Jack Henry & Associates provides computer systems and services to US banks and credit unions. To speed delivery of IT services to the business and support the productivity of remote workers, Jack Henry is upgrading to the Windows Server 2012
operating system. It discovered a wealth of features, including BranchCache, data deduplication, and improved Remote Desktop Services, that will help it boost the productivity of its 1,000 remote employees. By improving the productivity of developers, Jack
Henry accelerates the delivery of new services. With the Server Core installation option, Jack Henry enhances server security and availability and reduces maintenance work. It will use the data deduplication feature to trim storage costs by 40 percent and
BranchCache to reduce wide-area network and branch-office server costs.
Jack Henry & Associates provides transaction processing services, business process automation, information management, and financial applications for banks and credit unions in the United States. Its products and services are used by more than 11,200
financial institutions and corporate entities. Jack Henry is based in Monett, Missouri, and has approximately 5,000 employees.
||When you multiply the management efficiencies in Windows Server 2012 by thousands of servers, it adds up to a significant time savings.
| Michael Brittenham
IT Director, Jack Henry & Associates
The Jack Henry IT team is constantly challenged to deliver more servers to developers and business units. It had virtualized its data center environment but was looking for efficiencies in administering its infrastructure of more than 5,000 production servers
and thousands more test and development servers. “Particularly in our role as a software developer, delayed delivery of server resources directly impacts the business,” says Michael Brittenham, IT Director for Jack Henry & Associates. “Our software development
process is our manufacturing line; if it stops, our business stops. We want to minimize routine server management work, such as applying security updates, so that our server staff can focus on supporting the business.”
Most of the company’s servers run the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system and are located in the company’s Monett headquarters, but it also has servers in many of its 52 branch offices. The roughly 1,000 employees who work from remote offices access
corporate applications using wide area network (WAN) links and remote desktop software—primarily Remote Desktop Services (RDS) in Windows Server 2008 R2. Jack Henry was interested in improving WAN utilization and giving remote employees a better, more responsive
computing experience. For bandwidth-intensive applications, or when many employees were simultaneously accessing the same resource (such as a video link), performance slowed, as did employee productivity and satisfaction.
Additionally, the Jack Henry IT staff looked for ways to reduce branch office server and storage costs. The company had to install large, expensive servers in many branch offices to provide the processing power and storage needed to store files locally and
mitigate heavy WAN traffic.
Jack Henry & Associates heard from its local Microsoft team that the Windows Server 2012 operating system contained improvements in the BranchCache feature, which caches file, web, and application content at branch office locations and allows client
computers to access data using a local area network. It also allows a hosted cache server to store significantly more data (on the order of terabytes), which is necessary to provide high optimization for large organizations. BranchCache was first introduced
in the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 operating systems and has been improved in the Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 operating systems.
Start by Testing Caching Improvements
||We want to minimize routine server management work, such as applying security updates, so that our server staff can focus on supporting the business.
| Michael Brittenham
IT Director, Jack Henry & Associates
Jack Henry signed up for the Windows Server 2012 Rapid Deployment Program (RDP) to look at BranchCache and other new features. “Any time we’re given the opportunity to look at new technologies and see what they could do for us, we take it,” says Daniel
Milhajlovic, Server Support Manager at Jack Henry & Associates. “Our staff likes to work with cutting-edge technology, and we’re always interested in technologies that can reduce costs and administrative time.
During its RDP proof of concept, Jack Henry deployed Windows Server 2012 Datacenter on an IBM X3500 M3 server—the model most common in its branch offices—and created two virtual machines, one of which simulated a remote file server and the other a content
caching server. It then configured 15 Lenovo PCs with the Windows 8 Enterprise operating system and BranchCache and connected them to the caching server.
Jack Henry received assistance from Microsoft Services Consulting during the RDP. “Working with our Microsoft Services consultant was great; he was an absolute go-getter,” says Sean Burch, Systems Administrator at Jack Henry & Associates. “Any time we ran
into a technical question, he had the answer or found the answer very quickly.” The Microsoft Services consultant configured the lab environment and helped Jack Henry gather performance benchmarks.
The time saved in copying files was significant: 30 percent. “This speedup is significant, because the user experience is critical,” Burch says. “We could really speed application response times for remote workers by using BranchCache. The simplicity of
deploying BranchCache is also attractive; the previous version required more structural changes to Active Directory. This version is much simpler to enable.”
