Sometimes a solving one challenge creates an opportunity to address another. Such was the case for Citizens Business Bank when it needed a tool to reduce replication times in its virtualized computing environment to meet business continuity and regulatory requirements.
[Virtualized environments such as the cloud are providing a growing number of business benefits: Banking in the Cloud: Four Hot Initiatives]
"By mid-2011 our annual data growth was running at about 20-30% and a full replication to our DR [disaster recovery] site was taking up to a week," explains Steve Borba, network security engineer for Ontario, Calif.-based CBB. "As a stop-gap measure we purchased more bandwidth, but we knew we needed a WAN optimization solution."
Like many institutions, CBB's server environment was virtualized with VMware, which meant it also needed virtualization-friendly WAN optimization tool. Late in 2011 the bank began evaluating appropriate solutions starting with five contenders. Two were immediately eliminated as too rigid as they lacked customization options.
Of the remaining options, Silver Peak VX software stood out. "Silver Peak's de-duplication, compression and caching capabilities were superior to the other three," says Borba. "During a proof of concept we achieved an 80-90% reduction in WAN traffic."
"Silver Peak was also more flexible and easier to manage," he adds. "Not only was it compatible with multiple types of hypervisors, but it could also be deployed in multiple ways. Other solutions were limited to certain hypervisors or only had a few deployment options. Plus, the centralized management interface was exceptionally intuitive and robust."
After signing a contract in June 2012 CBB downloaded and deployed the solution "in about a day" at the bank's data center and its distant continuity site, says Borba. "After loading the software onto a virtual machine we made some routing changes on our switches and it was up and running. Most importantly, it dropped full replications to under six hours."
Ironically, the only implementation challenge was the Silver Peak's deployment flexibility. "We explored two or three different ways of deploying the tool before we settled on the one that worked best for our environment," Borba says.
Regardless, the success of the project and the ease of implementation led CBB to test Silver Peak for real-time performance enhancement of communications between locations, both branch-to-branch and branch-to-HQ. "In August of 2012 we started a proof-of-value by selecting five branch locations with high user counts," Borba says. "Then we deployed Silver Peak between each of the locations and from each location back to the main data center."
During the test, Silver Peak's performance enhancements not only improved the user experience markedly but also boosted security and reduced organizational risk by allowing IT to push out malware updates, software patches and system upgrades during business hours. "Previously, [Microsoft] Windows patches were applied on weekends and anti-virus updates occurred overnight," Borba says.
In March 2013 CBB purchased licenses for all 42 of its branches and completed deployment in June. "Now, all WAN traffic is optimized," says Borba. "And, despite having 44 sites interconnected, Silver Peak's management console helps simplify the complexity."
Among the immediate benefits was discovering a communication line was failing, enabling CBB to replace the line before it impacted user and customer experiences. "In addition, user experience issues dropped from about once a week to once every couple of months," says Borba. "Strategically, this means we've improved the customer experience as well."
Moving forward, CBB will build out the deployment to include multiple links between sites. "This will enable us to do load balancing," says Borba. "In turn, that will further reduce our recovery time objective and improve end user experiences."
"Best of all, it doesn't require any additional IT resources to maintain such a intricate, interconnected setup," he adds. "In fact, I hardly even look at the tool anymore because it just works."
Institution: Citizens Business Bank (Ontario, Calif.)
Assets: $6.5 billion
Business Challenge: Implement WAN optimization appropriate for a virtualized environment.
Solution: Silver Peak VX WAN optimization solution