Windows Nets 24 Percent Lower TCO over Linux for IBM Mainframe ...

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Jul 30, 2012 (4 years and 10 months ago)

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Microsoft Windows Server System

Customer Solution Case Study







Windows Nets 24 Percent Lower TCO over
Linux/IBM, With 14 Percent Greater
Throug
hput





Overview

Country

or Region
:

United States

Industry:

Financial
Management


Customer Profile

Atlanta, Georgia

based CheckFree is a
leader in financial electronic commerce,
including electronic billing and payment,
financial services software, and outsourced

investment services.


Business Situation

The company sought to develop new
financial services industry platforms that
would lower TCO and cost per transaction
without sacrificing performance, quality
,

or
reliability.


Solution

After a comprehensive stud
y, CheckFree
selected
the
Microsoft
®

platform
(
Windows/SQL/.NET)

over the IBM
-
supported Linux solution (Red Hat OS/IBM
DB2/WebSphere).


Benefits



24 percent lower TCO



14 percent faster transaction

rates




Excellent reliability and avai
lability



Faster time
-
to
-
market



Solid security and security ma
nagement




“The Microsoft solution was 24 percent better than
the IBM/Linux solution in terms of total cost of
ownership.”

Randy McCoy, Chief Technology Officer, CheckFree Corporation




CheckFree is known for its
high
-
quality electronic commerce
infrastructures used by financial institutions. The company seeks to
deliver innovation and quality while lowering TCO for customers. In
one of its core businesses, CheckFree uses IBM zSeries mainframe
computers, but it sou
ght to lower cost per transaction without
sacrificing performance or availability. It conducted a study of two
solution stacks: one using the Red Hat Linux 9.0 operating system,
IBM DB2 Universal Database, and IBM WebSphere; and the other
using Microsoft
®

Windows Server


2003, Microsoft SQL Server


2000, and the Microsoft .NET Framework. The result: CheckFree
chose the Microsoft solution for one of its next
-
generation
platforms, finding that it delivered 14 percent faster performance
and an anticipated 24 p
ercent lower TCO while delivering levels of
system reliability that are the hallmark of its business.
















Situation

CheckFree Corporation is a leading provider
of financial electronic commerce products
and services. CheckFree is probably b
est
known for its Electronic Commerce solutions
that enable thousands of financial services
providers and billers
to offer millions of
consumers
the convenience of receiving and
paying their household bills online or in
person through retail outlets. The i
ntegrated,
end
-
to
-
end, electronic billing and payment
platform is deployed on IBM z
-
Series
mainframes and represents the world’s third
-
largest IBM DB2 implementation.
1



As a technology leader that strives to define
and deliver the highest standards, Che
ckFree
continually seeks to enhance innovation and
operational efficiency for the financial
services industry. At the same time,
CheckFree seeks to lo
wer TCO for its
customer base.
While maintaining an ongoing
Six Sigma quality and performance
improvement
program on the z
-
Series based
infrastructure, CheckFree began a TCO
project to stringently test the technologies
upon which its next
-
generation platforms
might be based. Initially, CheckFree began to
look for an Intel
-
based hardware platform
that would res
ult in lower costs for
operations, maintenance, and support. The
company also wanted to find a software stack
that could decrease cost without sacrificing
performance

that is, a system that could
deliver service levels of 1,000 transactions
per second, the

amount necessary to handle
the traffic produced by 5,500 concurrent
users during peak hours. The company was
also running approximately 10,000 batch
jobs per day with steep peaks in batch traffic



1

Based upon size and number of
transactions per second, according to
Winter
Corporation, experts in database scalability.
For more information, see
www.wintercorp.com/vldb/2003_topten_surv
ey/toptenwinners.asp


on the mainframe during the busiest times of
each month. Ch
eckFree wanted to identify a
technology solution that would meet its high
volume and stringent quality demands with
processing power to spare.


