4-page Case Study - Posted 3/14/2013
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Major Canadian Bank Maximizes Availability of Key IT Systems with Server Upgrade
To maintain its competitive edge in the fast-moving financial services industry, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) needs to ensure that its critical server infrastructure is always available. In tandem with supporting high availability,
executives wanted to explore options for expanding the company’s server virtualization initiative to boost data center efficiency. CIBC chose to participate in the Windows Server 2012 Rapid Deployment Program to evaluate the release candidate version of the
operating system. Specifically, the company opted to test the new failover clustering capabilities in the solution, including Cluster-Aware Updating. By using these and other features as part of a broader adoption of Windows Server 2012, CIBC hoped to improve
the performance and availability of critical database workloads—while lowering the cost to pursue these priorities.
Headquartered in the city of Toronto, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) is one of Canada’s “Big Six” banks, boasting market capitalization of CAD$30.1 billion (US$30.2 billion) and total 2011 revenue of CAD$12.2 billion (US$12.3 billion). CIBC
delivers a range of services through its network of approximately 1,100 retail branches nationwide, including retail and business banking and wealth management. It also provides wholesale banking products to service global capital markets and meet the finance
needs of corporate and government institutions.
Technology is at the heart of the company’s efforts to build its competitive advantage. Executives are always searching for more efficient ways to develop new products, share information more easily and deliver fast, reliable electronic banking services
||We simply can’t afford downtime. We need solutions that help us deliver all of the benefits of virtualization and still guarantee maximum availability for our most important applications.
| Tex Mallhi
Senior Infrastructure Engineer, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
CIBC uses Microsoft technologies to operate many of its business-critical applications. In particular, it uses Microsoft SQL Server data management software and the Windows Server operating system as a platform for a number of its critical, Tier-1 services.
These services include components of the company’s corporate intranet portal, called CIBC Today, which is based on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.
In line with its drive to continuously boost IT efficiency and its need to maintain the highest levels of service availability, CIBC has invested substantially in server virtualization.
The company’s Systems Engineering Team oversees the configuration and maintenance of both physical and virtualized infrastructure companywide. Members of this team have closely watched the evolution of virtualization technology. Along with other senior leaders
of the team, they have been eager to find a way to deliver resilient networking and scalable storage for complex database workloads—while reducing dependence on physical servers.
IT leaders at CIBC, including members of the Systems Engineering Team, were interested in investigating the market for an alternative hypervisor and to explore the possibility of any additional flexibility in provisioning and managing resources for critical
services, like those that run on the company’s multicluster SQL Server environment.
Also, members of the Systems Engineering Team noted how difficult it was to apply software updates across the company’s more than 60 SQL Server clusters. “Because we weren’t able to deploy updates to all of the nodes at the same time, it was a fairly tedious
and time-consuming process,” says Tex Mallhi, Senior Infrastructure Engineer at CIBC. “We eventually developed scripts to handle this operation, but this was not ideal.”
To more closely evaluate and test Windows Server 2012, CIBC decided to participate in the Rapid Deployment Program (RDP) for the operating system. “Participating in the Windows Server 2012 Rapid Deployment Program was a valuable experience,” says Walid
Saleh, Director of Enterprise Computing at CIBC. “It was refreshing to work directly with product experts from Microsoft and for the team to benefit from their knowledge.“
||Participating in the Windows Server 2012 Rapid Deployment Program was a valuable experience. It was refreshing to work directly with product experts from Microsoft and for the team to benefit from their knowledge.
| Walid Saleh
Director of Enterprise Computing, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
Windows Server 2012 offers dozens of enhancements over the previous version, including built-in high-availability features and flexible, cost-effective virtual storage options. The solution also delivers new task automation capabilities enabled through the
Windows PowerShell command-line interface and scripting language.
“Windows Server 2012 has the ability to use file share storage to support Hyper-V and SQL Server workloads,” says Tex Mallhi. “We’ve been searching for an easier, more affordable way to provide high-availability storage for our database applications, so
we were very interested in its potential.”
As a priority during its participation in the RDP, CIBC tested improvements to the failover clustering capability. Windows Server 2012 expands cluster scalability to 64 nodes and 4,000 virtual machines per cluster, offers improved support for file server
availability, and introduces Cluster-Aware Updating. This new feature simplifies the application of software updates to all of the nodes in a cluster without impacting availability.
