Omaha-based First National Technology Solutions, a 26-year-old subsidiary of First National of Nebraska, is aiming to double its revenues as a provider of managed informational technology services to about 160 national clients, most of the firms doing over $1 billion annually in highly regulated industries.
In order to achieve this, FNTS has launched a partnership with Jacksonville, Florida-based Astadia, a mainframe-to-cloud software, consulting and systems integration boutique, specializing in moving IBM and Unisys mainframe applications and databases to cloud platforms.
FNTS President Kim Whittaker said the idea is to help organizations with legacy technology unlock the agility and savings that mainframe migration to the cloud has to offer.
Mainframe operations and maintenance expenses are the fastest growing IT expenses for businesses, and there is a growing talent workforce and skills gap challenging organizations to support these antiquated but mission-critical systems.
“These challenges create extreme business risk, especially for enterprises running core, decades-old legacy applications,” she said. “Migrating applications to contemporary cloud platforms provides the ability for businesses to innovate, reduce operating costs, and extend the life of their investment.”
FNTS, headquartered in 25,000 square feet at 201 N. 16th St. in Omaha, has grown from 85 to 100 employees in the past couple of years. Most of the new jobs have been in cloud and mainframe engineering.
Whittaker, a Kearney native who has been with FNTS since 1996 and who became president in 2017, said mainframe-to-cloud migrations can result in savings of at least 15% on operational costs.
Operating mainframes is one of the fastest growing IT expenses for firms. There is a growing legacy technology skills gap among professionals supporting such complex and mission-critical systems. Plus, many mainframes have limitations when integrated with modern technologies.
FNTS’s partnership with Astadia will enable clients a fast-track mainframe-to-cloud migration and opportunities for innovation into the future as well as a long-term reduction in operating costs.
Whittaker said while FNTS serves customers ranging from Metropolitan Utilities District in Omaha and regional manufacturers to Milwaukee County (Wisconsin), the firm differentiates itself with significant clusters of clients in financial services and health care — both in fast-growing and heavily regulated sectors.
“We’re one of the few such providers to offer both industries a specific cloud solution,” she said.
FNTS expects a cloud shift in the financial services industry within the next three years to be fueled by the rapid pace of IT innovation. It is predicted that more than 45% of traditional IT spending will move to the cloud.
In the health care industry, Bloomington, Minnesota-based MatrixCare, which operates long-term care and senior living communities, challenged FNTS to not only manage its existing infrastructure, but to come up with new proactive technology solutions, which could address MatrixCare’s strategic growth plan and provide for 24/7 availability of critical applications.
In addition to outsourcing their hosting environment, MatrixCare wanted to reduce its capital investments for hardware purchases while having access to a certified engineering staff, scalable storage and computing resources.
Whittaker said the FNTS solution was customized to involve the cloud, a capacity planning model to adjust to business changes, day-to-day support of the systems, storage, network and backup, HIPAA and other regulatory compliance, and personal service from a 24/7 service desk and a service account manager.
MatrixCare consolidated two other data center environments into the FNTS data center by migrating from primarily virtual servers to a 100% virtual server environment.
Whittaker said such projects have been important in FNTS’’s growth into being “a strong regional player.”
Another important FNTS relationship has been work for Minneapolis-based Deluxe Corp., a payments and technology firm with roots going back to 1915.
“We helped them save over $2 million per year by moving [them] to our FNTS cloud and mainframe-as-a service offering,” she said.
In a blog analysis earlier this year, Whittaker said much of FNTS’s growth thrust is to stay abreast of the evolving technologies that impact businesses around the globe in the reimagined workplace.
“Cloud innovation, technology system modernization, cost optimization and providing exceptional service delivery will remain front and center,” she said.
Whittaker said FNTS is working toward completing advanced specializations within Azure for mainframe modernization, Azure Virtual Desktop and Azure services.
Keeping an eye on emerging technologies, edge computing will continue to drive cloud decisions. Containerization of applications will continue to be in high demand. Artificial intelligence and machine learning may get more tactical. Security requirements will continue to accelerate and strategies for disaster recovery will grow.
Whittaker, who has an MBA from University of Nebraska at Omaha, said work for MUD has spanned several years and involved the public utility’s decision to get out of the data center business and to utilize the private cloud provided by FNTS.
“The relationship with us has saved them $6 million over the past five or six years,” she said. “We are technology landscape focused and that appeals to utilities.”
FNTS provides cloud solutions including mainframe-as-a-service, IBM I/AIX-as a-Service, FNTS Financial Services Cloud, FNTS Healthcare Cloud, and Azure Cloud. FNTS assists clients with the design, build, migration, security and ongoing management of the cloud solution, and provides modernization and optimization services throughout the life of the engagement.
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