DenizBank, a fast-growing bank in Turkey, constantly needed new technology to support its growth—but data center costs were spiraling upward. To reduce costs and speed the delivery of IT services to the business, DenizBank first virtualized its
servers by using the Hyper-V technology in the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system. It then configured its data centers as a private cloud environment by using Microsoft System Center 2012. Today, DenizBank runs its entire business from a private cloud
infrastructure with 64 host servers that can scale to 1,500 virtual machines. DenizBank has been able to save US$7 million through server consolidation, avoid $12 million in data center costs, and anticipates a 20 percent reduction in IT staff costs. It can
deploy IT services to the business faster and provide uninterrupted availability to critical financial applications.
DenizBank is a Turkish bank that was founded in 1938 as a state-owned bank to provide funding for the developing Turkish maritime sector. Today, DenizBank is a subsidiary of Dexia, a major financial group in Europe, and provides a range of financial
services to consumers, businesses, and government. DenizBank has 600 branches in Turkey and one branch in Bahrain.
DenizBank was growing rapidly and needed new technologies to support its growth—faster servers to run new financial and business applications and newer versions of development software, such as the Microsoft .NET Framework and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2
data management software. It had what Murat Demirkiran, Systems Engineer in the bank’s IT Department, calls a “classical” IT infrastructure, which meant hundreds of stand-alone physical servers spread across three data centers: two in Istanbul and a disaster
recovery location in Ankara.
DenizBank grappled with server sprawl and all its accompanying problems: the high costs of servers and software, the need to enlarge or augment its data centers to accommodate more servers, and high infrastructure management costs. “Between 2009 and 2012,
our data centers grew considerably, as did data center power and cooling costs and the employees needed to manage them,” Demirkiran says. “Server maintenance and software licensing costs were also rising. We needed to reduce the number of servers we were buying,
the number of people needed to manage them, and the amount of time it took to deploy IT services to the business.”
||With our Microsoft-based private cloud, we can fulfill our growth needs very quickly, while also using our hardware investments in the most efficient way possible.
Chief Operating Officer, DenizBank
Availability was another concern. With the growth in Internet banking, DenizBank financial applications needed to be available around the clock. There is literally no room for downtime in today’s financial marketplace. When a server failed, it could take hours
to reinstate it, which affected customer experience and employee productivity. Unless it gained more control of its IT infrastructure, DenizBank felt that its ability to grow and offer the latest financial services would be impaired.
When Microsoft introduced the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system with Hyper-V virtualization technology, DenizBank began to investigate the software as a way to virtualize and consolidate servers. One of its sister companies, Intertech, recommended
Hyper-V, which had the advantage over other virtualization technologies of being part of the operating system and offering more cost-effective licensing. Intertech is a member of the Microsoft Partner Network in Istanbul and primarily serves the financial
“Hyper-V made sense to us, because most of our applications are based on Microsoft technology, and Microsoft provided a complete set of management solutions and excellent support,” Demirkiran says. “We also tested hypervisors from Citrix and VMware, but
found that our applications performed better under Hyper-V.”
First Virtualization, Then Private Cloud Computing
In October 2009, DenizBank began to virtualize servers using the first version of Hyper-V. It started with three Hyper-V hosts and created 19 virtual machines across them. Intertech provided architectural guidance, and DenizBank hired Microsoft Services
to perform health checks of its Hyper-V cluster failover system.
However, even though the bank was able to reduce the number of physical servers by using virtualization, it still had some of the same management challenges. “We are still growing, and we feared that virtual-machine sprawl would replace physical-server sprawl,”
says Demirkiran. “We wanted better control of our virtualized environment.”
In January 2010, DenizBank decided to build on its virtualization efforts and configure its data center into a private cloud model. In private cloud computing, virtualized computing resources are pooled and dynamically made available to employees of an organization
as a utility-like service rather than as permanently assigned physical servers. These pooled resources are dynamically provisioned and reprovisioned on demand, which meant that DenizBank could deliver IT services faster, more cost effectively, and with greater
utilization of underlying physical server resources than would be possible with a classical data center infrastructure.
Microsoft had just announced its Microsoft System Center 2012 family of solutions, which was designed for managing private cloud environments. DenizBank decided to implement these solutions in order to quickly create private cloud environments and easily
manage them. System Center 2012 offered newer versions of existing System Center components, in addition to newer components, such as Orchestrator, an IT process automation solution within Microsoft System Center 2012.
