Citizens Equity First Credit Union: Using Virtualization to Improve User Experience

Citizens Equity First Credit Union (CEFCU) is a member-owned financial cooperative with close to 300,000 members nationwide. Their ability to provide secure and reliable access to financial applications is critical to meeting member expectations. In 2013, the CEFCU IT department was faced with renewing their current data platform agreement as a means to continue hosting these essential applications. Rather than simply renew with their existing provider, CEFCU wanted to explore the possibility of expanding their existing virtual environment to yield a more cost-effective, forward-thinking storage solution. 


The Challenge: Strengthen Performance, Reduce Costs

CEFCU engaged Burwood Group to discuss virtualizing their data center in order to reduce operational costs and enhance security, reliability, and access. The Illinois-based credit union provides numerous business-critical applications for its 800 employees, along with equally important applications used by members to conduct transactions; therefore, consistency in system performance is essential. Having previously enlisted Burwood Group for numerous IT infrastructure initiatives, CEFCU knew they had the skills necessary to design and deploy a scalable solution to meet technical requirements and user expectations. Server virtualization — hosting multiple applications on each of CEFCU’s individual servers — was a cost-effective way to provide high availability of all applications, as well as redundancy to expedite faster recovery in the event of a disaster.

Burwood Group leveraged its expertise and vendor relationships to create a cost-effective and forward-looking solution that meets the expectations of our members and employees and improves our business performance. Also critical, we knew we could count on Burwood Group for a smooth and successful implementation, having worked with the firm on numerous IT projects during the past 10 years.
— Tracy Denning, I.T. Network Communications Manager, CEFCU

The Solution: Scalable Server Virtualization with Nimble SmartStack™ 


To achieve higher performance at a fraction of the cost of a traditional data center platform, Burwood Group deployed Nimble Storage’s SmartStack server virtualization reference architecture, which included Cisco’s Nexus 5000 Series 10-gigabyte switches, Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) server platform, and VMware vSphere. The pre-validated SmartStack architecture provides CEFCU with the means to improve user application performance, accelerate application deployment, and reduce the risks of the virtualization strategy. 

The Outcome: A Robust—and Cost-Friendly—Virtual Data Center 

Today, CEFCU members and employees can access business data and applications reliably and quickly through the CEFCU’s future-proofed virtualized data center. By moving to virtualization, the credit union achieves high availability, scalability, and performance at a low cost when compared to its former data platform. Most important, the scalable data center enables CEFCU to confidently rely on their IT infrastructure to carry out their mission of providing quality service and products that improve the financial well-being of their members.

Burwood Group Solution

  • Nimble SmartStack™

  • Cisco UCS

  • VMware Virtualization