Bank Nizwa is Oman’s first dedicated Islamic bank, with fully Shari’a-compliant products and services. Founded in 2011, the bank aims to link rooted values with modernity to serve as the foundation of a practical and humane facility. The company represents the trend of thoughtful tradition and innovation working together to deliver state-of-the art services to the market.
The bank’s innovative character is particularly visible through its approach to information technology and services – Nizwa was the first bank in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to migrate its IT from traditional architecture to a modern cloud-based and managed solution. Despite the clear benefits of the cloud approach, many security and performance demands needed to be addressed; thus, Bank Nizwa was looking for a highly reliable solution and partner.
“Before coming across Flip IT, we didn’t believe a cloud-based solution could fit into our environment. However, the technical performance, security features, scalability and flexibility of the solution, and a clear business case on top of all, convinced us that Flip IT is the solution we will rely upon in the future.”
Dr. Yousif Janahi, Deputy General Manager IT, Bank Nizwa
Trust-based business model
Bank Nizwa found an excellent solution in NIL’s Flip IT, which in Oman is delivered by NIL’s partner Oman Data Park (ODP), a data center services operator that markets Flip IT under the name “Office in a Box.”
For a public cloud, managed service product like Flip IT to succeed, good technical support is crucial to ensure high reliability, especially for clients in the banking industry. This level of support can only be provided locally.
ODP provides resources for Flip IT through two high-performance data centers with strong redundancy mechanisms at the network, storage and system levels. Combined with its own IT expertise, this infrastructure enables ODP to offer world-class operational support: fast response to alerts, 24x7x365 monitoring, level-1 through level-3 support, incident escalation, troubleshooting, guaranteed and SLA protection. This strong support was a convincing argument for Bank Nizwa to move to the cloud.
Additionally, the bank was concerned with migration of legacy applications and peripherals to the cloud. Prior to the deployment of Flip IT, ODP backed up and secured Bank Nizwa’s legacy applications and infrastructure, and then conducted a transformation of these essentials to make them cloud-ready. After completion, ODP set up the base infrastructure for Flip IT: network and voice integration, storage and backup system, file server, Active Directory, e-mail, etc. In the final stage, ODP migrated end users to the new solution via a bulk provisioning tool on the management portal.
Deployment of the new solution took six months. NIL engineers assisted ODP’s and Bank Nizwa’s IT teams during the conversion process, providing background experience and expertise on the technologies. NIL also conducted training to bring both companies’ staff members to the essential level of competency to enable them to fully support the solution in production.
“By integrating Flip IT into our portfolio, we brought to market the first high-end managed virtual workspace solution in the region, contributing significantly to our competitiveness – ODP is now a leader and opinion maker when it comes to the cloud. The solution’s immediate success in the highly demanding area of banking clearly demonstrates the advantages that Flip IT and the cloud bring to this type of business.”
Maqboul Alwahaiby, VP, Oman Data Park – Muscat
Strong impact on the business
From a financial perspective, Bank Nizwa expects lower total cost of ownership over the next few years, in comparison with traditional IT architectures (and the CAPEX model). Budget planning is also significantly easier, thanks to more predictable costs; the service is charged per user on a monthly basis.
From a technology standpoint, Flip IT standardizes IT requirements and setup. Administration is centralized and easy to perform; resources can be assigned with a click, and new desktops created within just minutes.
But the impact of the Flip IT solution on Bank Nizwa’s business goes beyond cost savings and technological optimization. Cloud services have freed internal IT resources, enabling them to move their focus from administrative to more strategic roles, increasing value creation. This is the ultimate goal of Nizwa Bank: move IT from cost center to innovation center.