Considering the Possibilities

The CheckFree Applied Research and
Technology (ART) Center of Excellence is a
cor
porate resource that conducts technology
research and testing for the company’s
corporate IT function and supports its three
divisions. Headed by CheckFree Chief
Technology Officer, Randy McCoy, the group
is both a center of software development and
engine
ering excellence. The ART group stays
abreast of new technologies and vendors,
large and small, conducts quality testing on
the company’s own software, and evaluates
vendors that are being considered for
becoming a part of the company’s complex
inter
-
netwo
rked infrastructures.


The company’s initial interest for the TCO
study was in Linux/Apache/MySQL/Java
targeted at information
-
only (non
-
transactional) queries. “While we planned to
conduct an unbiased exercise, we were
admittedly intrigued by the concept

of zero
software acquisition costs,” says David
Odom, Senior Vice President of CheckFree
ART. “We initially rejected high
-
end UNIX
stacks such as Sun Solaris/WebLogic/Oracle,
and Linux/WebSphere/UDB, as too
expensive, and we initially rejected the

Microso
ft
®

.NET Framework, assuming it was
too immature.”


CheckFree has a data
-
driven culture and
therefore decided to use its ART Center of
Excellence to perform an objective and
exhaustive comparison of solution stacks
before deciding which platforms to consi
der
for future processing environments.


After testing the Linux based configuration
and developing some monitoring and




management tools, CheckFree saw how
much work it would take to knit together the
various components and stay current with all
of the li
censes, upgrades, and updates. “We
would have needed a cadre of in
-
house
experts to constantly adjust the open
-
source
system,” says Odom.


CheckFree also discovered that the licensing
of MySQL with production
-
level support was
not as low cost as anticipa
ted and that
support tools were not up to the level of
commercial databases. Benchmark tests
revealed that the Linux stack performed
poorly when compared to the .NET
Framework. “The differences in initial
performance results were stark between the
open
-
sou
rce and Microsoft numbers. After
combining the performance results with what
it would take to turn the open
-
source stack
into a comprehensive solution suitable to our
purposes, we decided not to pursue an all
open
-
source solution any further,” says
Odom.


The company was concerned about the
external ramifications of its eventual decision
as well. “Our customers are financial
institutions; they want us to use stable, well
-
received, fully supported software,” says
Odom. “We determined that the complexity,
va
riety, and lack of end
-
to
-
end vendor
support of an all open
-
source solution
created more risk than we were willing to
take on. And the internal resources required
to manage open source could actually offset
other TCO gains.”


Narrowing the Field

CheckFree

opted to move ahead with a
comprehensive vendor supported J2EE
platform; Linux, DB2 UDB, WebSphere, and
Java. CheckFree also decided to reconsider
the .NET Framework because a parallel
shadow effort on the Microsoft.NET
Framework
-
based stack with
Microsof
t
SQL
Server


2000 had produced eye
-
catching
results. “The Microsoft solution performed so
much better than the open source stack that
it was hard to ignore,” says Odom. “Given this
new data, we felt we would be negligent if we
proceeded with the TCO study

without
considering Microsoft.”


CheckFree was further convinced to include
Microsoft in the next phase of its TCO study
after speaking with credible references from
similar enterprise organizations that were
successfully developing and running critical
applications with the Microsoft .NET
Framework and SQL Server.


Establishing Criteria

With its two finalists selected for the TCO
study, CheckFree instituted some guiding
principles to aid in the clear evaluation of the
two solutions. The company elected t
o weight
its constraints in favor of quality, low risk, and
proven suppliers, while still looking for
competitive performance and overall cost.


In order to reduce integration risks, simplify
support, and improve vendor leverage,
CheckFree wanted a soluti
on that, wherever
possible, included interoperable products
supported by a single vendor. “When we have
a problem, I want to be able to make one call
and not have to endure a multi
-
vendor finger
pointing exercise,” says Odom.


Examining the risk of vendor
lock
-
in,
CheckFree took into account application
portability on each stack. The company
concluded that vendor lock
-
in protection was
more practically insured by competition than
by portability, both in terms of price and
stability.


