4-page Case Study
Posted: 2/28/2013
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Sberbank Russian Bank Saves $100,000, Reduces Downtime with Software Upgrade

Sberbank of Russia, Baikalsky Head Office, had already virtualized its data centers using the Hyper-V technology in the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system, but it was eager to further reduce costs and manual work. It is upgrading to the Windows Server 2012 operating system to take advantage of enhancements in availability, networking, and management. By using Hyper-V Replica, Sberbank will save US$100,000 on deploying a third-party replication solution. It expects to reduce IT management work by 20 percent by using the improved automation features in the operating system. And it can fail over workloads between data centers in minutes versus hours with Hyper-V Replica. All these efficiencies will help the IT staff minimize the time spent keeping infrastructure running and maximize both application uptime and time spent helping the business innovate.

Situation
Sberbank of Russia, Baikalsky Head Office, is one of the largest banks in Russia and Eastern Europe and the third largest in Europe. It is a large territorial bank of parent company Sberbank Rossii and serves the Lake Baikal region of Russia, one of the largest territories in the country. Founded in 1841, Sberbank offers a full range of savings, investment, and lending services. In 2011, the bank had US$318.9 billion in assets and employed more than 252,000 people.

Sberbank began to virtualize parts of its data centers as early as 2005 by using Microsoft Virtual Server 2005. When Microsoft introduced the Windows Server 2008 operating system and Hyper-V technology, Sberbank deployed that and expanded virtualization to some production workloads. In 2010, it upgraded to the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system and expanded its Hyper-V virtualization efforts, running several business-critical systems and management and administration applications on Hyper-V. It managed its Hyper-V environment using Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2.

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* By using the increased automation features of Windows Server 2012, we believe that we will reduce our administrative workload by 20 percent … freeing up time for more important tasks. *

Sergey Kuzmin
IT Department Manager, Sberbank of Russia, Baikalsky Head Office

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Although Sberbank had streamlined its IT infrastructure, competitive pressures to move faster and reduce operating costs drove it to do more. Some of its servers, notably CPU and storage-demanding databases, could not be virtualized because of capacity limitations in Hyper-V. The bank also wanted a quicker and less expensive failover capability between its two data centers in Irkutsk, Russia. It could not use a storage area network (SAN) replication solution because of the high cost, so the failover process took three to four hours. “Our business cannot stop for planned or unplanned downtime,” says Sergey Kuzmin, IT Department Manager for Sberbank of Russia, Baikalsky Head Office. “We need to provide availability for business-critical systems 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Additionally, the bank’s service-level agreements (SLAs) required that any planned downtime had to occur at night rather than during work hours, which meant that all maintenance activities had to be performed after hours—which represented additional work for the IT staff. In general, maintaining the bank’s IT infrastructure consumed a significant part of the IT staff’s time, leaving less time to explore innovations and roll out new solutions that could help Sberbank be more productive and competitive. “We are continuously on the lookout for new technologies that can help us automate routine tasks, make our IT staff more effective, and generally do more with less,” Kuzmin says.

Solution
Baikalsky Bank of Sberbank found just such a technology in the Windows Server 2012 operating system. It joined the Microsoft Rapid Deployment Program (RDP) to explore its many new features. Sberbank deployed Windows Server 2012 Datacenter on a test environment of four host servers (HP ProLiant DL580 G7) configured as two clusters connected to an IBM 3950 SAN. Each server had a half-terabyte of RAM, and all servers in a cluster were connected by using a Cisco network and the Cisco Catalyst 6509 Switch in a core.

Sberbank received assistance from Microsoft Services Consulting in Russia and also from Microsoft Services Premier Support. The Microsoft Services consultant spent considerable time at the customer site where the proof of concept was staged, to assist in planning, deployment, and migration. He also showed the Sberbank IT staff how to take advantage of the many new Windows Server 2012 capabilities.

“Working with Microsoft Services saved us a great deal of time and helped us avoid incorrect steps,” says Vyacheslav Volkorezov, Leading Engineer and Expert, System Administration Department, Sberbank of Russia, Baikalsky Head Office. “He did a significant part of the RDP work. The Irkutsk office is more than 5,000 kilometers away from Moscow with a five-hour time difference, so we really appreciated having a local Microsoft engineer onsite during the RDP. Microsoft Services also participated actively in all the project milestones and helped us plan and deliver each of these milestones. Our teamwork was very effective and helped us solve problems faster.”

