Zurich Cantonal Bank

Provision of high-performance trading floor and Business Continuity solution for Switzerland's fourth largest bank.

Zurich Cantonal Bank

Zurich Cantonal Bank (German: Zürcher Kantonalbank, or ZKB) with total assets of over CHF 288 billion, is the largest cantonal bank and fourth largest bank in Switzerland as well as the leading financial services provider in the Greater Zurich area. ZKB is an independent, incorporated public-law institution which is wholly owned by the Canton of Zurich. ZKB has the highest possible credit rating from the three most important rating agencies Standard & Poor's, Fitch and Moody's, and Global Finance magazine has rated ZKB as one of the five safest banks in the world.  

Before the Project - Virtualization Technology 

Zurich Cantonalbank had been using a VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) solution with blade PCs and thin clients at the trader desks for years. But the solution was approaching End-of-Life, and the thin clients no longer fully met trader requirements going forward. So, ZKB changed their strategy and chose high-performance workstations instead.

Trader Needs

Traders work with multiple programs and platforms, such as; information data systems like Bloomberg, Thom- son Reuters EIKON & FXT; electronic trading systems like Front Arena, personal systems like the office suite, and more. Each program requires a sizable amount of computing power, measured in processor performance and working memory. But, installing all these programs on a single PC reduces its performance as “hungry” trader applications steal RAM and processing speed from each other. Therefore, many traders need multiple PCs to balance computing power across workstations. 

Chal­len­ges from the per­spec­ti­ve of IT and tra­ders

According the Matthias Müller, Senior ICT System Engineer at ZKB: “In the past, we had massive problems with windows updates in combination with our virtual environment. ”There are two big updates per year for new windows software cycles, monthly windows security updates, VDI updates (Citrix, VMware) and virus scanner updates. “Deploying updates in the virtualized environment demanded more and more testing in the live environment, consuming considerable time and IT resources. In the WEYTEC environment, our solution is deployed on standard hardware and software versions. There are fewer dependencies on software products and there are no more test runs.”

Challenge Overcome

Supporting standard PCs and a high-performance  switching matrix is easier than supporting a virtual environment. According to the IT staff, when there were problems with the overall solution in the virtualized environment, it was sometimes difficult to identify the exact cause and the responsible vendor. Responsibilities are clear with the WEYTEC solution. High performance workstations with hot standby PCs are very reliable. And WEYTEC maintenance services provide onsite hardware and software support.

Download

You can download the case study here:

Case Study Zurich Cantonal Bank

Facts & Figures

Workplaces

  • 200 Trader positions with 3 or 6 screens
  • 40 Backup trader positions in a second location

Keyboards

  • 240 smartTOUCH keyboards with Bloomberg and Reuters keypads

WEYTEC distributionPLATFORM

  • 323 Sources

KVM over IP

  • IP Remote II
  • 728 Transmitters / 596 Receivers

Four Business Continuity Locations

  • One main trading floor and system room
  • One back up trading floor
  • Two redundant data centers

 

 

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Business Continuity Architecture

At ZKB, computers are housed in three different locations, two fully redundant data centers and a system room. A backup trading floor operates at a fourth location. If the bank should lose their main trading floor or one of their data centers (e.g. flooding, fire, evacuation), business continues seamlessly from the back up trading floor using redundant hot-standby PCs in another data center. In an emergency, traders simply move to the other site and continue working with the exact same information systems and their own personal setups. This is the WEYTEC flexible free-seating feature. Thus, the solution protects the bank against loss of premises, staff or IT services. The WEYTEC distributionPLATFORM provides the powerful switching fabric for the fully integrated multi-site implementation. 

Energy Savings and Green IT

ZKB’s IT Department conducted an internal study comparing the power consumption of trader workplaces on the old solution versus the new WEYTEC solution. The results were astounding. Calculated for 220 workplaces and 252 working days per year, the bank is saving 75.6 metric tons of CO2 emissions per annum. (Old = 126 t; New = 50.4 t) That is equal to the energy used by an average single-family home in 5.8 years. Calculated per workplace, the bank saves an average of 343.6 kilograms of CO2 emissions per year, enough to supply an average single family home with energy for 9.6 days. 

Advantages for the Trader

Traders switch quickly and intuitively between workstations, screens and preset scenarios using the ergonomic smartTOUCH keyboard. According to one ZKB trader, “We are in an environment where we have to be intuitive, fast and accurate. I do not want to have to search for the right keyboard or which button I have to press.” The smartTOUCH enhances trader workflows and helps them execute faster and more accurately, keys to their success. Traders can also immediately change desks whenever the business demands.

Advantages for IT Support

Real-time user support has never been easier. IT staff members can take over traders’ PCs directly from the comfort of their own desk. There are no more Remote Desktop Protocol sessions because it is all done over the WEYTEC switching system. The stability of the system is extraordinarily high. WEYTEC products are made in-house in Switzerland according to the highest ISO quality standards. Mr. Müller states that “The WEYTEC system is very easy and inexpensive for us to manage and maintain.”

Advantages for Management

The WEYTEC solution is the “gold standard” for trading floors, installed in > 600 banks and for > 40,000 work- places worldwide. It outlives multiple generations of workstation hardware and software, and it saves money and resources for IT user support and electricity. The smartTOUCH keyboard enhances workflow efficiency and ergonomics for traders. And very importantly, WEYTEC’s multi-site Business Continuity solutions ensure the resilience of the bank’s trading floor in an emergency, a significant strategic benefit for the reputation and ongoing operation of the bank.

There is no other partner in the financial industry who can better help us to build up a new system and support us sustainably.

Jürg Leutwiler
Head of Project Management at ZKB