Banco República—BROU (National Bank of Uruguay) is a prominent financial institution in Uruguay. Dedicated to maintaining its success, the IT department wanted to streamline data center
operations to deliver applications to the business more quickly and optimize infrastructure management to improve business continuity. BROU achieved these objectives by using the Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter operating system and its Hyper-V virtualization
technology to support 214 virtual machines. BROU deployed Microsoft System Center data center solutions to manage servers and virtual workloads. It has reduced application time-to-market from two months to six hours and the recovery time for a 40-gigabyte
virtual machine from one hour to 15 minutes. With 147 fewer physical servers, BROU decreased CO2 emissions by 66 percent, estimates savings of US$700,000, and expects an ROI in eight months.
Banco República—BROU (National Bank of Uruguay) was founded in Montevideo in 1896. Today, it is the largest bank in the country, commanding more than 50 percent of Uruguay’s financial market share. With global offices in New York, San Paulo, and Buenos
Aires, BROU has been recognized as Company of the Decade by World Finance magazine and Bank of the Year (2011) by The Banker magazine.
The bank’s 200-member IT department is responsible for maintaining the IT infrastructure to support more than 124 branches in every major city in the country, encompassing 325 ATMs and 250 other access points, in addition to the Internet and mobile banking
capabilities it provides for 3,823 institutional and 118,473 individual customers.
“In IT, we are constantly challenged to provide the services required to ensure that BROU continues as the market leader in Uruguay,” says Daniel García Azpíroz, Chief Information Officer at the National Bank of Uruguay. “We must combine profitability with
our responsibilities to the community in Uruguay, promoting national financial interests, including investments, production, and national exports. There is always the expectation that our IT infrastructure will be reliable, scalable, and flexible—and above
||The Microsoft virtualization solution was deployed with very few people, and it quickly delivered return on investment [ROI] with immediate results.
|Daniel García Azpíroz
Chief Information Officer, Banco República—BROU
On a business level, BROU needed a flexible IT infrastructure to develop and bring new financial products to market quickly as demand required. This called for a more efficient data center environment to boost the bank’s business agility. It was taking too
long to purchase and acquire new servers to increase capacity in the development and production environments. Also, BROU wanted to meet its social responsibilities by achieving a “green IT” environment and reducing energy consumption in its data centers.
On the technical side, the data centers housed 202 servers running the Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter operating system with Service Pack 1. However, IT staff members did not have centralized, policy-based management tools and they were taking too long
to manually provision servers. “It took us four hours to update our web servers every month,” says José Ignacio Garcia Salgado, Data Center Server Support Manager at the National Bank of Uruguay. The bank wanted to simplify server administration overall and
reduce planned downtime so that employees would not be affected by hardware maintenance requirements.
“We heard complaints from employees about system reliability, and we wanted to improve IT’s reputation by better supporting the business,” says Salgado. “We are already operating on a tight budget that keeps human resources to a minimum, yet staff members
were forced to spend time putting out fires. We needed better tools to proactively monitor our servers and applications.”
BROU maintained several custom-developed banking applications that ran on older operating systems. These applications performed critical business process like system information exchange and business form provisioning. “We needed to replace our aging servers
so we had to find a way to keep these systems going,” says Salgado.
BROU began thinking about using virtualization to hasten provisioning and decrease hardware and data center energy costs. “Reducing physical infrastructure and quickly provisioning virtual machines are well-known benefits of virtualization, but we wanted
to reduce administration complexity as well,” says Salgado. “Our virtualization solution had to do more than simply create virtual machines: it had to include data center management tools that we could use to reduce administrative complexity for both physical
and virtual environments.”
After exploring its options, the National Bank of Uruguay found that it already had the virtualization solution it needed within the Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter operating system: the Hyper-V virtualization technology. For the bank’s needs, Windows
Server 2008 R2 Datacenter edition offered the most cost-effective, scalable platform for virtualization. With this edition of the Windows operating system, BROU could run an unlimited number of virtualized instances of Windows Server, without purchasing any
licenses, and each virtual machine could access up to four logical processors.
“We chose a Microsoft virtualization solution over VMware because our standard operating system is Windows and VMware management tools do not work as well in that environment,” says Salgado. “We were interested in streamlining data center administration,
not making it more complicated.”
