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Kredietbank's global networking strategy assures redundancy.

6

Faced with a lack of redundancy in its international network, Belgium's Kredietbank went on-line with Infonet's virtual InfoLAN network service in July 1991.

InfoLAN provides global connectivity between LANs and WANs using native protocols such as TCP/IP and source route bridging. Kredietbank, world leader in European Currency Unit (ECU) clearing, is the second largest bank in Belgium with more than 700 domestic and international branches. Until it became the first InfoLAN customer, the bank had been using a 64 kb/s leased line satellite circuit from Belgium to Hong Kong as its sole telecommunication link.

Prior to installation, Kredietbank had developed an internal software program called International Banking System (lBS). According to Peter Van Laer, telecomm engineer at Kredietbank, lBS covers banking operations such as global risk management, foreign exchange and money market transactions, securities trading, ECU clearing, funds transfers and credit management.

The IBS software allows the bank to operate in three time zones with real-time transactions through Brussels, London, New York and Hong Kong.

"High network availability is imperative in the global banking arena where downtime lasting more than a few hours could severely impact financial operations;' notes Alex Van Der Auwera, divisional manager for electronic data processing (EDP) at Kredietbank.

After installation, the Hong Kong operation, having no central CPU, would have had to rely totally on the central computer site in Belgium. This created a crucial need for international circuits and greater redundancy.

Van Laer figured the best way to build such a system was to have a local host. However, the Hong Kong operations consisted of a LAN with workstations and servers connected to a token ring network.

"We're strictly using SNA and Netbios protocols across the LAN-to-LAN connection; therefore, we have IBM remote bridges;' notes Van Laer.

Since the bridges don't allow redundancy without session loss, end users would lose a session when a line failed. Logging back onto the mainframe was a time consuming and complicated process. "We had to guarantee end users 24-hour availability without any session loss;' explains Van kaer.

"When we decided to rapidly go ahead with the lBS installation in Hong Kong, I had to find a very quick solution for redundancy. In two or three months, I had to select how to do it, either by valueadded network (VAN) or on our own."

Kredietbank officials talked to a number of VAN vendors and carriers to see if bank engineers could provision the redundant network circuits and arrange for installation on their own. This option would have taken six to eight months to complete. They decided on InfoLAN, . and installation was completed in a few weeks.

By using Cisco routers, which allow encapsulation of LAN traffic into TCP/IP frames, any TCP/IP network can be accessed. Kredietbank now has one line that goes to InfoLAN and one to its private circuit. If the private line fails, the router switches over to the InfoLAN line without session loss.

Infonet also provides interoperability between InfoLAN and its own worldwide X.25 public data network. Users can choose custom virtual, hybrid or private solutions with varying network topologies, geographic coverage and port speeds.

Each InfoLAN network has a fully redundant mesh architecture with alternate routing paths to ensure high accessibility. Available worldwide, it has speeds from 9.6 kb/s to 56 or 64 kb/s and higher, up to TI/EI levels.

Kredietbank also was attracted to InfoLAN because it offers a flat vs. a volumebased rate. Because the Hong Kong operation would be running software off the Belgian mainframe, volume-based pricing was cost-prohibitive.

"Since it's a fixed-price solution without any hidden costs, infoLAN makes it easy for firms to budget and control their telecomm expenses," says Van Der Auwera.

"We especially like the fact that we can cost-effectively increase our bandwidth capacity as required," says Van Der Auwera. "As a result, there's no reason for Kredietbank to pay high volume tariff rates for substantially greater bandwidth than we absolutely need at any given time .' '

Since Kredietbank went on-line in early July, the network has functioned perfectly. Van Laer observes, "Even though we had 20 or 30 failures on the satellite circuits in August, the connections to InfoLAN were made very smoothly every time, and no end user ever called me about losing a session."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Banking/Finance; telecommunications
Author:Johnson, Kay
Publication:Communications News
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Words:717
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