Continuous Availability for File Shares
With assistance from Microsoft Services Consulting, CIBC set up a server cluster consisting of two nodes, each running multiple virtual machines on Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012. The company specifically wanted to test using file share storage for Microsoft
SQL Server workloads running on Hyper-V virtual machines.
After the team members initiated failover of one of the nodes in the cluster with the virtual machines still running, they monitored performance of the second node. “All of the virtual machines stayed up and running throughout the failover period,” says
Tex Mallhi. “We were happy with the results from this test.”
Automatic Updates for Failover Clusters
The CIBC Systems Engineering Team also tested Cluster-Aware Updating in Windows Server 2012. By using this feature, administrators can automate distribution of software updates to all nodes in a cluster without the need to take servers offline. Administrators
can use this tool to schedule update operations at regular intervals to synchronize cluster updates with other critical IT processes. After uploading the update packages to a local file share, the team used a Windows PowerShell script to automatically apply
the updates to clustered servers.
Built-in, Hardware-Agnostic Teaming for Network Adapters
Additionally, CIBC evaluated NIC Teaming functionality in the solution. NIC Teaming, which is built into Windows Server 2012, refers to the ability to combine two physical network interface cards (NICs) into a single logical network device. The server
operating system recognizes the device as one NIC, enabling higher throughput and the ability to maintain network availability, even if one of the network adapters fails.
In considering expanding its use of this feature, the company was interested in several unique capabilities. First, in Windows Server 2012, teams can include NICs from multiple vendors. This simplifies the process of adding network adapters to a system and
can potentially reduce costs by introducing greater flexibility and choice into the purchasing of NIC hardware. In addition, because NIC Teaming supports all of the networking features of the underlying hardware components, this method can be used to enhance
the reliability and performance of even the most critical workloads. And CIBC can use Windows PowerShell to remotely manage NIC Teaming functionality.
By adopting Windows Server 2012, CIBC is looking for the following benefits:
Increased Availability, Performance of Critical Workloads
||Windows Server 2012 provides many safeguards against failures—from the application to the hardware level—that gives us peace of mind.
| Paul D’Amelio
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
CIBC is considering the use of Windows Server 2012 to improve support for Microsoft SQL Server workloads. Through the use of highly scalable file share storage for applications running on a Hyper-V host, together with transparent failover and automatic
updating capabilities, the company would be better equipped to move its data-intensive applications to a virtual environment. Further, by using NIC Teaming in Windows Server 2012, CIBC hopes it will be able to strengthen network resilience and throughput performance
to deliver a consistently reliable experience for employees and customers. “Windows Server 2012 provides many safeguards against failures—from the application to the hardware level—that gives us of peace of mind,” says D’Amelio.
Reduced Networking and Storage Hardware Costs
Because NIC Teaming is offered as a built-in feature and works with network adapters from multiple manufacturers, CIBC plans to use this feature to trim networking hardware costs. The team also recognizes further potential for cost savings by taking
advantage of the flexible storage options that Windows Server 2012 offers.
Improved Efficiency of IT Tasks
The members of the Systems Engineering Team at CIBC look forward to spending less time on a range of essential administrative tasks. They plan to use Windows PowerShell to assist with everything from imaging new servers to deploying virtual machines
and distributing updates to cluster nodes. “We expect we’ll be able to use the new Windows PowerShell commands to replace thousands of lines of code in our server build process,” says Tex Mallhi.
Strengthened Competitive Edge Through High-Availability Virtualization
CIBC plans to take advantage of cluster scalability improvements and transparent failover capabilities in Windows Server 2012 to increase the resilience and availability of workloads—without the cost of traditional clustering solutions. By consolidating
even its most resource-intensive applications, the company expects it will be able to improve the agility of its IT operations, without compromising data protection or performance standards. “We simply can’t afford downtime,” says Tex Mallhi. “We need solutions
that help us deliver all of the benefits of virtualization and still guarantee maximum availability for our most important applications.”
Windows Server 2012
Windows Server drives many of the world’s largest data centers, empowers small businesses around the world, and delivers value to organizations of all sizes in between. Building on this legacy, Windows Server 2012 redefines the category, delivering hundreds
of new features and enhancements that span virtualization, networking, storage, user experience, cloud computing, automation, and more. Simply put, Windows Server 2012 helps you transform your IT operations to reduce costs and deliver a whole new level of
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