1st Source Corporation provides consumer and commercial banking services at 76 branch locations in Indiana and Michigan. To communicate between branches and with customers, it relies primarily on the telephone and an aging email solution. To avoid the cost and effort to deploy and maintain a new on-premises messaging solution, the bank decided to consider a hosted service. 1st Source subscribed to Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based services, which it believed provided the high level of security and reliability the bank needed to switch from its in-house system to the cloud. With Office 365, the bank can provide a secure messaging solution without incurring additional overhead and administration costs. In addition, it can offer employees a flexible unified communications solution that includes presence, instant messaging, conferencing, and desktop sharing capabilities.
1st Source Corporation was founded in 1863 as the First National Bank of South Bend, Indiana. Today, the bank provides commercial and consumer banking services and operates more than 76 banking centers in 17 counties across northern Indiana and southern Michigan. With U.S.$4.41 billion in assets, it also operates 22 1st Source Bank Specialty Finance Group locations nationwide, eight Trust and Wealth Management locations, and seven 1st Source Insurance offices.
The bank employs 1,200 people, half of whom work at headquarters and another half work at branches around the region. In addition, it has a nationwide financing group of about 50 people who work remotely from locations around the United States. To communicate with colleagues and customers, employees relied primarily on the telephone or email. If employees wanted to access the corporate network from remote locations, they had to connect through a virtual private network (VPN). Some remote employees could also receive email on their RIM BlackBerry devices to help stay in contact with the office.
For messaging, 1st Source had deployed Novell GroupWise. Cecil Murray, Chief Technology Officer for 1st Source Corporation, explains, “We had not upgraded our email system in a decade. It was secure and reliable, but it did not offer us a lot of capabilities we wanted, like contact lists, distribution lists, and other features to help us manage customer information.”
The bank occasionally used WebEx for online meetings, and it had deployed an analog videoconferencing solution between its main offices with a small number of endpoints. “We really wanted to provide more capabilities like conferencing and desktop sharing for a wider group of employees,” says Murray. “We wanted seamless access to a suite of collaborative tools.”
Because bank employees’ email can contain sensitive information, 1st Source had to be convinced that a cloud solution would be able to provide the same high-level of security and reliability as the current in-house system and meet regulatory requirements. However, its IT team was primarily trained to use GroupWise and had little experience with other on-premises messaging solutions. The bank did not want its new email solution to require the IT team to undergo extensive retraining or require them to perform routine backups and maintenance. “Our IT team is primarily focused on projects that help improve customer service or provide new banking services,” says Murray. “We wanted to keep the IT team focused on those core projects, rather than ask them to manage email.”
To upgrade its messaging service and keep its IT team free to focus on other projects, 1st Source decided to consider a hosted messaging solution. The bank looked at several cloud-based solutions, some based on Microsoft Exchange Server technology, but it was still concerned about security issues. “We needed a major player to be our provider,” says Murray. “We wanted to make our executives comfortable with the security and reliability of whatever solution we chose.”
In its search for a hosted messaging solution, 1st Source learned about Microsoft Office 365, the next generation of hosted services that combines the familiar Office desktop with enhanced cloud-based communication and collaboration services. It joined the Office 365 Rapid Deployment Program to test the suite of services and ultimately decided to transition its messaging solution from GroupWise to Microsoft Exchange Online to provide encrypted email service over the Internet. Additionally, with a subscription to Office 365 the bank could provide unified communications capabilities, such as presence, instant messaging, ad-hoc collaboration and online meetings, and desktop and application sharing through Microsoft Lync Online.
The bank had already deployed servers running the Windows Server 2008 operating system and the Active Directory service to manage employee accounts, and it took advantage of Active Directory Federation Services and Office 365 Directory Sync to enable single sign-on.
With Exchange Online, the bank can take advantage of Transport Layer Security to encrypt the connection between email servers to help prevent spoofing and provide confidentiality for messages in transit. With opportunistic Transport Layer Security, which is enabled by default, a connection between email servers is automatically established if the other party’s mail server has a public certificate trusted by Microsoft Forefront Online Protection for Exchange. The bank can also configure forced transport layer security on a per-IP address or per-domain basis on both inbound and outbound connections.
