Banca Profilo relies on monitoring with Paessler PRTG to safeguard its critical infrastructure
About Banca Profilo
Active in the market since 1995, Banca Profilo is an institution that specializes in private and investment banking, offering asset management services to private and institutional clients, and financial management services to businesses.
Listed on the stock exchange, Banca Profilo focuses on four main lines of business: private banking, i.e., offering investment and asset management services to high-profile clients; financial instruments trading and proprietary portfolio management to private and institutional clients; investment banking, such as corporate finance services to Italian medium-sized companies; and, finally, digital channels, with a focus on financial industry tech development, digital services and artificial intelligence.
Banca Profilo manages its technology infrastructure primarily in-house, and has an on-premises data center in its Milan headquarters that provides all services and manages the entire infrastructure. In addition to controlling the ICT infrastructure of a disaster recovery site for one of Italy’s leading Internet providers, the bank also has six branches located in central and northern Italy, as well as an extranet network with site-to-site connections to outsourcers of several critical services. Dealing with a structure of this kind was a real challenge for Banca Profilo’s small IT team, which consists mainly of four people: two in charge of infrastructure and security, and two who provide help desk services for internal customers.
”Adopting PRTG has been like going from being in the dark to being in the light. Before, we had limited visibility into what was happening in the infrastructure and in the network. Now, however, thanks to the comprehensive dashboard and real-time notifications, we receive constant updates on the status of facilities and services, and our way of working has gone from passive to proactive.”
Luca Meneghesso, senior IT infrastructure and security specialist at Banca Profilo
A team tasked with meeting numerous IT infrastructure challenges and needs
The industry in which Banca Profilo operates requires services that are constantly available and efficient. This is especially true for the finance industry, the most demanding of the company’s business lines, which cannot afford interruptions in its trading and market maker activities.
In particular, Banca Profilo is a market maker on IDEM, the Italian derivatives market and, as a result of its role as an intermediary, it must continuously guarantee the market presence and negotiability of securities during opening hours. It must also meet certain guidelines regarding quotations. Therefore, the systems supporting these activities must always be in operation when the Exchange is open and trading is taking place. This is why monitoring is so critical.
Fully aware of this need, Banca Profilo’s infrastructure and security specialists, together with the company’s CTO, launched initiatives to streamline, simplify and strengthen the bank’s technology. One of these initiatives is focused specifically on monitoring, because previously, the institution had no ad hoc tools.
Its infrastructure management had been primarily reactive, that is, it was based on post-failure remediation and correction procedures, which are now widely considered to be outdated and time-consuming. So, the Banca Profilo team began to evaluate the monitoring options on the market that were best suited to meeting the needs of an entity of its kind.
Monitoring IT environments in the financial industry: a sensitive task
Initially, Banca Profilo tried an open-source monitoring solution, but the team was soon overwhelmed with the volume of work involved in implementing and configuring this solution. Then, after testing a trial version of Paessler PRTG with just a few sensors, Banca Profilo decided to permanently use PRTG on premises.
The testing phase, which lasted a couple of months, began in 2021, and as of March 2022, Banca Profilo began officially implementing PRTG. To date, Banca Profilo monitors 300 devices by relying on their PRTG 5000 license, one of many license options available for PRTG.
Banca Profilo also uses PRTG to monitor its institutional website and its content because, as a banking institution, Banca Profilo is subject to supervision by the Bank of Italy and Consob. These require it to meet certain criteria, including website uptime. This is essential for an institution such as Banca Profilo, which hosts a link to home banking services on its website, which must be always available to users.
By using a PRTG sensor, Banca Profilo can monitor the integrity of the link to guard against typosquatting hacker attacks that change addresses and redirect users to fake pages. The PRTG sensor constantly monitors the authenticity of the link, which helps to prevent risks of serious cyber attacks and incidents.
Finally, Banca Profilo uses PRTG to monitor the uptime and downtime of some devices used in its branches for network links. For its cloud services, it uses a sensor specially developed by PRTG to monitor Microsoft 365 services.
IT monitoring with PRTG: out of the dark and into the light
There are many reasons for Banca Profilo’s decision to adopt PRTG, and they have to do with the various strengths of the Paessler solution. An essential factor was the simplicity and speed of deployment, which only took a few hours, as well as the frequent release of new upgrades and sensors that allow the bank to stay up to date with the latest innovations in monitoring. The extreme ease of use and configuration of the software and sensors were also deciding factors, since these are especially important for a small team that has to manage numerous devices, software programs and interfaces.
Another point in PRTG’s favor was the wide variety of sensors available, and the cost advantage in terms of the countless features offered. What’s more, other features that were of paramount importance in making the final decision were the stability and robustness of PRTG, combined with the availability of a mobile app for checking the status of the infrastructure remotely.
There is also the possibility of integration with pop-up notifications on Teams, in addition to traditional email alerts. Finally, as far as resources to support PRTG are concerned, Banca Profilo found the documentation provided by Paessler on its website and the video tutorials to be especially informative and comprehensive, including the instructions on how to implement new sensors and how to independently resolve any critical issues.
“Adopting PRTG has been like going from being in the dark to being in the light. Before, we had limited visibility into what was happening in the infrastructure and in the network. Now, however, thanks to the comprehensive dashboard and real-time notifications, we receive constant updates on the status of facilities and services, and our way of working has gone from passive to proactive,” says Luca Meneghesso, senior IT infrastructure and security specialist at Banca Profilo.
Among the main results achieved through the implementation of PRTG is the early and timely detection of potential failures and critical issues. For example, before certain thresholds are reached or exceeded (such as in the event of a full disk), the team receives an alert and can take action by applying corrective measures without users being aware of it, thus proactively preventing the problem from occurring and being perceived by the end user. PRTG also integrates and unifies information into a single dashboard, a solution that allows IT specialists to devote more time to other, more valuable activities.
Another specific example of this optimization is the maintenance of the electrical system. Every year, the facilities department in charge of the electrical system has to shut down the entire data center for a weekend, and before installing PRTG, when the power was turned back on, the equipment had to be personally checked and logged in. Reactivation is now far easier and faster, and Paessler’s solution flags any anomalies, so targeted interventions can be made without the need to go through each piece of equipment one by one to determine their status.
Looking ahead to the future, Banca Profilo wants to continue to customize monitoring, for example, in terms of PowerShells, and to enhance the checks and controls of specific items. Banca Profilo’s short-term plans also include the implementation of monitoring service level agreements (SLAs), or contracts that define services and relationships between suppliers and customers, through the integration of a tool that interfaces with PRTG via API.
“We started by implementing simple sensors to monitor as many elements as possible, and we gradually moved on to more complex sensors and more timely and precise checks,” says Meneghesso. “Monitoring an IT infrastructure is always a work in progress, and right now, I'm extremely satisfied with PRTG. In the future, we want to implement new features, sensors and checks with an ever-increasing level of customization and sophistication to enhance the full potential of PRTG and to increase control and to further automate our IT operations. Thereby we will make the team's work more efficient and gain valuable time.”
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