Based in Beirut, Bank Audi is a commercial bank in Lebanon and one of the fastest growing banks in the region. With a sizable presence in Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, France, and Switzerland, Bank Audi offers a range of products and services that cover commercial and corporate banking, retail and individual banking, on-line brokerage, private banking, and investment banking.
Bank Audi needed to improve the alignment of IT capabilities with business goals in order to support continued growth and a diversifying mix of customers and banking services. To accomplish this objective, the bank’s CEO turned to Danny Dagher, an executive with business development and strategic acquisition experience, to lead the IT transformation. Dagher became the bank’s CIO. Senior leadership recognised, that Dagher’s combination of business expertise and technical knowledge would be an asset in closing the business and IT gap, particularly if he could leverage the experience and guidance of trusted technology partners. “When I first joined Bank Audi, if I had to list the 10 or 15 jobs that were part of my charter, nothing related to IT would have been on that list,” said Dagher.
One of Dagher’s first moves as CIO was to approach IT transformation from a business perspective in terms of budget. “We had to treat IT as a business to enable the bank to grow and go through the rigors of budgetary requirements, regulatory mandates, and compliance issues,” he said. So, the bank established IT and technology as one of the four pillars for its business strategy and future journey.
The next step was to find the best partners. That was easy, according to Dagher, because he had already established a relationship with VMware Professional Services. Dagher engaged with the VMware Accelerate Advisory Services team, part of the VMware Professional Services organisation, to help put the wheels of transformation in motion.
Dagher wanted the Accelerate Advisory team to help the IT department take business agility to a higher level and become a true service broker. The Accelerate Advisory team analysed Bank Audi’s situation and requirements and identified opportunities for immediate cost savings by moving away from proprietary systems to standard, commodity hardware and by building a private cloud to save on third-party cloud service offerings.
This included tuning the internal Information Technology Infrastructure Library process and governance. More importantly, however, the Accelerate team provided detailed recommendations for making the transition to an agile infrastructure that could deliver on the vision of more satisfied end users and tighter alignment between business and IT objectives.
The team recommended the following initiatives, aligned to Bank Audi’s transformation goals:
- Infrastructure layer: Implement infrastructure virtualisation compute- network-storage and automation of IT operations.
- Applications layer: Provide predictable reliability through automation of disaster recovery and increase agility through cloud automation for faster, simpler deployment of IT resources.
- People layer: Enable the IT team to provide solutions to the business unit in an agile and efficient manner through cloud automation, in a reliable manner through cloud operations and disaster recovery automation, and in a sustainable and predictable manner through cloud business management.
- The Accelerate team devised a two-phased approach to implementation. Phase One focused on the transformation of the infrastructure layer, and included a migration from physical servers to virtual servers and implementation of a basic model for cloud operations including capacity and performance management and cloud automation via virtual machine dispatching.
The focus of Phase Two is disaster recovery automation as a way to ensure reliability for the efficiencies and agilities adopted in Phase One. It includes further virtualisation of physical assets and expansion of Bank Audi’s capabilities around cloud operations automation.
“The Accelerate Advisory Services team helped us tremendously, because they understood that our end goal is not to build infrastructure,” said Dagher. “The end goal is not to automate and manage. The end goal is to empower the business to accomplish its goals quickly and easily, and that means we need to be a true service broker: we get the request, it is provisioned, it is built. Whatever our constituents want to do should be easy for them. And for us, that means infrastructure is no longer a black box. It is a transparent box.”
With guidance from VMware Professional Services, IT has begun the transition to its new role as service broker and business enabler. IT at Bank Audi is becoming a revenue-generating business, because the processes are now in place to implement charge-back for services. In the past chargeback was not even possible. “We could do a showback, we could show them our cost and give them some visibility, but now we can comfortably chargeback if we add value,” explains Dagher.
The IT team needed to stand against any competition, because any business line could outsource IT services. “They could literally bypass us, which we had started to see glimpses of two or three years ago when people started asking to use their own mobile phones at work. Some of them can even buy their own VPN services at this stage. So, there was pressure on the IT teams to survive,” says Dagher.
In terms of tangible results, Bank Audi started seeing CapEx savings of millions of dollars even before finalising Phase One. The delivery model now incorporates key strategic elements the VMware team has consistently talked about, from software-defined datacentre to hybrid cloud to end-user computing and mobility.
The strategic advice and tactical coaching from VMware Professional Services helped Bank Audi align IT capabilities with business objectives. “We can run our own business more efficiently, so we can help our constituents run their businesses more efficiently, with transparency over their costs and revenues. They can now accelerate their business initiatives, from launching new products to improving productivity.”
- The IT team needed to stand against any competition, because any business line could outsource IT services
- With guidance from VMware Professional Services, IT has begun the transition to its new role as service broker and business enabler
- IT at Bank Audi is becoming a revenue-generating business, because the processes are now in place to implement charge-back for services
- In the past chargeback was not even possible
- The focus of Phase Two is disaster recovery automation as a way to ensure reliability for the efficiencies and agilities adopted in Phase One