How Sound is Your Bank’s Hardware Infrastructure?
Community Banks and Hardware Warranties
While there are many factors that can play into your definition of soundness, some would say your bank’s network is only truly stable if you are fully covered by hardware warranties. In the most basic sense these warranties exist to mitigate the risk of a critical hardware failure. The hardware components you rely upon to provide a stable computing environment are themselves a highly complex amalgamation of numerous subcomponents; unfortunately, it is inevitable that some of these parts are destined to perish before their rightful time. While your community bank’s network users will likely not notice any impact from an all-too-common failed hard drive in a server’s RAID array, everyone will be painfully aware if your SAN experiences a critical failure.
Safe Systems believes that maintaining active hardware warranties for the full life of your hardware is as critical as keeping your Windows Operating System patched. A valid hardware warranty provides two incredibly valuable guarantees for your bank including faster replacement of failed parts and expedited hardware replacement times. When combined, these two benefits can drastically reduce downtime in a critical hardware failure scenario. Without an active warranty on hardware, any failure may cause the IT Administrator to scramble to find the right replacement part, and that can waste valuable time when your financial institution is trying to recover from hardware woes; furthermore, if the necessary part is backordered or otherwise unavailable, then the institution may be forced into completely replacing an entire piece of hardware.
Hardware warranties also allow your financial institution to better plan hardware related expenses. The costs associated with replacement hardware components, expedited shipping, and/or specialized installation labor can quickly add up. The total price tag of an emergency hardware repair can represent a significant unscheduled expense. Rolling those potential expenses into the cost of a hardware warranty allows bank IT managers to budget hardware maintenance in a tidy, predictable package.
Community Banks and Software Maintenance Contracts
Just like a hardware warranty, maintaining software maintenance agreements is critical. The importance of a valid hardware maintenance agreement is perhaps most apparent when discussing critical security patches. Keeping your systems secure is not the only reason to keep them fully patched. An estimated 60% of the lifecycle costs of producing software systems come from ongoing maintenance and patching, so without an active maintenance contract a software user may miss out on a number of software enhancements. While different providers vary in their policies, software maintenance is generally released for 4 different reasons:
- Adaptive – modifying the system to cope with changes in the software environment
- Perfective – implementing new or changed user requirements which concern functional enhancements to the software
- Corrective – diagnosing and fixing errors, possibly ones found by users
- Preventive – increasing software maintainability or reliability to prevent problems in the future
The Bottom Line
Hardware warranties and software maintenance are relatively inexpensive insurance policies for banks and credit unions. I would challenge any bank executive who tells me that a couple of hundred dollars is too much to keep critical pieces of your financial institution’s network performing optimally. Without hardware warranties and software maintenance, thousands of dollars in lost productivity could occur at any time with no warning.