AFTAs 2015: Best Infrastructure Initiative—Bank of America Merrill Lynch

The firm was able to slash more than $35 million in direct expenses and an astonishing $115 million in charges to business lines versus a target of around $47 million.

Ryan Bialosuknia, David Parry, Muggsy Bogues, Mark Vudrag, Phil Hordle

Bank of America Merrill Lynch wins this year’s best infrastructure initiative thanks to its Technology Infrastructure Volume Reduction program, an entry that narrowly edged out submissions from CLS, Northern Trust, Morgan Stanley, and a pair of entries from JPMorgan Asset Management. Previous winners of this category include Northern Trust (2014), Bank of America (2013), and ConvergEx (2012).

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has grown through multiple acquisitions, resulting in a complex business and technology environment featuring a significant amount of duplication within the firm’s technology infrastructure (TI) space. Starting in mid-2014, following a series of benchmark analyses, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s TI organization recognized the need to reduce the volume of infrastructure consumed across the company, establishing a Volume Reduction team and initiating a multi-generational program designed to “right-size” its infrastructure in order to achieve an optimal technology and operational footprint. 

The team focused on reducing the size of the technology environment, introduced innovations and assessed opportunities based on utilization. It also evaluated the reuse of decommissioned server equipment to eliminate the need to purchase additional infrastructure. In parallel, the team also identified data port reduction opportunities in the contact centers, offices, and datacenters. These efforts identified synergies between the decommissioning process of a server and the removal of all associated products such as the supporting storage and network ports to ensure maximum infrastructure reductions. Finally, the team assessed the servers with the lowest utilization levels and managed each candidate toward virtualization or decommission.

The team also identified desktop-reduction opportunities by introducing innovative governance and assessing the user-to-device ratios within each line of business, thus reducing the number of employees who had multiple devices and requiring that old devices be returned prior to order fulfillment of new ones. 

Phase one of the program exceeded its original goal for 2014 by more than 100 percent; the firm was able to slash more than $35 million in direct expenses and an astonishing $115 million in charges to business lines versus a target of around $47 million. Other cutbacks included over four petabytes of storage and a reduction of 11,000 dedicated servers, 2,000 virtualized cores, 130,000 network ports, and 47,000 personal computing devices. Not bad for a year’s work.  


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