Explore Other New Features
Although Jack Henry focused on BranchCache during the RDP, it also looked at other Windows Server 2012 features:
Data deduplication. Data deduplication finds and removes duplicate data without compromising data integrity. With data deduplication, Jack Henry can store more data in less physical space. During testing, Jack Henry saw a 40 percent savings
in disk size usage and a 30 percent savings when it used this feature in a production environment.
Server Core installation option. Server Core is a scaled-back installation that presents a smaller malware attack surface. Windows Server 2012 allows for easy conversion between Server Core installation and full installation and easier management
of Server Core installations overall.
File and Storage Services. Jack Henry sees huge improvements in network performance and transfer speeds due to new File and Storage Services in Windows Server 2012. The company can store server application data on files shares and take advantage
of the Server Message Block (SMB) 3 protocol to benefit from low-cost, industry-standard hardware.
Remote Desktop Services. Jack Henry is also interested in enhancements to Windows Server 2012 Remote Desktop Services (RDS), which provides remote access to applications running on a data center server. RDS in Windows Server 2012 reduces
the bandwidth requirements for remote desktop sessions and provides a more graphically rich experience for remote desktop sessions. Specifically, the RemoteFX feature presents a virtualized instance of a physical graphics processing unit (GPU) on virtual machines.
This gives the virtual machines access to the physical GPU, enabling hardware acceleration for rich-graphics scenarios.
“The remote GPU utilization is a really interesting feature,” Burch says. “It can greatly increase the performance of an RDS session, especially for streaming video and other bandwidth-intensive uses. RemoteFX is always looking at your bandwidth usage and dynamically
negotiating the speed at which it’s using that bandwidth. We’re really excited to see how well the new RDS integrates into our applications.” Roughly 1,000 of the company’s 5,000 employees use remote desktop sessions.
By upgrading to Windows Server 2012, Jack Henry & Associates can improve the efficiency of its IT, development, and information worker staffs; accelerate new product development; enhance server security and availability; and reduce storage and bandwidth
Improve Employee Efficiency and Productivity
||We could really speed application response times for remote workers by using BranchCache.
| Sean Burch
Systems Administrator, Jack Henry & Associates
By using the Server Core installation option for Windows Server 2012, Jack Henry can reduce maintenance-related work for its IT staff, which frees these employees to focus on supporting developers and information workers. “By reducing the number of operating
system components that have to be patched, it increases our resource efficiency,” Brittenham says. “We spend less time touching servers and more time letting our servers and employees work. When you multiply the management efficiencies in Windows Server 2012
by thousands of servers, it adds up to a significant time savings.”
By taking advantage of Windows Server 2012 enhancements in file access and RDS performance, Jack Henry can also improve the computing experience and productivity of branch office employees. “The new RDS will deliver a better, more responsive computing experience
for our many remote developers and information workers,” says Burch.
Speed New Product Development
Jack Henry really wants to increase the productivity of developers, who are revenue generators. “We have thousands of software developers, mostly in remote locations, accessing central development resources over the WAN,” Brittenham says. “Anything we
can do to improve the performance and reliability of IT services directly impacts our time-to-market with new products and services. When our development environments are down, we stop producing software. By using Windows Server 2012, we improve developers’
ability to access centralized server resources.”
Enhance Server Security and Availability
By taking advantage of the Server Core installation option for Windows Server 2012, Jack Henry can reduce the attack surface of its servers, which enhances infrastructure security. Additionally, the option improves server uptime, because the IT staff
does not have to remove servers from service as frequently for security updates. “As a financial services firm, we’re naturally very concerned about data security and availability,” Brittenham says. “Our team feels that Windows Server 2012 is the most secure
operating system we’ve seen, and having it at the core of our infrastructure will enhance data security at a foundational level.”
Reduce Server, Storage, and Bandwidth Costs
The use of data deduplication could generate a 40 percent reduction in storage space and costs for Jack Henry, and the use of BranchCache could reduce WAN bandwidth and branch-office server costs. “We are continuously looking for opportunities to improve
the efficiency of our IT infrastructure, in our main data center and in our branch offices, and Windows Server 2012 will help us use expensive capital resources more efficiently,” Brittenham says. “We are looking forward to digging into its many new features
and putting them to work for our business.”
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
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