Principality Building Society in the United Kingdom wanted to further automate its data centre operations and manage its IT environment with one set of tools. It deployed Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1 and the Windows Server 2012 operating
system with Hyper-V technology to monitor its infrastructure, including third-party tools such as VMware. The upgrade is boosting productivity by reducing manual processes and saving tens of thousands of pounds.
Founded in 1860, Principality Building Society, the largest building society in Wales, has 500,000 members and more than £6 billion (US$9 billion) in assets.
Principality believes in delivering maximum value for its members by providing a lean, agile IT environment to support its data centre operations and a wide range of third-party software. In 2009, it replaced its security monitoring, application management,
and backup and recovery systems with a single fully integrated environment using Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 and other related Microsoft technologies.
Marc Jones, Technical Services Manager, Principality Building Society, says: “We wanted a single management system to reduce licensing costs, cut manual administration, and get a clear, centralised view of performance across our IT infrastructure.”
While satisfied with the original implementation, by 2012, Jones and his colleagues were interested in an environment refresh. He says: “We needed to automate repetitive, manual tasks that were subject to error. We wanted to handle server provisioning more
effectively and track the automation through a web portal. There was also a need to monitor our web applications and VMware 5.0 deployment.”
Microsoft Partner AK Computer Services—a long-term strategic IT adviser to Principality—handled the original design and architecture using the Microsoft System Center suite of products. Graham Davies, Senior Consultant, AK Computer Services, who was awarded
the honour of Most Valued Professional by Microsoft in 2012, says: “As a trusted adviser to Principality for more than 10 years, we’re highly tuned to the refresh cycle for Microsoft servers, including Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft System Center 2012.
As a result, we recommended our customer to Microsoft for the early Technology Adoption Programme for Microsoft System Center 2012.”
Principality has now implemented Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1 and Windows Server 2012, which includes new and improved features in areas such as virtualisation, networking storage, user experience, and scripting. Specifically, the building society is
using several components of System Center 2012 that were previously separate products.
System Center 2012 helps organisations monitor their infrastructure—physical and virtual, and including VMware—and manage alerts from a single tool, with no need to multiply management systems. The Operations Manager component oversees performance and availability
reporting. It integrates with System Center Global Service Monitor, a cloud service that provides a simple way to manage the availability of external web-based applications from multiple locations.
Davies says: “Orchestrator manages data centre automation—the key to reducing manual processes—while Service Manager monitors Orchestrator service requests. It also monitors change management and incident management.”
Principality is taking full advantage of the virtualisation capabilities of Hyper-V, which is highly automated, secure, and cost effective. Davies says: “Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V will save the IT team from having to deal with a lot of porting, migration,
and testing of applications.”
Principality Building Society now has a single set of tools to manage its physical and virtual IT environment. Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1 has all the components necessary to automate data centre processes that were previously completed manually. Through
automated event logging in System Center 2012 SP1, the Principality IT team now identifies issues before they occur.
Firm gets cost-effective operations management solution. Jones says: “Microsoft System Center 2012 with Windows Server 2012 offers us a complete operations management solution. With Hyper-V as part of the offering at no extra cost, it was
a more competitive solution than VMware. We’re saving tens of thousands of pounds, mainly through centralised management of VMware.”
IT team makes data centre efficiency gains. The Principality IT team now isolates issues before they occur in the data centre, boosting productivity with tools such as System Center Global Service Monitor.
Jones says: “Through automation, we’ve reduced the time it takes to deliver changes, stopped errors from manual processes, and increased consistency.”
Standardising on System Center 2012 SP1 reduces need for staff training. The Principality IT team can pool its data centre resources into a private cloud while using the IT assets it already owns. With consolidation of the operations management
solution, there’s less need for expenditure on staff training on disparate systems.
Orchestrator component helps make significant time savings. Davies says: “Orchestrator allows IT departments to automate the tasks that they would otherwise have to perform manually. This can amount to literally hundreds of hours of time
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