During the course of the RDP, Baikalsky Bank of Sberbank explored a number of Windows Server 2012 features:

  • Hyper-V Replica. By using Hyper-V Replica, administrators can replicate Hyper-V virtual machines from one Hyper-V host at a primary site to another Hyper-V host at a replica site. “Hyper-V Replica is the most attractive feature of the new Hyper-V for us,” Kuzmin says. “We can use it to create a robust and cost-effective failover between our main and reserve data centers. Instead of using the expensive third-party SAN replication solution, we have an elegant and affordable solution built into the operating system.”

  • Virtual Fiber Channel for Hyper-V. Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 includes a new feature that allows virtual machines to connect directly to Fiber Channel-based storage and also provides Fiber Channel host bus adapter ports in the guest operating system that runs the virtual machine. Sberbank is using this feature to virtualize servers that use external storage and natively attach them to the physical SAN.

  • Cluster-Aware Updating. Cluster-Aware Updating supports the automatic updating of clustered servers with little or no loss in availability during the update process. Sberbank will use this feature to perform routine maintenance tasks without removing virtual servers from operation and without involving the IT staff.

  • Hyper-V live migration and Hyper-V storage migration. Hyper-V live migration supports simultaneous virtual machine migrations with no downtime, in and outside a cluster and between standalone hosts, and Hyper-V storage migration allows virtual hard disks to be transferred to a new location with no downtime, to upgrade or migrate storage or perform storage maintenance. “We had already used live migration in the previous version of Hyper-V, but the improvements are very good,” Volkorezov says. “With it, we will be able to minimize nighttime maintenance work and perform migrations during work hours.”

  • Management improvements. Sberbank likes the new Failover Cluster Manager snap-in, which makes it easier to manage high-availability services in a large network by searching, sorting, and filtering views, and the improvements to the Hyper-V management console. “The improvements to these management consoles makes them easier to use and easier to provide many more actions,” says Alexey Garanin, Leading Engineer of System Administration Department, Sberbank of Russia, Baikalsky Head Office. “They make data center management much easier. We can now connect to, monitor, and manage multiple servers from one place.”

    Sberbank is also eager to put the new Windows PowerShell command-line interface and scripting language to use. Windows PowerShell in Windows Server 2012 has been improved to provide more resilient sessions to remote servers, simplified syntax, more Hyper-V cmdlets (small units of PowerShell functionality), new modules that make it easy to manage network shares, and many more capabilities. “We will be able to automate many batch processes by using PowerShell,” Garanin says.

  • Network Interface Card (NIC) Teaming. NIC Teaming lets multiple NICs work together as a team to prevent connectivity loss if one fails. NIC teaming previously required third-party hardware and software but is now included in Windows Server 2012. “With NIC Teaming, we can provide new levels of network high availability and gain independence from third-party hardware vendors,” Kuzmin says.

  • Hyper-V Extensible Switch. The Hyper-V Extensible Switch in Windows Server 2012 is a layer-2 virtual network switch that provides programmatically managed and extensible capabilities to connect virtual machines to the physical network. It also allows for third-party extensible plug-ins that can provide enhanced networking and security capabilities. “Previously, when you created a Hyper-V virtual switch and assigned it to a virtual adapter, you had to bring down Hyper-V to change settings,” Kuzmin says. “With the new extensible switch, you can create a virtual team adapter and use the NIC Teaming feature to apply physical adapters to different Hyper-V virtual switches—and do it on the fly without interrupting workloads.”

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* Windows Server 2012 is a very advanced Microsoft operating system ever, and we will use it to deliver solutions to the business that will help it increase the quality of services. *

Sergey Kuzmin
IT Department Manager, Sberbank of Russia, Baikalsky Head Office

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After the successful conclusion of the RDP, Sberbank reconfigured its two two-node Windows Server 2012 failover clusters into one four-node production failover cluster. It is in the process of migrating all its virtual machines running Windows Server 2008 R2 to clusters running Windows Server 2012—approximately 230 virtual machines. The bank will eventually create a four-node cluster in each data center.