In addition to its dec
ision to use Intel
-
based
hardware, CheckFree sought a solution that
used a service
-
oriented architecture, which is
a growing requirement across the financial
services industry. CheckFree also wanted to
take advantage of web services, the standard
“The T
CO study tests
ultimately resulted in a
difference of 14 percent
better performance in
terms of transaction
rates, in favor of the SQL
Server
-
based Microsoft
solution over J2EE with
DB2 and WebSphere.”

David Odom, Senior Vice President of the
CheckFree App
lied Research and Technology
Center for Excellence, CheckFree Corporation







manifesta
tion of application interfaces for a
service
-
oriented architecture. The company
considered web services
support and
performance to be fundamental selection
criteria for its new solution stack.


Evaluating the Microsoft Solution Stack

To get a thorough ass
essment of its two
finalists, CheckFree spent time at the
Microsoft SQL Server Customer Lab in
Redmond, Washington and at IBM’s Silicon
Valley Lab. What began as a 60
-
day trial of
the two platforms in June 2003 continued
through the rest of the year.


Mic
rosoft Services dedicated the equivalent
of one full
-
time consultant to make sure that
CheckFree received consistent day
-
to
-
day
support. Together with various subject matter
experts from within Microsoft, Microsoft
Services helped CheckFree tune the
perfor
mance of the benchmark application.


After initial testing at CheckFree, members of
the CheckFree evaluation team traveled to
Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond.
Microsoft Services consultants worked with
the Microsoft SQL Server team to benchmark
the com
pany’s proof
-
of
-
concept metrics in the
SQL Server Customer Lab.


While in Redmond, CheckFree interviewed
individual development teams responsible for
key functions in SQL Server, and Microsoft
hosted sessions regarding strategy, support,
scalability, and v
ision. The Microsoft SQL
Server team of experts also held a question
-
and
-
answer session to address configuration
and architecture issues at CheckFree.


At the SQL Server Customer Lab, the
Microsoft solution stack reached numbers
that were greater than 3,5
00 requests per
second. “We definitely saw performance
potential in the SQL Server scalability lab that
we didn’t see with the SQL Server 2000 tests
that we ran in our internal lab,” says Marc
Castel, Consulting Software Engineer for
CheckFree Applied Rese
arch and Technology
Center for Excellence. “It was great to see the
high
-
performance system the Microsoft team
put together. While we could not use the
Microsoft performance lab results in our head
to head comparison, we saw the performance
potential for f
uture production
environments.”


Evaluating the IBM/Linux Solution Stack

Just as Microsoft helped CheckFree test the
Microsoft solution stack, IBM also worked
with CheckFree to assess the performance of
the IBM/Linux stack. CheckFree wrote XML
web services

applications in both Java and
C# for the different platforms. The company
gave IBM all of its .NET Framework

based
code and SQL Server 2000 schema so that
IBM could use it to match the performance of
the Microsoft solution. “We were completely
open, shari
ng our code so that the IBM
developers could translate it to Java and
compete to the best of their ability,” says
Castel. “We also gave them the Java code
we’d already written for our initial tests of the
open source stack.”


IBM spent five weeks optimizin
g its solution
stack at the CheckFree lab. The effort
demonstrated that getting an IBM/Linux
solution up and running required a great deal
more time and effort than implementing one
from Microsoft. “Despite a productive effort
from an excellent IBM staff,
we got the
impression that it took a complex
combination of skills to stabilize and maintain
the IBM/Linux system,” says Odom. “During
the testing, there were three experts working
on the IBM/Linux stack

one for Linux, one
for DB2, and one for WebSphere Ap
plication
Server. The Microsoft solution was handled
by two half
-
time people who were able to
address all aspects of the stack, such as
coding techniques, management techniques,
and the operating system. We figured that
this alone was an indication of lowe
r TCO in
“Part of the reason we
selected the Microsoft
solution is its unified
stack. The stack that
used Linux and IBM
technologies had lots of
pieces and parts, which
equates to time an
d
money in terms of
integration and
maintenance.”

Randy McCoy, Chief Technology Officer,
CheckFree Corporation







terms of resources required for integration
and maintenance.”


