Tech Innovator Pioneer

How Westerra Prioritized Digital Transformation in the Face of Disruption

By Insight / 2023-01-14 / Topics : Brands , software

Disruption came to every organization in 2020, but some were able to bounce back faster than others. Learn how Westerra Credit Union was able to put its IT modernization plans on hold while dealing with disruption and then pick them right back up again just a few months later.

Planning turns to pivots

For Westerra Credit Union, digital transformation wasn’t something to be managed overnight, but rather a goal to achieve in due time. In 2018, the company began to take a good look at where it was going as a company and how it might differentiate from other banking institutions. Technology was a big driving factor for the members so Westerra started exploring how it could deliver a modern technology experience.

Dan Groves, Westerra’s VP of IT, said this desire for a modern IT experience was what influenced the decision to invest in IT modernization and improve the employee experience:

“We had to look at how we could do things differently, but still maintain proper controls, security, compliance, and regulatory needs. All of that had to be balanced with our users’ ability to work. That’s been our biggest challenge.”

Groves had experienced great success with Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) in the past and knew it could be the solution Westerra was looking for. Since the company already had a long-standing relationship with NGen IT for hardware procurement and software licensing, Westerra decided to engage NGen IT for VDI consulting and an implementation strategy.

Our client’s IT modernization plans were years in the making, however. “The process took a few years,” said Groves. “Modernization wasn't a high priority. We were getting by and managing without any issues, so the urgency wasn’t there.”

Eventually, the business grew enough that the time was finally right to get serious about VDI. After engaging in some demos and a full proof of concept with VMware Horizon®, Westerra was ready to take the next step. But all of the company’s plans came to an immediate halt with the advent of the 2020 pandemic.

Expanding remote work capabilities

In March of 2020, Westerra’s primary concern was getting all of its employees up and running from home. While our client already had some remote capabilities, the majority of their workforce was based on premises. Users required access to their respective branches as well as full Windows® 10 desktops to perform daily tasks and access databases containing sensitive financial information.

“We did whatever we could to get people working from home, whether that was giving them PCs or laptops to take home,” said Groves. The client worked with NGen IT to acquire additional laptops in the short term just to keep employees working. But even in the midst of major disruption, they never lost sight of their plans for VDI. Plans may have been put on hold, but they weren’t forgotten.

Making VDI a reality

Once they realized remote work was here to stay, Groves’ team set their sights on stabilizing their remote environment and establishing standards for Westerra’s devices and processes. With NGen IT’s help, they were able to bring their full workforce up to the same standard by the end of August. Once that goal was achieved, it was time to start looking at VDI again.

Through NGen IT’s professional services for VMware Horizon implementation, Westerra was able to achieve a full-stack Horizon Enterprise deployment with TrueSSO, UAG, App Volumes, DEM, Instant Clones, and full Windows 10 desktops.

The entire Horizon cluster was deployed on-premises in Westerra’s data center in Colorado with 300 desktop images deployed. Users are now able to connect from their home computers to each branch.

Keeping the momentum going

Once they met their VDI goals in September, Groves’ team was already looking to the next project. With so many remote devices to manage now, he wanted a way to manage them all more efficiently. So the next big project became implementing a Mobile Device Management (MDM) platform, such as VMware Workspace ONE®.

When we asked Groves why he chose Workspace ONE, he had this to say:

“We really went toward Workspace ONE because it plays well with our existing Horizon environment. It also allows the management of devices that aren't ours, and that don't belong to the corporate entity. So with someone's device, we can maintain the same level of control. Workspace ONE is what allows us to do all that and … deliver desktops and applications. So it's all one big combined platform that plays well together.”

While Westerra just completed the implementation of this platform in Q1 of 2021, Groves and his team anticipate the combined functionality of Workspace ONE and Horizon will act as a complete digital workspace, delivering:

  • Simpler, centralized device management
  • Increased security and compliance with financial regulations
  • Greater flexibility for employees who want to work anywhere and leverage personal devices

Why partnering with NGen IT was a must for Westerra

When we asked Groves about Westerra’s relationship with NGen IT, he said he valued it because it was a true partnership. Rather than providing Westerra with a turnkey solution for VDI and MDM implementation, Insight worked side-by-side with his team to share knowledge in context and ensure they were fully prepared to take over management of their new environment.

According to Groves:

“The way we did the implementations is my admins drove while NGen IT’s engineers sat with them and walked through all of it side-by-side. So the knowledge transfer happened during the processes ─ it wasn't a big knowledge dump at the end (which I find to be fairly useless). If you don't understand it, if you weren't part of the process, it doesn't stick. So my team went through it, they were clicking the buttons, filling out the information and asking questions. Sometimes implementations take a little longer day-to-day, but the knowledge transfer happens during the implementation, which leads to a better implementation overall.”

Looking to the future

Of course, Groves and the Westerra team aren’t stopping here ─ there’s always another project on the horizon. “Workspace ONE I think is going to take a lot a lot of time this year,” said Groves. “It has a lot of features and the idea is really to continue to leverage what we already have because we already have all the tools we need, which is a great spot to be in.”

The team wants to explore some additional workaround:

  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Identity and access management
  • Employee onboarding and offboarding automation

“We're not planning any major new transformations. Now we're focused on using what we have and frankly, kind of seeing where things land as things reopen and businesses respond. I think we're waiting to see what that looks like.”

Want to learn more about Westerra’s story? Watch our virtual roundtable discussion with Groves and hear more details straight from the source.

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