BlueShore Financial is a credit union based in British Columbia, Canada, with $7 billion in assets under administration and 13 branches across the Greater Vancouver area and Sea-to-Sky region. The organization promotes “financial wellness,” a concept it reinforces with a sophisticated, spa-like atmosphere in branches and high-touch service that helps put clients at ease as they make decisions to manage their wealth. This wellness philosophy extends to employees, so when the organization brought its website in-house in late 2021, it looked for a security solution that was easy to manage. BlueShore turned to F5 Distributed Cloud Web App and API Protection (WAAP) for effective security that was easy to operate. Now the BlueShore IT team can feel confident knowing their website is protected by F5 security.
To increase control over its applications and IT services, BlueShore recently began managing its website in-house and stopped relying on a service provider. Doing so enhances its ability to manage the digital experience for clients—including incorporating aspects of a spa atmosphere. The shift also makes changes faster, easier, and less time-consuming for IT staff and helps the credit union adapt more rapidly to the market.
“Controlling that experience ourselves is about being able to quickly modify what we’re doing and how we’re being present on the Internet,” says Ryan Burgess, Director of Technology Infrastructure for BlueShore. “It’s part of our digital estate and an advantage we need.”
As Fred Cook, BlueShore’s chief information officer, notes, “Developing a robust hybrid cloud infrastructure gives us a competitive edge.”
That meant providing their own security, too—and it had to be effective. “Digital security is important because at the end of the day, clients are trusting us with their financial wellness,” says Burgess.
“F5 Distributed Cloud WAAP service provides the exact combination we need—high efficacy to protect web properties and online banking applications, coupled with the agility and ease of operation of a SaaS-based offering.”
In addition, the simpler the solution, the better. The BlueShore IT team—fewer than two dozen people—didn’t want to deploy or manage a complex solution.
“I am very passionate about keeping things simple,” says Burgess. First, his team needed to ensure what they implemented would directly benefit clients. In addition, he explains that the company’s interest in wellness, expressed through its client support as well as its “financial wellness” go-to-market positioning, also applies to employees.
Affordability was also a consideration. As Burgess explains, the team was looking for “the ultimate experience at a reasonable cost.”
Though he considered other solutions, it wasn’t a difficult decision to work with F5. After more than a decade of partnership, including deployment of BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM) and BIG-IP Access Policy Manager (APM), BlueShore trusted both the relationship and F5 products.
BlueShore decided to use Distributed Cloud WAAP, starting with the web application firewall (WAF) service. The solution’s as-a-Service delivery was key. “It became a pretty easy choice,” Burgess says.
Robert Lai, senior infrastructure analyst for BlueShore, says F5 support eased any apprehension his team may have felt about the transition. “The local F5 team was immensely helpful in getting us up to speed. We were able to manage it ourselves from day one, and we’re continuing to see the product evolve.”
“Using F5 technology means our IT team can have full confidence that our website is being protected at all times, while improving the performance of our digital apps.”
Security protection for the credit union’s self-hosted website went into effect almost immediately. Burgess says, “No change is ever going to be entirely easy, but the [F5] team was so focused on making sure we were successful that we flattened all the roadblocks quickly and well before we went live.”
This was important not only for practical reasons but because the F5 solution supports an overall digital strategy that BlueShore is using to differentiate itself. “There were a lot of people saying, ‘Why don’t you just outsource this to the public cloud?’” Burgess recalls. “I think the value has shown—we have better experiences for our clients, and the orchestration is completely within our controls.”
When asked about the performance of Distributed Cloud WAAP, Burgess laughs. “Everything’s better,” he says. “Everything’s faster, everything’s scoring higher in terms of search engine optimization, and we’re able to do things we couldn’t before. F5 Distributed Cloud WAAP service provides the exact combination we need—high efficacy to protect web properties and online banking applications, coupled with the agility and ease of operation of a SaaS-based offering.”
The security provided by F5 is keeping the organization and its clients safe. Burgess says he appreciates that the solution, which operates to secure traffic outside of the company’s perimeter, protects BlueShore assets from bad actors while drawing on the global security infrastructure, intelligence, and expertise of F5.
Cook says, “Using F5 technology means our IT team can have full confidence that our website is being protected at all times while improving the performance of our digital apps. Strong security and app performance are both key parts of our overall business and strategic objectives.”
Burgess also values the solution’s simplicity. He says, “It’s easy to use, with a lot of automation.”
In addition, his team gains visibility into threats. “It’s giving us intelligence about what’s going on better than with other approaches,” he says. That insight is particularly important as his team tackles related projects, including self-management and protection of the company’s online banking experience.
Finally, Lai says he’s pleased with the opportunity for team growth. “We’ve all leveled up our skill sets and been introduced to technologies we wouldn’t have otherwise. Because of that, we’re now in a better position for future projects. And I’m better able to see my direct contributions and their positive impact on our clients.”
Burgess praises the support he received from F5 throughout the decision and deployment process. “The team was very easy to work with, extremely responsive,” he says. “It’s a cliché, but they went the extra mile for us.”
Thanks to the strengths of the partnership and the product, he expects to continue leveraging other F5 capabilities to provide an online banking experience with the lowest possible level of friction and the highest security. Specifically, the BlueShore IT team can choose from a menu of SaaS-based security solutions from F5—just as the credit union offers a menu of services to support members’ financial wellness. “We can pick and choose the pieces we want to support our needs,” Burgess says. “We’re going to lean on F5 to make our security as seamless and invisible as possible.”
You might even say the partnership supports digital wellness.