Solution

After considering all elements of its testing,
the CheckFree ART Center of Excellence
decided on the Microsoft
-
based solution
made up of the Windows Server 2003
operating sy
stem, SQL Server 2000, and the
Microsoft .NET Framework.


Implementing the Microsoft Platform at
CheckFree Investment Services (CIS)

The first opportunity to use the new platform
was within the CheckFree Investment
Services (CIS) division. The CIS division

is
currently developing CheckFree EPL the
company’s next
-
generation system for the
Separately Managed Accounts (SMA) and the
investment management industry.


CheckFree Investment Services (CIS) is the
leader in the SMA industry, which is expected
to be on
e of the most rapidly growing spaces
in the financial industry in the next decade.
Today, nearly 1.8 million portfolios, totaling
more than U.S.$1 trillion in assets at
hundreds of companies, are managed with
the CheckFree SMA system.


The goal of CheckFre
e EPL is to lower CIS
clients’ overall operating costs by 50 percent
for the company’s SMA customers. “We have
an aggressive business goal for CheckFree
EPL, and we look to technology to help us
reach it,” says Cheryl Nash, Vice President of
Strategic Mark
eting and Business
Development for CheckFree Investment
Services. In order to gain competitive agility,
CIS needed to determine the technology upon
which this growing segment of the market
would be based and establish an aggressive
timetable for its delive
ry.


CheckFree Investment Services was leaning
strongly toward implementing a Java
-
based
solution for CheckFree EPL. Upon reviewing
the findings of the ART Center of Excellence,
however, the decision was made to switch to
a solution based on SQL Server 20
00 and the
.NET Framework and to work with a Microsoft
development partner to bring the solution to
market to meet the demands of the rapidly
growing SMA marketplace. “We were platform
neutral,” says Nash. “We wanted to use
whatever solution was the best f
or meeting
our business goals. For us, Microsoft simply
was the best solution.”


The Microsoft platform will help lower TCO for
CheckFree and its customers because the
interoperability inherent in the solution will
result in a lower cost of integrations. “
Our
customers have a variety of platforms, and
we need a solution that can interoperate with
all platforms, as well as speed development
to get to market more quickly,” says Nash.
“The Microsoft platform will be the IT
strategic asset to help us meet our b
usiness
goal of lowering our customers’ TCO by 50
percent.”


Benefits

The CheckFree ART Center for Excellence TCO
study results demonstrated to the company
that a Microsoft solution stack would provide
the cost savings, performance, and reliability
that it

wanted to reach its long
-
term business
goals.


24

Percent Lower TCO

The evaluation revealed that for the
company’s anticipated needs, the Microsoft
solution cost less per server than the
IBM/Linux solution. “Lower per
-
server costs
combined with higher per
formance per server
amplified the overall advantage of the
Microsoft stack, based on CheckFree
requirements for its different processing
environments,” says McCoy. “After
conducting a comprehensive six
-
month
evaluation, we found that the Microsoft
solution

was 24 percent better than the
“We were platform
neutral. We wanted to
use whatever solution
was the best for meeting
our business goals. For
us, Microsoft simply was
the best solution.”

Cheryl Nash, Vice President of Stra
tegic
Marketing and Business Development,
CheckFree Investment Services







IBM/Linux solution in terms of total cost of
ownership.”


Superior Performance with 14 Percent
Faster Transaction Rates

Throughput levels achieved in the
performance testing of the Microsoft stack
were consistently and sig
nificantly greater
than those generated using the IBM/Linux
stack.


“The TCO study tests ultimately resulted in a
difference of 14 percent better performance
in terms of transaction rates in favor of the
SQL Server
-
based Microsoft solution over
J2EE with D
B2 and WebSphere,” says Odom.
CheckFree conducted the comparison using
the same layers of hardware for both
potential solution stacks.


For a company that serves the financial
services industry, reliability, security and swift
recovery in the event of a d
isaster also are
crucial. In simple failure recovery tests on the
same configurations used for performance
testing, the Microsoft solution recovered far
better than the J2EE stack. “While we expect
that the recovery performance of the J2EE
stack could be s
ignificantly improved, the
tests we ran again indicated that the J2EE
stack was more difficult to configure and
more sensitive to change,” says Odom.


