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This bank - one of the world's largest - has more than 200 million customer accounts in more than 100 countries. The company is a massive global organization with more than 4000 branches across six business units, and more than 200,000 employees.


IN BRIEF

Industry

  • Financial Services

Challenges

  • Eliminate the high risk associated with data and tapes in branch offices
  • Implement a standard operating environment for all desktops
  • Ensure consistent application performance, in any location
  • Provide for more reliable disaster recovery

Solution

  • Company is rolling out Steelhead appliances in more than 2,500 branches worldwide

Benefits

  • Elimination of all branch-based tape backup – and associated risks of losing confidential data
  • No need to build new regional data centers to support local applications –enabling consistent performance and higher data security
  • Faster applications around the world
  • Enables deployment of temporary satellite links as needed

Large Global Bank

Riverbed Steelhead appliances Solve the “Lost Data” Problem for One of the World’s Largest Financial Services Companies

This bank – one of the world’s largest – has more than 200 million customer accounts in more than 100 countries. The company is a massive global organization with more than 4000 branches across six business units, and more than 200,000 employees.

Challenge: Solve the “Lost Data” Problem while Implementing a Standard Operating Environment and Ensuring Consistent Application Performance Everywhere

This bank was facing a wide range of issues with their branch offices, including performance and security concerns. They were considering WAN optimization solutions in order to address these challenges.

During the course of the bank’s testing of WAN optimization products, the focus shifted due to several high-profile incidents where branch office backup tapes were lost on their way to or from Iron Mountain. The mandate came directly from the board of directors of the bank: “Forget branch office design and fix the lost data problem”. Fixing the lost data prolem really had become job one.

Regardless of the immediate need for the fix, the IT staff upheld strict requirements to ensure that the WAN optimization product would effectively integrate into its complex network architecture:

  • The solution must provide acceleration across the broad range of applications that  the bank utilized globally. A CIFS-only product was not enough – the bank had many applications in the branch that required acceleration, including web applications, Exchange, backup and replication, and more.
  • The solution must be simple to deploy and operate. Tedious tunnel configurations and poor management interfaces did not meet the company’s requirements for manageability.
  • The solution must scale well. Given that the company was considering rollout to 2,500 offices now and all 4,000 offices in the future, the solution had to prove it was up to the challenge.
  • The solution had to integrate smoothly into their environment or it just couldn’t be considered. The bank has a highly complex, redundant, asymmetrically routed network.
  • The solution had to be able to stop the common practice of deploying branch servers to solve performance problems.
  • Finally, the solution must support and simplify the maintenance of the bank’s Standard Operating Environment (SOE) for all desktop and laptops in the branches.

Solution: Riverbed Steelhead Appliances

The bank went through an exhaustive selection process before deciding to implement Riverbed Steelhead appliances. “We considered WAFS, but we needed to accelerate much more than file sharing. We considered WAN optimization, but it did very little to improve application performance. We even considered vendors who were attempting to merge WAFS and WAN optimization products, but they had poor performance and poor manageability,” recalled the architect.

“Riverbed was the only vendor who was even capable of integrating their product into our complex environment” said the network architect. “Aside from that, we selected Riverbed based on their leading performance, superior manageability, high security and very high responsiveness.”

In addition, Riverbed’s appliances proved to be the key enabler to eliminating branch office tape backup.

Benefits: Bank Able to Meet Security, Performance, and Reliability Demands at the Same Time

Implementing WAN-Based Backup

The network architect at the bank immediately began testing Steelhead appliances to see how they would accelerate the backup process. Steelhead appliances increased the performance of network-based backup so much that it was no longer necessary to use tape backup in the branches at all. The branch office servers can now be completely backed up over the WAN in a small fraction of the time it would have taken without Steelhead appliances, and without ever relying on tape backup in the branch. Once the data is reliably and safely in the data center, it is then transferred to tape in a secure data center environment.

“We see anywhere from 30 to 300 times faster SnapMirror performance using Steelhead appliances. We used to have to dedicate an OC192 sometimes just for that,” noted the network architect. “With Steelhead appliances, our WAN connections see the equivalent of a 146x capacity increase. That type of performance is what enables us to eliminate tape backup in branch offices.”

Eliminating Additional Data Centers

Steelhead appliances also eliminated the need for a multi-million dollar data center. The bank’s server infrastructure team was planning to build a three million dollar data center in order to provide acceptable levels of performance for branches in Southeast Asia. The network architect decided to send a Steelhead appliance to the existing Australia site instead. With no further adjustments, their applications were immediately 10 times faster, which provided the right level of performance to branch offices in Australia.

The network architect cited a few numbers: “Our current record is to get 66 Mbps of traffic through a T1 (1.544 Mbps) line.” He also commented on the ROI of this solution, “We avoided building a multi-million dollar data center by deploying a $50,000 WAN optimization solution,” said the network architect.

“The ROI was instantaneous.” He continued, “Normally, I always advocate a dual vendor strategy, no matter what. But in this case, Riverbed was so far ahead of its competitors that we are not able to follow that practice. They stepped up to the plate first, fastest and best.”

Enabling a Standard Operating Environment (SOE)

Another critical feature for the bank was Riverbed’s Proxy File Services (PFS), which enables files to be stored locally on the Steelhead appliance. The network architect remarked, “For us, PFS was critical to being able to support the Standard Operating Environment (SOE). Our SOE images are stored on the local PFS share in the Steelhead appliance.

Essentially we think of it as SMS on demand – without having to deploy an additional SMS server.” The local copy of the SOE is automatically replicated back to the data center. “We then always have the SOE stored locally and in our corporate data center. In the event we need to recreate a desktop, we can just access the SOE snapshot and we’re done. There was no opportunity to scale our SOE strategy without Riverbed – it just wasn’t possible.”

Providing a Better Disaster Recovery Strategy

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the notion of an entire city going down really hit home for the bank. “We have a mandate in 2006 to look at satellite links as a response to disasters like Katrina,” said the network architect.

“Riverbed works really well over satellite, so that’s one more area where we get bang for the buck. We tried Steelhead appliances over links with 256 kbps of bandwidth and 500 ms of latency. They worked very well. Satellite capability combined with Steelhead appliances lets us pull up a trailer and have it on the network with acceptable performance even in the worst situations – from an ROI perspective this product is a no-brainer.”

SUMMARY

This bank, one of the top ten companies in the world, was facing several serious IT challenges as it continued to expand its operations globally.

Their number one concern was securing the bank’s confidential customer and operational data. Their tape-based server backup in thousands of bank branches had led to several severe and embarrassing losses of confidential data in 2004 and 2005.

At the same time, IT wanted to implement simpler, standard operating envi- ronments that could guarantee application performance, eliminate the need for regional data centers, and even provide an enhanced disaster recovery strategy.

The bank was able to achieve all of these objectives with the Riverbed Steelhead appliance.

“Riverbed was the only vendor who was even capable of integrating their product into our complex environment.”

“We selected Riverbed based on their leading performance, superior manageability, high security and very high responsiveness.”

“With Steelhead appliances, our WAN connections see the equivalent of a 146x capacity increase, which enables us to eliminate tape backup in branch offices.”

“We avoided building a multi- million dollar data center by deploying a $50,000 WAN  optimization solution. The ROI was instantaneous.”

“Our SOE images are stored on the local PFS share in the Steelhead appliance. Essentially we think of it as SMS on-demand–without having to deploy anadditional SMS server.”

“Satellite capability combined with Steelhead appliances lets us pull up a trailer and have it on the network with acceptable performance even in the worst situations.”

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