Datacentrix, a provider of high-performing and secure ICT solutions, has achieved a global milestone by providing BankservAfrica, an automated clearing-house located in Johannesburg, with the Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) NonStop solution, making Datacentrix the first channel supplier of HPE NonStop locally. Factors that influenced the decision involved the non-negotiable requirements for always-available transactions and the dire need to close the southern African ICT skills gap.
BankservAfrica operates both nationally and within the greater African continent. The company, which is responsible for annually processing billions of transactions valued at trillions of South African rands, is also advocating for local ICT skills in its bid to deliver outstanding services to its direct clients, including banks, corporates, government and the retail sector, as well as the end customers of these sectors.
“As Africa’s largest automated clearing house, for over four decades, BankservAfrica has played a crucial role in enabling simplicity in the payments industry, processing billions of trusted payment transactions per year, all the while maintaining the safety and security of South Africa’s National Payment System (NPS),” states Hamman Ferreira, CTO at BankservAfrica.
“As you can imagine, with the company’s long history comes aged IT legacy systems. There is a pressing and crucial need to seamlessly service customers in the digital era, and so our strategy is to invest in technology that offers a proven non-stop, highly available and robust service to make digitalisation a reality.”
Appreciating that its role is quickly changing from a traditional transaction-clearing house to that of a fintech company servicing various channels of banking, BankservAfrica chose to deploy the HPE NonStop system.
The system is designed from the ground up for mission-critical environments that demand continuous business and 100% fault tolerance. The proven solution eliminates the risk of downtime while meeting large-scale business needs, online transaction processing and database requirements. In addition, the NonStop software environment is now available for use in private clouds.
“We certainly realise that transactions are not only our lifeblood, but also the lifeblood of the end customer,” notes Ferreira. “This is why our focus is on both established and innovative technologies that facilitate always-available banking throughout Africa – today and in the future.”
What makes the latest technology provisioning unique in South Africa is that, for the first time, it was not supplied directly by HPE – as is the norm – but through its Platinum partner, Datacentrix.
Especially noteworthy is that switching from the traditional HPE contract to Datacentrix has boosted the path to building a greater local support structure and user group, and to growing a NonStop community in southern Africa and into Africa – increasing the demand for NonStop skills throughout the region. “Our function is to service the greater African community. Considering our ageing workforce, by educating and certifying local people in specialised IT roles, we are not only ensuring our future, but the future of Africa’s youth,” adds Ferreira.
Creating local ICT skills is a subject about which Ferreira is passionate, stressing: “Our job as leaders is to develop expertise locally”. He has therefore personally taken on the responsibility of promoting a regional HP NonStop community, influencing South Africa’s financial giants to take the same route and join hands in creating a bigger demand for home-grown, specialised ICT skills.
The relationship with Datacentrix, strengthened through this installation, has also been met with high praise. “The commercial relationship between BankservAfrica and Datacentrix has been a good one since our first contract almost 10 years ago,” notes Emile Burger, Group COO at BankservAfrica. “As a services business, Datacentrix has great people with an excellent skill set and a good heart. This, together with world-class knowledge and services as well as best-of-breed technology, makes Datacentrix a strategic partner of choice. The company has an always available and easy to access escalation path, which has resulted in it being highly responsive in meeting our needs – from service to technical to cost. Added to this is that Datacentrix operates in both a tactical and an honourable fashion, which assists us in ensuring that our chosen solutions are sustainable.”
Ferreira further highlights that moving BankservAfrica from legacy systems into the digital era is firmly entrenched in attaining the IT division’s three strategic business outcomes: resilience, reliability and responsiveness. He says: “Technology goes hand in hand with people. Our employees are on this journey with us and we do not move faster than the entire team – this ensures that new technology is adopted through thorough exposure, training and understanding. This has been especially important in our migration to innovative architecture. The literal bottom line is that our customers simply can’t afford our downtime – it’s like changing a plane’s engine whilst it’s in flight.”
This strategy has seen BankservAfrica become a leader in effectively adopting powerful technology that serves Africa’s diverse payment systems – from large traditional financial institutions to the mobile wallet and further mobile payment apps. The company is presently only one of three companies worldwide to achieve this interoperability.
“Our vision for the future connects the economy with furthering local ICT skills. We are fortunate to have select partners, such as Datacentrix, to help us achieve this goal. At BankservAfrica we firmly believe that empowerment, robust technology and extensive local partnerships investments will enable a stronger economy throughout Africa. Trust here is key, people need to believe in it,” says Ferreira.
“Datacentrix consistently aims to deliver a dependable, always-available service that perfectly matches our robust, complete and flexible ICT infrastructure solutions offering,” adds Justin Hammann, Account Manager at Datacentrix. “Our decade-long partnership with BankservAfrica has provided us with an in-depth view into its business strategy. This insight has enabled us to offer them a holistic value proposition that successfully equips the company to integrate innovative technology, safeguarding their objectives to deliver an always-on answer that meets the success of their digital business model and delivers the peace of mind that their end customers require.”