Why Municipal CU Has Moved Communications To The Internet

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The credit union of the future will run communications on Internet Protocol -and Municipal Credit Union is already there.

"A core technology in our Branch of the Future is the Internet Protocol, because IP provides the flexibility to mix different mediums-voice, video, data-across the same network," explained Barry Grant, VP-management information systems at the $1.1-billion CU. Municipal's Branch of the Future technology is provided by Cisco Systems.

"Three years ago we made the decision to convert everything to IP because it's the communications path of the future," he said.

Converting "everything" meant deploying IP connections on Municipal's telephony, ATMs, video feeds and video surveillance. "And we're deploying wireless as I speak," he added.

Hence, Municipal CU has gained a measure of "flexibility" in meeting business needs, Grant said.

Nimble disaster prevention is a prime example, an important consideration for a credit union that is just blocks from "ground zero," the site of the former World Trade Center. "IP supports robust disaster recovery," he said. "Because IP handles router protocol, I can redirect traffic from one location to another very easily."

Municipal's fleet of 87 ATMs will be easier to recover. "If my New York data center goes away, I can automatically connect my ATMs to my New Jersey backup center via router protocol," said Grant. Furthermore, IP speeds daily ATM transaction processing, he said.

Grant enjoys the flexibility and cost savings gained from Cisco's IP-run telephony as well. Beyond saving $20,000 per month in local toll charges, the $2,000 per/month cost for routine Adds, Moves and Changes was immediately eliminated.

Grant can also route calls on the fly, choosing the least expensive carrier du jour.

"I'm completely carrier-independent as far as outgoing calls are concerned," Grant said. "One company allows me to call 24 simultaneous calls anywhere in the continental US, so I put my calls through that carrier first. Or I can go into my Cisco Call Manager, and specify that my call first go through AT&T, then Verizon and then MCI. If AT&T goes down or is too expensive, I can go into a Graphical User Interface and change the order. It'll take effect in five seconds."

MCU also used IP to impress members. "We wanted to make the branch experience pleasant and fast, so we put in two or three plasma screens per branch to entertain people while they're waiting in long lines.

Other Cisco products included in Municipal's network are Cisco 3600 Series routers distributed throughout the branches; Cisco 7000 Series routers, Cisco 3000 Virtual Private Network concentrators, Cisco PIX firewalls, and CiscoWorks software to manage its Cisco network.

CUJ Resources

For more info on this story:

* Municipal CU at www.nymcu.org

* Cisco at www.cisco.com

* Creative Bubble at www.creativebubble.com

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