Microsoft System Center data center solutions were another key reason that BROU chose Microsoft technology. IT staff could use the System Center suite of products to deliver agile and cost-effective data center management with interoperable tools that work
in physical and virtual environments. “All the System Center products work well together and support new features that we liked in Hyper-V, such as Live Migration, Dynamic Memory, and Cluster Shared Volumes,” says Salgado. “Microsoft data center virtualization
and management solutions meet our goals for more efficient server provisioning and reduced operational costs. We worked with the Microsoft Uruguay technical team, and they helped us to efficiently build a new virtualized environment.”
A New Virtualized Environment
||Our virtualization solution had to do more than simply create virtual machines: it had to include data center management tools that we could use to reduce administrative complexity.
|José Ignacio Garcia Salgado
Data Center Server Support Manager, Banco República—BROU
The project began in 2009. BROU deployed Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 to help build its virtualized environment: of the 55 physical servers left in the data centers, 10 are Dell quad-core servers with 32 gigabytes of RAM
running Hyper-V configured in 5 failover clusters and supporting 214 virtual machines. The virtual disks are located in the bank’s Sun storage solution.
“With System Center Virtual Machine Manager, we performed physical to virtual conversions, rapidly provisioning and optimizing our virtual machines,” says Salgado. “We finished the project in 2010. Now we have a solution to create and manage virtual machines
across our data centers from one central location.”
Then in 2011, BROU took steps to achieve its green IT goals by deploying a virtualization infrastructure based on blade hardware. The new configuration consists of one chassis in the central data center and another in a contingency site located in a different
location. Both sites have eight blade servers with 128 gigabytes of RAM and four six-core AMD Opteron 2.4 Ghz processors.
IT staff have virtualized key business workloads such as Microsoft SQL Server 2008 data management software, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. It also deployed Windows Server Remote Desktop Services and Windows Server
Remote Desktop Web Access in Windows Server 2008 R2. IT staff members use the latter technology to present RemoteApp programs to employees through a web page, which simplifies the deployment of new versions of custom software used by BROU executives to provide
services to customers.
The bank’s SharePoint Server 2010 environment includes four virtual web servers, one virtual administration server, and one virtual dedicated frontend server running in a single high-availability cluster and supported by a cluster of two physical servers
running SQL Server 2008. “We have two virtualized domain controllers dedicated to Exchange Server, and we have virtualized the Hub Transport server role and Client Access Server roles. These virtual machines handle more than 250,000 email messages a day,”
Interoperable Management Tools
IT staff members at BROU use System Center products to optimize IT service delivery for business-critical applications while reducing costs. They use the products together to deploy, configure, monitor, and automate the management of the bank’s infrastructure,
reaching all levels of the data center environment; hardware, hypervisor, operating system, and application.
With Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2, BROU was most interested in the fact that it supports live migration. Now BROU IT staff can move virtual machines between clustered hosts in a way that is transparent to employees. Instead of
having one virtual machine per logical unit number (LUN), IT staff members take advantage of enhanced support for Cluster Shared Volumes to provide a single storage space that allows hosts in a cluster to concurrently access virtual machine files on a single
LUN. IT staff members have also added and removed storage to the virtualized infrastructure without interruption, thanks to the hot addition and removal of storage capability in System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2. “We are using the Microsoft System
Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal 2.0 to automate the creation, management, and recycling of virtual machines,” says Salgado.
BROU IT staff members use Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 to monitor physical and virtual servers including Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, and Microsoft Internet Information Services virtual workloads. “We find that reporting on application
performance and availability is particularly useful in meeting service level agreements with the business,” says Salgado. IT staff use Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 to install software, distribute security updates, and inventory the
By using Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2010, BROU gains a backup and recovery solution that includes host-based virtual server backups and site-to-site replication for disaster recovery between servers running Data Protection Manager 2010.
IT staff members deployed two servers running Data Protection Manager 2010, one at each data center, to back up the virtual machines and gain cross-site recovery capabilities. Each server is an Intel Xeon 1.6 dual-core server with 4 gigabytes of memory. The
recovery point creation of 30 virtual machines takes two hours and consumes only 15 percent of each server’s processing power.
“We divided our servers between critical production servers and development servers and configured our backup and recovery solution accordingly,” says Salgado. “For production servers, the recovery point objective (RPO) is 24 hours and the recovery time
objective (RTO) is two hours. For the development servers, we established an RPO of seven days and an RTO of 24 hours. Without this solution, we would have to do monthly manual backups of virtual machines, shutting them down and doing an export via scheduled
Windows PowerShell command-line scripts.”
