Operation Excellence Through Virtualization: America's Oldest Bank Takes on the Future of VMware Integration

By Jim Mignone, SVP & CIO and Daryl Clark, VP & Director of Technology, Washington Trust

Jim Mignone, SVP & CIO and Daryl Clark, VP & Director of Technology, Washington Trust

Founded in 1800, Washington Trust (NASDAQ: WASH) is the oldest community bank in the nation. That record of longevity comes with a responsibility to innovate and adapt to ever-changing operational and technology needs. The vast improvements to efficiency and flexibility provided by virtualization is one such innovation that serves to both streamline and help preserve the Bank’s bottom-line through the next stage of its more than 218 year history.

A focus in the bank’s Services Group (which includes technology) is on pursuing operational excellence in support of the business. That means making things “faster, better, cheaper, and happier” using the tools of continuous improvement.

Few tools have been as big a contributor to operational excellence as virtualization, and at Washington Trust, we have chosen VMWare as our virtualization platform.

Now fully implemented at Washington Trust, VMWare has allowed a reduction in our computing footprint by over 80 percent. This has benefits across the board in terms of expense reduction and sustainability, while at the same time allowing for a 5X expansion of our server deployments.

While the cost savings are impressive, nothing is as impactful as the ability to meet increasing business demand for more computing power almost immediately, versus the multi-week cycle time of the pre-virtualization approach. VMWare servers can be provisioned in less than 15 minutes through use of a standardized, fully-patched “golden image” that is deployed at no incremental cost (once the initial investment in VMWare and underlying hardware has been made). Once provisioned, the allocation of additional resources is easily accomplished. Prior to VMWare, hardware upgrades were time consuming and often required hardware migrations when system limitations were met.

VMWare has also allowed for high availability, failover and redundancy improvements versus the former approach. We have deployed our hardware in an N+1 configuration so any component may fail without negatively impacting the environment. In an instance of failure, the native automated recovery process ensures minimum downtime by restarting the workloads on other operational hardware. The same principal allows us to manually migrate running workloads between hardware with no impact to business, leading to increased flexibility in maintenance and a reduction in operating costs.

Recently an 11-server hardware replacement project was completed over the course of only 2 business days with no impact to end users or customers. Under the old scenario, that would have taken months, and costs for overtime and business disruption would have been significant.

The list of benefits goes on: our Disaster Recovery (DR) capabilities have been greatly enhanced by VMWare’s additional offerings such as Site Recovery Manager (SRM). This allowed us to script our DR plans for critical applications and execute them any time during the year for validation or to satisfy audit requirements. Tools within VMWare used in conjunction with configurations in our storage and network environments permit the seamless migration of application suites from Production to DR in less than 15 minutes – a phenomenal improvement.

Washington Trust has been keeping its customers happy since 1800, and we want to continue that tradition with the constant pursuit of operational excellence. Few tools have been as helpful in that regard as VMware, and we believe that it will be a critical part of our environment for years to come.

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