October 02, 2003

Tom Lloyd sums up simply what the network monitoring software that Glenview State Bank (GSB) installed offers the $850-million-in-assets company: a proactive solution.

Proactive Intervention

TNT Software's ELM Enterprise Manager alerts Glenview State Bank officials to potential problems with the hardware, software, and security of its roughly 50 servers. "It allows us to be proactive in the monitoring of our network," according to Lloyd, information security officer at the Glenview, Ill.-based bank, which has seven branches, all in suburban Chicago.

Before, Glenview State Bank's IT officials usually found out that a server was going down only as the server actually crashed. Now, Lloyd says, the new monitoring software that the bank installed can pick up early warning signals. "This way, it is going to tell us ahead of time," Lloyd says. "Now, we are just more aware of everything going on in our environment."

Growth Demands New Tech

Previously, Glenview State Bank did not have any centralized software to help it monitor potential network problems, forcing staff members who tried to spot any trouble looming by sorting through event logs. But as the company steadily grew, two years ago GSB officials realized that they had to do something. And, as Lloyd says, "from an auditing standpoint, the auditors want you to keep abreast of security events."

GSB had two choices. It could hire new staff members devoted solely to that job. "All (that the new staff members) are going to do is look at event logs. It would be pretty much 24/7," Lloyd says. Or, Glenview State Bank could look for some network monitoring technology.

GSB decided on the second approach. "We realized that with the manpower we had in place, if we wanted to be proactive, this solution would help us centralize the monitoring of our servers," Lloyd says. Officials of the company considered Vancouver, Wash.-based TNT's ELM Enterprise Manager and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (Palo Alto, Calif.)HP OpenView software, but opted against the latter largely because of its relatively high price. The TNT software "gave us a similar solution in a smaller package with a better price," he says.

So in 2001 the company did a beta-test of TNT's ELM Enterprise Manager, installing the software on a sub-network of three servers "just to get accustomed to the way it works," Lloyd says. After about six months, he says, Glenview State Bank officials felt comfortable with the software and began using it systemwide.

Customized Monitoring

The software is "very customizable," Lloyd says, so Glenview State Bank officials had to decide on the parameters for it to notify them of a potential problem: what events would qualify for notification, how often those events must occur for notification to happen, who would be notified, and the methods and timing for notification. Setting the parameters and monitoring them for possible adjustment "was and still remains the most complex piece of the puzzle," Lloyd says.

"The biggest issue is determining what is important to us," Lloyd says. "I could say 'Show me everything,' but then we are back at square one," with IT staffers responding to every single network hiccup.

The software helps with performance monitoring of servers in several ways. ELM Enterprise Manager alerts Glenview State Bank staffers if a server has a potentially "too-high level" of disk space, memory, or processor utilization, according to Lloyd. It sends a "ping" signal to servers every minute to check that they are up and running. And if a server does not respond after five pings, the IT staff is notified. The software also monitors event logs that keep track mostly of security-related events, such as an unauthorized attempt to log onto a server.

Reliable Data

Lloyd declines to comment on how much Glenview State Bank paid for the software. But the bank could quantify its savings, he says, because the alternative was to hire three people to watch its network around-the-clock. "And I still do not think we would get the full benefits of monitoring that we get now," according to Lloyd, because the software can observe the network more carefully and efficiently than humans. "This makes everything more streamlined. And the data is more reliable."

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Fast Facts

INSTITUTION: Glenview State Bank (Glenview, Ill.)

ASSETS: $850 million

BUSINESS CHALLENGE: Increase network performance and reliability without adding staff.

SOLUTION: TNT's (Vancouver, Wash.) ELM Enterprise Manager network monitoring software.

KEY QUOTE: "This makes everything more streamlined. And the data is more reliable." - Tom Lloyd, Information Security Officer, Glenview State Bank