Huntington National Bank’s acquisition of FirstMerit combined nearly 1,000 branches and 2,000 ATMs across eight Midwest states. At the same time, Huntington was looking to use digital innovation to improve customer and employee experiences and rapidly roll out new branch offices without significantly raising costs. This marriage of business and technology offered a much-needed opportunity to step back and review overarching IT strategy.
The bank’s IT team needed to spend less time on short-term fixes and more time finding innovative solutions for the business. They had to more quickly and seamlessly integrate new people, processes, and technologies.Also, it was important for the company to raise customer services levels while lowering costs.
“It all came back to the same point,” recalls Patrick Drew, the bank’s assistant VP of network infrastructure. “We needed a proven IT architecture to turn the business into a digital pacesetter, so we could fast-track customer experience improvements and make our staff and business processes more efficient.”
Keen to protect existing investment, Huntington engaged Cisco® Services to help define and then accelerate its IT transformation.
“We compared increasing circuit capacity and refreshing hardware with a new software-defined model,” says Drew. “The latter, based on Cisco Intelligent WAN with the opportunity to deploy Application Policy Infrastructure Controller Enterprise Module software, won hands down.”
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Internal stakeholders had to be convinced of the benefits of the solution.
We definitely got there quicker with Cisco Services,” Drew says. “They did a ton of pre-work in their lab and got an onsite proof-of-concept off the ground in a week. We showed how IWAN could save the business money to grow the branch network and pay for new services—without trading security or reliability.”
A key Cisco Digital Network Architecture (DNA) pillar, IWAN-equipped routers choose optimal traffic paths for applications. For example, critical services like voice and video are routed over MPLS connections, while lower priority traffic travels over less expensive links. Wide Area Application Services software mitigates latency effects and optimizes data transfer speeds.
With stakeholders on board, Cisco Services oversaw design, implementation, and training to help the Huntington IT team avoid potential issues and speed-up migration to the new digital network.
“Our software developers have noticed immediate advantages with IWAN,” says Drew. “IT doesn’t have to factor in things like outages and latency for business applications. Cisco Services and Cisco DNA helped makeit possible.”
Cisco DNA consists of the latest Cisco routers, switches, and wireless access points. The wired Cisco Catalyst® Switching and Cisco Aironet™ Access Points wireless infrastructures help ensure that staff and customers always have super-fast, nonstop access to information, communications, and banking services.
Leveraging the Power over Ethernet function of the Cisco switches has reduced costs for additional power infrastructure and maximized flexibility. It also allows for remote power cycling of equipment. Cisco access points are designed to support mission-critical, high-performance applications. They make it possible for more mobile users to connect with optimized signal quality and performance. Both domains are managed as one through Cisco Prime™ Infrastructure. With a single view and point of control, the IT team can proactively locate and fix issues much faster than before.
Security is top priority for every company and customer. Only authorized individuals and devices are allowed to connect to the bank’s network, with the capability of leveraging Cisco Identity Services Engine to constantly monitor and enforce security policies.The solution centralizes and simplifies wireless access and insures traffic and access is segregated.
To further reduce business risk, Huntington uses Cisco ASA 5500-X Series Next-Generation Firewalls for integrated defense against cyber attackers and sophisticated malware.
Network reliability and user experience have turned around dramatically since implementing IWAN. With fully automated rerouting of traffic the network is unaffected, for example, by power or carrier outages. In addition, increased bandwidth and superior application performance have improved staff and customer interactions.
“Since moving to Cisco DNA with IWAN and APIC-EM, we no longer suffer outages,” says Drew. “Our circuits run all day and we don’t receive complaints. And we only pay for WAN bandwidth we really need.”
Conservative forecasts indicate a 60+ percent cost avoidance on redundant WAN links alone, releasing valuable funds as Huntington looks to expand its role as a digital pacesetter.
Huntington customer service has been galvanized across all customer touchpoints—online, mobile, contact center, and branch. Tellers log in and execute transactions quicker. Customer satisfaction has climbed with moreefficient customer service, less waiting, and shorter lines.
Drew believes the network has become a key differentiator. “This solution has enabled tactical quick deploy network connectivity,” he says.
“With zero-touch deployment tools, new branches can be up and running in days, instead of weeks or months. We are also positioned to offer Wi-Fi.”Patrick Drew, Assistant VP Network Infrastructure | Huntington National Bank