Membership Central

ICBA’s new cloud-computing program

By Carol Patton

Several years ago, a community banker from Maryland and an ICBA board member introduced Dan Clancy, ICBA’s executive vice president of services, to an outsourced software service framework called cloud computing.

“It sounded compelling,” Clancy recalls, explaining that the Maryland community bank had partnered with Compushare Inc., a company in Santa Ana, Calif., that specializes in providing a cloud-based application management platform. “He said their bank was much more efficient and saved a lot of money on capital expenditures and thought we should take a look at it.”

Afterward, Clancy and community bankers serving on the ICBA Services Committee became impressed enough with the software warehousing and application management concept to establish an ICBA Preferred Service Provider cloud-computing program with Compushare in 2011. Earlier this year, ICBA and the company took another big step together by launching the ICBA Strategic Technology Solutions cloud services program. In addition to educating community bankers about the benefits of cloud computing, the new program helps community banks access Compushare’s C3 cloud-computing platform, a platform created to serve community banks’ particular computing needs.

The C3 platform enables community banks to access hundreds of software applications hosted on a secure and compliant cloud computing platform. It also allows community banks to process, manage and store data as needed, but through a less costly outsourcing arrangement.

So far, about 30 ICBA member community banks have migrated all of their IT and software applications to the Compushare cloud platform, while hundreds of other community banks use the platform for hosting email or as an external critical systems backup.

Although a cloud software arrangement doesn’t replace a community bank’s core software systems, it can offer community banks several benefits, explains Kevin Paugh, a strategic alliance manager with Compushare. Cost-efficient computing is a major benefit, he says.

Community banks can access and pay for cloud computing resources as needed, allowing them to outsource much of their ongoing IT maintenance activities in the process.

Paugh points to several other cloud-based computing advantages:

  • Security: A cloud-based platform offers a fast, secure and private connection with layered security and a direct link between the bank and its software applications.
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity: If a community bank is affected by a natural or manmade disaster, its off-site software and records will still be safe and accessible in the cloud.
  • Mobility and remote access: Cloud systems allow software and data to be accessed with any computing device, ranging from Android smartphones to iPads, including the unique support of a BYOD (bring your own device) environment.
  • Compliance: Built for financial institutions, Compushare’s community cloud platform meets all regulatory compliance safety standards.

As part of enrolling in Compushare’s cloud-based platform, community banks should be prepared for an initial in-depth review of their IT infrastructure, says Paugh. From the outset, the company works with community banks first to understand their applications and their desired security controls to adapt the appropriate cloud-based arrangement to their needs. Meanwhile, ICBA Strategic Technology Solutions will offer webinars on cloud computing its benefits.

Once community banks learn more about the benefits of cloud computing, Paugh says, “it really becomes a very easy decision to make.”

Carol Patton is a writer in Las Vegas, Nev.