Ohio-based Kingston National Bank enhances its IT through virtualization

Gunn2Matt Gunn, Managing Editor

When it came time to modernize Kingston National Bank’s network systems, Lara Hauswirth took a no-nonsense approach in finding the support her institution needed to grow.

“I wanted to talk to someone about technology right off the bat,” says Hauswirth, IT Director of the Kingston, Ohio-based community bank. And, importantly, she wanted someone who understood technology’s role in the highly regulated framework of banking. “I didn’t want to hear the fluffy stuff.  I didn’t want to hear about solutions.  I wanted to know what I needed to accomplish my goal.”

The $243 million asset size institution had outgrown its old IT systems. As Kingston National Bank added staff, branches and services, its IT infrastructure began to reach a breaking point. But as is the case at many community banks, Hauswirth was on her own and wearing many hats, including managing the bank’s IT and marketing efforts. She realized she’d need a little help implementing a large-scale systems upgrade.

Hauswirth began networking with banking peers.

“I had become associated with a user group who shared similar roles to mine, and had talked to a woman who had highly recommended Safe Systems,” Hauswirth says. “We’ve used some outside vendors before, and I’d never been satisfied. So when I talked to this woman, she gave very high recommendations; it was a big selling point.”

Those initial recommendations led Hauswirth to open a dialog with a bank technology expert at Safe Systems, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based IT provider that partners exclusively with financial institutions. “I talked to someone who knew the technology and understood my challenges,” she adds. “We went through what I had, what I needed, and how to get there.”

Because of Safe Systems’ more than 20 years of experience working with institutions like hers, Hauswirth knew she had found a vendor that understood the balance of technology and compliance expected by financial institutions and their examiners. After initial discovery meetings and a comprehensive network assessment, Hauswirth felt confident moving forward. Within two months of beginning its relationship with Safe Systems, Kingston National Bank went from an outdated infrastructure to a well-designed and scalable virtual infrastructure. Safe Systems staff was onsite to help with the installation, convert emails, perform backups and encrypt several of the bank’s laptops. Along with the network upgrade, Kingston National Bank implemented NetComply, Safe Systems’ automated network monitoring, management, automation and reporting solution.

Hauswirth now has a comprehensive toolset to help her manage and view her entire network quickly access reports for exams and audits and perform administrative tasks through a centralized portal. She adds that the new technology saves her between 10 and 15 hours a month on performing data backups, testing and installing patches weekly, and proactively protecting systems from viruses.

“I hardly ever go to the server room,” Hauswirth says. “I can do everything from my laptop, and that’s great. I can remotely log in, I can get into the server and change a password if I need to and I can move on with my day. It’s streamlined. We had wanted to get to that point. It’s made everyone’s life simpler.”

Kingston National Bank gets additional support through a dedicated Safe Systems Account Manager, who performs quarterly assessments and is available for advice on technology and compliance or to sit in and consult during technology steering committee meetings. In her first year working with Safe Systems, Hauswirth has periodically needed to adjust some of her services. “I can call, adjust contracts, move forward easily and align with compliance,” she adds, all of which is goes through a Safe Systems Account Manager dedicated to Kingston’s account.

Although she has the added benefit of support and automated programs, Hauswirth still likes to work hands on with her institution’s technology. Ultimately, working with Safe Systems has helped  Kingston National Bank achieve a significant upgrade while increasing Kingston’s compliance posture and still giving Hauswirth the control over her systems she prefers.

“I choose to do most of the daily maintenance,” she says. “Because of the hours we are open and the time it takes to do those projects, it would have at least taken another person on staff to help support me.”

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