Middle East Lebanon Oldest Lebanese Bank Deploys Newest Technologies as Part of IT...
With more Microsoft technologies embedded in Fransabank’s infrastructure, the relationship between Microsoft Services Lebanon and Fransabank has been one of strategic collaboration
Friday, July 06, 2012
Lebanon


Business Needs

In 2007, Fransabank, the oldest bank in Lebanon, decided that leveraging the newest technologies was essential for keeping its position as one of the top four leading Lebanese banks. Although Fransabank, established in 1921, continued to experience strong growth and had the largest network of branches in Lebanon, its systems were showing signs of inadequacy to meet the demands of business growth and customer expectations. Khaled Dankar, Fransabank Head of Alternative Delivery Channels, remembers, “From the business perspective, we couldn’t readily give what our staff wanted; if they had a requirement, it would take time to get it done. Without adequate tools, it was difficult to meet staff needs.” As well, the increasing threat from viruses and malware prompted tighter controls and systems. “It was a hassle in terms of maintaining the system because of a lack of centralization. There could be viruses,” said Khaled. Adding to the difficulties was a lack of infrastructure that integrated and connected the bank’s more than 1,000 computer machines. As a result, fixing PCs and dealing with technical issues at the bank was problematic.

The need to leverage the newest technologies was also becoming more apparent to Mrad Mrad, Fransabank’s Deputy Head of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Division. He said, “I sensed that, given Microsoft’s pioneering strength in ICT,deploying Microsoft technologies should become part of Fransabank’s IT strategy.” In 2008, Fransabank started a series of meetings with Microsoft Services Lebanon to discuss how to put the proper IT infrastructure in place at the bank and how the bank’s IT infrastructure could be optimised. Michael Sengakis, Account Technology Strategist – Enterprise & Partner Group of Microsoft Services Lebanon & Indirect Markets, suggested a roadmap for Fransabank that established priorities, best solutions, and best business practices in IT for the bank. Michael and the Fransabank IT team agreed that they could do something for the coming years, and scope something that is scalable and could be upgraded later to help business operations.

Solution

In 2008, Fransabank decided that Microsoft technologies would play a central role in the bank’s operations. The bank reached the decision after the ICT team headed by Mrad built a business case on how Microsoft technologies – considered superior and more responsive to customer needs – would benefit Fransabank. For the deployment and implementation of Microsoft technologies, the bank chose Microsoft Services Lebanon over Microsoft partners, despite the higher cost. Fransabank considered that working with Microsoft Services Lebanon would give them the highest levels of expertise and experience, and ensure that implementation and deployment would be faster. In addition, said Khaled, “Microsoft Services Lebanon had what we wanted; if we asked them for something, they were easily in a position to deliver.”

The initial engagement started in 2008 with the deployment of Microsoft Exchange 2007 and Microsoft System Center 2007. Microsoft Exchange 2007 provided Fransabank staff with secure and reliable email, calendar and contacts on their PCs, phones and web browsers. Microsoft System Center 2007 provided the tools to detect, diagnose, and correct problems in the bank’s computing environment and automate common management tasks. Subsequently, Fransabank deployed Microsoft Active Directory for better network administration and security. That same year, in order to improve server utilization and reduce costs, Fransabank also deployed its infrastructure on Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2, a hypervisor-based server virtualization that allows workloads to be consolidated into fewer physical servers. In addition, to ensure that it had access to customizable, expert support 24/7 that proactively addressed risks, minimized downtimes, and streamlined business operations, Fransabank signed up for Microsoft Premier Services in 2010.

“With more Microsoft technologies embedded in Fransabank’s infrastructure, the relationship between Microsoft Services Lebanon and Fransabank has been one of strategic collaboration, involving the smooth integration of Microsoft technologies with Fransabank systems,” said Mrad.

Benefits

Embedding Microsoft technologies in its operations have significantly benefitted Fransabank in terms of resource optimization, higher productivity, costsavings, and enhanced security.

Resource optimization

The use of Microsoft technologies has allowed Fransabank to optimize resources and reduce costs. For one, Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 allowed Fransabank to consolidate its 150 servers onto only four physical servers. In addition, Microsoft Systems Center Configuration Manager allowed easy deployment and configuration of computers and applications across Fransabank’s many offices, as well as virtual support and maintenance of Fransabank’s PCs and workstations.
“Higher productivity is being able to do more, making lesser mistakes, and facing fewer technical issues,” said Khaled. Because of the Microsoft technologies in place, there is less downtime and higher availability of systems, permitting Fransabank users to do their jobs unburdened by system issues. Fransabanks’ technical support team also spends less time working on the same problems and responding to frequently asked questions. As well, the use of Microsoft Dynamics CRM enables Fransabank staff to quickly and effectively communicate with customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders

Cost-savings

Optimized resources and fewer system errors are not the only reasons for costsavings at Fransabank. “By working on fully-integrated solutions with Microsoft, such as Microsoft Enterprise CAL, Fransabank,” said Mrad, “acquires a bundle of Microsoft products at a discount. For instance, Fransabank no longer has to purchase services like Lync or RMS since they are part of the Microsoft Enterprise CAL.”

Enhanced security

Being a financial institution, Fransabank views security as vital. The use of Microsoft technologies, such as Microsoft Active Directory, has enabled Fransabank to control computer user privileges and permissions as well as the modification of files and applications. Said Khaled, “Before, it was difficult to enforce security because we had limited means to enforce it. This is no longer the case with the enhanced security capabilities from Microsoft technologies.”

Microsoft Services

Microsoft Services is a global team of professionals who are dedicated to helping customers maximize the value of their investment in Microsoft software. Microsoft Services touches customers more than 715 million times a year, helping them plan, deploy, support and optimize our technologies. They also work closely with Microsoft Partners by sharing their technological expertise and product knowledge on a regular basis.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software - any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft Lebanon opened its offices in 1999 with over 200 partners all over the country.MS Lebanon is Part of the NEPA subsidiary which comprises Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Pakistan, Tunisia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and the Palestinian authority. As the use of software and technology increases with the number of Lebanese companies and individuals depending on IT as part of their everyday life, the company is poised to thrive even more over the coming years.

Microsoft Corporation's address on the World Wide Web is: www.microsoft.com
Microsoft Lebanon's Web site is: www.microsoft.com/lebanon

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries
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