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With total assets of more than $370 billion, WestLB AG is one of the top ten commercial banks in the world, maintaining branches, representative offices, and subsidiaries in over 35 countries and employing approximately 8,700 people around the world, 3,800 of whom work outside Germany.


IN BRIEF

Industry

  • Financial

Challenges

  • Pinpointing problems between major international sites
  • Defending against the “network is slow” complaint

Solution

  • Five AppResponse Xpert appliances deployed in regional centers; one AppResponse Xpert Director at headquarters
  • Visibility into all the traffic flows into and out of North America to all global sites

Benefits

  • A single, “go-to” tool for problem resolution
  • “Always-there” troubleshooting data stored for after-the-fact analysis No more finger-pointing between server, application, network, and international site teams

WestLB

International Bank with Global Demands

With total assets of more than $370 billion, WestLB AG is one of the top ten commercial banks in the world, maintaining branches, representative offices, and subsidiaries in over 35 countries and employing approximately 8,700 people around the world, 3,800 of whom work outside Germany. Its various offices—in New York, London, Dusseldorf (HQ), Toronto, Tokyo, LA, Houston, and elsewhere— are linked by a private WAN.

Challenge: Troubleshooting Worldwide Network Problems

The Manhattan office of WestLB, with regional responsibilities for North America, frequently had to address complex performance issues with their peers in the other global regions, but their existing network management tools told them little if anything about the cause of end-to-end performance problems. Troubleshooting involved a long and difficult process of elimination, trying to correlate the reports from different tools and with colleagues from other regions. Many times they didn’t have the data from the actual event, which was already over by the time they heard about it, so they had to wait for it to happen again. In addition, theyhad no way to judge utilization aside from usage statistics from individual devices, so their capacity planning generally proceeded on the basis of trying to satisfy the users who screamed the loudest.

Solution: New Business Ecosystem: Managing the Internet and the WAN

WestLB initially deployed two Riverbed® AppResponse Xpert ® Appliances, in the New York office and in a disaster recovery center. WestLB has now deployed a total of five AppResponse Xpert systems, in Dusseldorf, Tokyo, Singapore, New York, and London, to monitor the global WAN, including regional offices, vendor extranets, and Internet connections. An AppResponseXpert Director in Dusseldorf coordinates the data from the five appliances to give a global view of the entire network; network managers in each regional center, such as New York, can also use their appliance autonomously for local problem solving.

Benefits: “A Go-To Tool for Hard-to-Solve Problems”

For the first time, a single tool enables WestLB network managers to immediately localize the source of a problem in application, network, server, or client. “The [AppResponse Xpert] appliance is my ‘go-to’ tool for the kinds of problems that no other single tool can diagnose-the kinds of anomalies where no one knows what’s really going on,” says John Lamberti, Network Services Director in the New York office. “It lets us drill down and get deeper into a problem, and the data I need to solve the problem is always there, waiting for me-I don’t have to wait for a transient problem to happen again.”

“The Network is Slow”

As with many network teams, they were used to finger pointing: “the network is slow.” With the AppResponse Xpert appliance, they know immediately whether it’s the network or not. “It’s invaluable for building a case to defend ourselves,” says Lamberti. “Many times we are able not only to prove that it’s not the network, but point to the actual source of the problem, so a server team, for instance, can use their more specific tools to fix the problem more quickly. They really appreciate that. For instance, at one point users in several offices had problems reaching an important intranet site and blamed the WAN. The [AppResponse Xpert] appliance here in New York showed us immediately that the problem was actually a server on that site and we were able to work with the team involved to zero in and fix it.”

“Visibility We Never Had Before”

“The [AppResponse Xpert] appliance gives us an indepth look at the network and its statistics, and visibility that we never had before,” says Lamberti. “We can even see what’s happening on other networks, something no other tool could show us. During the evaluation, for instance, we realized that the [AppResponse Xpert] appliance was clearly showing us the operation of a load-balancer in another office and its effect on response time, something we otherwise had no way to see from New York.”

“Who’s Using What Applications?”

“A really big win, from our viewpoint, is the ability of the [AppResponse Xpert] appliance to show us who is using what applications, and when,” notes John Lamberti. “This makes our capacity planning much more efficient, enabling us to match WAN use to real business needs, since we can see when usage represents business applications, and when it represents other uses, like Internet access, file sharing, and similar low-priority applications. The [AppResponse Xpert] appliance is also invaluable in keeping both internal and external SLAs honest,” he says. “We can really see how much bandwidth any given office or group of users is consuming.”

“Spotting Security-Related Anomalies”

Robert Gates is Regional Security Officer at WestLB New York. “I’m a really visual guy,” he notes. “And the [AppResponse Xpert] appliance’s graphical interface, combined with the fact that it looks at the behavior of the network overall rather than just isolated statistics from various network elements, makes it really easy for me to spot security-related anomalies.”

“The [AppResponse Xpert] appliance is my ‘go-to’ tool for the kinds of problems that no other single tool can diagnose the kinds of anomalies where no one knows what’s really going on.“

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