This month we head to New Orleans to learn about a banker who, following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, is managing $11 billion Whitney National Bank’s high availability mainframe and distributed systems infrastructure.
Name: Scott Erlichman
SVP and Director of Computing and Systems Delivery
Whitney National Bank ($11 B), New Orleans, LA
Prior Banking Gigs:
Prior to the Whitney, Scott spent seven years with Fleet, managing the infrastructure for the bank’s credit card division. During his tenure, he established Fleet’s largest credit card support facility in Colorado Springs, where he resided for four years. Scott also did a tour of duty with JP Morgan Chase in Wilmington, DE, via the Bank One acquisition, as a VP of infrastructure managing multiple engineering teams.
Stockton College of New Jersey
What’s keeping Scott busy?
When he’s not carving up the water and snow, this GonzoBanker can be found stringing together the infrastructure for $11 billion dollar Whitney National Bank. Scott couldn’t resist the opportunity to use skills and disciplines honed at large financial institutions to tackle the challenge of moving an organization that has grown up over 125 years from a local, regional and super-regional bank to be of enterprise class, prepared and scaled for the future.
Gonzo Claim to Fame – Whitney’s Duke in the Krewe of Infrastructure
After Hurricane Katrina forced the “Survival Mode” project upon the bank, Whitney’s Board and Executive Management made the decision to move the primary computing assets out of harm’s way. Although the New Orleans data center remained intact, dry and powered by generators throughout the disaster, the regional telecom infrastructure was out of service, effectively leaving the bank’s unaffected markets throughout the southeast blind to mainframe data.
A plan was developed, vetted through industry experts and within a year executed to migrate the mainframe and distributed systems to a tier-3 facility in the Dallas region. During this planning process, dubbed ”STAR” (Strategic Technology Assessment and Relocation), the bank took advantage of recent developments in technology to virtualize 90% of the distributed environment and use SANs for data consolidation and efficiency gains. In addition, real-time and sub-real-time data replication strategies to backup sites in Chicago and Atlanta were implemented.
Management wanted the employees to remain in the New Orleans area to promote the rebuilding of New Orleans. The remote shops are lights out facilities fully managed by Whitney staff in New Orleans.
Because investing in systems upgrades and refreshing technology is standard practice, the incremental cost to distribute the infrastructure was not a surprise nor was it looked at as insurance only. “It is a strategic investment aimed at protecting the shareholder’s investment and delivering the services customers expect,” Scott said.
Any glitches in the project?
The planning and testing were extremely detailed and required heavy user involvement. The actual moves were done methodically in phases, and it went so smoothly the only hiccup was managing vendor access to the remote facilities.
Keys to success on the project:
Scott offers up a couple of critical considerations:
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Make sure email and other critical communication platforms are at the top of the recovery list. With the geographic disbursement of management and employees, effective communication is critical.
Who on your team would you like to give credit to for helping make this project successful?
The entire I.T. team at Whitney deserves the credit as do the lines of businesses who dedicated resources to the migration testing.
Claim to fame outside the office:
Scott is an award winning wakeboarder and snowboarder and is also an accomplished billiards player.
Scott’s favorite album of all time:
Having been in a band and still playing the guitar, Scott finds Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Aliens riveting.
Scott’s favorite movie of all time:
The Hunt for Red October
Big thanks to Scott for the interview. We are happy to donate $250 in Scott’s name to the United Way of New Orleans.
To all you GonzoBankers out there, maybe you won’t get a flood and maybe global warming won’t melt your systems down, but are you willing to put a half-billion dollar market cap on the table and roll the dice?
“Laissez les bons temps rouler!” … … …Let the good times roll………..