our expectations. Thanks to Red Hat Satellite, the troubles that could arise out of configuration are no longer an issue,” said Sarath. Red Hat Satellite, alongside the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Smart Management Add-On, has given that UAE Exchange's in-house team full control over its new environment. This simplifies provisioning and configuration while automating routine tasks such as patch management.

The company is now expanding its operations at an even faster pace because IT challenges no longer feature in the long list of complexities that relate to the opening of each new branch. The IT team is no longer inhibited by the inflexibility of its old distributed systems. And because all mission-critical services and applications are web-based, the new customer touch points simply plug in their IT services to get them up and running.

Moving forward with Red Hat

To keep its aggressive growth and expansion on track, the company is looking to build a new datacenter outside of the UAE and using virtualization to increase resource utilization. Having successfully used the community version of the Red Hat’s application platform, the company now intends to use Red Hat JBoss Middleware to help it build, test, and deploy applications faster.

Commenting on the the road ahead, Sarath said, “we are a Linux company. Our belief and commitment to open source will mean that Red Hat will continue to enjoy its position as the UAE Exchange's technology vendor of choice!”

 

 

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