From Outdated Data Centers to Future-Ready Solutions: How KBTG Is Redefining Banking in Thailand

HPE Compute

Banking began to go digital with the first ATMs, then moved online, and now it’s increasingly mobile. Many people do all their banking electronically and rarely see a need to visit brick-and-mortar branches at all.

In Thailand, consumers have dropped cash and credit cards in favor of paying with their smartphones. Our country is increasingly cashless, and banks must reflect that in our products and services. 

The Start of an Internal Innovation Lab

I work for KBTG, the technology arm of Kasikornbank (KBank). KBank financial institution was founded in 1945 as the Thai Farmers’ Bank. Although our primary market is Thailand, we are expanding in the ASEAN Economic Community and have commenced operations in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Mainland China. Our 2,300 employees provide IT and cybersecurity governance for nearly 30,000 employees across KBank’s international operations. 

As a dedicated business unit driving innovation, our primary goal is building resilient, scalable, reliable infrastructure. KBank customers expect 24/7 service with zero downtime and cutting-edge applications that give them instant access to banking and payment services.

KBank pioneered mobile payments in Thailand and recently introduced cardless withdrawals at our ATMs, branches, and KBank service outlets. Instead of using their bank card and entering a PIN, customers can scan a QR code with their smartphone when they need to have cash in hand. It’s one of many new products our engineers have developed.

Overcoming Legacy Constraints

About four years ago, we looked at our data centers and realized they were holding us back. We had an active-passive configuration with a primary data center in Bangkok and a disaster recovery site 200 kilometers away. This configuration allowed us to recover from a security breach or other failure, but there was too much latency, and half our equipment was sitting unused most of the time.

Age was another factor. The data centers were more than 20 years old, and our network and electrical cables needed replacement. Several points of potential failure, including the electrical connection at our backup site, did not meet the requirements for Tier 3 data centers. Our servers were obsolete and couldn’t process the millions of transactions our customers perform every day. 

Updating to more recent technology can enhance and simplify security measures.

Our outdated infrastructure also compromised our cybersecurity posture. My team is especially concerned about preventing and recovering from ransomware attacks. While we had robust processes in place, updating to more recent technology would enhance and simplify our security measures. 

A Strategic Choice for Long-Term Value

When we decided to update our equipment, we looked at the usual information sources, including Gartner, Forrester, and McKinsey. I also attend technology conferences to stay up to date with the latest trends and newest equipment. We analyzed potential vendors on the strength of their products, the quality of their service, and their standing in the market. We also looked at a medium- to long-term solution.


In addition to performing our own research, we sought references from other banks and financial services companies and looked at the biggest names in IT, including IBM. After analyzing the major players and their products, talking to our peers, and explaining our needs to potential vendors, we elected to move forward with HPE. The company provided the best combination of hardware, software, and support—while understanding and respecting our budget. 


Upgrading our infrastructure is a significant investment, and we didn’t want to rip everything out in a few years to start over again. HPE offered us a solution we could maintain and upgrade for up to a decade, which was another factor in the company’s favor.

Unleashing Power and Efficiency in the Data Center

We built our new data centers around 16 HPE ProLiant DL380 Gen 10 servers using Intel Xeon processors, eight each at our primary and DR data centers. But before going live, we ran dozens of non-functional tests (NFTs) and engineering validation tests (EVTs) to confirm the new servers had the processing power, storage capacity, and bandwidth to handle our workloads. Our new hardware worked flawlessly, and with minimal downtime, exceeding our expectations and outperforming the competition by a significant margin.  

HPE Proliant servers offer us single-pane-of-glass management that simplifies administration of customer-facing infrastructure and allows us to roll out new features faster. At the same time, we upgraded three other mission-critical systems with HPE technology. 

  • We use HPE Superdome Flex servers to develop and run our containerized mobile app and HPE NonStop fault-tolerant servers to run the Base24-atm processing, switching, and electronic funds transfer (EFT) system that powers our ATMs.  
  • We also deployed HPE StoreOnce to create images of our entire system and quickly restore our operations in the event of a cyberattack. 
  • Finally, we relocated our DR data center to Bangkok. It is less than 40 kilometers from our primary data center, and by doing so, we reduced latency to less than three milliseconds.  

Moving Away from Mainframes

Despite upgrading our customer-facing infrastructure, our core operations run on an entirely different platform, resulting in a bottleneck between our frontend, customer-facing systems, and some of our primary backend systems.

Banking can be highly conservative, so many of our primary systems, including our credit card operations, are written for the IBM AIX operating system, which dates back to 1986. These systems run on mainframes engineered for massive simultaneous transactions and hardware-level encryption.

There was a time when cloud-based services and virtual machines could not offer the same level of security and massively parallel processing as mainframe computers, but that gap is closing.

There was a time when cloud-based services and virtual machines could not offer the same level of security and massively parallel processing as mainframe computers, but that gap is closing. I expect KBank will start looking at opportunities to replace or supplement mainframe technology with equipment that costs less, occupies less space, uses less energy, does as much work, and is equally secure.

We are happy to have given our frontend a facelift that will help us grow for the next decade. We will surely rethink and reconstitute our backend at some point, and HPE may play a part in our move away from mainframes.

Everything, Everywhere, at Once Banking

For all practical purposes, Thailand is now a cashless society. KBank’s customers demand easy access to their money, friction-free payments and funds transfers, and the ability to manage their finances in the palm of their hands.

We run our core banking platform on HPE ProLiant. Our workloads consist of 230 million daily customer transactions, including 20–30 million financial transactions. HPE has given KBank the tools to deliver everything, everywhere, at once. We can handle the scale and speed that our customers demand, and I'm proud that in the past five years, we have continued to provide mobile services, which are considered to be one of the best in Thailand, to our customers with minimal interruptions. I am looking forward to the exciting developments in the next decade and taking advantage of the possibilities offered with our new environment.

I tell my team at KBTG that we work with purpose. We’re one of the core banks that supports our country—without us, hundreds of millions of daily transactions wouldn’t happen. I’m proud that our team continues to innovate and build products that keep our customers happy.