Westoba Credit Union is a cooperative financial institution based out of Brandon, Manitoba. They have 17 branches throughout the province which together employ 250 people. Westoba Credit Union is one of the more prominent Western Canadian financial institutions with more than $1.3 billion in total assets.
From the head office in Brandon, the organization provides IT and network services to all its branches. Similar to other organizations today, their ability to conduct business is dependent on a stable IT network infrastructure.
Until recently, all of Westoba's network activity (LAN, WAN, email etc.) was provisioned through a single, external service provider.
Recently, the Westoba network had become unreliable. There were instances where it was starting to impact regular business activity and there was concern about the potential impact to customer experience. Westoba is committed to providing excellent service to their members – consistent access to internet and services are essential to those service levels. With each issue that arose, a service call was required, increasing resolution time and impact to members.
Westoba needed a solution that would provide immediate relief as well as a long-term service solution that would keep things running smoothly in the rural communities.
The Compugen team worked with Norman Neil, Westoba's Senior Director of Information Technology. It quickly became clear that a complete network architecture overhaul was required.
This meant a model where Westoba would have full control of their network. With the new solution in place, they achieved four main goals:
1. Speed – By modernizing their WAN links, Westoba now has reliable, sustained throughput in all branches to run all their applications without fear of timing out, and customers can access their devices while in branch.
2. Stability – A dual ISP model ensures the bolstered stability Westoba required. By introducing a second provider to mirror their existing environment, daily business activity can go on uninterrupted if a failure should occur.
3. Security – Any information traveling the WAN is fully encrypted and runs through both an intruder prevention engine, and anti-malware engine. In addition, user-provisioning protocols restrict any unwanted access.
4. Autonomy – The network can now be accessed through a single portal, allowing Westoba to manage their entire environment effectively themselves. Any required changes are now completed in-house within minutes.
The Westoba Perspective
Westoba's new network architecture is secure and scalable. Real-time analytics, have allowed them to optimize their staffing levels and ensure that the number of branch staff is adequate to give their customers excellent service levels.
The moment Norman Neil truly knew they had succeeded came not from any analytics but through a comment made by a Westoba employee. "Our Director of Operations commented that when our staff come to work in the morning now, they don't have to wonder whether or not they'll be able to sign on to the system", Neil said.
According to Neil, the new network also allows them to offer more personalized service to their members.
"As part of the upgrade, we've rolled out Wi-Fi to all the branches, so members can come in and access the Wi-Fi which, in parts of rural Manitoba, is no small thing," he said. "We have been able to pilot the use of tablets and have members log into the online system and show them how they can do a lot of transactions from home, a bonus for many of our senior members."
"The team at Compugen was first-rate," Neil said. "They brought their expertise, especially with Meraki and Cisco, and helped us architect and develop a high level of security across the network."
For others, Neil has some important words of advice. "You can't cut corners. Be sure to build an architecture that allows you to be scalable and expandable. If you build for what you need today, by the time you implement, it's already too little too late."