Principality Building Society replaced disparate, expensive security monitoring and application performance systems with Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2. As a result, it has increased visibility of data centre performance and significantly reduced licensing costs. The organisation also deployed Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2007, which has enhanced business continuity and cut administration costs.
Principality is the largest building society in Wales, with 450,000 members, 1,000 employees, and a network of 51 branches. The organisation, which funds 100 per cent of lending from its own retail savings balances, has remained profitable throughout the economic downturn.
To deliver maximum value for its members, Principality wanted to increase the efficiency of its data centre operations. Specifically, it decided to replace its expensive, disparate systems for security monitoring, application management, and backup and recovery with a single, fully integrated environment.
||As well as reducing licensing and administration costs, System Center increases visibility of events across the infrastructure and helps us address any performance issues before they affect service.
Infrastructure Manager, Principality Building Society
Marc Jones, Infrastructure Support Group Manager at Principality Building Society, says: “We could have opted to upgrade our security monitoring, application management, and data protection systems separately. However, we wanted a single management system to reduce licensing costs, cut manual administration, and get a clearer, more centralised view of performance across our IT infrastructure.”
As well as streamlining systems management, Principality needed a new system that could increase the efficiency of data backup, which was previously carried out once a day. “It was taking a lot of time to manage the backup process. We also had to request individual tapes from a remote location before we could restore data—which often took up to five hours,” says Jones.
Finally, Principality aimed to extend security monitoring functionality and other management tools across its entire estate. Jones says: “We needed to extend security monitoring and other functionality across the operation, while keeping licensing costs to a minimum.”Solution
Microsoft Gold Certified Partner AK Computer Services Ltd (AKCSL)—a strategic IT adviser to the organisation for the past seven years—designed and deployed a data centre management solution for Principality based on System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2. This provides a single management console for all key data centre processes and cuts the need for disparate security monitoring, application performance, and backup and recovery systems.
System Center Operations Manager is compatible with a wide range of third-party software, making it the ideal choice for Principality. “System Center has helped us buy and integrate a comprehensive security monitoring and network performance management system,” says Jones. “These tools are designed to work with System Center, which means we can see and react to security, application performance, and network performance alerts—all from one location.”
While the previous solution backed up data once a day, System Center Data Protection Manager takes data snapshots every 15 minutes and backs up data to disc in real time. “Because data is backed up to our storage area network devices, we can restore it easily in as little as 15 minutes. We can also complete backups quickly, with minimal manual intervention,” says Jones.
Principality was already using System Center Configuration Manager before implementing Operations Manager and Data Protection Manager. This has been helping the organisation streamline desktop management, software distribution, and support for a number of years. Benefits
With System Center, Principality has reduced its data centre management systems from three to just one—significantly cutting management and licensing overheads. In addition, System Center requires a single licence per physical server, which delivers huge savings in the organisation’s virtualised server environment. Jones says: “As well as reducing licensing and administration costs, System Center increases visibility of events across the infrastructure and helps us address any performance issues before they affect service.”
Comprehensive visibility of data centre performance. System Center integrates fully with security monitoring and network monitoring tools to provide comprehensive data centre performance reporting. Jones says: “With System Center, we can see security, application, and other alerts before they cause service downtime.”
Significant savings on licensing. With competing solutions, licences are required for each virtual machine. “At Principality, we have up to 10 virtual machines running on each physical server,” says Jones. “Because System Center requires just one licence per hardware device, we’ve significantly reduced licensing costs.”
Reduced backup administration costs. Previously, one Principality employee worked full time to back up the organisation’s data. Now, just half of each day is spent on backup and half a day on higher value work. Jones says: “We are achieving an ongoing administrative saving with System Center Data Protection Manager based on faster, easier, and more automated backup processes.”
Faster recovery times. Instead of waiting four or five hours for backup tapes, members of the Principality IT team can now restore data quickly and effectively. “Using System Center Data Protection Manager, we can restore data easily from our storage area network in just 15 minutes,” says Jones.
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