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United Bank offers financial services to customers in DC, MD, OH, PA, VA and WV. It has 123 locations and 1,600 employees. Its holding company, United Bankshares, Inc., has US$8.5 billion in assets.

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About United Bank

Willem Bagchus has been a Novell GroupWise fan for more than 10 years. When he started working for United Bank in 2010, he was happy to shepherd their collaboration system. Then they acquired another bank.

Challenge

United Bank, with offices in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC, has a mixed data center and uses most Novell products, including Novell Open Enterprise Server, Novell ZENworks® and Novell GroupWise. Computer Systems Analyst Willem Bagchus jumped at the opportunity to join the bank as messaging and collaboration specialist in 2010.

“United Bank had been a fully integrated Novell shop for many years,” Bagchus recalls.“Working with an IT team full of senior-level specialists was a huge attraction for this job.”

His first task was upgrading the bank from GroupWise 7 to GroupWise 8. “I’ve completed upgrades to GroupWise 8 so often it was a no-brainer,” he says. “That was done in no time.”

In 2011, United Bank acquired a bank that used Microsoft Exchange. As messaging and collaboration specialist, it was Bagchus who ran the migration project to GroupWise. It turned out to be a smooth conversion.

The bank was firmly committed to GroupWise and knew that whatever acquisitions they made, GroupWise would remain the corporate e-mail standard. “There’s no contest between GroupWise and Exchange. Nothing is more secure than GroupWise,” Bagchus says.

Novell's Solution

Bagchus did the migration in stages, using the Exchange-to-GroupWise migration utility provided by Novell to move the data. He upgraded the workstations to the GroupWise 8 client with the help of ZENworks. The migration was a success.

“GroupWise does everything it says it will do and it works all the time, every time,” he says. A year later, United Bank participated in the Novell Lighthouse Project to help roll out GroupWise 2012. Novell gave Bagchus direct access to GroupWise engineers during the upgrade to prerelease software. In return, he provided valuable, detailed feedback to the Novell developers and support team.

“It was a very positive experience, and I was happy to participate,” he says. “The downtime was negligible during the upgrade to GroupWise 2012. And the Novell team was amazing.”

Results

Today, all of the bank’s employees are using GroupWise 2012. “The design of GroupWise is such that you can upgrade the back end and client separately, if your timeframe requires two stages,” Bagchus says. “But the bottom line is we upgraded the back end in an afternoon because the design of the product makes it so easy. We used all the same servers as before and there was almost no downtime.”

The IT team also appreciates the management features of GroupWise 2012. “For IT, the biggest advantage of GroupWise is that it just works. It’s easy to troubleshoot, easy to track message flow, and it’s secure.” Bagchus believes GroupWise has a huge advantage over other collaboration systems because it’s a lot less work to upgrade—and it takes a lot less time to manage.

“The advantage of being a GroupWise administrator is access to more time, the one resource we have the least of, and something you can’t buy more of,” he explains. “When you’re not trying to fix the system every day, you have time for other projects.”

Bagchus regularly attends Novell BrainShare® and enjoys talking to the GroupWise engineers and developers. He’s very enthusiastic about the future of Novell GroupWise.

“Look at the GroupWise roadmap. Soon we’ll be able to use GroupWise in more environments than ever—even co-existing with Exchange,” he says. “GroupWise is on the right track. Novell is listening to its customers and putting their needs front and center. And when customer input is the guiding force for product development, you’ve got it made.”

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UNITED BANK AT A GLANCE:

United Bank offers financial services to customers in DC, MD, OH, PA, VA and WV. It has 123 locations and 1,600 employees. Its holding company, United Bankshares, Inc., has US$8.5 billion in assets.

Industry:

Banking and Finance

Location:

United States

Products:

GroupWise

Open Enterprise Server

ZENworks

Results:

  • Upgraded back end to GroupWise 2012 in one day
  • Easily migrated new bank from Exchange to GroupWise
  • Gained time for other IT projects

"There's no contest between GroupWise and Exchange. Nothing is more secure than GroupWise."

WILLEM BAGCHUS
Messaging and Collaboration Specialist
United Bank

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