Arcapita is an international investment bank with a paid-in capital of U.S.$282 million. As the bank’s IT environment has evolved over the years, the Arcapita IT team has called on the benefits of Microsoft® Services Premier Support to provide expert deployment guidance and services to help optimize systems and maximize supportability. Since building its relationship with Microsoft through Premier Support, the bank has successfully shifted from a largely Oracle-based environment to a Microsoft-based environment to achieve a lower total cost of ownership across both technology and annual support.
||From our experience, successfully implementing months of major IT projects was made a lot simpler as a result of our Premier Support contract. We found it an excellent way to get the most from our IT investment, and to know exactly where the budget was being spent.
IT Technical Manager, Arcapita Bank
Arcapita Bank is an international investment bank with offices in Bahrain, London, Atlanta, and Singapore. The bank has 300 employees and a paid-in capital of U.S.$282 million.
Since 1998, Arcapita relied on IBM Lotus Notes as its core messaging solution. Looking to move to a newer solution in 2006, Arcapita began to consider its alternatives and was particularly interested in Microsoft Exchange Server for its lower cost of ownership and manageability. To facilitate such a move, Arcapita IT leadership sought to find a technology partner that could help ensure a successful rollout of the new messaging solution and provide ongoing services and support.
“Messaging is our most critical service,” says Mishal Al-Hellow, IT Technical Manager at Arcapita. “If it goes down, it has a direct impact on our business. To deploy a new messaging solution, competency was our top concern, and we felt that there was no better option than to establish a direct relationship with Microsoft.”Solution
To facilitate its move from Lotus Notes to Exchange Server, Arcapita made the strategic decision to take advantage of Microsoft Services Premier Support, which provides the bank with a managed relationship with Microsoft through a technical account manager (TAM) and access to end-to-end IT services and support. Following a successful deployment of Exchange Server, the bank then looked at calling on the benefits of Premier Support to facilitate a move to a Microsoft-based IT environment from its largely Oracle-based environment, which included Enterprise Content Management and Siebel CRM, to drive additional cost savings across both technology and support.
In moving to a Microsoft-based environment, Arcapita worked closely with its TAM to coordinate IT initiatives that spanned both technology and operations. As the cornerstone of the engagement, Arcapita took part in an Operations Strategic Review—a strategic IT-planning engagement based on the Premier Service Delivery Methodology. Through the Operations Strategic Review, the bank took an in-depth look at its current state of IT spanning technology and operations, defined a desired future state, and then established an actionable road map for achieving those future goals. Says Al-Hellow, “The Operations Strategic Review helped improve the communications across our IT teams by giving them a common framework and goals throughout the entire IT life cycle.”
Following the strategic guidance of the Operations Strategic Review, Arcapita then worked side by side with Microsoft consultants to deploy Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft SQL Server, a centralized Active Directory service, and an enterprisewide document management and collaboration solution based on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server. To improve the monitoring and application management of its new environment, Arcapita is currently in the process of deploying Microsoft Systems Center Operations Manager and Microsoft Systems Center Configuration Manager.
In maintaining its service delivery excellence, the bank uses the Prescription for Health Framework and, in the near future, will take advantage of the Microsoft Operations Framework to facilitate more streamlined service delivery.
To help ensure high availability of its environment, the Arcapita IT team also engages in regular Health Checks and Risk Assessment Programs to review deployments of core infrastructure components such as Exchange Server and Active Directory. From these reviews, Arcapita works with Microsoft Services to identify risks and build a prioritized plan of remediation. To strengthen its internal competencies, Arcapita IT staff also engage in numerous workshops and training programs and gain real-world experience as they work together with senior IT experts from Microsoft.
These efforts have helped Arcapita establish a proactive environment with minimal downtime. In addition, with Premier Support, the bank has a prioritized escalation channel within Microsoft to help maximize business continuity if any issues arise.Benefits
With Premier Support, Arcapita has delivered the results it set out to achieve in building a new Microsoft-based infrastructure. Says Al-Hellow, “From our experience, successfully implementing months of major IT projects was made a lot simpler as a result of our Premier Support contract. We found it an excellent way to get the most from our IT investment and to know exactly where the budget was being spent.”
Skills for Enhanced Supportability
With competency a top concern, Arcapita’s IT team found the knowledge transfer through Premier Support to be particularly effective, empowering the team to manage and support its expansive environment. “One of the great things that came out of Premier Support was how it helped to improve the competency of our IT team,” says Al-Hellow. “With access to all the workshops, training programs, and qualified people, our IT staff can gain lots of experience and build deep knowledge of the products we support. And from an operations perspective, Premier Support provided us with the insight into the best practices we needed to run a more streamlined and proactive operation.”
The range of services through Premier Support and the outcome of the Operations Strategic Review also helped the Arcapita IT team to reduce incidents and move to a more proactive environment. The team is now better equipped to move new projects forward. Says Al-Hellow, “Year over year, the number of critical incidents went down. But perhaps more evident of the fact that we have become more proactive is that we introduced major IT projects, such as deploying a new intranet and CRM system, all without increasing our support hours.” Illustrative of this change, Arcapita experienced eight critical situations in its first year with Premier Support. In the second year, this number decreased to three situations. And now in its third year, Arcapita has so far experienced zero critical situations.
Strategic Relationship for Success
In making a major technology investment, which led to significant change within its organization, Arcapita found that having a direct relationship with its technology vendor to be particularly advantageous. “Our TAM helps us qualify and execute the best possible solution to meet our business needs. He’s the bridge between what Microsoft can provide and what Arcapita needs,” says Al-Hellow.
“Many of our business-critical solutions are built on top of Microsoft technology, and with Premier Support, I feel our organization is in safe hands,” Al-Hellow continues. “Compared to the alternatives, Premier Support was the best choice to help us ensure that we could act successfully on our initiatives and establish a healthy environment.”