Intesa Sanpaolo, the biggest Italian bank, is also an innovation leader, with a strategic plan to move an important part of its infrastructure to the public cloud. With a talented group that focuses its R&D on forward-looking IT strategies, as well as on its investments in Neva (the first Italian technology-centered venture capitalist firm), the bank fuels a virtuous cycle that keeps it a step ahead—both in the adoption of new technology and the readiness to meet ever-changing business needs. One example is its relationship with Intel and ecosystem partners.
“Intel has proven multiple times to be a key partner for Intesa Sanpaolo, and it has done this once again with Intel® Optane™ Technology and the partner network that it has been able to build around it,” says Nicola Carotti, Head of Cloud Center of Excellence at Intesa Sanpaolo. In fact, Intel® Optane™ Technology brought several improvements to Intesa Sanpaolo’s infrastructure that resulted in lower costs, improved efficiency, and faster response times for mission-critical applications such as core internet banking services. In order to achieve these results, Intel worked with a series of strategic vendors for Intesa Sanpaolo to help them take full advantage of this technology in their solutions.
“Intel has proven multiple times to be a key partner for Intesa Sanpaolo and it has done this once again with Intel® Optane™ Technology and the partner network that it has been able to build around it.” —Nicola Carotti, Head of Cloud Center of Excellence at Intesa Sanpaolo.
Intel and its partner ecosystem made the adoption of Intel® Optane™ Persistent Memory practically seamless, with a dramatic return on investment (ROI) that further focused the bank’s attention on this technology and its potential for additional use cases.
2. Use Cases
Intesa Sanpaolo has the same needs as every other major bank, with resiliency, efficiency, and scalability among the top infrastructure priorities. To achieve these goals, the bank always keeps an eye on the latest technologies and the ways they can be exploited. The bank was already using Intel® Xeon™ Scalable Processors for most of its core systems, and Intel® Optane™ Technology proved to be the right companion to build even more efficient infrastructures.
Intel® Optane™ Technology showed up on the bank’s radar for the first time with MemVerge, a start-up with a solution that creates a shared pool of Intel® Optane™ Persistent Memory. The main advantage of MemVerge’s solution is the large amount of addressable RAM it provides for applications, as well as additional services to improve infrastructure resiliency and availability. Among other benefits, this technology enables users to run big data jobs in an in-memory fashion without changing the application.
The bank immediately saw the potential for another business-critical application and involved Hazelcast, a solution that provides a consistent caching layer for stateful transactional workloads. In this case, Intel® Optane™ Persistent Memory not only improved performance but also minimized downtime in the event of a system shutdown. Thanks to Intel® Optane™ Persistent Memory characteristics, in case of a major hardware failure, the system can be up again in minutes instead of hours for the maximum uptime and minimal service disruption.
Along the way, Intesa Sanpaolo and Intel collaborated with Diamanti, a start-up specializing in high-efficiency solutions for Kubernetes. This collaboration allowed Intesa Sanpaolo to take advantage of Intel® Optane™ Technology to further improve system performance and efficiency, thereby reducing the data center footprint necessary to run its applications. With the introduction of Intel® Optane™ Persistent Memory, Diamanti server nodes now cost 48% less while doubling addressable memory capacity.
Finally, Cisco added support for Intel® Optane™ Technology to its UCS platform, enabling the bank to improve VM density for its virtualized infrastructure because it was able to use Intel® Optane™ DIMMs to extend the RAM in every single server.
All of these are regular production systems, but the bank also saw the potential of Intel® Optane™ Technology for bleeding-edge use cases in its research and development team, and began using it to improve performance with Quantum computing emulators and advanced AI/ML models.
Flavio Fasano, head of Hybrid Data Center and PaaS at Intesa Sanpaolo, confirmed that the collaboration with Intel on Intel® Optane™ Technology has been particularly beneficial. His team was able to explore several interesting scenarios and demonstrate the quality of the technology in the field with real application stacks.
Intesa Sanpaolo already introduced the latest DevOps methodologies for new applications and is planning to fully embrace hybrid-cloud solutions for future infrastructure developments. Intel® Optane™ and its ecosystem of solutions are part of the bank’s overall IT strategy and can be further adopted for applications and infrastructure that demand the highest levels of performance, efficiency, and reliability.
3. Wrapping Up
Intesa Sanpaolo was able to take full advantage of Intel® Optane™ Technology early, thanks to a forward-looking and open-minded approach that gave the IT and R&D teams a head start on the latest technology. This smart vision will also be beneficial in advising Neva about strategic investments and reassuring external investors that Intesa Sanpaolo practices an “eat your own dog food” approach.
Intel is constructing a formidable ecosystem around Intel® Optane™ Technology. These building blocks are enabling enterprises and service providers to create innovative infrastructures as support for business and mission-critical applications. And when this technology is fully integrated in end-to-end solutions, as in the case of Intesa Sanpaolo, the benefits are even more evident and ROI is maximized.
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