Groupe BPCE 2017-12-11T10:46:59+00:00
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BPCE IT is the IT service department shared by all companies under the umbrella of the BPCE Group. It has 1,200 employees and provides the following support functions: finance, human resources, audit, risks, architecture and security.
The BPCE Group is the second largest banking group in France. With its 108,000 employees, the Group’s different subsidiaries (Banque Populaire banks, Caisses d’Epargne, Natixis, Banque Palatine, Crédit Foncier, and many others) provide banking and insurance services.

Its headquarters are located in Brussels, and its 900 employees work in over twenty-five sites in Belgium. The computerization of its services plays a key role in its improvement and communication with all its customers.

Why Performance Vision ?

“PerformanceVision was initially acquired by Banque Palatine, which is part of the BPCE Group and whose IT is now managed by BPCE IT.

PerformanceVision was originally deployed to monitor the performance of the WAN network connecting the remote agencies to the headquarters and datacenter. Its scope progressively expanded to include the application performance, end-user experience, the traffic between Banque Palatine and its partners, and the data exchanges between the main zones of its datacenters.

We clearly have shorter resolution times with PerformanceVision!

How do you use it?

PerformanceVision is a part of BPCE IT’s tools for daily operations. We use for a variety of tasks, including:

  • Handling user complaints regarding performance
  • Troubleshooting
  • Capacity planning
  • Gathering analytics to drive to the best decisions in terms of infrastructure, to make changes and deployments successful.

PerformanceVision provides a 360° visibility of all the traffic from the agencies and the headquarters to the datacenters, between the main clusters in the datacenter and with the external partners. The DMZs are also monitored. PV is both a powerful solution and easy to manage. Despite the wideangle coverage of our implementation, the solution requires almost no administration / configuration time and remains extremely simple to handle.

Handling user complaints regarding performance, Troubleshooting, Capacity planning and Gathering analytics

Network and infrastructure monitoring?

PerformanceVision is still used for its original objective: checking the network performance in case of IT complaints. It does this very well and we usually get clear facts and answers instantly. From the network team’s point of view, this represents a huge contribution in terms of productivity and quality of service because it pinpoints very quickly the origin of a problem (e.g., network latency or application / server processing).

PV is frequently used to troubleshoot network issues (e.g., MTU issues in complex VPN infrastructures) and the performance of common services like DNS and Mail.

End-to-end performance troubleshooting

The use of PV now goes much deeper in the application layer: we leverage its real-time transaction analysis capabilities to troubleshoot up to the application level and help speed the overall fault-handling process.

Our application team has access to the dashboards provided by PV and uses them to quickly pinpoint flaws both at the front-end and back-end tiers of their application. As an example, for a complex troubleshooting on one of our core applications used by both internal users and e-banking customers, PV quickly pointed out some errors at the database layer and flagged the consequences of a minor change that was blocking the processing of certain queries. Since then, our application team has a direct access to PV.

Beyond reactive handling of complaints and troubleshooting cases, PV helps our network and security team improve our infrastructure and make it fit for the next set of changes.

Reducing the performance risk in technical migrations and changes

When we installed a new replication system between our two datacenters, we used PV to conduct an impact analysis. We measured the bandwidth required to run the replication and also analyzed the impact and the benefits of a WAN optimization solution to mitigate it. Thanks to the objective data provided by PV, we were sure we could skip the investment in WAN optimization without any impact on the quality of service.

Optimizing the infrastructure and the costs

When BPCE IT reviewed the way backup would be handled from the bank’s headquarters to the datacenters, PV provided the right analytics to make the best architecture decision, generate some savings and guarantee the absence of impact on the end-user experience.

In this case, backup flows were saturating the VPN connections connecting the headquarters and the datacenters up to one hour every night. We could have increased the bandwidth and the telecom budget required but instead, we investigated an alternative: move from an active / passive VPN system to an active / active VPN system. This could double the bandwidth available, but meant an increase in network latency in some cases. We ran tests and realized that the increase in network latency of 4ms did not have any significant impact on the user experience. We fixed our problem without any extra telco spending and no impact on quality.

Securing application rollouts

Like many organizations, Banque Palatine is running a large digitalization project. This project has huge consequences for BPCE IT’s infrastructure and specifically, its network. PerformanceVision plays a key role in providing insights on the evolution of the bandwidth requirements for this project and also on the side-effects which were not anticipated. As an example, the digitalization of numerous processes has induced a significant increase in the use of printing through Citrix in the remote agencies. This is due to the fact that digitalized documents still need to be printed and signed.

By getting the right analytics, BPCE IT’s infrastructure team has been able to adjust its QoS settings to avoid any negative impact of the growing printing network usage on more performance-sensitive applications.

Integrating performance monitoring in the test phase

In a similar way, when new applications are deployed, our infrastructure team leverages the visibility provided by PerformanceVision to make sure our architecture is adjusted early enough to keep delivering a great quality of service and in the most efficient way from an economic standpoint.

During the test phase of our Document Management System, we used PV to monitor the traffic from our test agency to analyze the infrastructure impact of the application depending on its settings and specifically on the resolution parameters set. The analytics helped us collaborate with the application team to find the right tradeoff between resolution and network costs. It drove some adjustments on the QoS policy which has been applied on our global network to accommodate this new application.

PerformanceVision was originally deployed to monitor the performance of the WAN network

Results and ROI

We clearly have shorter resolution times with PerformanceVision.

We also have more efficient processes:

  • The available visibility help teams collaborate in troubleshooting operations and helps increase the overall productivity of each team (network, systems, application)
  • We leverage the analytics to ensure quality of service from the early stage of change and roll out projects.
  • We achieve savings by making accurate infrastructure decisions.

PerformanceVision has a very reasonable TCO attached to it: license prices are fair and the maintenance and administration cost is very low (compared to similar solutions on the market).

How do you plan on using it in the future?

PerformanceVision is one of the few software vendors who carefully listen to our operational challenges and requirements. Some of these requirements have already been fulfilled and some important ones are going to be delivered very soon. We needed a deeper insight into the performance of the Microsoft services, they delivered this in version 4.1 (November 2016). One of our biggest operational challenges is managing the performance of applications accessed through Citrix. PV has just announced the transaction analysis for Citrix in the early days of 2017 and we are one of the first testers!

We will keep on implementing these new versions, which are part of the maintenance contract at no extra cost!

We are delighted with the experience.

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