Increased Peace of Mind with Data Center Support

HPE Services

Many products can be sold through a one-size-fits-all approach, but insurance policies aren’t one of them. Car insurance companies offer a variety of options to every potential consumer, but the highest peace of mind comes with purchasing a policy that will cover everything. That is, after all, the essential purpose of insurance. Should something go wrong, you want the assurance that someone will help you get back to normal.

The same thing is true when it comes to network support. IT professionals know that when the system works well, tech support fades into the background. However, when the chips are down and an outage occurs, the people affected think about nothing other than IT. That’s why it’s critical to be protected by the highest level of support. Knowing that any issues will be resolved quickly can help you get a better night’s rest. 

The story of how I learned this lesson begins more than a decade ago when I first arrived at Saudi National Bank.

A New Country, a New Opportunity 

At the time, I was living in South Africa working with HPE products at Dimension Data. In that role, we provided technical support to a number of financial companies. I was sent to Saudi Arabia to conduct a data center assessment, but the bank leadership was impressed with my knowledge of architecture, networking, and integration techniques. In 2010, I accepted a position with the bank and moved to the Kingdom permanently.

As the largest financial institution in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi National Bank is a key element of the plan to transform the economic landscape of the country. By supporting major development projects, we also serve as an important partner in realizing the Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 plan. Our current organizational structure was created in April 2021 by merging the Samba Financial Group and the National Commercial Bank. We are a financial powerhouse in the region, controlling around $223 billion in assets.

Our network includes more than 500 branches and 4,100 ATMs. Residents and visitors access our services through more than 126,000 point of sale devices. In total, we hold a 25% share of the financial market in Saudi Arabia. That makes our continued operation vital for the entire region. Even an hour of downtime can affect millions of people.

Migrating to Software-Defined Infrastructure

Our old data center was a mess of cables that were loosely organized. We used legacy equipment from Cisco, and our operation grew organically. Like most organizations at that time, we purchased or replaced new equipment as needed. While it was a total hodgepodge of components, it served our needs before it became outdated. We then decided to make the change to HPE because their HPE Synergy solution supported a software-defined approach.

When we transformed our data center with HPE products, we went with the basic support level. Whenever there was a problem, we would contact tech support and log a request for assistance. While I’m sure this level of support is sufficient for smaller organizations, downtime must be resolved rapidly in our industry, and waiting for someone to respond to a ticket took too long. 

Downtime within a financial company isn't just about lost productivity. In the old days, after an outage, people would just complain to friends and family. Now, they post about the problem on social media. As you can imagine, multiple posts from people unable to complete transfers or withdraw money began to erode confidence in our institution. That cost us money.

When the stakes are high, make sure support from your IT vendors is top notch.

In addition, our bank services several huge multinational corporations. Some of these companies routinely conduct transfers in the hundreds of millions. Every time our system goes down, we risk losing these major clients due to appearing unreliable. Outside our customers, the Saudi Arabian government imposes penalties upon financial institutions whenever they have downtime.

Every one of these impacts causes stress to our organizational leadership, and they in turn place greater pressure on IT. We knew that something had to change. We knew we needed greater assurance and a greater level of support. 

Upgrading Our Support Service

Thankfully, HPE offered a solution. Our account support manager (ASM) helped us understand that HPE offers several tiers of support. We had chosen the lowest level, which was simply not enough for a multi billion-dollar financial entity. After understanding our options, we decided to upgrade to HPE Datacenter Care. With this program, we’d be assigned a dedicated HPE Pointnext Services team that includes Account Support Manager (ASM), Technical Account Manager (TAM), Technical Consultant (TC), Customer Engineer (CE), and Data Center Hardware Specialist (DHS). 

Stability is incredibly important when it comes to data centers, especially in the financial sector. We love HPE Datacenter Care because it provides the attentive and timely support we need to resolve any production or operational issues. Instead of contacting the general support number, we now have a single point of contact as a dedicated ASM and assigned TAM. That provides us with a single person we can trust to coordinate any support services necessary to get us moving again. This means when downtime does occur, HPE’s support can get the issue rectified quickly. 

Through our interactions, we have found our new technical contact knowledgeable and responsive to our needs. Any problems they are unable to solve immediately are escalated to higher-level engineers, but we still maintain that single contact person.

In addition to reducing our stress, this higher level of service has also been helpful in other ways. For example, HPE sends an engineer every month or so to conduct an assessment of our hardware and software. We then get recommendations about product upgrades and the inside scoop on new product releases.

Intelligent alerts mean you can be proactive without hovering over your screen all day.

We were also able to take advantage of the HPE Intelligent Management Center (IMC) which provides a huge boost to our monitoring capability and ability to proactively solve problems. IMC sends alerts regarding any environmental issues that may become a problem. For example, we get a warning if the servers get too hot, or if there are bottlenecks in the network. That means our tech staff can respond to problems before they happen—without hovering over a screen all day.

Reduced Costs and Headaches

Today, our network is fully modernized. We have replaced our haphazard spaghetti cables with a system that takes less rack space. We have reduced the energy footprint required to cool our servers and our network engineers spend less time reacting to problems. In fact, our staff now spends less time actually inside the data center. Virtualization has eliminated much of the need for manual, physical work.

Overall, I would estimate that using HPE Synergy reduced our operating expenses by as much as 25%. However, this is only the beginning of the savings. We are currently considering a future based on cloud applications that could save us even more. This is critical, since running a data center can be incredibly expensive and time consuming. Our leadership welcomes any cost reductions possible, and we love the simplicity of our new design.

The higher level of tech support was the final component. We now have more confidence in our infrastructure. Our system is more stable, and we know that we can get fast assistance when there are problems. Sometimes, it just takes more coverage to provide peace of mind. I am looking forward to experiencing the additional value delivered by HPE Pointnext Complete Care, which will go beyond saving time to also focus on time well spent in IT.