In the complicated business of banking, IBM PureFlex System simplifies IT administration and maintenance

Since the IBM PureSystems family of expert integrated systems debuted in 2012, IBM has shipped more than 10,000 systems. To mark that milestone, we are presenting a series of stories about clients whose operations were transformed by IBM PureSystems.

Sterling Bank_FBSterling Bank of Spokane, Washington, was expanding so quickly that its IT infrastructure had trouble keeping up. The bank grew from a small set of branches to more than 250 locations in four states, reaching a total asset base of almost 10 billion dollars. This put a large strain on the IT staff and infrastructure. The IT staff juggled hardware and software from multiple vendors and was busy trying to keep the mixed environment upgraded and deployed in time to respond to business needs

In the increasingly competitive banking environment, Sterling Bank wanted to update applications, streamline processes and standardize systems—but those changes would require upgraded support, servers and storage. The bank also needed to improve the customer experience with new processes and systems.

Going forward, what the bank needed was a converged, enterprise-wide solution that would speed processes, simplify operations, handle growth and position Sterling Bank and its 2,700 employees for the future.

Expert integrated solution

Working with IBM and IBM Business Partner Solutions-II, Inc., Sterling Bank designed and implemented a solution using IBM PureFlex System Enterprise Edition. The PureFlex System provides an integrated framework for the bank’s computing, storage, network and management environment. The new infrastructure will be used for all computing requirements, including interfaces with key parts of the core banking applications.

Karl Kurrle, Sterling Bank’s IT executive and senior vice president, said the bank chose PureFlex largely because it was future-ready and delivered business value—including a lower total cost of ownership—not just technical expertise:

“PureFlex was an investment in our future. It would have been far more expensive to buy separate parts and engineer them ourselves. By choosing a converged infrastructure, we have created a new way of doing business,” he said.

The system can handle virtually any business process, including cloud computing, mobile banking and internal applications. Among the benefits:

  • Embedded IBM SmartCloud Entry software gives the bank the flexibility to make business decisions about its future in the cloud and capitalize on new opportunities.
  • The IBM Flex System Manager node allows Sterling Bank to manage its assets through a single console, greatly simplifying IT administration and maintenance.
  • Bank systems that previously operated at 80 percent capacity now have ample capacity.
  • Single-box integration and embedded storage help the bank quickly and cost-effectively handle more data within a smaller footprint

As an added boost to resilience, Sterling Bank bought a second PureFlex System to replicate its infrastructure.

New competitive advantages

With the PureFlex System Enterprise edition, Sterling Bank can serve customers better by providing banking applications with fuller functions. The bank can be more responsive to line of business requirements that offer new opportunities to drive revenue. Other advantages of the PureFlex infrastructure’s integrated design include these:

  • Employees learn one standard workflow, which reduces risk as the bank grows and staff members change.
  • The bank can adopt changes without having to engineer updates and make major changes to its infrastructure.
  • The IT staff can offload some engineering tasks and take advantage of a long-term, more consistent, more reliable solution
  • Engineers can spend more time focusing on performance, innovation and business value, which. helps develop a more robust workforce.
  • Employees can not only complete a task, but also optimize it, which reduces costs and speeds the response to business demands.
  • As the bank expands and acquires other institutions, the staff can easily scale its infrastructure and incorporate an acquired bank’s systems.

Kurrle adds: “The most exciting part of this project is the transformation of our core technology. PureFlex takes us from a small shop to an enterprise-class environment that truly delivers business value.”

To learn more about how Sterling Bank transformed its IT operations, read the full case study.


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Mark Wehrle

About Mark Wehrle

Mark Wehrle has led solution development efforts for IBM clients for more than 14 years. As a Client Executive, he leads business development activities for key banking and manufacturing clients in the Pacific Northwest. He has been instrumental in developing new business solutions for companies in several industries, including banking, aerospace, industrial manufacturing and transportation. He has experience in functional domains including Customer Analytics and Experience Management, Product Development, Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing Operations and Aftermarket Services. Recent customer successes have included deploying IBM PureFlex converged infrastructure at a major Pacific Northwest Bank. Other areas of focus are SmartCloud services, Industry Solutions for Banking and Data Center Strategy.