4-page Case Study
Posted: 6/1/2010
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ASB Bank Bank Restores E-Mail Service in Seconds, Builds a Base for Communication and Collaboration

ASB in New Zealand wanted to improve the resiliency of the e-mail system it relied on for business processes. It could take 30 minutes or more to restore service after an outage, and routine maintenance had to be performed when users were offline. The bank also wanted to explore capabilities such as archiving and unified messaging. It decided to meet its goals by implementing Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. To improve uptime, ASB installed a Database Availability Group to automate recovery and can now restore service within 30 seconds. The bank expects to use low-cost Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) storage and cut support overtime costs. It also plans to simplify compliance and improve the user experience with built-in archiving and compliance capabilities.


ASB is one of the oldest and largest banks in New Zealand with more than 1 million customers and 5,500 employees. Based in Auckland, the bank is part of the ASB Group, a leading provider of financial and insurance services in New Zealand.

* Failover is seamless, within approximately 30 seconds. The business continuity capability built into Exchange Server 2010 is certainly a big benefit for us.  *

Mark Roberts
Manager, Technical Standards

Praised for its award-winning customer service and innovative use of technology, ASB continuously enhances its online offerings. The bank also expects collaboration internally and with other companies in the ASB Group to become more prevalent. With this is mind, ASB wanted to investigate how new technologies could simplify and improve collaboration.

ASB wanted to improve the availability of its core e-mail system first. “E-mail is used in most aspects of our business, including communications with customers,” says Mark Roberts, Technical Standards Manager at ASB. “If e-mail goes down, it has a big impact.”

The bank was using Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Enterprise Edition in a cluster with two active and four passive servers. Although the solution provided a high level of availability, it could sometimes take up to 30 minutes to restore service after a failure. Unplanned failovers to a secondary data center were even more time-consuming, with administrators working at night to avoid taking users offline during business hours.

As ASB prepared for its next technology refresh, it looked for more ways to improve resiliency, resource utilization, and functionality. For example, the bank had strict retention policies for archiving e-mail data. To ensure that it complied with governmental and legal regulations, the bank limited the volume of e-mail data that employees could store on the server, and managed old e-mail using third-party applications. However, searching e-mail data was time-consuming, and the bank thought that a more streamlined solution with fewer vendors would be easier and less costly to manage.


ASB decided to become an early adopter of Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 in August 2009. It believed that new features such as Database Availability Groups would help it meet its goals for improving efficiency and resilience. For example, the bank could automate recovery by setting up a group of servers that use continuous replication to update mailbox database copies. It could also simplify and improve regulatory compliance by using built-in archiving, retention, and discovery capabilities.

* Before, we had to perform maintenance after business hours, and it could take several people to do a planned failover. With Exchange Server 2010, failover is automatic.  *

Mark Roberts
Manager, Technical Standards

Implementation started in September 2009, when Microsoft and ASB worked together in a lab environment to test the new solution and design deployment. In just three weeks, the bank had moved from a design phase to a pilot project with 150 users. It set up a Database Availability Group with two replicated copies of each database on two virtual servers, with one server in each of the primary and secondary data centers. Currently each server runs multiple server roles, including a Mailbox server, Client Access server, and Hub Transport server. When the bank extends the solution to all employees, it will use separate computers for each server role.

ASB plans to deploy the solution to all employees in the second half of 2010. As the rollout continues, the bank can incrementally add new mailbox servers and database copies to the existing Database Availability Group. One group can include up to 16 mailbox servers.

In addition, ASB is reviewing its processes for archiving, retaining, and searching data. Instead of using third-party applications, the bank may use new features in Exchange Server 2010 to manage its e-mail information. For example, it would be able to apply detailed retention settings to messages, folders, and other items in e-mail inboxes, and use archive policies to control when messages are automatically moved from a primary mailbox to a personal archive. Compliance specialists and IT administrators would also be able to search multiple mailboxes with a Web-based console.

Storage improvements are on the bank’s list of changes, too. It now has more storage options available because Exchange Server 2010 delivers up to a 90 percent reduction in disk input/output (I/O) compared to Exchange Server 2003. ASB currently uses a Fibre Channel disk solution, but it plans to use a lower cost alternative such as Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) disk drives.

After deploying Exchange Server 2010 to all employees, ASB will explore voice mail with Unified Messaging and evaluate Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2. The bank is currently using a computer telephony integration (CTI) plug-in that delivers voice mail to an e-mail inbox, and integrates calendar and directory functions.

By using Exchange Server 2010 with Office Communications Server 2007 R2, ASB could extend and simplify existing messaging and presence capabilities. For instance, employees would have access to e-mail, voice mail, text messages, instant messages (IM), and presence information in a unified inbox.