Excellent System Reliability and
Availability

Although it goes without saying that any
solution needs to

be reliable, CheckFree has
found the Microsoft solution to be
dependable and available to meet its large
-
scale transaction processing. “With so much
data to handle, we needed a reliable, resilient
solution that will help us meet our own
business goals and

the goals of our
customers,” says Odom. “The SQL Server
-
based Microsoft solution will do just that.
Having that level of mission
-
critical reliability
is a given for our business

without it, the
project never would have gotten off the
ground.”


CheckFree i
s looking forward to a system that
will require low maintenance because the
system itself is less complex than its previous
environment. The solution will require less
maintenance time from the IT department for
troubleshooting, fixing drivers, applying
pa
tches, updating software, and resolving
compatibility issues. Additionally, the
Microsoft solution provides the resilience to
maintain service in the face of internal or
external disruptions. If a disruption is too
great and affects the environment, the
Mi
crosoft solution is designed to be quickly
and easily restored.


Flexibility and Interoperability for
Customers

For CheckFree Investment Services, building
the EPL solution using the .NET Framework
fostered flexibility, which is important when
trying to me
et the needs of more than 300
customer organizations. “As we write
requirements for the EPL solution, we look at
ways to help streamline client processes to
drive down costs,” says Nash. “At the same
time, we need to help clients be ready for an
expanding
market. Software development
using the .NET Framework gives us the right
technology to help our clients stay flexible
and scalable to conserve resources while
maintaining the capacity for exponential
growth.”


CheckFree credits Microsoft Web services
with

playing a significant role in the
company’s ability to offer the flexibility and
interoperability that customers need. “Web
services are a huge piece of the cost
-
cutting
puzzle because they can make for faster,
real
-
time transactions, which will help
cust
omers move away from a model that
relies on overnight processing,” says Nash.
“Additionally, they save us integration time,
so we can develop and deploy modules for
“We take security
seriously, and we
needed a solution from
a company that takes it
seriously, too. We have
full confidence in the
security of the Microsoft
platform.”

Randy McCoy, Chief Technolo
gy Officer,
CheckFree Corporation







specific customers more quickly, and less
time for integration reduces TCO.”


Solid Securit
y and Security
Management

As a player in the financial services industry,
CheckFree has a vested interest in
maintaining a protected network. “We take
security seriously, and we needed a solution
from a company that takes it seriously, too,”
says McCoy. “
We have full confidence in the
security of the Microsoft platform.”


CheckFree has completed substantial
research on the best way to manage the
security of the new solution. Based on
research outside of the TCO study, the
company plans to use a range of to
ols,
including Microsoft Systems Management
Server, for the entire management spectrum
of the network. “For CheckFree, security is a
holistic practice, from our network to our
data,” says Odom. “Prescribed maintenance
and management of the Microsoft soluti
on
fits well into our comprehensive security
model.”


Increased Developer Productivity for
Faster Time
-
to
-
Market

The TCO study led the Applied Research and
Technology group to believe that software
developers would be able to bring
applications to market m
ore quickly using the
Microsoft .NET Framework and SQL Server
than with J2EE and DB2. It took five
engineers a period of five months to develop
the test application using J2EE and DB2,
while it took two people just three weeks to
complete the same applicat
ion using the
.NET Framework and SQL Server. With the
aggressive timetable planned for CheckFree
EPL and the complexity of its scope as a
platform, this time savings got the group’s
attention.


CheckFree software engineers, who had
extensive experience wi
th Java and C#
development, were brought in to give their
impression of the .NET Framework. The
consensus was that development of browser
-
based user interfaces, distributed
applications, Web services standards, data
access processes, instrumentation, loggi
ng,
and operations management and deployment
was much easier with the .NET Framework.
The transition from Java to .NET Framework
development was similarly easy. “Reception
of the .NET environment among our most
experienced software engineers has been
unive
rsally positive,” says Odom.


