Benefits of being a beta site

Q&A: Negotiated discounts and a great opportunity to learn

$733 million Publix Employees Federal Credit Union, Lakeland, Fla., has been involved in beta testing for several companies in the last few years. CUES member Karen Sullivan, CISSP, CISA, the CU’s CIO/chief security officer, describes what the CU has done and the benefits it has reaped as a result.

1. What have you been a beta test site for so far?

Our credit union has been involved in beta testing for several companies in the past few years. We spent more than a year implementing and testing SIP trunking with Verizon Business for both our production site in Lakeland and our disaster site in Jacksonville. This allows us to route our VoIP traffic and provide redundancy within our network for voice, so if one branch would go down, routing would continue uninterrupted through the other.

We were a beta tester for AccessSoftek mobile banking. We tested not only the core functionality, but such application enhancements as PayPal integration and remote deposit capture. We are currently testing load balancing of the mobile banking servers between our Lakeland and Jacksonville offices. In addition, we are testing and preparing to offer bill-pay functionality on the mobile platform. The next test will be financial institution-to-financial institution transfers for our mobile banking application.

We just completed phase one of multi-host failover (a method of protecting computer systems from failure, in which standby equipment automatically takes over when the main system fails)  for Symitar, a Jack Henry and Associates company (and CUES Supplier member). This application will eventually allow us to failover our core processing system to a maximum of eight servers distributed throughout a network. We will have failover capabilities from Lakeland to Jacksonville and then to our tertiary site in Norcross, Ga., once completed.

Another beta test with Symitar was for moving the core processing backup system from tape to disk-based backups.

2. What were the financial advantages of doing so?

We were able to negotiate substantial discounts in the final product.

3. What other reasons made you interested in doing this?

Being involved in beta testing allows us to provide input that can influence the final version of the product to our advantage. We also benefit by becoming intimately familiar with the product and learning how to troubleshoot the product at a deeper level if necessary because of the knowledge we gained. We also benefit during the beta because of the skills transfer and training we receive on the product. This helps us better support the product in the future.

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