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Alfa Bank is Russia?s largest private bank and one of the top ten banks in the country. Its headquarters and three data centers are based in Moscow, with more than 300 branch offices across Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The bank employs around 15,000 employees, one third of these are located in Moscow.


IN BRIEF

Industry

  • Banking

Challenge

  • Needed to control telecom costs
  • Wanted to defer bandwidth upgrade
  • Wanted to increase application speeds

Solution

  • 39 Riverbed Steelhead appliances
  • Riverbed Central Management Console

Benefits

  • $180,000 cost savings on telecom services
  • 40% reduction in bandwidth utilization
  • Bandwidth upgrade deferred by almost two years
  • 3.5x increase in data transfer speeds
  • Faster application speeds

Alfa Bank

Background

Alfa Bank is Russia’s largest private bank and one of the top ten banks in the country. Its headquarters and three data centers are based in Moscow, with more than 300 branch offices across Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The bank employs around 15,000 employees, one third of these are located in Moscow.

Challenge: To control telecom costs, defer bandwidth upgrade, and increase application speeds

Alfa Bank’s IT resources are centralized at its data centers, and a wide area network (WAN), with a 2Mbps MPLS connection, links the bank’s data centers and branch offices. The main applications running on this network include Lotus Notes, the company intranet portal, file exchange, and various bespoke systems and solutions.

“We don’t have leased lines, so we pay for every megabyte we use,” explains Alexander Yakovlev, responsible for Alfa Bank regional infrastructure, “we had very high telecom costs and needed to reduce them.”

Anton Nastasyuk, responsible for national infrastructure, says, “When the network traffic load exceeded 80 per cent, mission critical services suffered, and applications used for retail, mortgages and corporate investment ran slowly. When this happened, employees would complain.”

Alfa Bank considered two potential solutions: increasing bandwidth or deploying a WAN optimization solution. “Our business was growing rapidly and we knew we would have to increase bandwidth eventually, but we wanted to delay this for as long as possible. So, we decided to investigate WAN optimization,” explains Yakovlev.

Solution: Riverbed outperforms rivals and provides easy deployment

Alfa Bank conducted a feasibility study with WAN optimization solutions from Cisco, Expand and Riverbed Technology. Solutions from these vendors were deployed at a data center and a branch office in Moscow, and assessed. “Riverbed Steelhead appliances were used in one of the pilots, and the results were very positive,” says Nastasyuk.

“We knew that Riverbed was seen as a market leader and the results from the pilot confirmed this position.” Alfa Bank wanted to reduce both network traffic and telecom costs, but not at the expense of application performance. Employees were surveyed about performance issues during the pilots, “There were zero complaints about Riverbed,” says Yakovlev.

Alfa Bank decided to deploy Steelhead appliances at two data centers and almost 40 of its largest branch offices. Riverbed Central Management Console – which simplifies the process of deploying and managing Steelhead products distributed across a WAN – was also deployed at one of the data centers.

Alfa Bank’s IT partner assisted in the initial deployment. “Our partner also trained our engineers, who were then able to take over the deployment process,” says Nastasyuk, “Riverbed is very easy to manage – we now handle all upgrades and versioning ourselves.”

Benefits: 40% reduction in bandwidth utilization, large telecom savings, 3.5x increase in data transfer speeds, faster applications, and bandwidth upgrade deferred

The Riverbed WAN optimization solution has resulted in a 40% reduction in bandwidth utilization, and enabled Alfa Bank to make huge cost savings on its telecom services – over $180,000 in a six- month period. This has resulted in a fast return on investment for Alfa Bank.

In addition data transfer speeds have increased by 3.5 times. “Our mission-critical services have significantly benefited from using Riverbed,” says Yakovlev, “applications run much faster, and if we ever have to switch off a Steelhead appliance, our employees instantly feel it and start complaining.”

A rapidly expanding business, combined with a restructuring of several key IT resources, means that Alfa Bank is now planning to upgrade network bandwidth, “Riverbed enabled us to delay the upgrade by almost two years,” says Nastasyuk, “and the additional bandwidth required has been halved, thanks to Riverbed. We are very happy that we chose Riverbed.”

SUMMARY

Alfa Bank wanted to reduce the high cost of its telecom services and defer upgrading bandwidth. It also wanted to increase application speeds for employees in branch offices across Russia and the CIS. By deploying Riverbed Steelhead appliances Alfa Bank has achieved huge cost savings in telecom services, deferred a bandwidth upgrade by almost two years, increased application speeds and achieved a fast ROI.

“When the network traffic load exceeded 80 per cent, mission critical services suffered.”

“If we ever have to switch off a Steelhead appliance, our employees instantly feel it and start complaining.”

“Our mission-critical services have significantly benefited from using Riverbed.”

“There were zero complaints about Riverbed.”

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SteelHead

SteelHead offers industry-leading secure optimization of all applications across networks. Learn how Riverbed can help improve your hybrid WAN performance.
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