With nearly US$400 million in assets, Stonebridge Bank combines community banking with advanced online technology. Based in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Stonebridge Bank serves commercial banking customers through locations in Pennsylvania and Maryland, while offering customers around the nation a complete range of retail banking services through stonebridgebank.com.
As a community bank, Stonebridge Bank faces tough competition from bigger commercial banks. The bank's key to success is maintaining an efficient IT infrastructure that reduces overhead costs and allows the bank to provide its customers with competitive rates and services. Stonebridge wanted to replace its costly Microsoft Windows systems and consolidate its data center.
But changing its underlying infrastructure could not affect the bank's security or performance. The bank receives an average of 105,000 attack attempts per day and relies on sophisticated intrusion protection to safeguard its data. Downtime is also not an option for its Web site which requires constant availability. Stonebridge began searching for a data center solution that would help it retain its security, performance and competitive advantage.
To replace its existing systems, Stonebridge Bank worked with eNvision Data Solutions, a value-added reseller and Novell Gold Partner in Pennsylvania. The bank switched from Windows and Red Hat to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and uses Novell Open Enterprise Server for superior directory, file and print services on Linux.
"We moved to Linux because we liked the idea of an open enterprise and needed a good environment for virtualization," said George Rapp, senior vice president of Information Systems. "Novell gives us the best technology, pricing and support options for Linux."
Using VMware for virtualization, Stonebridge Bank consolidated 131 servers to 22, half of which are running Novell Open Enterprise Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. The bank now runs all of its network services and several mission-critical systems on Linux including Apache Web servers, Applied Watch intrusion and detection software, as well as its helpdesk and disaster recovery solutions.
"With SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and VMWare, Stonebridge Bank is running more than 80 virtual servers on two physical servers and still has room to grow," said Randy Bender, president of eNvision Data Solutions. "Taking advantage of 64-bit computing has greatly improved overall performance of mission-critical applications so the bank is now moving everything possible to Linux."
A Novell Linux solution has not only reduced the bank's administration time, but has also eliminated the need to hire additional staff. One person now manages the bank's Linux environment, relying on YaST in SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for centralized, graphical administration.
"It's been extremely easy for staff familiar with Windows and NetWare to pick up Linux," said Rapp. "Linux gives us a common skill set and simplifies administration so we spend far less time managing our data center."
By consolidating servers and reducing administration time, Stonebridge has reduced its total cost of ownership for each server from $230 to $31 per server per month. This savings allows the bank to purchase more storage to strengthen its disaster recovery solution.
"We don't need to purchase a lot of server add-ons to make our Linux servers reliable and fast," said Rapp. "We can get fully loaded Linux servers at a fraction of the cost and space requirements of proprietary servers."
Banks are continually responding to new regulatory requirements, which often require new technology solutions. Stonebridge can now access open source applications to meet these requirements, while dramatically reducing its software costs. The bank recently implemented an open source solution for helpdesk ticketing, as well as a system to document Web site changes.
GroupWise for Linux now runs on a virtual server and is the bank's primary internal and external vendor communication tool. GroupWise Messenger gives users secure instant messaging with other bank employees, critical when communicating about sensitive financial information.
"We evaluated a move to Microsoft Exchange, but moved to Novell GroupWise instead for one-tenth the cost," said Rapp. "GroupWise security has been exceptional. We have never had downtime due to a virus attack."
By moving from Windows to Novell Open Enterprise Server, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and virtualization, Stonebridge Bank consolidated its servers by 83 percent and reduced its costs per server by nearly 90 percent. The flexibility to use open source applications to respond to regulatory requirements also helps the bank manage its software costs.
"Our management team is impressed not only with our cost reductions, but also that we have performance metrics that rival bigger banks," said Rapp. "A Novell Linux solution gives us flexibility and security to continue to expand our business. We've remained a secure enterprise, despite the wide-spread virus attacks that have affected other organizations."