Greater Nevada Credit Union Finds Help in the Clouds
A growing relationship with an infrastructure outsourcer is giving Greater Nevada Credit Union what it might not be able to get on its own-a steady supply of diverse, high-end IT talent in one package.
The $500 million, 50,000-member Carson City institution is using the services of HEIT Inc., originally for security management and now for network administration and engineering and even to ensure regulatory compliance in the back office.
"It's given me a little more to manage but we're also getting access to a breadth and depth of engineering and network knowledge we would find hard to maintain in house, given the recruiting and retention requirements for someone with that skill set," said Mike Dietrich, Greater Nevada's vice president of information technology.
"For instance, it would be impossible for a credit union our size to be able to have a person who knows Internet routing and switching at the certified Cisco guru level, but now we have that and it's available to us 24/7," Dietrich said.
HEIT recently merged with Simpler-Webb Inc. of Austin, Texas, to form what HEIT said is now the largest provider of cloud-based managed services to community financial institutions in the country.
Dan Holt, HEIT CEO, said the company now has about 450 clients, about half of them credit unions, and manages, more than $60 billion in technology assets.
Its flagship offering is its PCS-4 Platform, which includes managed performance, compliance and security services, including network and server management, risk assessment, business continuity and pandemic planning, vendor management, threat mitigation, intrusion prevention and phishing detection and takedown.
All that 24/7 activity takes place at the company's newly acquired operation in Texas and at the HIVE, its command center at its headquarters in Fort Collins, Colo.
"We see ourselves as a service bureau for noncore applications," Holt said of his 8-year-old company. "You still need your Jack Henry and your Fiservs, your Fidelitys and your Harlands. What we do is provide all the other components you need."
Cloud computing can mean different things. In this case, Holt said his company provides its clients a private cloud-a technology infrastructure maintained offsite that can include an array of options such as e-mail and database server maintenance, event and log management, voice networks and LANs, to name a few.
Dietrich at Greater Nevada added, "Normally, cloud service is bandwidth and storage and CPU time, but obviously what HEIT does goes beyond that."
Greater Nevada first contracted with HEIT in 2008 for managed security services and has since contracted for the company's network administration services. Dietrich said he has regular contact with HEIT, tracking projects through its client portal and learning of system and security problems through alerts that can escalate from e-mails to calls in the wee hours of the morning, depending on their severity.
"It's all event-driven. If things are quiet and everything's running smoothly, we don't hear from them, but we know they're there if something happens," he said.
The credit union's IT staff, seven people including Dietrich, still do a lot of the managing of new applications and operating systems, he said, calling on HEIT for such needs as new VLAN space or network configuration.
"Really, on a day-to-day basis, there's been somewhat of a reduced payroll load but probably an increase in management workload, but going forward, as the relationship with HEIT develops, I think we'll see that drop off too," the Greater Nevada IT chief said. "And the benefits go beyond ROI."
He pointed to the credit union's reliance on HEIT to keep up with compliance requirements and industry standards for its complex CISCO MARS (monitoring, analysis and response system) and adaptive security appliance (ASA) hardware.
"We could have done it but there would be a pretty steep learning curve for us. For HEIT, it's just a template they apply to devices they're managing to ensure they conform to industry standards," Dietrich said.
Holt, himself an Air Force veteran of risk mitigation and critical infrastructure protection in nuclear operations, said his company has been using the services of an established compliance consultant to create and maintain that part of its operation. And, he said, the ability to create such services and deploy them efficiently is just one example of the power of cloud computing.