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AVON, Conn. – Converting from an outdated legacy system at a single credit union is no small task, but multiply that times 125 and you get an idea of the responsibility COCC took on when the core data processor made such a move itself. Connecticut On-Line Computer Center (www.cocc.com) – provider of data-processing services to 28 credit unions and 97 community banks – has replaced its NCR legacy mainframe system with one from fellow Connecticut-based technology provider, Open Solutions Inc. The conversion is the culmination of an intricate, eight-year process, but the decision to go with an open system was an easy one. “COCC decided to migrate its clients because the client/server, open platform was clearly superior,” says Richard A. Leone, COCC president and chief executive officer. “When we presented the new system to our client advisory group early in the selection process, they saw the advantages and insisted that we migrate the entire client base.” Planning for the conversion’s first steps – developing internal expertise, creating interfaces between the core system and key ancillary products and establishing the road map for the actual internal and client-support migration process – began in 1995 and was completed in 1997. The next were then spent developing the staff and the technology and finally, making it all happen. The result is a new core system that COCC has named INSIGHT. The OSI-based platform is driven by an Oracle relational database and currently is running on a dozen IBM mid-range pSeries servers, a number that’s expected to shrink as processing speeds continue to increase, says Joseph D. Lockwood, COCC first vice president and chief technology officer. Data resides in a storage area network (SAN) environment for improved data access to the servers, with the final touch the deployment of an IBM Tivoli storage manager for automated tape backup and recovery, Lockwood says. Perhaps the greatest technical challenges involved migrating CIF information, as well as loan servicing and account histories, from an account-based system in the old NCR system to a member-based system, Leone says. As for people, the company worked from a list of 22 critical tasks that required in-house staffers and new hires to accomplish with the help of a training group. Ongoing client communication and support – including regular conference calls and “mock migrations” – also were a key part of the process, as was direct training of lead staffers at the client institutions. The result is a 300-employee company whose flagship offering – INSIGHT – offers “streamlined basic functions such as teller balancing and new account processing,” Leone says, plus the ability to quickly integrate and offer new products to help its clients meet the changing demands of the competitive financial services marketplace. One of those clients is $195 million GFA Federal Credit Union (www.gfafcu.com) in Gardner, Mass. There, Chief Operations Officer Tina Sbrega reports that the CU already has enjoyed a 10% to 12% overall time savings for its tellers, particularly in dealing with inquiries involving other branches. She also says that 50% of GFA FCU’s platform and teller forms were replaced or automated, “giving us a 25% gain in productivity on the platform while delivering a consistent member experience from person to person, branch to branch, without storing a lot of paper.” As for a return on the long-term project’s considerable investment, Leone says, “COCC has no hard-dollar ROI for the migration.” But, he says, “We do know that open-system hardware is less expensive. And more importantly, development times have been significantly reduced, interest in COCC’s services is stronger than before the migration, and client satisfaction is high and rising.” COCC, by the way, has long been known as Connecticut On-Line but now is emphasizing the acronym of its formal name – Connecticut On-Line Computing Center – “to remove any thought” that the 37-year-old enterprise is restricted to serving clients in Connecticut only, Leone says. He also notes that COCC is not a CUSO, in which clients are required to own shares in order to receive service. Instead, it’s a cooperative owned by the majority (83%) of its clients. -

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