Germany’s most popular and first agile direct bank uses Icinga to monitor its productive environment with over 8,000 hosts and more than 100,000 services. For secure and smooth banking that is fun.
At ING, they are convinced that banks must above all be able to quickly identify dynamically changing customer needs. Agility is ING’s corporate culture response to digital transformation. The goal is to deliver products and services that are a perfect fit. “To make our customers enjoy banking, we make it intuitive, clear and simple”, is ING’s philosophy. This appeals to customers, who have voted ING Germany’s “Most Popular Bank” for the 15th time in a row (business magazine €uro, 05/2021 issue).
The company uses Icinga to monitor its productive environment and ensures with near-real-time monitoring that the more than 800 applications of the direct bank run smoothly, and that banking is fun.
ING-DiBa AG (brand name ING), headquartered in Frankfurt a.M., Germany, is a direct bank and a subsidiary of the Dutch, internationally active ING Group. In terms of customer numbers, it is Germany’s largest direct bank, with over 9.6 million customers in 2021.
Near-real-time monitoring is absolutely essential.
ING Germany is growing at a rapid pace. At the same time, the bank is also growing together with the internationally active ING Group. ING’s infrastructure is less and less hosted only in Germany. This means new challenges for monitoring, which must above all be scalable and easy to integrate.
800 applications are in use at ING. Some are customer-relevant, most are used internally. Especially for customer-relevant services, close monitoring and short response times play an enormously important role. “Our mobile app and Internet banking are used intensively. If customers notice that something isn’t working, it has to work again within minutes. Impairments of customer channels that last longer than 4 hours have to be reported to BaFin,” says Dr. Peter Schneider. BaFin is the German federal financial supervisory authority.
ING has been using Icinga since 2012. “2012 was a period of extreme growth. We had to adapt our infrastructure to those changes very fast. And the monitoring solution in place couldn’t keep up,” says Schneider.
Under one Roof
Icinga is the umbrella software of ING’s monitoring. Data from network devices, physical and virtual servers and various applications are transmitted to Icinga for further processing. All information goes into the top-level view in the Service Control Room, displaying the current status of the bank.
In the event of a fault, the Service Control Room passes on information to the IT specialist teams. The IT teams also use Icinga for their area of responsibility, putting together their own dashboards for this purpose.
8,000 hosts and 100,000 services are checked with Icinga at ING. “We have lots of agents in place that are set up on individual machines and deliver data to Icinga,” Schneider says. “Besides, we built something that is unique to us: The so-called Event DB.”
The Event DB was created in collaboration with consultants and developers from the Icinga partner NETWAYS GmbH. It is a central database which stores a large number of events, which are not necessarily displayed. Only if certain criteria are met, they appear in the top-level view. In principle, however, they can always be viewed in the Service Control Room.
Icinga is a lean monitoring solution with an insane amount of potential to do customization.
We´d miss Icinga extremely if we didn’t have it. That’s a position which also held by our management.
Working with Experts
A particular benefit for ING’s monitoring experts is the long-standing collaboration with Markus Frosch, an employee of support and consulting partner NETWAYS. He has been advising and supporting the company since Icinga has been in use. “I think it’s mutual that we’ve developed a very trusting relationship,” says Schneider. With Thilo Wening and Alexander Stoll, two new NETWAYS colleagues joined in 2021, and also here the cooperation works smoothly.
Icinga has been in use at ING for 9 years. Intuitiveness, clarity, and simplicity is what the bank wants for its customers. And that’s exactly what the administrators like about Icinga: “The quick creation of visibility through simple tiles and a traffic light system allows us to see the state of the bank at a glance.” On the other hand, Schneider likes the fact that you can go very deep into systems and collect very specific information that is helpful for further problem handling.
“We appreciate the responsiveness of NETWAYS, who always make us feel that we can rely on them,” says Schneider. Most recently, for example, in the adjustment of the support framework agreement due to new regulatory requirements. “Icinga Support is primarily about making sure we have additional expertise available when we need it.” Despite the speed of digital change, increasingly stringent security requirements, and the bank’s tremendous growth, since 2012 there has not been any incidence that Schneider would describe as a difficult situation or setback.
Ready for the Next Steps
Using Icinga, ING’s system administrators essentially monitor the production environment. With the growth of the bank, there is also the need to monitor an increasing number of test environments. This project is in the planning phase and will be put to the test with a PoC in 2022.
Another future project is the automation of manual processes. Currently, the IT specialist teams are examining the question of how to increase automation in the monitoring of SCS systems. Initial ideas have been formulated for a future with less manual work.
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