Benefits
By upgrading to Windows Server 2012, Baikalsky Bank of Sberbank can eliminate an expensive product that it previously needed to replicate workloads between data centers. It will also trim overall IT workload by 20 percent by increasing data center automation and give the IT staff more time to focus on delivering new IT solutions. Additionally, the IT staff can deliver higher availability for critical workloads by using Hyper-V Replica.

Save $100,000 on Replication Solution
Baikalsky Bank of Sberbank of Russia estimates that it will save approximately $100,000 by eliminating the servers and software licensing that it used for its third-party SAN replication solution and replacing with Hyper-V Replica.

Reduce IT Work by 20 Percent
Sberbank expects to significantly reduce IT management work due to Windows Server 2012 features such as Cluster-Aware Updating, Hyper-V live migration, Windows PowerShell, and the new Hyper-V management console. “Cluster-Aware Updating alone dramatically reduces the time needed to update cluster nodes—without downtime,” Kuzmin says. “The enhanced Hyper-V live migration also reduces the time we need to spend in front of a screen waiting for virtual machine migrations to happen; our administrators can simply initiate a live migration in parallel and then attend to other important things. By using the increased automation features of Windows Server 2012, we believe that we will reduce our administrative workload by 20 percent when working with our virtual infrastructure, freeing up time for more important tasks.”

Not only are IT staff members more efficient by using these automation improvements, but they can also shift a significant part of their work to standard business hours. “For employees to work overtime and at night requires additional paperwork, transportation service logistics, and other expenses,” Volkorezov says. “By using live migration and Cluster-Aware Updating, our employees can perform routine maintenance chores during the day without interrupting running workloads. This means that IT staff members can decrease cases when they have to work at night, and the company avoids paying them overtime.”

Reduce Downtime for Critical Workloads
Previously, Sberbank had failover capability between data centers and the failover process took three or four hours. By using Hyper-V Replica, failover happens in minutes. “With Windows Server 2012, we can dramatically reduce the time needed to restore systems in cases of unplanned downtime,” Kuzmin says. “This is critical for the success and competitive advantage of our business services.”

Additionally, Sberbank can finally virtualize its database servers, thanks to the capacity improvements in Hyper-V, which will help it reduce the downtime of these critical workloads.

Respond Faster to Business Needs
With the greater efficiency and increased availability that Sberbank can achieve by using Windows Server 2012, the IT staff can respond faster to business needs. It also has more time to research and deploy new technologies.

“We are often asked to deploy new servers or extend existing server installations within short timeframes, and with the virtualization improvements in Windows Server 2012, we can be more responsive and effective,” Kuzmin says. “We previously spent a great deal of time thinking about how to design redundancy and recovery into critical business systems. But all that is now built into the operating system. We have more time to research and implement new technologies that can help the business be more effective. Windows Server 2012 is a very advanced Microsoft operating system, and we will use it to deliver solutions to the business that will help it increase the quality of services.”

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 business value.

For more information, visit:
www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/windows-server/2012-default.aspx

For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
www.microsoft.com

For more information about Sberbank of Russia, Baikalsky Head Office, visit the website at:
http://sberbank.ru/en/

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 252000 employees

Organization Profile

Sberbank of Russia, Baikalsky Head Office, is one of the largest banks in Russia and Eastern Europe, with US$318.9 billion in assets and 252,000 employees.


Business Situation

Sberbank had already virtualized its data centers extensively but sought greater automation, lower IT costs, and faster failover between its main and backup data centers.


Solution

The bank is upgrading to the Windows Server 2012 operating system to take advantage of Hyper-V Replica, Hyper-V live migration, Cluster-Aware Updating, and other features.


Benefits

  • Save US$100,000 on replication solution
  • Reduce IT work by 20 percent
  • Reduce downtime for critical workloads
  • Respond faster to business needs

Hardware
  • HP ProLiant DL580 G7 servers
  • IBM 3950 storage area network 
  • Cisco Catalyst 6509 Switch

Software and Services
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Microsoft Consulting Services
  • Microsoft Services Premier Support
  • Datacenter

Vertical Industries
Banking

Country/Region
Russia

Business Need
  • Cost Containment
  • Cloud & Server Platform

IT Issue
Virtualization

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Microsoft Services

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