Banque du Liban, Lebanon’s central bank, is responsible for safeguarding the state’s monetary and economic stability. It has the exclusive right to issue the national currency, the Lebanese pound, and grants and regulates licenses governing the establishment of banks, financial institutions, brokerage firms and mutual funds. Headquartered in Beirut, Banque du Liban operates branches in major cities across the country

The Challenge

Banque du Liban plays a critical role in Lebanon’s economy, managing everything from exchange rates to bank liquidity. National and international commercial, retail and investment banks and other financial institutions operating in Lebanon depend on Banque du Liban’s services. It is therefore critical that Banque du Liban’s IT systems run smoothly around the clock.

For many years, Banque du Liban has relied on the IBM mainframe to support its core banking applications. Until recently, the bank’s other key business applications, including its general ledger, ERP and HR systems, ran on Oracle Database on commodity x86 servers.

Ghassan Afiouni, IT Specialist, Deputy Directory at Banque du Liban, takes up the story: “As our Oracle database landscape grew, so too did the licensing costs. We knew that this would become unsustainable in the long term and wanted to find a more cost-efficient alternative.”

“SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for IBM z Systems helps us to deliver better services to users at a lower cost—a win-win situation.”

SUSE Solution

Banque du Liban realized that it could significantly reduce licensing costs by consolidating x86 workloads onto its IBM z13 servers.

Ghassan Afiouni comments: “When we looked into it more closely, we found that migrating Oracle from the x86 platform to the mainframe would not only reduce licensing costs but also increase availability and performance, and significantly reduce management effort. The results of our assessment were very compelling, so we decided to go ahead and make the move.”

Before beginning the migration, Banque du Liban chose SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for IBM z Systems and LinuxONE as the operating system to support the Oracle database landscape on the z13.

Ghassan Afiouni recalls: “We reached out to our IBM contacts for advice on the best course of action. After evaluating the two recommended Linux distributions, we decided to go with the SUSE option. The attractive pricing tipped it in favor of SUSE, and we were also impressed by the level of after-sales support on offer.”

Today, the bank runs ten Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) processors on its production IBM z13 server and one IFL on the z13 server at its disaster recovery site. The IFLs are specifically designed to deliver maximum performance for Linux workloads at very high density, enabling the bank to run the same Oracle workload on fewer cores, significantly reducing its licensing costs. Combined with IBM z/VM virtualization technology, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for IBM z Systems enables Banque du Liban to utilize its mainframe platform to the fullest.

“The implementation of the SUSE solution went very smoothly,” says Ghassan Afiouni. “We didn’t run into any major problems and were able to resolve a couple of smaller issues ourselves. However, it’s reassuring to know that SUSE is there for us if we ever do need support.”

The Results

By selecting SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for IBM z Systems as the strategic platform for its Oracle database landscape, Banque du Liban has made substantial savings on software licensing.

Ghassan Afiouni remarks: “We’ve cut Oracle licensing costs by around 60 percent since migrating the databases to the mainframe—a phenomenal saving, which is thanks in large part to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for IBM z Systems. This will enable us to deliver essential IT services much more cost-effectively and means that we have the financial resources to scale our Oracle landscape to support future growth.”

In addition to reducing licensing costs, Banque du Liban has seen performance and availability soar since migrating its Oracle databases to the IBM Z platform.

“The combination of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and z/VM delivers excellent performance, availability and flexibility,” says Ghassan Afiouni. “Thanks to the SUSE solution, we can take advantage of the IFL processors in the mainframe and get the best possible performance. This means that applications dependent on the Oracle databases run seamlessly.”

He concludes: “SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for IBM z Systems helps us to deliver better services to users at a lower cost—a win-win situation.”