Mainframe Tuning at Banque Postale: CPT Tames Uncontrolled Growth at a Major French Financial Institution
Founded in January 2006 as a subsidiary of the national postal service, La Banque Postale has proven itself to be a strong and dynamic organisation, posting impressive growth despite several years of poor economic conditions. It has succeeded by placing a special emphasis on customer satisfaction, a strategy that is heavily dependent on technological agility.La Banque Postale provides affordable banking services for some 9.9 million customers, offering a range of products and services designed to support the needs of individuals as well as those of companies and associations.
La Banque Postale’s very success has presented a challenge for its IT department. With transaction volumes growing steadily every year, the demand for mainframe capacity was also increasing at unsustainable levels. The bank therefore decided to establish a management program to focus on optimizing mainframe performance as a way to control or reduce costs.
In its first two years, the mainframe capacity requirements of La Banque Postale increased on the order of 15% to 20% per year. Its IT Production Department recognized the importance of understanding the root causes and developing a program through which demand could be clearly linked to increased business activity. That would let the infrastructure budgets be managed effectively. The goal was to evaluate the potential for optimising its z/OS mainframes as a way to reduce running costs.
An internal evaluation recognized both the complexity of this exercise, and the fact that it would require a great deal of time if performed by internal resources. After considering a number of outside firms, La Banque Postale enlisted the help of CPT Global. This choice was based on CPT’s acknowledged expertise, as well as its willingness to share the risks and rewards of such an engagement.
CPT Global carried out a two week Discovery project, analysing La Banque Postale’s production workload. This was completed using a combination of CPT’s Performance Processes, and expert us of Compuware’s STROBE for in-depth address space sampling and analysis. This information was benchmarked against performance data from other CPT customers as well as generally recognized industry standards.
This initial work identified a potential reduction in MIPS that could be achieved through performance tuning, allowing La Banque Postale to estimate the possible savings. These savings let it build a business case under CPT’s Risk/Reward contract model, in which CPT’s fee is based on a percentage of the money saved through its recommendations. This business case also ensured the commitment of internal experts to perform the necessary groundwork and produce data as required.
After two months of study, CPT submitted a list of recommendations, specifying configuration changes and environment updates. These recommendations were implemented over the following three months, for a savings of around 5,000 MIPS, exceeding the savings of 3,000 MIPS that CPT had predicted.La Banque Postale’s directors accepted the business case, and CPT Global began an in-depth analysis as a second phase.
The mainframe performance program succeeded in reducing the increase in mainframe capacity to 5% per year, despite an average increase of 20% per year in transaction volume. It is credited with saving La Banque Postal roughly one million Euros in the first 12 months, with the expectation of continued savings going forward.
The key to CPT Global’s approach is keeping the growth in capacity under control, and it has been engaged by La Banque Postale for a continuous optimisation program. The bank realized that it is more sensible to keep costs under control, rather than deal with cycles of unchecked growth, followed by short-term optimisation programs.