A Flexible Pool of Potentially 1,500 Virtual Machines
|We needed to reduce the number of servers we were buying, the number of people needed to manage them, and the amount of time it took to deploy IT services to the business.
Systems Engineer, IT Department, DenizBank
DenizBank created a private cloud infrastructure that consists of 64 Hyper-V host servers running more than 500 virtual machines. By the end of 2012, DenizBank plans to have more than 800 virtual machines in its environment, and it has capacity for 1,500
The host servers are HP ProLiant BL460 G6 and G6 BladeSystem servers with Intel Xeon processors. The cloud infrastructure also uses HP Blade Systems, HP Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager management software, HP Virtual Connect Flex-10 Ethernet Modules,
and Virtual Connect SAN modules for enhanced performance of the BladeSystem servers and their guest virtual machines. DenizBank virtualized not only physical servers but also network and storage platforms with Virtual Connect modules. “We like HP because it
has great hardware-level technologies that support software virtualization and great support,” Demirkiran says.
All of the private cloud host servers run Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter with Service Pack 1, and each of the virtual machines runs a version of Windows Server, although DenizBank will soon test Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which will be needed to run some
A significant number of the bank’s production applications now run as cloud services. Some of the heavier workloads include the companywide employee portal, which runs on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and is accessed daily by the bank’s 12,00 employees;
several large SQL Server 2008 databases with as much as a dozen terabytes of data; and the firm’s customer relationship management (CRM) application.
Gradual Transition to Public Cloud Computing
Intertech also has developed a core banking platform, called inter-Next, based on Microsoft .NET and SQL Server, designed to meet the special needs of the banking sector. It includes a CRM at the core of the customer sale and service process, improves
operational efficiency, and supports a sales portal strategy through highly integrated distribution channels. Intertech has sold inter-Next to other Turkish banks and plans to market it more broadly and host it initially from its private cloud environment
and ultimately from a public cloud environment. In a public cloud, computing resources are shared by multiple customers, which drives down costs for all.
“We believe that the best way to provide our banking platform to customers is through cloud technology,” says Ömer Uyar, General Manager of Intertech. “With it, we can give customers the highest quality and uninterrupted service. Transferring our banking
platform to a private cloud environment is our first step to transitioning to cloud IT; the next step will be the transition to a public cloud.”
Tools for Managing a Dynamic Cloud Environment
DenizBank uses System Center 2012 to manage its private cloud infrastructure. “By using System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager, we can manage the fabric of our IT environment more easily than ever before,” Demirkiran says. “As just one example, it
was previously very difficult and time-consuming to manage and enlarge storage resources for our virtualized environment. We had to get help from the storage team. By using System Center, we can add new storage with a single mouse-click. This is important,
because we reevaluate storage every week.”
DenizBank uses the Service Template Designer feature within Virtual Machine Manager in System Center 2012 to deploy applications, such as Internet Information Services, as services rather than as individually deployed applications that run on dedicated servers.
The IT staff simply creates a service template for each application and reuses it each time it needs to deploy that application.
Today, the bank only runs the Hyper-V hypervisor, but Demirkiran says that the multiple-hypervisor management feature in Virtual Machine Manager could become helpful if the bank does incorporate additional hypervisors later. “The ability to manage multiple
operating systems in the same cloud and multiple hypervisors from the same console is very easy and could be very useful for us,” he says.
||By using Hyper-V and System Center, we saved $7 million over three years in hardware and software licensing costs, and we estimate a cost avoidance of $12 million in building more data centers.
||Murat Demirkiran Systems Engineer, IT Department, DenizBank
DenizBank is also planning to use other System Center 2012 components, including Service Manager for service management and Orchestrator for IT task automation. The IT team has programmed Orchestrator to orchestrate a particular sequence of actions in response
to a wide range of situations. By using Orchestrator, DenizBank can automate very complex workflows that involve dozens of steps—many of them tedious and time-consuming—and span multiple IT groups and business departments.
DenizBank uses Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 to back up the data in its private cloud. It is evaluating Data Protection Manager and Operations Manager in System Center 2012, which deliver efficiencies in backing up and monitoring private
By configuring its data centers as a private cloud environment, DenizBank has been able to save millions of dollars in server and data center expansion costs, reduce its data center staff, respond faster to business needs, and improve IT service availability
and performance. With fewer servers consuming electricity, the bank can also be a better environmental citizen.
