Huawei All-Flash Storage Meets Piraeus Bank's Ever-Growing Demand for New IT Services

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Athens is a center of Greek economy, finance, industry, politics, and culture. One of its landmarks is Piraeus Bank, which was founded in 1916 and the largest bank in Greece. It leads in share of customer loans and deposits at 29%, and provides comprehensive financial products and services for more than 5.4 million customers through its network of approximately 540 branches in Greece.

On August 21, 2018, Greece concluded the 3rd Economic Adjustment Programme, and for the first time since 2010, the country will not rely on official sector loans. Greek banks have been continuing to cooperate with the European Authorities to ensure that Greece remains well on the way towards becoming a sustainable and competitive economy.

The Greek economy has been growing and unemployment has been falling since 2017, and both trends will likely accelerate in the following years.

  • The fundamentals and prospects of the Greek economy improved further in 2019, which contributed to the improvement of banking sector financing and liquidity.
  • In the nine months of 2019, GDP growth rate reached 2.2%. Assuming a stable quarter-on-quarter rate for Q4.19 (i.e. +0.6% q-o-q), 2019’s annual growth rate is anticipated at circa 2.3%, with strong carry-over effect leading 2020 GDP growth to an estimated +2.5%.
  • The majority of business sector leading indicators reflect the recovery of economic activity (PMI etc.).

The Greek banking system has also been getting stronger, following major consolidation, restructuring, and deleveraging efforts. Challenges to banks’ profitability include the high stock of NPEs, the low interest rate environment, and increasing regulatory requirements. Greek banks rely heavily on interest as their operating income. So they are now adjusting their business models to further diversify income and lower their cost base. They are also boosting efficiency by leveraging new technologies, rationalizing networks, and optimizing resources.

Piraeus Bank keeps advancing with digital business as a strategic driver

Piraeus Bank is committed to leading the effort in supporting the Greek economy by actively engaging specialized and personalized solutions and high-level services for customers, shareholders and employees. It is also fully focused on producing results and generating value for all its stakeholders.

Actively embracing digital transformation, it has become a digital leader in Greece. Its automated electronic branch has been providing transaction services and unique experience since 2016, playing an important role when the Bank cut physical branches and costs. It redesigned winbank and launched a real estate website for the public in 2017.

Agenda 2023 specifies the strategic digital business drivers, covering efficiency through migration to digital, digital differentiation and engagement, and online sales. The Bank aims to achieve world-class digital results by 2023. Digital business and transformation drive the implementation of its business strategy.

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Piraeus Bank's ever-growing demand for new IT services and Huawei's solution

Piraeus Bank needs to cover new trends such as big data, AI, and containers whilst continuing to support older technologies and legacy systems. To meet this need, Huawei has actively cooperated with the Bank on digital transformation, such as providing all-flash storage.

The Bank’s existing storage devices had various technical problems such as failure to scale on demand due to their degraded performance, slow response, and limited scalability after deduplication and compression. Moreover, limited storage capability could not cope with exponential data growth during digital transformation. It needed a new storage system featuring automated provisioning, capacity on demand, easy failover, better resource utilization, and secure data migration.

In July 2018, Huawei met with the Bank’s IT O&M team to learn its requirements. It then agreed that Huawei's all-flash storage products could enter the PoC test, and Huawei recommended the OceanStor Dorado all-flash storage system. The PoC test successfully finished in October 2018 with satisfactory results.  

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“Huawei was chosen following a very demanding PoC during which we applied several tests to verify its performance, reliability, compatibility with existing infrastructure, and support from Huawei services,” said Haris Voutsas, Assistant General Manager, Group IT Operations, Piraeus Bank. “These tests lasted more than six months during which Huawei AFA covered 100% our needs. We had the opportunity to use it not only in test environment, but also in production with heavy workload demands. When we were confident for the suitability of the system we proceeded with the adoption of Huawei as one of the enterprise storage providers of the Bank.”

Huawei all-flash storage provides uninterrupted availability and flexibility in handling a mix of diverse systems

In June 2019, Piraeus Bank replaced the existing storage with Huawei OceanStor Dorado all-flash storage system. The Bank has since been moving production services and data to the system, including virtual servers, databases, application servers, and BIs.

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Powered by intelligent chips and algorithms, advanced architecture, and gateway-free active-active solution, the OceanStor Dorado greatly improves service performance, reduces latency, and ensures high reliability. The system architecture and embedded technologies deliver high-cost effectiveness so that the Bank can economically configure immediate and future storage capacities, minimizing its total cost of ownership (TCO). It also eases the Bank's business growth pressure, and improves its operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

“Before we proceeded with Huawei we had a very thorough PoC that confirmed the suitability of Huawei AFA for our needs,” said Voutsas. “Our experience so far is excellent, and we consider Huawei a trusted partner that we can rely on.”

“Huawei has a very strong technological background and its products are in par if not better to ones of the major IT vendors,” he continued. “During the last year we have seen a constant improvement of the AFAs with new versions, which implies investment in R&D and commitment to its products.”

Besides Piraeus Bank, Huawei collaborates extensively with the Greek banking industry by providing a wide range of competitive products and solutions. It is committed to becoming a preferred partner of digital transformation for Greek banks.

Archimedes once said: "Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the earth."  Huawei will work closely with Greek banks to create more "places to stand" and propel the development and digital transformation of the sector.

For more information, visit the OceanStor Dorado page on Huawei’s website.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.