With a longstanding history in Sweden, Handelsbanken is quickly establishing a presence across Europe. The bank’s continued growth has resulted in a need to deploy more servers to support various business functions. To improve the efficiency
of its six-person IT management staff and avoid the need to hire more people, Handelsbanken decided to upgrade to Microsoft System Center 2012 data center solutions. The IT staff can now monitor the bank’s Windows-based servers more efficiently, orchestrate
and automate server maintenance processes, and automate software configuration and deployment. Improved efficiency means that Handelsbanken can manage its 2,000 servers and 12,000 client devices while helping to keep costs down as the business grows. The bank
also experiences greater system availability and performance because it has more control over the IT environment.
Svenska Handelsbanken AB is a Swedish bank that offers a range of corporate and consumer banking services. It has more than 460 branches in Sweden and has been expanding into other European countries, the United States, and Asia over the last 15 years.
The bank has 11,135 employees.
As Handelsbanken continues to expand, it needs IT services delivered to more locations—and more servers to support those services. By late 2011, the bank had approximately 2,000 servers running the Windows operating system in Sweden and in branch offices
around the world and roughly 12,000 Windows-based client devices. Handelsbanken uses Windows-based servers as domain controllers, file and print servers, application servers, and web servers.
The IT department had already virtualized about 45 percent of its server infrastructure, which helped keep server costs from spiraling out of control. But Handelsbanken worried more about server management costs, which could rise dramatically as the company
continued to grow.
“We wanted to keep headcount costs down and IT service availability and performance high,” says Per Eklund, System Manager in the Handelsbanken IT department. “But to do that we needed more sophisticated management tools that would give us better insight
into our infrastructure and more automation.”
The bank was also interested in moving into cloud computing but knew that it could not implement an infrastructure where virtual machines were dynamically created, repurposed, and load-balanced without acquiring significantly more advanced management tools.
||Thanks to System Center, we are managing 2,000 servers and 12,000 client devices with just six guys.
|| Per Eklund
System Manager, Handelsbanken
Although Handelsbanken virtualized its infrastructure by using VMware software, it used Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 to monitor its Windows-based servers; Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 to deploy server and PC
software; and Opalis, a Microsoft process automation tool, to orchestrate IT workflows.
When Microsoft announced Microsoft System Center 2012, a major release focused on managing private cloud-based environments, Handelsbanken was interested. The bank had launched a major initiative to rewrite dozens of business-critical financial trading applications
from an IBM environment to a Microsoft .NET environment, and the IT staff saw that it could use the AVIcode application monitoring tool included in System Center 2012 to monitor these critical applications more closely. The staff also liked the new network
monitoring capabilities included in the Operations Manager component of System Center 2012.
Handelsbanken joined the Microsoft Technology Adoption Programs (TAP) for the Operations Manager, Orchestrator, and Configuration Manager components of System Center 2012. “We wanted to see the new functionality of System Center 2012, test it in our own
environment, and give feedback to Microsoft,” Eklund says. “It’s been a great success for us. We have liked what we’ve seen so far and are moving into more of the System Center stack.”
Handelsbanken was able to use its Microsoft Enterprise Agreement to upgrade to System Center 2012 and obtained support from Microsoft Services Premier Support throughout the TAPs. “Microsoft licensing helps us deploy new Microsoft products faster,” Eklund
says. “For example, we could get into the TAPs quickly because we knew that software costs were not a factor; it was already taken care of. Our licensing will help us take greater advantage of the System Center suite.”
Handelsbanken is also evaluating the Windows Server 2012 operating system and the new version of Hyper-V virtualization technology. If it decides to migrate its VMware environment to Hyper-V, the bank will deploy the System Center Virtual Machine Manager
Centrally Monitor Servers and Network
Handelsbanken is deploying Operations Manager in three distinct server production environments:
The central network of 2,000 Windows-based file, print, and application servers
An isolated environment of high-security servers
An installation of application servers in Luxembourg used for regulatory purposes
The bank will use Operations Manager to monitor the 30 business-critical financial applications that run on the Microsoft .NET Framework. By using Operations Manager, Handelsbanken can monitor all these server environments, and the network connecting them,
from one central console.