In fact, a small group within CheckFree
(separate from the TCO study) recently used
the .NET Framework to build an application
for one of its large customers. “Our
developers had to build it on a very short
timeline, and they

indicated that they could
not have gotten the product to market on
time had they not made the decision to build
the application in .NET,” says Odom.


“IBM closed the performance gap
significantly over the course of the project
and IBM tools are steadily i
mproving,” adds
Odom. “However, .NET provided a complete
package that won the evaluation and
demonstrated a roadmap to continuing
innovation.”


Long
-
Term Stability for Confident Long
-
Range Decisions

One of the intangible factors that CheckFree
considered
during its decision
-
making
process was the long
-
term vision of both
Microsoft and IBM and their continued ability
to execute on that architectural vision. “In
many respects, Microsoft has an advantage
with Windows and the .NET Framework in
that it can unil
aterally set the direction of its
architecture and the timing of its delivery,”
says Odom. “IBM is somewhat constrained in
direction and timing by the Linux community
and by Linux support vendors such as Red
Hat. Also, IBM does not have proprietary
rights
to the J2EE specification and therefore
“In the final analysis of
test results against our
initial requirements,
Microsoft’s three
-
to
-
five
-
year vision was simply
better.”

Randy McCoy, Chief Technology Officer,
CheckFree Corporation







is somewhat constrained in its ability to set
direction and execute to its timetable.”


In reviewing test results and the assessment
of the ART Center of Excellence, McCoy says,
“In the final analysis of test result
s against
our initial requirements, Microsoft’s three
-
to
-
five
-
year vision was simply better. IBM is
somewhat vulnerable in that it doesn’t own
the operating system. Part of the reason we
selected the Microsoft solution is its unified
stack. The stack that
used Linux and IBM
technologies had lots of pieces and parts,
which equates to time and money in terms of
integration and maintenance.” In making
decisions on long
-
term platform
development, time
-
to
-
market and potential
TCO for CheckFree and its customers,

we had
to take all of these factors into
consideration.”


CheckFree plans to put this long
-
range vision
to the test. After CheckFree EPL is
successfully brought to market, the
company’s goal is to examine opportunities to
introduce .NET to other aspects
of its
operations to enhance TCO.


Concludes McCoy, “I anticipate that our TCO
study results will generate momentum within
CheckFree to switch to more Microsoft
technology because of the proven
performance results and high quality
outcomes.”

Microsoft

Windows Server System

Microsoft Windows Server System integrated
server infrastructure software is designed to
support end
-
to
-
end solutions built on the
Windows Server operating system. Windows
Server System creates an infrastructure
based on integrated i
nnovation, Microsoft's
holistic approach to building products and
solutions that are intrinsically designed to
work together and interact seamlessly with
other data and applications across your IT
environment. This helps you reduce the costs
of ongoing ope
rations, deliver a more secure
and reliable IT infrastructure, and drive
valuable new capabilities for the future
growth of your business.


For more information about Windows Server
System, go to:

www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem

For More

Information

For more information about Microsoft
products and services, call the Microsoft
Sales Information Center at (800) 426
-
9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft
Canada Information Centre at (877) 568
-
2495. Customers who are deaf or hard
-
of
-
hearing can

reach Microsoft text telephone
(TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892
-
5234 in
the United States or (905) 568
-
9641 in
Canada. Outside the 50 United States and
Canada, please contact your local
Microsoft subsidiary. To access information
using the World Wide Web,
go to:
www.microsoft.com


For more information about
CheckFree
Corporation

products and services, call
(678) 375
-
3000
,

or visit the Web site at:
www.checkfree.com


© 2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. This case
study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO
WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Microsoft, Windows, the Windows logo, Windows
Server, and
Windows Server System are either registered trademarks or
trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or
other countries. All other trademarks are property of their
respective owners.


Document published
March 2005




Software and Services



Microsoft Windows Server System



Microsoft Windows Server 2003
Enterprise Edition



Microsoft SQL Server 2000

Enterprise
Edition




Technologies



Microsoft .NET Framework

1.1


Hardware



IBM eServer zSeries 900 mainfr
ame
computers