By implementing Exchange Server 2010, ASB can restore e-mail service in seconds and has simplified IT administration. The bank also expects its staff to work more productively with enhanced communications capabilities.

* Exchange Server 2010 will play a much greater role in collaboration through its Unified Messaging capabilities and its interoperation with other products.  *

Mark Roberts
Manager, Technical Standards

Restores Service Within 30 Seconds

With Exchange Server 2010, ASB can recover faster from any failure—whether at the disk, server, or data center level—without manual intervention. With a traditional failover cluster, it could take up to 30 minutes to restore service after a failure and hours to switch over to the secondary data center. Now, bank employees will benefit from nearly continuous uptime, and administrators can perform maintenance during business hours without taking users offline. “Failover is seamless, within approximately 30 seconds,” says Roberts. “The business continuity capability built into Exchange Server 2010 is certainly a big benefit for us.”

Improves Management and Flexibility

The bank hoped to both improve uptime and ease administration, and it achieved both goals with Exchange Server 2010. Because failover is automatic, administrators can focus less on solving problems and spend more time implementing new solutions. They can also quickly deploy or remove servers in the Database Availability Group without the challenge of maintaining a traditional failover cluster. “Management will be much easier,” Roberts says. “Before, we had to perform maintenance after business hours, and it could take several people to do a planned failover. With Exchange Server 2010, failover is automatic, which certainly changes our processes for the better.”

Using built-in tools to streamline archiving processes will also help ASB improve management and simplify regulatory compliance. “We can take advantage of the tools within Exchange Server 2010 to simplify retaining and archiving information,” says Shane Fazakerly, Senior System Specialist at ASB Bank. “We need to meet guidelines for the security and retention of e-mail, and managing everything in one place will make the whole process a lot more efficient.”

Promotes Efficient Use of Resources

Because Exchange Server 2010 has a greatly reduced network and storage I/O load, ASB is planning to replace costly Fibre Channel disks with SATA disk drives. And by using database copies for recovery instead of tape backups, ASB has improved operating and management efficiency. It also looks forward to improving its data retention and archiving processes.

“The Exchange Server 2010 architecture is granular, allowing the solution to scale easily,” says Roberts. “This makes the use of resources efficient and matches processing and transport capacity to business requirements and peal loads.”

Enhances Collaboration

Implementing Exchange Server 2010 is just the beginning of plans to improve communications at ASB. Roberts says, “Exchange Server 2010 will play a much greater role in collaboration through its Unified Messaging capabilities and its interoperation with other products.”

In particular, ASB looks forward to integrating the solution with its Cisco IP telephony system and making better use of mobile communications and presence information. Roberts says, “We see implementing Exchange Server 2010 as a foundation for improved collaboration and communications, leading to staff being able to work when and wherever customers want them.”

ASB is planning to upgrade its unified communications solutions in response to customer and business requirements. “We can consolidate communications more effectively with Exchange Server 2010 and Office Communications Server 2007 R2, and we expect cost benefits as well as productivity gains,” says Roberts. “For example, our research shows that by making IM available, we can reduce costs associated with text messaging, and we expect to reduce storage volumes as IM messages replace larger e-mail messages.”

He continues, “Presence services will improve customer service and staff efficiency by allowing ASB branch staff to locate and contact colleagues using the most efficient communications method.”

And for the future, ASB is considering the benefits that federated communications may bring within the group of companies that ASB belongs to, and also with key suppliers and customers. Roberts says, “Exchange Server 2010 is a comprehensive solution, giving us the capability to extend beyond the boundaries of our own organization.”

Microsoft Exchange Server 2010

Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 can help you achieve better business outcomes while controlling the costs of deployment, administration, and compliance. Exchange Server 2010 delivers the widest range of deployment options, integrated information leakage protection, and advanced compliance capabilities, which combine to form the best messaging and collaboration solution available.

For more information about Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, go to:

For more information about Microsoft Unified Communications, go to:

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:

For more information about ASB products and services, call 0800 803 804 or visit the Web site at:

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview

Organization Size: 4500 employees

Organization Profile

Based in Auckland, New Zealand, ASB offers services including loans, investments, and insurance to private and corporate customers. ASB has 135 branch offices and 5,500 employees.

Business Situation

ASB operates in multiple locations, and any e-mail downtime would hinder communications. The bank wanted better availability and easier management of its infrastructure and information.


To improve resiliency and management, ASB is implementing Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. It is also reviewing the product’s archiving, compliance, and Unified Messaging features.


  • Restores service within 30 seconds
  • Improves management and flexibility
  • Promotes efficient use of resources
  • Enhances collaboration

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Enterprise
  • Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2

Vertical Industries

New Zealand

Business Need
  • Business Productivity
  • Unified Communications

IT Issue
  • Desktop, Device and Server Management
  • Personal Productivity