Microsoft System Center Opalis, a recent addition to the System Center suite, is an automation platform for orchestrating and integrating IT tools to reduce data center costs. “We use Opalis to simplify repetitive and complex processes in the data center,
such as deploying and updating applications and scheduling tasks on System Center Virtual Machine Manager, Data Protection Manager, and Operations Manager,” says Salgado. “That way, we can delegate these tasks to less trained personnel on our helpdesk so that
our system engineers can work on more strategic projects.”
||We chose a Microsoft virtualization solution over VMware… We were interested in streamlining data center administration, not making it more complicated.
|José Ignacio Garcia Salgado
Data Center Server Support Manager,
BROU has already enjoyed significant benefits from using its Microsoft virtualization and data center management solution. By consolidating virtual machines on fewer physical servers, it has reduced infrastructure costs and improved efficiency. By using
System Center management tools, staff members can manage this infrastructure more easily than the previous one. The end result is that BROU IT staff members are empowered to support the needs of the business, building and managing a more reliable and cost-effective
infrastructure and responding quickly to IT service and application requests.
“The Microsoft virtualization solution was deployed with very few people, and it quickly delivered return on investment [ROI] with immediate results,” says Azpíroz. “As a result, BROU dramatically reduced time-to-market for new products and acquired the
flexibility and reliability we needed for our systems.”
Expected ROI of $700,000 in Eight Months
By using its virtualization and data center management solution, BROU has saved money in several ways. By having fewer physical servers to administer and using System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 to manage its physical and virtual environments,
the bank has reduced administration costs, repetitive manual labor costs, and energy and cooling costs.
Compared to the previous structure, where BROU used servers to run single workloads, the average Hyper-V host now supports 30 virtual machines, a much more cost-effective use of computing resources. The 214 virtual workloads represent a significant cost
avoidance for the bank. “We estimate an expected total savings of [US]$700,000 and a return on investment within eight months,” says Salgado. “This includes savings on electricity; we are already seeing a 66 percent reduction in CO2 emissions, a huge boost
to our reputation for environmental concern.”
Improved Business Agility
One of the main business motivations for BROU to deploy a Microsoft virtualization and data center management solution was to reduce time-to-market for new IT services and applications, thereby improving business agility. Today, BROU IT staff members
are using System Center management tools to save time on everyday server management tasks to make this goal a reality.
“We have automated image management, application deployment, security updates, server provisioning, and cluster configuration to provide a more efficient level of service to the business,” says Salgado. “By using System Center products, we have established
standard, efficient, and dynamic administration processes, reducing unanticipated errors. Our IT services and application time-to-market decreased from two months to six hours.”
Improved Application Performance, Business Continuity
IT staff are providing another service to the business by increasing application performance using storage migration. Storage migration keeps virtual machines running at maximum efficiency so that employees experience better performance. “The main
improvement related to performance that we achieved with virtualization is the ability to move the most utilized virtual machine to faster storage area network disks to reduce I/O latency and improve virtual machine performance,” says Salgado.
Because BROU IT staff members are using System Center Opalis and Data Protection Manager 2010, they have reduced planned downtime so that employees enjoy more reliable applications. Because IT staff virtualized applications and deployed them on clustered
Hyper-V servers, they can use live migration to move them from one node to another, so that key business applications never have to go offline for server maintenance. IT staff used to take the 10 web servers hosting the e-banking web services offline for four
hours a month for updating; today, using Opalis to automate that task, it takes five minutes.
“We have dramatically reduced operational risk and introduced high availability and disaster recovery solutions to improve business continuity,” adds Salgado. “By using System Center Data Protection Manager, we have reduced the recovery time for a 40-GB
virtual machine from one hour to 15 minutes. Thanks to data duplication, we have reduced the volume of data for each backup: with Data Protection Manager, we can have multiple recovery points with less disk requirement.”
Since deploying a Microsoft virtualization and data center management solution, the BROU IT department is enjoying a new status as a leader within the company’s cost rationalization initiative. “With our Microsoft virtualization solution, IT is no longer
an impediment to business projects,” says Salgado. “We can quickly deliver more reliable applications to the business while saving money—an unbeatable combination.”
Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2008 R2 is a multipurpose operating system designed to increase the reliability and flexibility of your server and private cloud infrastructure, helping you to save time and reduce costs. It provides you with powerful tools to react to business
needs faster than ever before with greater control and confidence.
For more information, visit:
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For more information about National Bank of Uruguay products and services, call (598) 2 9002900 or visit the website at: