About Metropolitan Bank Group
Metropolitan Bank Group consists of ten banks with more than 85 branches and over 100 automated teller machines. With nearly $3 billion in assets, the group is the second largest privately held holding company in Illinois.
Metropolitan Bank Group is expanding rapidly through acquisitions, having completed four acquisitions in the past two years. An aggressive business strategy challenges a small IT staff to keep pace with a growing infrastructure. The staff was spending most of its time off-site setting up new offices. The company needed to hire more staff, or put systems in place to better manage its growth.
Cost efficiency was also a concern as the bank watched its hardware and software costs multiply with each new acquisition. A disparate environment was also greatly increasing administrative time and costs. Standardizing its environment would help reduce these costs, as well as simplify the integration of new IT environments.
Concerned about the escalating administrative costs of Microsoft Windows, Metropolitan Bank Group made the move to Linux-based Novell Open Enterprise Server. The bank also selected Novell ZENworks® to centrally standardize and manage its desktops.
"Open source is cost effective and just makes sense with backing from Novell," said Tom Johnson, director of IT for Metropolitan Bank Group. "We liked the idea of having an open enterprise, an infrastructure able to support anything and without boundaries."
The bank now runs nearly its entire enterprise on Novell Open Enterprise Server. Open Enterprise Server, which runs on SUSE® Linux Enterprise server, provides additional networking tools and productivity services not found in standard Linux distributions.
"We run community banks and it's critical for our systems to be functional at all times," said Johnson. "Linux is so stable that we just don't have to worry about it. Our previous Windows environment was a constant concern for us as we always wondered when it was going to go down."
The bank is currently migrating many of its applications from Windows to Linux for dramatic software cost savings. For example, migrating its IT ticketing system from MS SQL on Microsoft Windows 2000 to MySQL on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server reduced its software costs from $18,000 to $600.
"The cost savings from moving our Windows applications to Linux seems almost ridiculous, but it's true," said Johnson. "Open source software is very important to our organization. Using open source with proven support from Novell has taken the fear out of implementing new technologies."
Novell ZENworks helps a small IT team manage workstations across more than 50 locations. Gone are the days of traveling to manually update individual workstations. With Novell ZENworks, the IT staff can now automatically deliver applications and updates from a central location in days, rather than weeks.
"The remote control functionality of Novell ZENworks is probably giving us the biggest bang for the buck," said Johnson. "We no longer have to send technicians to our branch locations for problems that are easily fixed remotely. Keeping our staff at their desks allows us to be more responsive to our users."
The bank also uses Novell ZENworks to standardize all its workstations, including giving employees screen savers that are password protected to comply with federal requirements. The inventory features of ZENworks solve one of the bank's biggest regulatory issues with the ability to generate inventory reports on any branch in minutes.
The bank also rolled out the OpenOffice.org desktop productivity suite to many of its front-end office personnel, including tellers, branch managers and personal bankers. With its employee growth in the past two years, the bank has saved more than $100,000 in licensing fees.
With Novell solutions, Metropolitan Bank Group is saving millions of dollars in overall IT costs. Novell Open Enterprise Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server have helped reduce server costs by 60 percent and open source technologies are dramatically reducing software costs.
Managing a standardized environment with Novell ZENworks has reduced IT travel time by 70 percent, freeing up IT staff to concentrate on other projects. The bank also relies on ZENworks to keep pace with rapid growth. In the past, the bank needed a three-person IT team to set up a new branch, but can now do it with one.
"Without Novell, there is no way we could keep up with our growing organization and we would have a lot of frustrated executives and end users," said Johnson. "Novell gives us a stable infrastructure to support our growth, as well as a way to manage it all efficiently."