How One Credit Union Is Addressing Its Need For Speed

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Credit unions have a need for speed.

And although visions of Gigabits may put stars in many a CIO's eyes, a pumped-up infrastructure isn't just about glamour.

Gigabit network connections and Hyper-Threading desktops improve employee efficiency-drastically, according to David Reis, vice president of Information Technology at Atlantic Credit Union.

"Where we've put Gigabits, we've seen a massive performance increase," Reis said. "And at the end of the day, a credit union is still about transaction volume."

Furthermore, speed is cheap, Reis continued. "Our gigabit connections required minimal investment," said Reis.

For example, Reis wanted to cut the half-hour it took to transfer statement files from his DEC Alpha machine to a PC every day.

He installed a 12-port Gigabit Cisco network switch, and on either end of the Gigabit, he put a Hewlett Packard Gigabit card on the Alpha and an Intel network card on the PC.

The total cost for more speed was about $3,500, said Reis. Statement file transfers now take four minutes-not a half-hour.

Infrastructure speed is too often left by the wayside, Reis continued. "Transaction and transmission speed is something that gets lost from time to time. We are using PCs that are three to four years old," Reis said.

Moving At Warp Speed

As credit unions race to serve more members with fewer employees, a warp-speed infrastructure helps keep the pace. "You can do each transaction that many more times," said Reis.

Gigabit connections resulted in faster data warehousing at the $290-million CU, as well.

Technology analysts used to spend 15 hours storing data from Alpha computers onto PCs. A Gigabit connection between the Alpha and the PC decreased the time to one hour.

"That's a huge reduction in time, without increasing the processing power of the Alpha or the PC," said Reis. "What if we had increased processing power?" Atlantic's network is now so fast at some points that computer microprocessors can't take the heat. "With increased bandwidth, we're reducing transmission time," Reis explained. "But now the hardware can't handle the bandwidth. The processors are the choke point.

"The next step will be to purchase current PCs," he said.

With upgraded Alpha and PC processors, a faster Atlantic CU could be revealed across the organization, Reis continued.

For example, Atlantic could save 15 seconds every time a loan officer opens lending software, reported a March study conducted at the credit union by RSM McGladrey, a Bloomington, Minn.-based business advisor.

"If we approve 400 loans per month, those 15 seconds really make a difference every time a loan officer opens the lending software," Reis said.

Spread that time-savings across every employee action in every department, and "the argument for ROI becomes compelling," he said.

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