Hardware Savings of $7 Million, Cost Avoidance of $12 Million
By first virtualizing servers and then configuring its data center as a private cloud model, DenizBank has been able to eliminate hundreds of physical servers and their associated costs. “By using Hyper-V and System Center, we saved $7 million over three
years in hardware and software licensing costs, and we estimate a cost avoidance of $12 million in building more data centers,” Demirkiran says.
Adds Dilek Duman, Chief Operating Officer at DenizBank, “DenizBank is a rapidly growing organization. Establishing technologies that support this structure has always been important. With our Microsoft-based private cloud, we can fulfill our growth needs
very quickly, while also using our hardware investments in the most efficient way possible. In this way, we were able to utilize our investments to ensure the most benefit for our bank.”
IT Staff Costs Reduced 20 Percent
The bank is also able to save significantly on staff time resources, due to the extensive automation it has been able to achieve with System Center solutions. By using Orchestrator in particular, DenizBank has been able to standardize and automate the provisioning
of new virtual machines, the response to failed virtual machines, the application of security updates to all virtual machines in the cloud, and many other tasks.
“We have been able to automate the most frequently performed IT tasks and maximize staff efficiency,” Demirkiran says. “Thanks to System Center Orchestrator alone, we plan to achieve 20 percent full-time staff savings with automation processes.”
Adds Duman, “The ease of installation and management of our private cloud contributed to the more efficient use of time by our expert staff. Our IT experts are now able to focus on new technologies and R&D that really make a difference to the bank, instead
of spending time on standard tasks. With our Microsoft-based private cloud, we have made an important step for our world and made gains in Green IT, managing systems using less energy and space.”
Faster Response to Business Needs
In its previous traditional data center filled with physical servers, it took the DenizBank IT team a week or longer to deploy a server. With a private cloud infrastructure, now it can deploy a virtual machine in 20 minutes. This gives the IT team the
ability to respond to the needs of the business nearly immediately.
For example, when the bank advertises a new product or service and traffic to the company’s website experiences sudden surges, the IT team is now able to dynamically provision the web and database servers needed to handle the load. This means that customers
experience rapid response times and leads customers to anticipate that they’ll receive similar service from the bank in other areas.
The IT team can also more quickly deliver IT resources to the bank’s application development team. In the past, preparing a test server was a one- or two-week process. DenizBank can now create a development environment in an hour.
Elimination of IT Interruptions
Availability is also higher in the bank’s private cloud environment, where workloads are automatically and dynamically moved from host to host to maximize performance and avoid server failures. “In a bank, every server is important, and if one fails,
it often has a ripple effect on the business,” Demirkiran says. “But in a private cloud, if a virtual machine or a host server fails, it’s not a big deal, because another virtual machine takes over and there is no interruption to the service.”
In its previous virtualization environment, the DenizBank IT team often had to shut down applications for 20 minutes or longer to manually move workloads around. Today, with automated live migration of workloads between host servers, those shutdowns are
unnecessary and application uptime is 99 percent. “We are a financial company, and nearly all of our customers bank over the Internet, so they need round-the-clock access to our systems,” Demirkiran says. “We plan to configure our Ankara disaster recovery
data center as part of our private cloud in order to eliminate interruptions to our business. We’ll be able to manage all the resources in both locations from the same System Center console.”
Improved Application Performance
DenizBank has been able to move older applications onto new hardware in its cloud environment and thereby improve their performance. It can also easily add more CPUs—or more powerful CPUs—and more memory to improve the performance and stability of these
applications. “With System Center 2012, we also have deeper insight into application performance, which means that we can load-balance cloud resources to deliver maximum performance and avert application failures,” Demirkiran says. “All of this improves employee
productivity and the customer experience.”
Lower Environmental Impact
Last but not least, by creating a more efficient data center, DenizBank is taking steps to reduce its impact on the environment. “In one year, we saved 3.3 gigawatts of energy in our data center and about 2,189 metric tons of carbon emissions, which
is equivalent to taking 400 cars off the highway,” Duman says. “This is important to us, because DenizBank is aware of its responsibility to be a good environmental citizen. In a sense, Hyper-V and System Center are helping us do our part to save the world.”
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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