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Bank of Athens completes WAN optimisation project


The Bank of Athens has implemented a WAN optimisation solution with XON Systems following a successful proof-of-concept project. It is investigating a replacement network router infrastructure.

The current solution is based on the Juniper range of networking gear that XON distributes, supports and maintains in South Africa.
“Bank of Athens was experiencing slow response times across its branch-office WAN, and the optimisation has had a huge impact in reducing those,” says Carel Coetzee, CEO of XON Systems. “The net effect is that employees are far more productive and the bank doesn’t need to upgrade its 64k branch and 768k backbone Diginet WAN links.”
The bank links ten national branches – Alberton, Bedfordview, Benoni, Cape Town, Cresta, Durban, Florida, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Rosebank – to its head office in Johannesburg.
It uses Juniper WXC 500s for bandwidth optimisation and accelerated application delivery across the WAN. It uses a single WXC 250 at each of its branches.
“We have prioritised business applications, saved bandwidth by excluding repeat data from being transmitted across the links and have enabled remote traffic monitoring, performance management and predictive growth analysis,” says Coetzee.
The WXCs use onboard hard drives to support network sequence caching, which dramatically speeds up large file transfers by eliminating repetitive data sequences. They also supply capacity to store long data sequences for long periods of time, enabling up to 100-fold increases in WAN capacity. The WXC platforms constantly communicate, exchanging vital information such as topology, accessibility and path performance metrics.
WXCs can be installed and configured in just 10 minutes using a Web-based wizard. Configuration can also be fully automated using WXOS and WX Central Management System (WX CMS) software. IT simply defines centralised configuration templates; when remote WXC platforms boot up, they retrieve a network address, locate the WX CMS server through the domain name service (DNS), download the configuration file and begin operating.
The bank currently employs Cisco routers. It is investigating a new routing and security infrastructure based on Juniper SSG technology.
That would most likely see a Juniper SSG 140 at its Johannesburg head office for hardware-based security and the WAN link with a single SSG 20 at each branch office.
SSG devices address internal security requirements and facilitate regulatory compliance through an advanced set of network protection features such as security zones, virtual routers and VLANs that allow administrators to divide the network into distinct, secure domains, each with its own unique security policy. Policies protecting each security zone can include access control rules and inspection by any of the supported UTM security features.
The platform acts as an enforcement point in Juniper Networks Unified Access Control deployments by adding an infranet controller. It functions as a central policy management engine, interacting with the SSG 140 to augment or replace the firewall-based access control with a solution that grants and denies access based on more granular criteria that include endpoint state and user identity, in order to accommodate dramatic shifts in attack landscape and user characteristics.
Bank of Athens, established in 1947, is a subsidiary of National Bank of Greece which is listed on the New York and Athens stock exchanges with total assets in excess of €76,7-billion in 2006.