• United States
by Terry Sweeney

Beyond MPLS

Dec 22, 20032 mins
ComputersData CenterNetwork Management Software

Washington Mutual upgrades desktops while rolling out its massive new enterprise backbone.

Back to WaMu banks on MPLS

While building a new network infrastructure for 3,000 locations is enough to keep most companies busy, Washington Mutual threw in a simultaneous rollout of Windows XP to 60,000 desktops.

Easier support and, over time, lower costs are among reasons the Seattle-based nationwide financial services company is standardizing on one desktop operating system, says Mike Spalter, team leader of WaMu’s Infrastructure Services Group. At one point, he notes, WaMu supported more than six desktop operating systems, including 18,000 workstations on IBM’s OS/2 and applications using that vendor’s chunky Presentation Manager GUI, and three different e-mail systems. WaMu did not have automated software distribution or common patch management, anti-virus protection or common messaging, Spalter says.

Armed with necessary software, Spalter’s team converted 3,000 desktops to XP per week, in a combo on-site/remote management assault. That equates to 25 sites per night, six days per week. “I have to give a lot of credit to the team and how they met the challenge,” he says. “We had a lot of checkpoints to make sure we were on the ‘happy path.'”

Next up: Standardizing on an operating system for its servers. WaMu has yet to decide exactly which operating system that will be. “I decided not to touch the servers before getting a common protocol stack in the PCs and a stable network,” Spalter says. The server upgrade will take three years, the bulk of it taking place in the next 18 months.

WaMu also will consolidate servers as part of a regular “refresh” cycle that surveys server usage and performance, including the WaMu data centers.