Beyond network configuration management
‘When we decided to implement our new next generation wide area network (WAN) it was clear we needed a robust network management platform to accelerate the roll out’, says a Product Manager from Rabobank. He continues: ‘The unique thing about the YCE solution was that it’s based on a top-down provisioning approach forcing us to change our thinking about network management. This proved to be so useful, both for the rollout of the WAN as for supporting network services, that we decided to have it standardized and function as the central network provisioning platform. To this day we still benefit from this decision.’
The objective for the network management group was simple yet challenging: to replace the current WAN network infrastructure for more than 1600 banking locations of Rabobank Netherlands and migrate to a new WAN provider while managing all network changes and devices themselves. ‘To save time and money it was crucial to have the network rolled out in less than six months. We knew this was a challenging goal with more than 1600 3Com switches to be replaced with new Cisco devices. To automate the provisioning we asked our supplier to develop a network provisioning tool to support us in the process. This was the beginning of the YCE platform.’ Usually, configuration management is implemented afterwards. In this case, Rabobank decided to make the configuration generation and deployment aspect the center of the roll out. All 1600 devices where dynamically configured and pushed out to the locations.
‘We managed to roll out the network within two months. The tool forced us to think and act top down; the design is leading, instead of the configurations in the network. All information and working processes necessary to generate configurations are explicitly available and enforced via the YCE platform. As a result, every running configuration reflects the architecture and design, IP-plan and common practices we decided upon. Now, when we want to make changes to the network, there is no need to analyze it first: we test the changes in the lab and have the platform take care of the planning and execution in a standardized way. We have total control over all devices from a central place.’
Although developed initially to manage the next generation WAN and connecting the numerous branch offices, the YCE provisioning platform was soon used to integrate and support most of the remaining networks within Rabobank, resulting in a full multi-tenant environment. ‘Currently in total about 5500 devices in six different networks, ranging from local bank locations, main offices, data center virtualization, to wireless & ATM networks are under control of the YCE platform. It handles up to 5000 unattended changes overnight with only a very limited support staff. We considered other solutions but no vendor could live up to the YCE platform, where the integrated IP-address management was one of the differentiators. The YCE platform matured in our operational environment and proved itself over and over.’ As a result less people were needed for day to day activities and skilled resources could focus on new projects and services. The efficiency associated with the YCE approach permitted a tight control over costs and service levels across the whole Rabobank organization.
"We have total control over all devices from a central place"