Ray of light

Faced with an overworked IT staff and a mounting volume of support calls, Savings and Credit Bank decided to think out of the box and install thin clients in place of traditional desktops.

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By  Imthishan Giado Published  February 10, 2008

Faced with an overworked IT staff and a mounting volume of support calls, Savings and Credit Bank decided to think out of the box and install thin clients in place of traditional desktops.

Kuwait's Savings and Credit Bank (SCB) has become the first financial institution in the country to roll out a large scale deployment of Sun Ray thin clients from Sun Microsystems, as a part of a wide ranging effort to centralise its desktop operations and support.

Before the Sun Ray, a user could do whatever he wanted – install applications, use a USB drive to remove confidential bank data and so on. Now, everything is controlled - users are only given the applications they want and USB access is blocked for main users.

Fawzi Al Asfoor, operation and technical support supervisor for SCB, explains that SCB had been actively searching for a better means of administering its 450 users, many of whom were monopolising the limited time of his 50 strong IT team for minor support issues.

The bank also wanted to centralise its storage architecture, while providing high availability for its core database, mail and file server operations.

Osama Albaz, account manager for Diyar United's Information Management Group - the firm that performed the implementation for Sun - says that the complete integration took just one month to conduct.

Four staff from Diyar installed the Sun Rays in two weeks, while five SCB employees used the remaining weeks to test the systems on the main database, before certifying them ready for production.

Albaz says that Al Asfoor's IT department was the first to make public the main driver behind the Sun Ray project - a need to provide high availability while minimising administrative support through the new thin client systems.

"Everyday, you would find queues of people making their applications for getting loans.

These people described the old server as slow, and having only one represented a single point of failure. If the server required downtime for repairs, there would be no service offered at all to the users. So SCB were searching for a high availability solution with improved performance. There was a pain, which IT had to respond to," says Albaz.

In terms of measures to indicate an effective ROI, Al Asfoor names providing continuous data protection and effective business continuity as his key goals. Sun Rays also had potential for significant cost savings over traditional desktop systems.

"We compared the cost for buying new desktops every two years and supporting it, versus the savings which the Sun Rays will provide. Sun has no need to upgrade user thin clients because there is no memory or CPU to upgrade," he explains.

When SCB approached Sun and Diyar, its main requirement was that it be shown a live proof of concept, as evidence that thin clients could actually replace desktops in regular usage. As Albaz recalls, this was the key moment for Diyar during the decision process.

"Even when it came to Sun Ray, which is a true thin client, it was not an easy task to tackle, especially with the changes needed for the user side sessions.

We took their application requirements and made a proof of concept implementation in a small environment to show them the benefits of Sun Ray and how it would look when it goes live.

It was also a chance for them to test it, before going to management and getting approval for the project," he says.

4119 days ago

As an educational institution we have been successfully using real thin clients for the last 3 years. This includes administering ICDL and TOEFL IBT examinations. The cost saving on maintenance and zero downtime benefits have justified the initial outlay.

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