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Signature Bank of Arkansas (SBofA)

Signature Bank of Arkansas (SBofA) logo

Improving Server Performance and Reducing Data Center Costs with Virtualization and OCZ Solid-State Storage

Signature Bank of Arkansas improves performance and reduces TCO with VMware and OCZ SSDs.


The Focus

  • Reduce/eliminate disk I/O bottlenecks
  • Run virtualized applications on virtual machines (VMs)
  • Improve server application performance
  • Accelerate access to stored data

The Benefits

  • Improved MS Exchange Server performance by 300%
  • Improved Oracle database financial analysis performance by 300%
  • Improved risk management assessments from hours to minutes
  • Improved SQL Server snapshots from extensive lag/latency delays to real-time access
  • Improved large graphic image read performance by 1000%

Signature Bank of Arkansas Improves Performance and Reduces TCO with VMware and OCZ SSDs

Deployed Solutions
  • Virtualized Environment using VMware
  • OCZ Z-Drive R4 PCIe Solid-State Drives
  • OCZ VXL Virtualization and Caching Software

Signature Bank of Arkansas (SBofA) is a community bank that was established in 2005 by a team of experienced and well-respected local bankers to provide full banking and wealth management services for individuals and businesses in northwest Arkansas. SBofA has seen radical changes in banking over the last few years as the U.S. and global economies continue to be challenged. To weather this economic storm, SBofA raised capital, decreased corporate spending, changed its capital ratio, and combined with strong strategic direction and management, has stabilized its business during this difficult economy. As the future looks bright, SBofA's mantra is to continually improve productivity and customer service while reducing operational costs.

One of the areas SBofA centered on to improve operations was the outdated network infrastructure and equipment they inherited back in 2005. As more clients, employees, applications and capabilities were added to the SBofA network, data traffic increased, disk I/O became a performance bottleneck, and the end user experience was compromised at times. The network was showing its age and simply did not provide the server application performance or data access that SBofA required. In the highly competitive, customer service-oriented bank industry, ineffective system automation in a down economy will drive customers to the competition.

To address disk I/O bottlenecks in the early years, SBofA added hard disk drives (HDDs) to the network, but that only provided a band-aid performance solution at an increase in both capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operating expense (OPEX). The more hard drives that were added, the higher the costs rose for power consumption, cooling, maintenance and support.

"The addition of VXL software and Z-Drive R4 PCIe SSDs to SBofA's newly implemented virtualization infrastructure provided immediate performance successes and capabilities, and efficiently distributed flash resources across VMs to maximize performance of key applications."

Matt Wood, IT Director
Signature Bank of Arkansas

Over time, the storage segment of SBofA's enterprise became its most expensive part and adding HDDs to alleviate system performance bottlenecks was not the most cost-effective way to evolve the network.

After six years of developing the IT infrastructure to provide automated business services to a central branch and satellite locations, its employees and thousands of accounts, SBofA felt that a complete re-evaluation and assessment of the network was required beginning with its most expensive parts – the storage area network (SAN). In addition, the VMware software used to run virtualized applications on multiple virtual machines (VMs) was not being utilized to its full potential, so a new approach to virtualization was also required as part of SBofA's IT refresh.

This case study shows how SBofA addressed the storage challenges it faced by upgrading its infrastructure to new and improved capabilities that deliver flash data caching into virtualized server platforms and distributes these flash resources on-demand across VM applications to maximize performance. The combined hardware and software solution, developed by solid-state storage leader OCZ Storage Solutions, includes Z-Drive R4 PCI Express (PCIe) flash-based solid-state drives (SSDs) with VXL virtualization and acceleration software. Through this new implementation, SBofA is achieving significant improvements in server application performance and data access while reducing data center costs.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. SBofA's Network Infrastructure
  3. Hard Drive Limitations
  4. Solid-State Drives
  5. Adding Flash to Enterprise
  6. The Virtualization Solution
  7. How the OCZ Virtualization Solution Works
  8. Testing and Implementation
  9. Conclusion
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