“The Operations Manager component is more stable than its predecessor and has more functionality,” Eklund says. “Having network monitoring, AVIcode, and other features included will allow us to eliminate third-party tools that we would have needed to license
separately. Eliminating the need for a root management server will also save us money and management time.”
Automate Server Maintenance
||Microsoft licensing helps us deploy new Microsoft products faster.... Our licensing will help us take greater advantage of the System Center suite.
|| Per Eklund
System Manager, Handelsbanken
Handelsbanken uses the Orchestrator component of System Center 2012 to automate server maintenance tasks such as applying security updates. Orchestrator works with Configuration Manager to identify when servers are scheduled for maintenance, and then
orchestrates and automates the process steps required to perform the tasks. Before maintenance begins, Orchestrator alerts the IT staff and affected business users so that they know the server is unavailable due to maintenance rather than an unplanned outage.
“We really like the new Silverlight interface and improvements in the Orchestrator web console,” says Anders Björling, System Center Specialist in the Handelsbanken IT department. He is referring to the Microsoft Silverlight browser plug-in used to enhance
usability of the Orchestrator console. “We are looking to expand the use of Orchestrator throughout our data center.”
Centrally Deploy and Manage Software
The bank uses Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager to deploy and manage the software on its HP ProLiant servers, which run a mix of Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2003 operating systems. Handelsbanken will
also use Configuration Manager to manage its 12,000 PCs and deploy the Windows 7 operating system across the company.
With the reduced infrastructure requirements for Configuration Manager, Handelsbanken is able to reduce configuration management servers from eight to one. It will also take advantage of the new application management functionality in System Center 2012
Configuration Manager to deploy and manage virtual applications by using Microsoft Application Virtualization, part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance.
Because System Center 2012 Microsoft Endpoint Protection is incorporated into Configuration Manager, Handelsbanken can manage desktop software and security from a single console.
By upgrading to System Center 2012, the Handelsbanken IT staff has increased efficiency and can continue to manage the bank’s expanding IT environment. The new tools will also improve server availability and performance.
Reduced IT Staff Costs Despite Business Growth
Because it now has better data center management tools, Handelsbanken can keep growing as a business without significantly expanding its IT staff. “Thanks to System Center, we are managing 2,000 servers and 12,000 client devices with just six guys,”
“On the monitoring side, we used to need four people, and today, we need only two,” says Björling. “Those two staff members have been moved to another area of IT where they focus more on automation rather than staring at blinking boxes.” The IT staff has
also sped up application provisioning by using Configuration Manager, which enables the staff to eliminate maintenance-intensive custom scripts and even some third-party products.
“System Center gives us more intelligent monitoring features so that we can be more efficient,” Eklund says. “The bank is continuing to grow, and with System Center, we’ll be able to keep our IT headcount costs down. We plan to automate many more processes
now that we have the tools and the time to do it.”
Higher Availability of Bank Systems
Since upgrading to System Center 2012, Handelsbanken enjoys more stable, available IT systems. “We feel that we have more control over our servers; we know what is happening with our production environment,” Eklund says. “With System Center, we can monitor
everything so much more closely, which means that we have fewer critical situations. We’re able to be in front of problems before users discover them.”
Improved Application Performance and Employee Productivity
By resolving issues before they become problems, the IT staff can avoid service outages that would disrupt employees and impact customer service. The IT staff can also deliver better application performance, because it has better insight into application
and server health.
“We can see exactly what’s going on inside our 600 databases,” Eklund says. “We can see entire transactions from beginning to end. If there is a problem, we can see specifically which part of the transaction is affected. We can fine-tune the transaction
to make it faster. With this kind of insight, we can deliver big results to the business.”
Microsoft System Center 2012
Microsoft System Center 2012 helps your organization achieve IT as a service by enabling productive infrastructure, predictable applications, and cloud computing on your terms. With System Center 2012, use a self-service model to deliver flexible and cost-effective
private cloud infrastructure to your business units while capitalizing on existing data center investments. Applications run your business, so System Center 2012 is designed to offer deep application insight combined with a service-centric approach to help
you deliver predictable application services. Finally, by using System Center 2012, you can deliver and consume private and public cloud computing on your terms, with common management experiences across both.
For more information about Microsoft System Center 2012, go to:
For More Information
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