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Halkbank is one of the largest banks in Turkey. To improve application performance across the WAN, the bank was looking to optimize the bandwidth it already had in place.


IN BRIEF

Industry

  • Banking

Challenge

  • Improve application performance across the WAN without expensive bandwidth upgrades

Solution

  • 205 Riverbed Steelhead appliances
  • Central Management Console-Virtual Edition

Benefits

  • Up to 40 times improvement in core banking application speeds
  • Greatly improved performance of other key applications
  • Avoided expensive bandwidth upgrade
  • 75 percent of users stated that they have noticed significant improvements in application performance

Halkbank

Riverbed Technology enables Halkbank to improve application performance and avoid expensive bandwidth upgrade

Background

Halkbank (www.halkbank.com.tr) is the 7th largest bank in Turkey in terms of assets. It has over 12,000 employees and made a net profit of 2bn TL (approx. $1.2bn) in the last financial year. Halkbank has corporate, SME and retail customers, but its main focus is on the SME sector, and as a result, one in two SMEs in Turkey are clients of Halkbank. In Turkey, Halkbank has over 750 branches, 103 branch offices and two data centers, in Istanbul and Ízmir. It also has overseas operations in Macedonia and the Far East.

Challenge: To improve application performance across the WAN

Halkbank has 103 branch offices and over 750 branches in Turkey connected via the WAN to the company’s main data center in Istanbul, where all applications are centralized. Most of the offices use a 256K bandwidth connection, which is divided into two further lines for redundancy purposes. One line is a high quality bandwidth connection used for Mistral – a core application for more than 150 banking transactions such as, fund transfers, deposits and payments - while a secondary, lower quality bandwidth connection is used for other applications such as, email and internet access. If one of the connections should fail (or the branch office only has a single connection to the data center), then all applications are accessed via the same bandwidth connection.

As a result of rapid growth Halkbank has experienced a significant increase in the number of users accessing the centralized applications. “One of the biggest challenges was the cost of the bandwidth upgrade required to maintain application performance, while the number of users and transactions continued to grow rapidly,” explains Cenk Niksarli, Halkbank IT infrastructure manager, “In addition we experienced various issues across numerous branches. In particular the response time for one application was causing such a major issue that some branches stopped using it, and many emails had large attachments causing extended download times.”

Halkbank conducted a cost/benefit analysis of upgrading bandwidth versus WAN optimization and the calculations strongly suggested that the latter route offered a more cost effective solution.

Solution: Riverbed WAN optimization technology offers best all-round solution, plus quick and easy deployment

Halkbank decided to run a WAN optimization proof of concept (POC) with their IT provider, comparing solutions from a number of vendors. Four offices in Istanbul were involved in the POC, and the results were conclusive, comments Niksarli. “Riverbed® was the best all-round solution in terms of performance, ease of management, reliability and support.”

The decision was made to deploy 205 Riverbed Steelhead® appliances across the organization; one at the Istanbul data center, another at a secondary data center in Ankara, 103 in branch offices across Turkey, and currently 100 in the larger bank branches. The Riverbed Central Management Console-Virtual Edition (CMC-VE) was also deployed at the main data center.

CMC simplifies the process of deploying and managing Steelhead products that are distributed across a WAN, making it easy to configure, monitor and upgrade groups of Steelhead appliances. CMC-VE is a software version of the CMC that provides the full range of capabilities and can run as a virtualized service on VMware platforms in private cloud environments. This can help reduce the total cost of ownership of WAN optimization in an enterprise.

Installation of the first 105 Steelhead appliances took just two weeks. “We have a team of specialists who handle our installations and the Riverbed installation was their quickest and most successful deployment project,” says Niksarli, “One of our major decision points was ease-of-management, which is why we chose Riverbed.”

Benefits: Core banking application up to 40 times faster, employee productivity increased, and user satisfaction improved

The impact of deploying Riverbed WAN optimization technology has been dramatic. The core banking application, Mistral, now performs up to 40 times faster. “Many users are both surprised and amazed at the application performance speeds since deploying Riverbed. The credit card processing application, for example, now operates more like an application over a local area network (LAN),” explains Niksarli.

In another example, employees rely on Outlook Web Access (OWA), which enables a Microsoft Exchange server mailbox to be accessed via a web browser. Prior to Riverbed, employees were unable to download large file attachments from emails. With Riverbed Steelhead appliances installed, employees can now access emails at LAN-like speeds.

“The cost savings were a significant reason for choosing Riverbed, and overall we have experienced a 17 month average return on investment (ROI), but the real business driver was to improve employee productivity,” says Niksarli. “We recently conducted an internal survey with our employees and the results were extremely pleasing with over 75 percent of respondents stating that they were satisfied with application performance. This is mainly due to the Riverbed WAN optimization solution.”

Following the success of this project, Halkbank now plans to deploy a further 180 Steelhead appliances across its organization.

SUMMARY

Halkbank had experienced rapid growth and as a result employees based at the branch offices and bank branches were experiencing poor application performance. A cost/benefit analysis suggested that a WAN optimization solution offered a better strategy than upgrading bandwidth. Halkbank selected Riverbed for its overall performance and manageability and installed 205 Steelhead appliances across its WAN. Users noticed an immediate improvement in application performance with a core banking application now performing up to 40 times faster. Halkbank has also seen an average 17 month ROI, avoided a costly bandwidth upgrade, and improved employee productivity.

“Riverbed was the best all-round solution in terms of performance, ease of management, reliability and support.”

“Many users are both surprised and amazed at the application performance speeds since deploying Riverbed.”

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