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Managing Growth at Park Sterling Bank

The Charlotte-based bank used Citrix and Safe Systems as it sought to update its server systems after a big merger.

While many small banks were struggling, and in some cases closing, over the past year, Park Sterling Bank (Charlotte, N.C.) had just the opposite experience.

Park Sterling saw rapid growth in the past year which was highlighted by a merger with Community Capital Bank that resulted in a newly combined $1.1 billion asset entity with 23 branches. In total, the bank grew its assets by 81 percent during 2011, which was cause for celebration but also put a strain on the bank's small IT staff.

While some larger institutions could manage this increased workload in-house, Park Sterling would have needed to at least double its IT staff of three, says Kirt Knauer, chief technology officer for the bank.

For that reason, Park Sterling decided to outsource its IT infrastructure, explains Knauer. "It provides us with access to a skill set that we could not sustain in-house," he adds.

According Knauer, the bank had an older server system and realized it needed to upgrade as it took on additional growth through the merger. Knauer said Park Sterling went with a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Citrix server farm.

"Prior to Citrix, we were on an outdated server system: One for file and print, one for exchange and one for email," he says. "If the hard drive failed, we were looking at hours to manually repair and rebuild."

Knauer says now that his team does not have to focus on server maintenance as much, they can focus on the important task of facilitating the network merger for the new bank entity, expect to be completed by June. "It's allowed me to pull my staff off of the day-to-day routine stuff, and focus on the merger," he notes.

Park Sterling also tabbed managed IT services provider Safe Systems to oversee its data vaulting, email encryption and third party patch management, as well as constant monitoring, remediation and updating of the Citrix environment.

"This is great because it allows us to stay as light, flexible and nimble as possible as we grow," Knauer says.

As the bank increases its cloud services and the BYOD trend is incorporated more in the workplace, Knauer says it will be integral to "balance security and access with our estimated growth."

Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as a municipal and courts reporter for daily newspapers in upstate New York, Bryan has ... View Full Bio

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