United Bank offers financial services to customers in DC, MD, OH, PA, VA and WV. It has 123 locations and 1,600 employees. Its holding company, United Bankshares, Inc., has US$8.5 billion in assets.
"There's no contest between GroupWise and Exchange. Nothing is more secure than GroupWise."
Messaging and Collaboration Specialist
Willem Bagchus has been a GroupWise® fan for more than 10 years. When he started working for United Bank in 2010, he was happy to shepherd their collaboration system. Then they acquired another bank.
United Bank, with offices in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC, has a mixed data center and uses most of our products, including Open Enterprise Server, ZENworks® and GroupWise. Computer Systems Analyst Willem Bagchus jumped at the opportunity to join the bank as messaging and collaboration specialist in 2010.
“United Bank had been a fully integrated Novell (now a part of Micro Focus) shop for many years,” Bagchus recalls.“Working with an IT team full of senior-level specialists was a huge attraction for this job.”
His first task was upgrading the bank from GroupWise 7 to GroupWise 8. “I’ve completed upgrades to GroupWise 8 so often it was a no-brainer,” he says. “That was done in no time.”
In 2011, United Bank acquired a bank that used Microsoft Exchange. As messaging and collaboration specialist, it was Bagchus who ran the migration project to GroupWise. It turned out to be a smooth conversion.
The bank was firmly committed to GroupWise and knew that whatever acquisitions they made, GroupWise would remain the corporate email standard. “There’s no contest between GroupWise and Exchange. Nothing is more secure than GroupWise,” Bagchus says.
Bagchus did the migration in stages, using the Exchange-to-GroupWise migration utility provided by us to move the data. He upgraded the workstations to the GroupWise 8 client with the help of ZENworks. The migration was a success.
“GroupWise does everything it says it will do and it works all the time, every time,” he says. A year later, United Bank participated in the Lighthouse Project to help roll out GroupWise 2012. We gave Bagchus direct access to GroupWise engineers during the upgrade to prerelease software. In return, he provided valuable, detailed feedback to our developers and support team.
“It was a very positive experience, and I was happy to participate,” he says. “The downtime was negligible during the upgrade to GroupWise 2012. And the Novell team was amazing.”
Today, all of the bank’s employees are using GroupWise 2012. “The design of GroupWise is such that you can upgrade the back end and client separately, if your timeframe requires two stages,” Bagchus says. “But the bottom line is we upgraded the back end in an afternoon because the design of the product makes it so easy. We used all the same servers as before and there was almost no downtime.”
The IT team also appreciates the management features of GroupWise 2012. “For IT, the biggest advantage of GroupWise is that it just works. It’s easy to troubleshoot, easy to track message flow, and it’s secure.” Bagchus believes GroupWise has a huge advantage over other collaboration systems because it’s a lot less work to upgrade—and it takes a lot less time to manage.
“The advantage of being a GroupWise administrator is access to more time, the one resource we have the least of, and something you can’t buy more of,” he explains. “When you’re not trying to fix the system every day, you have time for other projects.”
Bagchus regularly attends BrainShare® and enjoys talking to the GroupWise engineers and developers. He’s very enthusiastic about the future of GroupWise.
“Look at the GroupWise roadmap. Soon we’ll be able to use GroupWise in more environments than ever—even co-existing with Exchange,” he says. “GroupWise is on the right track. Novell is listening to its customers and putting their needs front and center. And when customer input is the guiding force for product development, you’ve got it made.”