Credit Union Network Design Factors

virtual desktop in the cloudIf you are considering redesigning your Credit Union’s Telecom Network you have come to the right place. This page will provide a basic overview of the types of Networks Ongoing Operations has seen in its Credit Unions.

Ongoing Operations works with over 400 Credit Unions around the United States. We have Credit Unions that have 1 location with 1 employee and Credit Unions with 100+ branches and 1000+ employees. Many of the needs are different but in many cases the basic functions can be boiled down to three main components.

Three Main Components

  • Data – Data consists of the connection between all of your branches, ATMs and Headquarters. The connectivity choices in this mode have lots of choices and ramifications. There are usually two choices for getting between all of the devices in your environment. A Bridged Network is one that (generally less than 150 devices – performance suffers above that). All devices can talk to any other devices on the network. Effectively a branch teller could print to a network printer at another location. A Routed Network tends to enable higher performance, be applicable for more devices, and enable isolating the traffic at each location, combining it all to a single point, and then passing it on (routing). Unless you have fewer than 3 locations – you are most likely in a routed environment. To connect all of the locations together you must decide between an MPLS, T1, DS3, Fiber, VPN, DSL, Cable Modem, or some other type of network. Each has pros and cons.
  • Voice – Voice traffic can come from several sources. It can be from traditional phone lines, a Credit Union owned PBX, a Credit Union owned VoIP system, or a Virtual PBX/Hosted VoIP system. Often times these days all of the voice traffic flows through the data network and if it doesn’t do it within the Credit Union the phone companies convert all voice traffic to data. If the Voice traffic is converted to data (VoIP) then QOS or Quality of Service routing and switching becomes very important.
  • Internet – Internet traffic is really no different than voice or data. The difference comes to the security or trust factor. The private voice and data network are trusted environments and the Internet is the outside world. Same technology just different people using it. However, without – e-mail, browsing the web, and most of your third party connections don’t work.

Sub Components of these include:

Each of these Credit Union Network Components require different choices and options related to Security and Redundancy. Sometimes they can be combined but ultimately you need to know your goals and budget before going down this road.

  • Security – In a perfect world – everything would be secured from everything. There are two problems with this though – A) the Credit Union doesn’t have the resources or systems to lock everything down B) it isn’t a perfect world and we don’t always know who to trust. Consequently, we select an us vs. them mentality and decide that first the Credit Union WAN or Wide Area Network and Voice network must be secure from THEM – or the internet. Then as things evolve we secure things down to individual groups of people and eventually to individual people. The basic way of securing the environment is through either installing firewalls, VLANs (virtual networks), or encrypting traffic. You will need to decide what your risk tolerance in this area before embarking on a design. Of course – the more security you select – the more money it will cost.
  • Redundancy – In each of the above network components redundancy can be an important criteria. You will need to evaluate redundancy throughout the design and it is expensive. The main elements to look at in include – diverse paths into the building, diverse carriers, diverse Central Offices (CO’s), diverse routers/firewalls/switches, diverse power etc. The more single points of failure you would like to remove the more the cost goes up. On the flip side – the easier it is to meet your RPOs, Recovery Point Objectives, and Recovery Time Objectives, RTOs.

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To learn about the specific data/voice or Internet terms and choices click here: