In this case study

Driving cyber readiness through next-generation infrastructure within the banking system

High-profile cyberattacks and internal technology failures are a constant theme in industry news. Banking and financial services organizations must take an aggressive stance to enable infrastructure security and resiliency, otherwise they risk irreparable harm to their reputations and business viability (see: Equifax). This challenge is further amplified by continually evolving regulatory requirements creating a barrier to speed and innovation.

Legacy infrastructure leaves data unsecured

Impacted by rapid organic growth, as well as several recent mergers and acquisitions, a large retail banking customer was challenged to transform their legacy infrastructure and operations.

Most financial services firms run on complex, sprawling, outdated legacy structures that have been patched over multiple times by various people as new technology has emerged. Often the people who first set up these infrastructures have moved on from the company, leaving their successors with a complex, opaque network of applications which depend on each other in unseen ways, with no complete picture of how the system works.

The use of data has also become more complex and more difficult to defend. No longer is sensitive data centralized in one repository and protected by a single firewall. Data is stored and shared between multiple data center locations (e.g., on-premises, public cloud, hybrid cloud), third-party applications, and employee and customer devices.

To overcome these hurdles, a large retail banking customer needed to design, build and efficiently operate a resilient, agile, intelligent and automated infrastructure to both prevent and survive extinction-level cyber events.

Addressing the entire IT environment

To achieve this objective, the customer and WWT took a holistic approach cutting across all IT functions: network, storage, compute, security and operations. Originally made up of 17 individual teams and 23 individual projects, WWT developed a comprehensive program organized into multiple interconnected work streams:

  • Software-defined networking (SDN) and load balancing was implemented using Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and F5 to create a flexible application delivery fabric for infrastructure optimization and security.
  • Operational readiness assessment was completed as a comprehensive evaluation of the people and processes within the customer's IT environment. In addition to significant technology changes, the IT transformation also has important impacts to the way the organization operates.
  • Application dependency mapping was a key workstream to identify IT assets, including "shadow IT" tools within the business. This activity evaluated interdependencies between applications, as well as the dependency of each application to underlying IT infrastructure. As infrastructure changes, the project team has a clear picture of impacts to applications and the business.
  • Hybrid cloud development and automation (IaaS and PaaS) drove simplification and efficiency in testing, deployment and operations. Cisco CloudCenter and ServiceNow serve as the primary hubs with extensions into a variety of tools and technologies (e.g., RedHat, Microsoft Active Directory, Puppet, Jenkins, Splunk, AlgoSec, Infoblox, NetIQ, VMware vCenter, ViPR, F5, Cisco UCS to only name a few).
  • Endpoint security and segmentation workstream anchors back to the overall customer objective of surviving a catastrophic cyber security event. Network segmentation was achieved with Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE)/Trustsec. Advanced network and security analytics are leveraged to proactively analyze and prevent security breaches in real-time by leveraging Splunk, Cisco Secure Workload (formerly Tetration) and Cisco Secure Endpoint (formerly Advanced Malware Protection (AMP)).

Leveraging the ATC ecosystem

The full breadth of the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) was leveraged first to evaluate the latest technology within each area as individual components and then as integrated solutions. Beyond evaluation, the ATC continued to serve as a development sandbox for integrating and testing a multi-OEM enterprise reference architecture. This allowed WWT and the customer test solutions before deploying into the customer's environment.

Transformed and secure infrastructure

The customer achieved the primary goal of establishing an infrastructure capable of preventing and surviving a catastrophic cybersecurity event. Through this process the customer has also transformed their IT technology, processes and organization resulting in:

  • Increased speed of innovation through creation of a hybrid cloud environment.
  • Operations risk mitigated through technology and automation, which has reduced system outages by 40 percent, including avoiding nine Severity 1 outages in the first six months of operations.
  • Cost and time savings during implementation.Leveraging the ATC to build and test integrations and automated scripts prior to deployment reduced the initial project timeline by 50 percent.
  • Ongoing cost savings of 48 percent reduction of additional staff growth are also realized in day-to-day operations through infrastructure automation.
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