Worknet Tapped to Provide IBM i Processing for Credit Unions
May 14, 2013 Alex Woodie
In the world of corporate credit unions, excitement is not necessarily a good thing. While regular banks take big exciting risks in search of big exciting profits, the not-for-profit credit unions seek the repeatable and the predictable. So when Core Network Processing (CNP) tapped Worknet to take over hosting and management of its core, IBM i-based application, it made its decision carefully, since it would effect nearly a fourth of the country’s 8,000 credit unions.
CNP is a limited liability corporation (LLC) that was set up years ago by US Central to provide core, back-office data processing for a group of corporate credit unions. These members in turn provided financial services and payment services–such as automated settlement, certificates of deposit, and other electronic payment services–to about 2,000 so-called “natural person” credit unions which, naturally, serve people.
In 2007, US Central, which acted as a corporate credit union for smaller corporate credit unions, was conserved by the National Credit Union Administration, the national regulating body for credit unions, explains Teresa Brent, the managing director of CNP, which today provides IT services for eight corporate credit unions. “We basically at that point in time realized, hey, we have to find a new home and have to find a new home quickly!” she tells IT Jungle.
With the clock ticking, CNP needed to find a new place to house its credit union environment, which was based on non-IBM i applications developed by Fiserv. CNP put out several requests for proposals, and the most promising one was from Alloya Corporate Federal Credit Union.
One of the reasons that Brent liked Alloya was that Alloya was running an IBM i-based credit union application called C400 on its own in-house systems. C400, which was originally called CCUN/400, was developed years ago by a group of corporate credit unions. Alloya also had .NET developers on staff who maintained a Windows-based front-end called Premiere View. Since CNP would also need a new .NET front-end to the core IBM i- based application, Brent thought this would be a good fit.
An agreement between CNP and Alloya was signed in 2007. In 2009, the organizations began migrating CNP’s member organizations from the Fiserv-based application to the new back-end system, C400, and a newly developed .NET-based front-end, called Core Power. In 2010, the final migration of CNP member organizations was complete.
While Alloya was agreeable to helping CNP manage its corporate credit union clients, it wasn’t necessarily interested in running and maintaining the additional servers these clients would need. This set in motion a search for a managed service provider (MSP) to host a private cloud environment for CNP’s clients.
Again, Brent sent out a series of RFPs, and analyzed the responses. The one that stood out was from Worknet, an MSP that runs two data centers, including its own private data center at its headquarters in Naperville, Illinois, and another in a shared co-location facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. “Worknet was by far the one that seemed to make the most sense in working with Alloya,” he says.
CNP signed an agreement with Worknet in March 2012, with the goal of going live on Worknet’s IBM i and Windows servers in just two months. While the switch to Worknet’s systems was executed in one weekend in June 2012, the three organizations used the previous months to plan the migration, and to conduct quality assurance (QA), user acceptance testing (UAT) and disaster recovery (DR) testing.
“It was seamless,” Brent says of the move to Worknet. “I was very impressed. Worknet did a great job of putting together a plan in association with Alloya. Alloya’s team also reworked the APIs between the front and backend so that we didn’t need that middleware anymore, which was substantial savings for us.”
Brent was particularly impressed with the DR tests, which involved failing over from the Naperville site to the Indianapolis data center. The switch lasted hour hours, and was a success from CNP’s perspective. “Our users never even saw a change–they didn’t have to change URLs or IP address,” Brent says. “They were able to work through everything so that it was very seamless for our users. That was a big relief for me as managing director.”
Brent estimates that the move to Worknet’s private cloud environment has saved CNP about 40 percent of the costs it previously incurred to own and manage the environment through Alloya. As a non-profit, those saving go directly back to CNP’s members, and eventually help to keep credit union costs low.