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Appliance Pays Big Dividends for Online Banking App

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SSFCU, the 10th largest credit union in the nation, was founded in 1956 to serve the U.S. Air Force Security Service Command. Today it has more than 550,000 military and nonmilitary members, 70,000 of whom are active users--from around the country and overseas--of the CompuBranch online banking service. The credit union has nearly doubled in size over the past few years, from about $1.8 billion in assets in 1999 to more than $3.5 billion today, and its online banking application has grown along with the organization.

As it evaluated alternatives for handling the increasing traffic load, SSFCU's IT group decided against re-architecting the organization's servers and software, a costly and complicated process that likely would have been a short-term fix and would have required some modifications to the banking application architecture. Rewriting the app--which SSFCU declined to name--wasn't realistic, and adding more server iron wasn't the answer either. "Any server re-architecture would have just been incremental and expensive," says Joseph Winslow, senior vice president and CIO at SSFCU.

Instead, the credit union chose an appliance-based load-balancing solution with compression, the NetScaler 9800, which it installed late last fall. As part of the solution, SSFCU also bought another pair of Windows-based Web and application servers so the appliances could distribute the load. The key was ensuring that the banking application could grow with its user base.

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