Because employees already had Microsoft Office 2010 on their desktops, they could immediately take advantage of capabilities in the Microsoft Outlook 2010 messaging and collaboration client that Exchange Online provides. They have access to capabilities such as Conversation View, which groups together messages from a single conversation. Employees can then quickly and easily identify the most recent messages, view the chain of responses, and see a preview of each response in a conversation upon opening the individual messages. “People who participated in the pilot found it much easier to manage their email and schedule online meetings through Outlook 2010,” says Murray. “However, the biggest advantage over other solutions comes from Lync Online, because people can view presence information for their colleagues.”
About 600 1st Source employees will have access to the full capabilities of Lync Online. The bank plans to stop using WebEx and other third-party conferencing systems and use Lync Online for conferencing instead. “We plan to explore more possibilities with Lync Online that can help us differentiate ourselves from our competition,” says Murray. “We will look at things such as incorporating presence on our website or enabling instant messaging or desktop sharing with our customers to assist them with a loan application, open a new account, or to show them how to use Internet banking features.”
1st Source is also piloting Microsoft SharePoint Online to determine how it can best use the technology in its environment. The IT team and several business units are evaluating capabilities such as document management and process workflows. Currently, it plans to use SharePoint Online to host its company intranet. It will also enable divisions and departments to set up their own internal team sites. “We would like to move everything to SharePoint Online so that business units can update information as needed and, at the same time, increase the controls over sensitive information.” says Murray. Depending on the bank’s final evaluation, it may also consider deploying Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 on-premises for a hybrid solution. If it deploys the on-premises solution, 1st Source can still take advantage of interoperation with Lync Online and Exchange Online so that employees can see presence or communicate with colleagues through SharePoint Server 2010.
1st Source is also evaluating Windows Phone 7 as a potential replacement. The bank will also consider deploying Active Directory Rights Management Services to enhance employee mobility and provide an additional layer of security for email.
With Office 365, 1st Source will not only replace its aging GroupWise messaging solution, but it can provide a full unified communications experience for its employees—without the need to deploy additional hardware or hire more IT administrators. Employees can be more productive wherever they work, and 1st Source can take advantage of better ways to communicate with customers.
Avoid Overhead and Administration Costs
By subscribing to Microsoft hosted services, 1st Source avoided deploying additional hardware to support on-premises solutions for both messaging and communications. Because it can store both messaging data and company information in the cloud, it also reduced the need for additional storage. Because it can rely on Microsoft to manage most of the administration, the bank did not have to hire additional staff or provide extensive training for existing staff in order to manage the new solutions.
In addition to avoiding costs, the bank expects to reduce costs in a number of areas. “With Lync Online, we can retire the WebEx service and our internal videoconferencing systems,” says Murray. “We also expect to reduce travel and long-distance costs, because we can more easily schedule and hold online meetings.”
Provide Support for Remote Employees
With almost 50 people in its financing group who work remotely on a permanent basis, executives who travel, and employees who work from home, the bank wanted to ensure that whatever solution it provided would be both security-enhanced and easy for mobile employees to use. “Now our employees can access the services they need to do their jobs without the extra manual step to connect through the VPN. They can use any wireless connection, go straight into the cloud, and be immediately productive on a secure connection,” says Murray.
Differentiate Services to Improve Business
By using the capabilities of Lync Online, 1st Source can differentiate itself from the competition. “Today, it can be difficult to maintain a personal relationship with customers because so many of them use online self-service systems, such as Internet banking,” says Murray. “With the capabilities in Lync Online, we can bring a level of personal service in terms of how we communicate with customers who like to do business this way. And for customers who still like to come into the bank, we see it as a way to help introduce them to a full range of services, including a personal introduction to specialists located anywhere within the bank.”
Provide Secure, Reliable Service
1st Source chose a Microsoft cloud-based solution for messaging because it knew that Microsoft could offer it both the level of security and service it required. “We fall somewhere between large enterprises that require secure, dedicated backend servers running Exchange Server and small businesses that require the low-cost economics of a multitenant hosted environment,” says Murray. “Microsoft provides us with a secure hosted service that we can scale to meet our needs.” The bank can also take advantage of premium antispam and antivirus protection, 24 hours a day, seven days a week IT-level phone support, and a financially backed, 99.9 percent uptime service level agreement.