Novell showcases BankIslami’s sucessful Linux Implementation

A new entrant in the Pakistani banking scene, BankIslami Pakistan needed a high performance infrastructure to build a global operation. To achieve rock-solid stability and efficient desktop management for dispersed workstations while keeping costs low, the bank chose SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop.

Founded in April 7, 2006, BankIslami Pakistan Limited is a dedicated Islamic commercial bank offering a full range of commercial banking products and services compliant with Shariah Islamic law. The bank has fourteen branches in Karachi, Islamabad, Wah Cantt, Mirpur Azad Kashmir and Quetta, and plans to open 22 others in various parts of Pakistan.

An upcoming financial institution in its first phase of growth, BankIslami wanted to develop a robust IT framework capable of supporting a dynamic business with evolving commercial strategies. The bank was scouting for a partner to help build its IT infrastructure from the ground up.

The solution needed to be secure, scalable, reliable and easy to use in order to manage employees spread over multiple branches across the country. The company wanted to minimise the number of IT personnel required at each branch, without requiring central staff to visit individual locations to provide technical support – so the ability to deploy software and manage machines remotely was a major factor in BankIslami’s choice of solution.

The initial task was to roll out a solution for around 100 users at the bank’s fourteen existing branches, and create a flexible, scalable infrastructure with the highest possible degree of security while keeping costs low.

Novell Solution
BankIslami initially considered Microsoft* Windows*, but felt constrained by the potential lock-in to a single vendor. Linux* scored over Microsoft in aspects such as functionality, frequency of releases and ease of deployment. The security of Linux and the opportunity to reduce costs were also positive factors.

After homing in on Linux, the bank chose SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop to support its business-critical systems.

“We felt that SUSE Linux Enterprise would be a more stable solution than a proprietary operating system, because the risk of virus infections and malicious attacks is considerably reduced,” said Asad Alim, Head of Information Systems at BankIslami Pakistan. “Moreover, as a financial institution, we need enterprise-class support – something that few Linux vendors other than Novell can provide.”

BankIslami selected SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as the perfect solution for the bank’s mission-critical application environment, as it addresses the bank’s need for uninterrupted operation. The bank rolled out SUSE Linux Enterprise Server over a period of two months.

For its desktop estate, BankIslami chose SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, deploying it on Sun Ray* stateless thin-client terminals from Sun Microsystems*. The bank has migrated most of its teller applications to the thin-client environment, which uses smartcard technology to enable users to log in securely from any terminal. Another advantage of the thin-client approach is that all data is stored and backed up centrally – helping to reduce risk for BankIslami.

“With SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop on Sun Ray clients, we have significantly improved the availability, reliability and performance of our teller applications, while reducing the management costs significantly,” said Alim. “Our partner, Emergen Technologies, provided valuable input for this part of the solution, and also helped us to design and deploy the entire SUSE Linux Enterprise environment.”

With tools that accelerate deployment, centralise management and simplify maintenance, the choice of SUSE Linux Enterprise helps keep the bank’s systems running at their prime.

“SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is a mature and fully-featured desktop environment, offering all the functionality we need to run our branches effectively,” said Alim. “BankIslami is fully compliant with Islamic banking protocols, and SUSE Linux Enterprise gives us a secure and flexible platform for developing new services.”

Using the advanced administration tools built into SUSE Linux Enterprise, BankIslami’s IT staff are able to easily install, deploy, configure and update servers and desktops securely, anywhere on the network. The solution allows the staff to configure any aspect of the Linux environment, significantly reducing the time and costs involved in administration and maintenance.

“The Novell® implementation has given BankIslami confidence that data transmission can operate flawlessly round the clock,” said Alim. “The scalability and stability of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server makes it easy for our staff to support and integrate an increasing number of applications.”

Strengthening the relationship further, the bank is looking at partnering with Novell for more products in the near future, such as Novell GroupWise and a Novell identity and access management solution.

“Once you’ve designed the strategy, Novell products are very easy to deploy,” said Alim. “The bank has seen significant savings in terms of administrative resources. Ultimately, the real benefits are for our customers, who benefit from facilities such as Internet banking and biometric-enabled ATM and debit card support – facilities unheard of in Pakistan before.”

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BankIslami Pakistan Limited

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