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Array SSL VPN pays dividends to bank

A Boston-area bank exploits its technology infrastructure to yield a competitive edge.

A suburban Boston bank has gained a competitive edge by exploiting technology enabled by its application delivery controller (ADC) vendor.

Needham Bank, a community bank with six locations and more than $1.8 billion in deposits, launched a service this spring that makes it possible for customers to open up a business account from their own locations instead of having to travel to a bank office.

The service is based on technology from Array Networks and Microsoft, said Jim Gordon, the bank's senior vice president of IT and CIO. By combining the Array SSL VPN secure access gateways -- and their Desktop Direct remote access feature -- with Microsoft's RemoteFX, Needham's business development officers (BDOs) can open accounts anywhere a prospective customer might be: from an office to a kiosk set up at a shopping mall. The service has yielded new accounts for the bank and enabled Needham to break away from legacy technologies that required a customer to visit a bank branch to do business.

Secure VPN replaces paper-based process

Five BDOs are now equipped with Microsoft OS-based mobile devices through which prospective customers can open new business accounts, Gordon said.

 "Our officers were in the process of trying to create some process where paper would have had to move from the officer to the back office and then to the customer and then back to the back office [to open an account], and let me tell you, it wasn't pretty. It solved a business problem but it wasn't leveraging anything in our technology stack," Gordon added.

RemoteFX, in tandem with DesktopDirect, allows signatures and other identifying data necessary to open an account to be transmitted securely from the customer's site to Needham's corporate office. The new framework means customers no longer have to go to a Needham branch to physically sign the signature pads that connect to the bank's account database.

The new account service, Gordon said, was simple, easy to implement and, more importantly, avoided the pain associated with redesigning back-office systems to work with mobile devices -- a cumbersome and time-consuming process.

Account opening was the big aha moment.
Jim GordonSenior Vice President of IT and CIO, Needham Bank

"Account opening was the big aha moment," he said. The Array VPN and Microsoft remote access technologies "allow us to keep the same processes; you don't want to give employees eight ways to open up a new checking account. There has to be consistency."

More services on tap

Gordon said the bank is now examining the addition of other services that can be developed using the Array SSL VPN/RemoteFX foundation. "The possibilities at this point are limitless," he said, citing the opportunities associated with removing the need to access proprietary devices like signature pads that can only be used at a physical location. "We removed that last dependency … all these legacy devices."

Needham has now used Array's AG Series secure gateway and DesktopDirect for five years to enable employees to work remotely. Some 30% of the bank's 187 employees have the ability to work from home or other locations. Two years ago, Needham added Array's virtual application delivery controller, the vAPV, to handle load balancing and application delivery. The controller is used to handle user access across two SharePoint servers.

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