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Comp 1486 - Information System Management - National Bank of Kuwait (nbk)

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The case study that I have chosen to analyze is titled as “National Bank of Kuwait virtualizes 75 percent of servers for 40 percent cost savings”. This case study describes what problems the National Bank of Kuwait faced in changing its mainframe technology to a model based on the windows operating system and how the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V technology assisted the company to overcome the obstacles.

Description of the Organization:

National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) which has been a leading bank in Kuwait also has held a strong position across the world, especially in Middle East for many years. Founded by some local merchants in 1952, the company now operates in 17 countries, serving many of the world’s leading financial and business centers. NBK has more than U.S. $49 Billion on assets, and it currently possess a strong position in market share. By offering a full spectrum of advanced and unrivalled financial and investment services and solutions, NBK has drawn an increasing number of clients that include individuals, corporations, and institutions.

NBK’s technological environment comprises a centralized IT infrastructure with a primary data center which is its headquarters situated in Kuwait. It initially used a mainframe technology that covers eighty-percent of the infrastructure. The remaining was supported by Windows Server 2003 operating system and IBM AIX.

Reasons for developing the end-user service:

Since NBK’s operations increased in order to collaborate with its significant growth in client base, it required a more scalable server infrastructure than it already had. The mainframe technology was not adequate anymore to serve its clients that included 60 percent of the government, corporate, private, and investment banking customers in the country as well as more than 170 branches overall.

Hence, the company decided to switch to Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 data management software; however, it encountered other problems. Since Kuwait did not have an adequate power capability, it was apparent that NBK would not have sufficient power outlets to connect all of the production servers they have. The constriction in electricity became a major obstacle in performing the company’s fundamental operations.

Furthermore, the one-to-one server ratio was holding back the flourishing flow of development and user-acceptance environment. The company required supplementary infrastructure to provide their increasing number of clients with modern technological features such as internet banking and self-supported computerized teller machine. In other words, it was essential for NBK to improve their IT environments.

Execution and operation of the planned end-user service:

NBK realizes that modifying the IT environment with Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Hyper-V technology would be the first step in developing the end-user service. In 2009, the company installs the Hyper-V technology so that all front-end servers including application servers and middle-tier servers can be virtualized. The virtualization of one server for testing purpose shows significant improvement in utilizing the already existing hardware infrastructure. To operate Hyper-V technology, 30 servers, equally distributed in 2 IBM BladeCenter server racks, are installed. Additional 125 virtual servers are also added to the application server and middle-tier server environments in building a Private Cloud Infrastructure.

To assist NBK with monitoring the performance of all these servers, Expit which is a provider of IT management services, adds Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2. Furthermore, to recover from hardware failure and the exceeding of thresholds, Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager is installed to provide Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) tips. Expit also helps NBK set up System Center Configuration Manager to have a remote control over the inventory and fast updates of hardware and software in the virtual environment.

NBK and Expit further use a multiple-tiered backup plan in which the virtualized application servers and middle-tiered servers are used. MS SQL Server will enable backing up virtual servers as well as their hosted applications and physical servers that include mission-critical workloads.  Additionally, Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal 2.0 is installed to enable these virtual servers automate provisioning scenarios by configuring network and load-balance.

Finally, Microsoft System Center Service Manager 2010 is installed to inform NBK about the creation time, purpose, and the users of a virtual server. It will help monitor and control the chain-management process. All these steps in the process contribute to building an end-to-end management in NBK.

Critical analysis of the end-user service:

  1. Achievements:
  • Resolved Power Capacity Problem:

The process of developing end-user service has been very effective since its deployment. First of all, the issue with power capacity is resolved because of using the Hyper-V technology. Instead of dealing with physical processors, this technology works in a virtual platform of the processor. The workload of multiple servers is consolidated onto a single server through its hypervisor feature. Furthermore, the use of virtual platform has minimized the need of physical servers by 75 percent. The number of physical server has come down from 100 to only 30 because the 125 virtual servers covered the requirement. Thus, NBK does not have to depend on power capacity for physical servers anymore.

  • Accelerated Productivity:

NBK’s business agility has improved significantly with the new infrastructure. Microsoft SQL Server 2008 enables the company to store and retrieve data as requested by other software applications. Through the compression of backups and transparent encryption of data, SQL server simplifies management and improves overall performance. Furthermore, the guest multi-processing support in Hyper-V provides scalability while its hypervisor architecture provides consistency and security. It enables manageability and flexibility within the company because there is now a quick migration of virtual machines from one physical host to another. The System Center Virtual Machine Manager brings integrity in virtual machine management and services deployment in Private Cloud environments. All these improvements assist NBK with accelerating their business operations. For example, during busy seasons, especially during the religious holidays, the bank faces immense traffic of customer and financial transactions in the branch, over the telephone, and online. The virtual servers speed up the banking operations during these peak hours by 50 percent.



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