Tuesday, 28 May 2024

CIB and Huawei: Co-constructing digital infrastructure of the future

5 min read

Huawei’s digital solution reshapes CIB’s data infrastructure, enhancing data processing capabilities, strengthening security, diversifying management services, and designing an open platform

When China Industrial Bank (CIB) found that its original data warehouse solution had begun to face challenges with managing increasing data assets, it became an urgent initiative to replace and upgrade its systems. In 2022, CIB and Huawei initiated plans for a new platform to address scalability, disaster recovery, data management, and security.

At The Asian Banker China Awards 2023, CIB and Huawei were recognised for the Best Digital Infrastructure Initiative in China for their collaborative effort invested into the CIB Enterprise Level Full Scenario Analysis Integrated Platform. This article aims to explore the success of this data infrastructure solution, and the unique aspects of the partnership between CIB and Huawei.

The pain points of CIB’s existing database were exposed by the exponential increase in the demand for data processing. CIB’s existing symmetrical expansion solution proved cumbersome and costly to scale up. The bank’s original database has experienced explosive growth in internal business data volume since its construction in 2006. The existing technical architecture is unable to accommodate the volume due to its heavy architecture and slow mobility. To meet the growing demands for data processing and storage, as well as increasingly strict timeliness requirements, the bank’s digital infrastructure needed a more flexible scalability upgrade.

CIB also needs a more flexible disaster-tolerance solution. The old solution was entirely based on one-to-one replication backups, which not only failed to meet the bank’s business requirements but also resulted in the wastage of a large number of nodes. In addition to resource wastage, renovating disaster-tolerance solutions typically involve complex technical architectures and configurations. CIB needs to ensure that both the technology and the vendor for data synchronisation, failover, and tolerance between different data centers are reliable, enabling seamless integration and switching between old and new systems.

Furthermore, the original data warehouse resists compatibility between different versions. This not only hampers the development of its data functions but also poses information security risks. Therefore, the bank requires a more open solution to enhance flexibility and security.

Extracting maximum value from data assets

The banking industry, as a sector with abundant data assets, faces a crucial issue of how to extract its maximum value. This includes real-time data processing, data warehouse planning, data standardisation, and the integration of data lakes and data warehouses. CIB needs to effectively manage and analyse data to support business decision-making and customer service.

In its current wave of digital infrastructure innovation, the bank needs to address multiple challenges, including scalability, disaster tolerance, technological closedness, security risks, and data asset value mining, to enhance its business agility and maximise its internal data assets.

In response to these issues, CIB introduced Huawei’s GaussDB data warehouse, and from there constructed a comprehensive enterprise-level data analysis platform, aiming to reshape CIB’s data infrastructure and data capabilities and promote the sharing and reuse of data assets across the group. This significantly enhances CIB’s data governance, data management, and data application capabilities. Specifically, this platform addresses the old pain points that CIB used to face, including challenges related to data processing, security, diversity of management services, and the openness of the data platform.

CIB’s new platform by Huawei is based on its proprietary Kunpeng servers, Kirin operating systems, and GaussDB (DWS) data warehouses. It boasts high scalability and availability, with a 12 times increase in the number of nodes, a 21 times increase in high-availability space, and a 24 times increase in point query single-cluster concurrency capabilities. Such performances allow the bank to effectively handle the explosive growth in data processing and storage demands while meeting performance requirements. The architecture of this solution also allows for horizontal expansion of database computing capabilities and storage capacity through the addition of nodes or disk replacements, thereby increasing flexibility.

This solution places great emphasis on system security requirements. By establishing mechanisms such as identity authentication, permission control, security auditing, software fault tolerance, and active-standby clusters, the platform ensures network, host and data security. It meets CIB’s requirements for protecting data through three levels of security. Huawei increased CIB’s domestic reliance on core technologies, strengthening the security assurance capabilities of digital construction and providing comprehensive protection for the bank’s critical data assets.

Solution offers diverse management services through data mapping

Further, the solution offers diverse management services. Through precise data mapping, it supports data traceability and data value assessment, contributing to enhanced data governance. The intelligent monitoring feature enables mobile devices to track the operating status of clusters, facilitating 24/7 security environment monitoring. The introduction of these management services enhances the integrity of the data middle platform, making data governance and operational maintenance more intelligent and efficient. Beyond data governance functionalities, Zhan Zhihui, president of CIB Fintech, stated that this scalable data analytics function will lay the foundation for the bank’s transformation into a digital bank driven by artificial intelligence (AI).

Finally, the new solution provides data storage and computing capabilities to the entire group through a tenant-based approach, supporting multi-party resource management. This enables flexible provisioning of computing and storage capabilities, lowering the threshold for data usage and facilitating the bank’s digital transformation. Through tenant permission management, system and data security are guaranteed. This open platform design allows developers to focus more on application development, reducing learning costs and complexity, thereby promoting increased business efficiency.

How to drive digital transformation in the industry

Compared to both domestic and international financial technology vendors, Huawei possesses a significant differentiator in its mature and comprehensive tech ecosystem. CIB’s new platform is also designed to incorporate AI capabilities within the ecosystem in the future, accelerating the bank’s transformation towards AI-driven operations.

Looking ahead at the technological development roadmap of the banking industry, CIB has prioritised enhancing efficiency, data quality, and business controllability. Standardisation will also become crucial, including process, data and development standardisation. This helps reduce operational costs, improves work efficiency, and ensures data consistency and reliability. The integration of structured and unstructured data will be a key objective. CIB will seek better uses of unstructured data, transforming it into valuable data assets to enhance data availability and insights.

Fully-linked data visualisation will also be a future trend. This helps to improve transparency and controllability in business operations, promptly identify and resolve issues, and provide a better customer experience. Moreover, CIB will continue to focus on data security and compliance, adopting advanced technologies to protect customer data, and comply with regulations.

CIB’s new platform has profoundly influenced the bank’s digital transformation, enabling it to better meet its increasing digital demands. Huawei’s technology ecosystem has provided a solid foundation for this successful collaboration.

Keywords: Digitilisation, Fintech, Technical Debt, Incumbents, Neobanks, Cloud, Digital Bank
Institution: Thought Machine, TNEX, UOB, Kasikornbank, Trust, Mox, TMRW
Region: South East Asia
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