Banking on IT

Verteks Consulting provides expertise and support to help Alarion Bank sustain its rapid growth.

Just because your business is small doesn’t mean your IT needs are. Ocala, Fla.-based Alarion Bank needed a technology provider that could support its rapid growth in Alachua and Marion counties, and provide expertise specific to the financial services industry.

“When we first organized the bank in July 2004, we were using a technology company that didn’t have the manpower to support our strategy,” said Brett Higginbotham, Financial Reporting and Technology Officer, Alarion Bank. “I was familiar with Verteks Consulting and called them in for an interview. It turns out they support other banks serving multiple markets so we decided to give them a shot.”

Verteks’ technology expertise became apparent quickly. Verteks engineers reviewed Alarion Bank’s voice and data network infrastructure and resolved numerous configuration problems.

“I felt that our fundamental architecture was not the best it could be, and they confirmed that. They came in and cleaned up a number of hardware and software configuration issues in a pretty short time frame,” Higginbotham said. “They were also able to improve the quality and reliability of our voice over IP system, even though it’s competitive of the brand they typically support.”

From Desktop to Data Center

hand01Today, Verteks Consulting provides outsourced IT support for Alarion Bank. Higginbotham spends about 30 percent to 35 percent of his time on IT functions, relying Verteks Consulting provides expertise and support to help Alarion Bank sustain its rapid growth. on Verteks when his other responsibilities take priority.

“If I had to rate [Verteks] on what I like best about them, I’d have to say it’s their responsiveness and their creativity ... They’re not just mechanics. They’re always coming up with fresh ideas to help us serve our customers better.”

“I wear multiple hats and can’t always get to things right away. Verteks has a help desk that our end-users can call to get problems resolved quickly,” he said. “I also call Verteks to handle the more technical issues that are outside my skill set.”

In addition to day-to-day support, Verteks provides Alarion Bank with comprehensive design and implementation services that have helped the bank sustain its growth strategy. Regulatory constraints within the banking industry don’t always allow Alarion Bank the luxury of planning phased rollouts far in advance. When regulators give the green light for the bank to move into a new market it must act quickly.

“The regulators allowed us to open a lending production office in Alachua County then about two months later said we could open a full-fledged branch. Of course we wanted it open immediately,” Higginbotham said. “Verteks did everything from the network cabling to deploying all the PCs and servers — they preconfigured some of the equipment off site so it was ready to plug it in and play. You think of a support company as just being technical but the physical things they do, like cabling, are pretty handy. It takes a lot off my shoulders.

“I don’t have to give them a floor plan. I just give them a conceptual idea and off they go. They can pretty much design anything and do it efficiently.”Verteks’ depth of experience in the banking industry complements its broad knowledge of voice and data technology. Alarion Bank benefits from the expertise Verteks has gained working with other financial institutions.

“When you first open a bank, you’re working to get security policies in place that support your technology infrastructure, and Verteks brings a lot of great ideas to the table,” Higginbotham said. “One of the hot button issues with bank examiners right now is e-mail encryption. When we asked the Verteks engineers about it they said, ‘We’ve deployed this particular product for other banks and it works great.’ That’s what sets Verteks apart.”

On the Money

Verteks has helped Alarion Bank maintain its security posture by implementing and managing firewalls and providing proactive desktop maintenance to reduce endpoint security threats. But more than anything, Higginbotham views Verteks Consulting as a true partner that always works in the best interests of the bank.

“If I had to rate them on what I like best about them, I’d have to say it’s their responsiveness and their creativity,” Higginbotham said. “If a permanent solution isn’t immediately available they can always provide an alternative to keep the business model going. They’re not just mechanics. They’re always coming up with fresh ideas to help us serve our customers better.”

With about 50 employees in three locations, Alarion Bank is considered a small business. But thanks to Verteks Consulting, it has the IT support it needs to think big.