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Ch. 6
Understanding DSS Architecture, Networking and Security Issues

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Case Study - First Security Bank

Reevaluating the IS/IT Architecture

The following material is excerpted from a detailed Case Study found at URL

First Security Bank is the oldest multiple-state bank holding company in the United States. It has grown to become the second largest financial services organization in the Western US, with assets of approximately $22 billion. Headquartered in Salt Lake City, First Security operates hundreds of full-service banking offices throughout Utah, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, Nevada, Wyoming, and California.

To improve its competitive position in a dynamic industry, First Security relies on the productivity and efficiency gains afforded by information technology. The company seeks technology solutions that fulfill three core IT objectives:

1. Speed to market, which means delivering new products to banking customers faster than they can obtain them elsewhere.

2. Integration, which means all systems sharing information across applications and platforms.

3. High-quality customer service, which means providing services that customers recognize as having added value.

First Security's latest effort to stay at the forefront of technology addressed these IT mandates. The company is using Microsoft BackOffice Server at its 26 main bank locations and its 324 branch offices. The integrated BackOffice Server solution provides First Security with a consistent, scalable means of deploying and managing Microsoft Windows NT® Server operating system-based file and print services, Microsoft SNA Server connectivity for host communications, Microsoft Systems Management Server client distribution services, and a Microsoft SQL Server™-based banking application on each server.

"Microsoft BackOffice Server has played a key role in our deployment of a standard, powerful, and reliable enterprise solution in each of our campus and branch locations," says Al Pino, president of First Security Information Technology, Inc. "BackOffice Server has lowered the cost and time required to deploy our enterprise banking applications. In addition, the single point of administration and the consolidation of multiple applications on a single server will lower our technology costs into the future."

Reinventing the Infrastructure

In June 1996, First Security formed senior executive committees to begin ironing out core product and technology direction for the corporation. To achieve reduction of cost, the committees chose the Microsoft BackOffice Server product as the foundation for the company's enterprise-wide implementation. With that decision made, the company formed a rollout project for the Microsoft Windows® operating system and created a proof of concept team. Relying heavily on consultants from Microsoft and Novell, First Security employees set about proving that the products chosen would function well in a lab environment. By early 1997, a pilot project involving 50 users had demonstrated sufficient success that the company moved to the next step. In a large group conference, participants organized an architecture team for phase one development.

The Rollout Project

Phase one encompassed the deployment of BackOffice-based servers at all campus sites and business financial centers—everything except branches and the teller line of business. Started in March 1998 and completed the following November, the rollout involved approximately 5,500 client systems. Each server running BackOffice Server today supports approximately 1,000 users at each campus site.

Phase two of First Security's Windows rollout project encompasses the branch and teller line. … First Security contracted with a third-party provider to perform the actual hardware and software deployment at branches, which required only about an hour and a half on site per server. First Security was able to put file services, print services, and data application services all on one server, so they effectively halved the server hardware at the branches.


When all phases of First Security's rollout are complete, IT managers at the company predict that users will experience greater uptime, more efficient software updates in a more timely manner, and a more reliable, stable networking and client operating environment.

Managers at First Security believe that "In this new environment, users can share information globally, or at a workgroup level, and be assured that it's readily accessible".

First Security also plans to use the system lockdown feature in Windows NT to stabilize client workstations, minimize downtime, and assure a more secure environment.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the elements of the First Security IS/IT system?
  2. What process was used to evaluate the old system and develop a new infrastructure? How was the new distributed, client-server infrastructure implemented?
  3. What are the benefits of the new infrastructure? Will the new infrastructure support DSS applications?


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