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Like a lot of businesses, Central Pacific Bank, a regional commercial bank based in Honolulu, found itself in a precarious position in the spring of 2020. The financial institution's computing infrastructure was having trouble keeping pace with storage demands. It also lacked flexibility -- a trait needed once the COVID-19 pandemic hit and workflows shifted dramatically.
Working with Pacxa, an IT solutions provider also based in Honolulu, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the bank upgraded to Nimble Storage dHCI. Short for disaggregated hyper-converged infrastructure, the HPE system could provide the agility and storage capacity required by Central Pacific Bank (CPB).
Operating since 1954, CPB has about 1,000 employees servicing customers in 35 branches on the Hawaiian Islands. The bank relied on Cisco hyper-converged products running VMware and Microsoft Windows to support operations. However, as users' needs evolve, the bank's IT personnel started getting bogged down with mundane tasks, like allocating more storage and deploying system updates. The IT infrastructure struggled to support CPB's business requirements.
Moving to a hybrid environment
Furthermore, the bank wanted to move to a hybrid workforce where employees rely on digital technology to complete work remotely. They had virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) clients in the central office but could not provide those services securely to branch offices, let alone to employees working from home due to the pandemic.
The pandemic moved that project up the CPB's priority list. "The bank had to move its employees quickly from the office to remote locations," explained Pacxa President Kelly Ueoka. As a result, the financial services company put out a call for help by issuing a request for proposals.
Pacxa emerged as the winner. Pacxa deployed HPE ProLiant DL360 servers and Nimble Storage dHCI to support virtual desktops running Microsoft Windows 10 Enterprise and Office 365 for all employees. The Nimble Storage offering includes HPE InfoSight, an AI infrastructure predictive analytics offering that diagnoses and offers recommendations when configuration and performance issues arise.
The coronavirus pandemic caused disruptions for many of Pacxa's supply chains, but not with HPE. "We were lucky to work with HPE and did not experience any supply chain disruptions, which occurred with other vendors' products," Ueoka noted.
The reason? "We use InfoSight, and it helps us understand how products flow through our supply chain," explained Omer Asad, Nimble Storage vice president and general manager of HCI, primary storage and data management services. "Because of the visibility, we can ship an order about eight to nine days after receiving it."
System and user acceptance testing began in March.
Initially, the old and new systems ran in parallel to ensure employees' work wasn't interrupted. But after Pacxa and HPE extensively tested the ProLiant DL360 servers and Nimble Storage dHCI, they slowly phased in the new infrastructure.
Kelly UeokaPresident, Pacxa
The bank's application mix also changed dramatically during the pandemic. Working remotely, employees relied on collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx and Zoom, which are bandwidth intensive. Network reliability became crucial, but in some instances, employees' home networks couldn't provide the needed bandwidth and responsiveness under the old infrastructure.
Deploying HPE's ProLiant DL360 servers and Nimble Storage dHCI with the predictive analytics of Infosight improved the situation. "One beauty with the new system is it is smart enough to adapt [to] issues like poor network connections," Ueoka said.
Meeting security concerns
Security is always a top consideration for financial institutions, in this case even more so. The bank began to service a high volume of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and needed to ensure its employees' connections remained secure.
While VDI is often viewed as a remote security panacea, the new work arrangements created obstacles. CPB had no control over what type of networks and devices employees used. To address the problem, a remote thin client was installed on each computer. It authenticated the device upon entry into the financial service firm's network. As a result, CPB complied with Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation regulations after the upgrade.
HPE's engineering support played a key role in meeting that challenge. "The Nimble dHCI is fairly new, and HPE offered us the architectural guidance to ensure that company data was not at risk," Ueoka explained.
The infrastructure upgrade, which was completed by July, has worked out well for Pacxa and CPB. "We see the Nimble Storage dHCI solution as the next iteration of hyper-converged infrastructure technology and expect it to be popular with our customers," Ueoka said.
In addition to supporting a new hybrid workforce, Central Pacific Bank realized other benefits after adopting HPE ProLiant DL360 servers and Nimble Storage dHCI, including the following:
- decreased overall infrastructure spending
- centralized control for CPB's internal IT department to deploy technology updates and onboard new employees more easily
Ueoka said CPB's HPE infrastructure product deployments also translated into a 40% increase in storage capacity, 30% reduction in physical hardware and 45% to 50% improvement in storage efficiency.