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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – It’s inevitable that CU processors will eventually begin moving away from the old mini-computer systems and to a Windows-server approach, says Darryl Tanner, President/CEO of CU core processor Share One here. “We’ve done it. We’re moving from our VMS on DEC equipment to 2000 servers,” said Tanner. What Tanner is talking about is not just Windows on the front-end, where it’s still a mainframe-like operating system underneath, but Windows in native mode where Windows servers can drive a system. “It’s better security, better up-time. It really stays up nicely,” said Tanner. In the last decade many CU processors have moved to Graphical User Interface systems, like Windows, on the front-end. It’s more user-friendly for tellers, more intuitive, and since Windows is a known entity, it’s easier to train employees. “The fact that when new people come into the credit union, training time is cut a great deal. Young people are familiar with Windows. You can have buttons, pull-down menus. When you pull up a member’s account you can show their picture, their signature,” said Tanner. Tanner says Microsoft really has a lock on many business software areas, and running a CU in Windows mode allows CU employees to run reports using off-the-shelf products like Microsoft Access and Excel. “Business is running on Microsoft. We’re moving the core operating system into the business software world. You used to have to have report writers to pull specific data from a system, now there’s no problem using an Excel spreadsheet in a sequel-server database,” said Tanner. With ShareOne moving to a completely Windows-based system, known as New Solutions, a CU employee who knows how to manage a Windows-based network can run everything else in the system. “You don’t have to worry about UNIX. It brings it down to the little guy, where the small CU can have as much power as the bigger credit unions. Probably 80%-plus software being developed for banks is being done by Windows NT-Windows 2000,” said Tanner. Coast-to-Coast CU, Tampa, Fla., is converting to Share One’s New Solutions system in August. “Windows 2000 is a lot easier to pull reports, using third-party, canned Microsoft software. The old character-based systems are not what I want to be supporting anymore,” said Charlie Carpenter, president/CEO of Coast-to-Coast CU. Carpenter said Windows on the back-end also gives the CU more flexibility in buying servers. “We have the choice of Dell, Compaq, IBM, whatever. A lot of people don’t always appreciate that, which surprises me,” said Carpenter. Mike Nicastro, vice president of marketing for Open Solutions, Inc., said jazzing up the front-end with a Windows-like look is just adding another layer to mask an antiquated back-end system a lot of CU core processors are running. “Everyone thinks the battle is on the front-end. You pretty it up and disguise the back-end, but you wind up with all these disparate systems. You slap Windows on the front end and it’s just another layer. Basically, it saves the old legacy technology,” said Nicastro. OSI’s solution is based on an Oracle relational data base and Windows NT. “There’s the GUI Windows front-end to the Oracle database, we use the database to drive the core processing system,” said Nicastro. “Credit unions as a whole have never been afraid of technology. I think they’ve gotten to the end of the run with some of the systems out there. They’re moving to the newer technology, relational technology to give them a chance to serve and get more members,” said Nicastro. USERS has a number of components – PCU home banking system, Loan Navigator, and Teller Navigator – that its CU clients are running using in NT mode. “I really think NT has come a long way. I think VMS will be around, but NT is making things so easy. You have NT and TCPIP and you can connect to anything you want,” said Kevin Dougherty, assistant vice president of technology for U.S. Airways CU, Pittsburgh. USERS has migrated its legacy core system to the Cache open database. USERS is using an OFX-based middleware to give CUs more options, said Dougherty. “There are some nice systems out there but these processors come in and say `we’re a proprietary system.’ If credit unions are going to survive we need to roll out products that members want. With the OFX interface I can go out and do what I want,” said Dougherty. Dougherty said with $570 million in assets and serving 110,000 members the IT side of U.S. Airways can get pretty tricky. “We have an NT staff, a 290 node network. I have 10 branches coast-to-coast. I have a complex environment to begin with,” said Dougherty. He is looking at moving the CU’s database over to an NT server so he can give employees, no matter what branch or CU office they may be located in, the ability to generate reports in off-the-shelf products like Excel. Dougherty said while his CU, given its girth, has a large tech budget, processors are going to have to move to cheaper NT-like systems to drive functionality down to the smaller credit unions. “Mini-computers have been good. They were the bridge to the old mainframe. But nowadays you have to be able to do things less expensive for credit unions,” said Tanner, who believes ShareOne’s new Windows-based system will be cheaper to support, and interface costs vanish. “When you integrate another piece of software from say a kiosk vendor or check processor, most are written for NT or Windows 2000. It’s much easier to write the interface, because the standards our built into the system,” said Tanner. Tanner said ShareOne’s legacy system was really showing its age in recent years, and the processor knew it would have to spend the money and migrate over to Windows to stay viable. Over at credit union data processor re:Member Data, Indianapolis, there’s a major project going on to update its core system. Known as Gibraltar, the project will give re:MemberData a new architecture and design with a relational data base on the back-end, a Web-based thin client on the client side, and the middle layer is written in Java. “Windows is our current development environment. Windows will figure in prominently. The system will have a number of pieces that will be required to run on a Windows server,” said Scott Pandorf, manager of research and development for re:MemberData. “Windows gives credit unions any a reasonably managed network that they can find resources for, whether it’s people, books, classes. Our new solution will absolutely allow you to use and of the Microsoft Office tools to pull data out of the database and manipulate it anyway you want,” said Pandorf. [email protected]

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