Cedacri S.p.A. is the most important Italian company specialized in integrated IT services for the banking sector. With more than 800 employees, Cedacri has more than 150 clients, including banks, financial institutions, industrial companies and service companies. The company heads a group of companies that are able to provide a complete suite of services designed and developed on the specific needs of financial institutions: core banking solutions, technological infrastructure and cloud services, Regtech, software solutions, system integration and application management, business process as a service. The Group has about 2,400 employees and a consolidated pro-forma 2019 turnover of 382.9 million euros.
Innovation is there to serve the banks
The credit sector has been at the center of strong developments for several years now. Today, for example, banks have to face many challenges of the digital economy, confront themselves with new and fierce competitors – such as Fintech and Bigtech – and satisfy the demands of an evolved and increasingly natively digital clientele. “The frequent change in the reference scenarios of the banks has a huge impact on their business and operational models and, consequently, on the nature of the IT services that support them”, explains Michele Dotti, Director of Architecture and Technological Innovation in Cedacri. “We know this very well at Cedacri and, therefore, the continuous innovation of computer systems has always been a fixed point”. All this means not only research and development, but also constant activities of identification, analysis and possible integration of cutting-edge technologies with which to improve the performance and effectiveness of Cedacri systems.
A Winning Choice
About three years ago the company realized the importance of enhancing and optimizing the monitoring of its systems performance. “Performance control has always been indispensable in our services to detect and promptly resolve defects or anomalies. But it is also essential to update this control by selecting the best technologies offered by the market from time to time”, says Dotti.
Cedacri’s focus is therefore on observability solutions, a technology already adopted by the company – although for specific vertical applications – but in strong evolution. Observability allows to understand if a system works and, if not, to understand why: in fact, it offers a unified vision of IT environments both at the infrastructure and application level and, by measuring Kpis, it allows to anticipate and resolve problems and continuously monitor the capacity of systems.
Cedacri is confident that implementing observability in a pervasive way can further and significantly improve the ability to respond to problems and the level of continuity and promptness of services. The confirmation comes with the start in production of an impressive integration project for a large bank, which lasted a three-year period and ended successfully last May.
“The intervention involved the migration of the entire customer’s technology platform to the Cedacri core banking system. Observability turned out to be crucial for total performance control in terms of errors, response times and resource consumption: this was the best solution for its extension also to services managed for other banks”, says Dotti.
By 2020, in fact, the benefits of observability will be extended by Cedacri to all customers on its CBS (Core Banking System), thanks to the flexibility and scalability of the chosen platform: Elastic.
Elastic doesn’t miss a beat!
Based on system log analysis, Elastic is the market leader for observability: open source technologies for ingestion, enrichment, storage, analysis and visualization converge within it. The heart of Elastic is Elasticsearch, an open source search engine, based on Apache Lucene, which tracks and analyzes real-time data of all types: textual, numerical, geospatial, structured and unstructured.
“Among the various options considered, Elastic was not only the one clearly more suitable for the transversal observability to which we aspired, but also the best platform for resilience, robustness and reliability, with scalability features that are fundamental to us and with an excellent return on investment” – comments Dotti.
When things get rough…S2E, the value of expertise.
The implementation of the Elastic platform in poorly articulated IT environments is really easy, but in more complex contexts obviously requires specialized and qualified skills. Cedacri has found them in S2E – Solutions2enterprises, an Italian consulting company in technology and innovation, for several years an accredited partner of the company for the development of various projects in the field of architecture. “We already had a well-established relationship with S2E and knew its value both from a consulting and operational point of view. That’s why when we ascertained their ability to oversee the Elastic technology we did not hesitate to rely on their expertise since the first project”, says Dotti. That’s why, when implementing the Elastic platform, S2E works in close coordination with Cedacri teams.
“Our big data approach makes the most of the potential and synergies of the various modules of the Elastic platform”, explains Davide delle Cave, Chief Technology Architect at S2E. “The platform, in fact, collects the logs of all the systems that form the IT architectures of each client bank, at the application level, distributed on hundreds of machines of the Cedacri data center. From the logs collected, processed and analyzed, we obtain data that, through a real-time search and selection system, allow the measurement of the various Kpis. For example, the number of transactions, the response time of the systems, the errors and in general the overall measures that may indicate the proper functioning of the business services”.
An authentic control panel
The Elastic dashboard allows to configure the display and management of all data according to different needs. Starting from the monitoring of the systems performance: for this purpose, it can be arranged to send – to the Cedacri Control Room – alerts of any deviations of the values from predefined critical thresholds. And with the same mechanism you can also measure the ALS compliance of services.
Systems that contribute to providing a business service issue logs. By creating a correlation of logs, each individual operation required by the user is observable as it passes through the systems involved. So in case of a service failure, you could quickly identify the systems involved, understand the cause of the problem and then intervene quickly and accurately for resolution. Also the Capacity Planning, through the observation of the interaction between the various technological elements in the infrastructure, can be easily and quickly optimized.
“By the end of the year we will have tripled the IT infrastructures used for the Elastic platform in order to extend the observability to the 30 banks that make use of our services of Core Banking. And mainly for the management of direct channels such as Home and Mobile Banking”, explains Dotti. In addition to Home Banking, the scope of observability may include Corporate Banking, PSD2, ATM, Retails, Lending, Investment and Credit Risk Management.
To date, the Cedacri Elastic platform – which manages 850 gigabytes of data and more than 70 million events on a daily basis and involves over 200 application servers – provides 15 knots for a total of 50 terabytes of storage, destined to grow within the next semester until 50 knots and 200 terabytes.
“In order to reach these goals, the contribution of S2E consultants is proving to be decisive, not only for the well-known project management skills but also for its enormous flexibility”, concludes Dotti.
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