GTE Federal Credit Union Finds State-of-the Art Solutions

Collaboration and modifications deliver reliable, space saving DataCom equipment protection

When GTE Federal Credit Union needed help configuring its new data center, the shortest route to a customized solution proved to be a round-trip from the Tampa-based facility to the Minnesota headquarters of its network cabinet supplier.


GTE Federal Credit Union, founded in 1935, is the nation’s 35th largest credit union serving more than 230,000 members through 38 branches. With more than

$1 billion in assets, it was the first credit union in the world to offer credit cards, and its continued delivery of high quality, competitive products and services necessitated the building of a state-of-the-art data center and national call center to efficiently process the ever-growing number of financial transactions and phone calls. Planning hit a snag in 2003, however, when the data center’s floor space appeared inadequate for housing the necessary networking equipment. 


Experts from Hoffman Enclosures, Anoka, Minn., visited the project during construction for a first-hand look at its challenges. Richard Bryan, Hoffman’s Director of DataCom Sales, and Lee Davenport, a Hoffman DataCom Regional Sales Manager, invited key Credit Union personnel to visit Hoffman’s Anoka manufacturing facility to collaborate on an enclosure solution.


“Due to the data center’s complexity and tight time frame, it was important to get the cabinet configuration right the first time,” said Barry Artis, Vice President Information Technology (IT) Communications, GTE Federal Credit Union. “We greatly appreciated Hoffman’s offer to work with our network engineer.”


In Minnesota, Hoffman engineers worked closely with Darin Synhorst, Network Engineer, GTE Federal Credit Union, to design cabinets that would meet their equipment needs and space expectations. Drawings that incorporated Synhorst’s vision of a clean, uncluttered data center that included good cable management were produced within 24 hours of the one-day visit.


Hoffman engineers proposed using modular PROLINE® DataCom Cabinets. Their flexibility to accept new or change cabinet components quickly and easily would enable the Credit Union to meet its current and future requirements. Additionally, the cabinets were designed with perforated panels on all sides to create airflow to eliminate network equipment heat build-up.


Modifying the PROLINE cabinets with split (bi-fold) doors on the front and back enabled rows of cabinets to be placed closer together. It also saved floor space, providing more room for workers to perform their tasks, increased efficiency and facilitated access by providing simultaneous front and rear access. In addition, top-mount fans and the power supply were also customized.


After two weeks of studying the designs and making minor modifications, GTE Federal Credit Union placed an order with two distributors. Cabinets for the data center were ordered through Accu-Tech in Tampa, Fla., and the telecommunications room cabinets were ordered through Communication Supply Corp (CSC) in Tampa, Fla.


Thirty modified PROLINE cabinets, featuring perforated split front and rear doors, and three sets of mounting channels were ordered for the data center. The 23 cabinets for the telecommunications room feature a front window door and a louvered back door. If necessary, these standard cabinets can easily be upgraded with split doors in the future.


“Once the cabinets were on-site and inspected by our IT team, we knew we had made the right choice,” said Artis. “The cabinets addressed our floor space utilization concerns by using bi-fold doors, perforated sides for heat dissipation and modularity that allows for future growth.”


Morgan Technology, a Lakeland, Fla., technology services provider and Hoffman DataCom Dividends partner, installed the cabinets and provided data center design expertise to help determine optimum space configuration.


Morgan Technology also helped set up and install the cabling infrastructure and worked closely with the Credit Union’s IT employees to logically lay out the server cabinets, IT cabinets and data center from a connectivity standpoint.


“The hallmark of this project was the excellent cooperation and communication between GTE Federal Credit Union, Hoffman, the distributors (CSC and Accu-Tech) and Morgan Technology to meet the customer’s needs and deliver on a tight time frame,” said Kirt Kiester, president, Morgan Technology. “The data center features a flexible, open system architecture for a multitude of services–including data, voice, video, security applications and building management services–essentially any system that can operate on Category 6 cable.”


GTE Federal Credit Union requested that the cabinets be delivered within 30 to 45 days. Hoffman shipped the orders within 30 days, and although several cabinets were damaged in transit, Hoffman quickly replaced them and kept the project on schedule.


“This was a great installation, and it shows Hoffman’s ability to meet customers’ needs with superior manufacturing technology,” said Kathy Overton of Cabling Technologies, Inc. (CTI), Hoffman’s manufacturer’s representative for Florida’s west coast. “The Credit Union received what they wanted, when they wanted it, and they can retrofit the standard cabinets as needed in the future.”


“We really appreciated the efforts of Hoffman, CTI and Morgan Technology to deliver on the final product,” added Artis. “And we’re very pleased with the result.”