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Journey to the Azure Cloud with St Francis Credit Union

As challenges for on-premises IT environments become increasingly more complex, organisations across many sectors are making the decision to move their data to the cloud. With cyber security, resilience and compliance front of mind for every organisation in the financial services industry, Louis Fay, CEO of St Francis Credit Union tells us why he’s got his head in the cloud and he’s not coming down....

About St Francis Credit Union

St. Francis Credit Union is Ennis- based with eight additional sub-offices throughout Co. Clare. They employ 47 staff members and serve 47,500 members with assets of approx. €280 million.

Finding the Right Technology Partner

For any credit union, having the right technology partner is crucial. When Louis and the team at St. Francis credit union first embarked on securing a new technology partner over six years ago, it was important for them to find one that ticked all of their boxes; “Given that Viatel Technology Group is an indigenous Irish company, we were very pleased to partner with them and now consider them to be one of our main partners. Viatel understands our business and our risk profiles. We have completed quite a number of projects with them throughout the years which have been very successful for us.”

Since the inception of the relationship, Viatel are proud to partner with St. Francis credit union on a number of different services, from SD-Wan, our tailored credit union solution- CU Complete and now Microsoft Azure.

To Cloud or not to Cloud?: Decision- Making

With security considerations and data protection laws being an ever-present consideration for businesses of all sizes, particularly those in the financial services sector, the question of moving from on-prem data storage to the cloud is high on the agenda for key- decision makers. For Louis, ensuring they were making the right choice for their team and ultimately their members was critical:

“We went through our due diligence in terms of whether we would do the on-prem refresh or whether we would take the leap of faith and move to Microsoft Azure. We spent quite a bit of time with Viatel, working out details and how things would operate, whilst putting our business case together. That business case then needed to go to our Board of Directors for approval. From a compliance and risk perspective, they're the key drivers in this.”

Once Louis and the team had gotten to go- ahead from the Board of Directors, it was full steam ahead for the project.

Up, up and away- The Project Deployment

Undertaking a cloud migration of this size was a carefully considered decision for St. Francis credit union. IT Officer, John Egan, led the charge from their side, keen to see a seamless transition from their previously on-prem environment to Azure.

“The Azure migration was a big step for us as a credit union and for the credit union sector in general because there hasn’t been anyone of our size and very few credit unions that have done that type of work before.”

John Egan, IT Officer.

Describing it as a ‘clean slate’ for their IT infrastructure, the move to the cloud was a new beginning for their IT team, taking the compliance requirements from their on-prem storage to the cloud.

“If you have an on-premises infrastructure, you can be somewhat limited in what you can do as you’re waiting for a refresh of infrastructure and hardware. With Microsoft Azure, it is constantly evolving with new and improved features that we can avail of straight away without having any additional cost of on-prem hardware.”

Having understood their initial considerations and challenges, the Viatel team looked at three areas in particular that the Microsoft Azure cloud needed to provide: security, scalability and compliance.

“I think one of the main concerns we've had in recent years is around our business continuity and disaster recovery- resilience, and our ability to have that switch over if it was required. What the move to Microsoft Azure has done for us is it has given us this zone availability. It also gives us synchronised backups.

From a resilience point of view, it is almost an idyllic solution. It also gives us flexibility. It's got adaptability. It's got all the security bits that you need. It's the complete package.”

- Louis Fay, CEO.

St Francis now runs their key line of business application from Progress Systems from the cloud in a thoroughly modern approach in the credit union community.

Blue skies ahead- The Future with Microsoft Azure

Over two months have passed since their cloud migration journey was complete. The team at St. Francis Credit Union are settled into their new IT infrastructure, reaping the benefits of secure and scalable data storage, alongside Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) which allows their teams to work seamlessly across their varies different hubs.

“Interestingly enough, the go-live date was probably the smoothest thing I have ever witness in IT.”

- Louis Fay, CEO.

Deploying any IT solution can come with minor obstructions to any organisation. To avoid this as best as possible and thanks to the careful planning and daily stand-up meetings with the Viatel team, the Azure migration was deployed seamlessly, with zero downtime and zero disruption to members.

What’s next for St. Francis on their journey?

Continuously striving for improved member experience and ambitions of growth are two things that the St. Francis team are not short of. As they continue their mission, John is confident that with the support of Viatel in their Azure journey, it will continue to grow with them as they expand.

“We see the future with Azure providing us with scalability, security, compliance and ease of use in quickly deploying the requirements that we need.”

John Egan, IT Officer.


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