More Financial All-Stars

Twelve financial institutions open the vault on their fresh uses of network technology.


In a $1.5 million project, Citigroup wanted to find a product that could provide all the reporting, governance, inventory and configuration functions, such as rollout and rollback, that it had been doing manually, while instituting workflow and process best practices. Citigroup selected AlterPoint's DeviceAuthority change and configuration management software, and is already reporting benefits. For example, it has reduced the time required to manage access lists across devices from about five staff members working three days to one working fewer than seven hours. It also nearly eliminated manual remediation. The New York global giant has 44,000 network devices, in support of 300,000 employees. Full details


Farm Credit Services of America, a provider of credit services for farmers in Omaha, Neb., undertook a $1.3 million project to build a Microsoft .Net Framework-based application that creates a single integration point for four customer-related systems. The application, called Pinwheel, has increased employee productivity by 70%. The firm uses Microsoft's BizTalk Server 2004 Enterprise Edition to manage and exchange data among the systems. Previously, such updates meant running lengthy batch processes nightly.


Fidelity Investment's critical IT infrastructure includes more than 150 F5 Networks load-balancers managing more than 35,000 endpoints, which produce more than 45 million daily page loads. Fidelity's Integrated Monitoring Center (IMC) carries the burden of keeping this online environment, for trading and other applications, running smoothly 24/7. IMC recently implemented a business service management () strategy via Managed Objects' End-to-End Service Manager. This BSM tool consolidates and correlates network and systems management information into a single, real-time centralized view, enabling the IMC to mitigate problems quickly. With the tool, the IMC can direct the load balancers to divert traffic around trouble spots. This can take as few as five seconds vs. the 60 minutes of old. Benefits to the Boston firm include increased productivity and improved customer satisfaction.


Fifth Third Bancorp set out to improve the way it detects and analyzes root causes and correlates events on its 40,000-node network. It turned to EMC Smarts, which integrates several applications to provide a unified view across IT domains and automated root-cause analysis. Additionally, Smarts integrates with the bank's Remedy help-desk system, for automated trouble-ticketing. The financial services firm in Cincinnati has cut the time it takes to resolve network outages by 40%. The implementation, including new hardware, cost $160,000.




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With 13 winners, financial services comprises 26% of the All-Star list.

In a one-week, $100,000 project, Fortis Prime Fund Solutions reduced back-up time by 30%, significantly improving business continuity and data availability at offices in North America, the Caribbean (IT operates from Grand Cayman Island) and Europe. To do so, this mutual fund administrator implemented an enterprise-scale iSCSI-based storage-area network () along with automated data replication and provisioning tools. The IT team can now focus back-up and replication efforts only on data that is likely to change, while provisioning static data to separate volumes on the SAN, built using EqualLogic's PS Array.


GMAC Commercial Holding's MPLS twist is its use of the WAN technology - and traffic shaping - to enable remote office backups. IT installed remote agents on each server, removed existing back-up software and did away with local media. As of late October, IT had converted 95% of its 44 U.S. sites to central backups from headquarters in Horsham, Pa., dramatically lowering completion time for file operations and improving productivity. IT expects to save $400,000 in the first year, with the project having cost $75,000.


H&R Block built a service-oriented architecture () that aggregates about 2.5 million leads each tax season. After qualifying the leads, the Client Acquisition System (CAS) routes them to financial advisers based on specified criteria. The CAS team uses Tibco Software's BusinessWorks to manage the execution of 15 Microsoft .Net Web service requests per lead (under peak volume, CAS processes more than 4 million Web service requests a day). AmberPoint's SOA management tools provide a centralized view into all services-based interactions and automate the exception-handling process. The project has resulted in a 20% reduction in development costs, streamlined staffing requirements and improved licensing for the Detroit tax services firm. H&R Block cut $2 million in pending license fees and increased cross-service revenue by over 46%.


Lehman Brothers wanted to enforce and automate user-access rights to better meet stringent regulatory and privacy requirements. Using Thor Technologies' Xellerate Identity Manager and Total Access Control provisioning system, this New York investment bank now provides identity management for more than 22,000 users, who have more than 400,000 unique system accounts across 1,400 business-critical applications. IT can set up new user accounts in 20 minutes and deny user access in 60 seconds. Lehman Brothers estimates that the amount of work accomplished in four months of automated provisioning for major platforms alone is equivalent to the work one IT member would have needed about 16 months to accomplish manually.


With 74% of employees spending at least one hour each week working remotely, Principal Financial Group faced a remote-access imperative. For comprehensive remote access, the DesMoines, Iowa, company migrated to an SSL . With the new VPN, IT can enforce endpoint security policies, meet data encryption requirements and distinguish among corporate, home user and PCs outside its circle of trust. For users, broadband connectivity is available via Ethernet, wireless LAN or 3G cellular data service, for example. For the $400,000 project, IT deployed an SSL VPN server cluster, personal firewalls with central policy management and hard-drive encryption software. Principal attributes a 50% productivity improvement to the SSL VPN.


Prudential Financial has seen the last of its frame-relay days. In four months, with an average of 20 locations per week, the network team at the Newark, N.J., company rolled out 235 Cisco routers, 545 Cisco Ethernet switches and more than 300 WAN MPLS and private lines. Through the $1.5 million project, Prudential has increased bandwidth to a full T-1 at all remote locations. With that bandwidth comes a host of new applications, such as streaming video to the desktop, office-to-office file sharing and VoIP-enabled training. IT expects to save $900,000 in the first year and $3.7 million by the third year.


To support its global asset-management operation, State Street Global Advisors in Boston runs a host of investment-related applications on about 250 servers linked to a -based storage-area network (SAN). As the SAN reached a volume of about 200T bytes of disk storage and another 720T bytes of tape storage, management became daunting. SAN administrators make roughly a dozen changes, each involving multiple physical and logical tasks, daily; nearly 80% of SAN problems stem from these changes. To address the issue, it deployed Onaro's SANscreen software, which automatically discovers SAN devices, models the network and then predicts the effects of real or planned changes. Since deploying SANscreen in April, State Street Global Advisors operates with approximately 20% less storage gear because administrators can more easily reassign hardware resources. The company realized ROI in seven months based on operational efficiencies.


A thorough performance-management study must come before a VoIP migration. That's the strategy of Kansas City, Mo.-based UMB Bank, which uses NetScout Systems' nGenius performance-management system to gain detailed insight into virtually all applications and get historical reports on network performance. It also uses the system to monitor network activity; with Web-based reports, IT can forecast where adjustments will be needed once it adds voice into the traffic mix. Business benefits from the $120,000 project include the ability to protect critical revenue-impacting applications.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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