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ING Opens Windsor Facility

ING's largest IT contingent in the U.S. will benefit from modern IT infrastructure at the carrier's new 'green' facility in Windsor, Connecticut.

With the move of its Hartford-based operations to a newly built site in Windsor, Conn., ING Americas -- a division of ING Group, (Amsterdam; US$109.2 billion in total income) -- will enjoy an improved IT infrastructure, as well as a boost to the morale of its IT organization, which played a major role in preparing the new facility. The site officially opened in mid-October with the move of about 300 employees, according to Phil Margolis, an ING spokesman. The balance of the carrier's 2,200 Hartford-based staff is scheduled to transfer to the new facility by the end of 2007, he relates.

The 76-acre Windsor location includes a four-story, 475,000-square-foot structure. ING introduced improved technology infrastructure as part of the move and worked with local energy distributor Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) to ensure the use of environmentally friendly and energy-efficient construction practices, including sensors to extinguish lights in unoccupied spaces, dim lighting on the facility's perimeter and a highly efficient climate control system. The building's location near two power grids also provides greater stability from a business continuity perspective, stresses Margolis, who explains that the Windsor location runs on a redundant uninterruptible power supply (UPS) with full backup generator.

The "green" building -- which will house ING's primary retirement services business, the company's largest business unit in the country -- is the company's biggest IT center in the United States, according to Margolis. Half of Atlanta-based ING CIO Ed Steinike's direct reports will be based in the Windsor facility, including the heads of infrastructure, IT risk management, strategic services, wealth management IT, and customer and distributor services, he adds. About 700 IT workers in total will call the facility home.

Those workers played a part in giving ING's Connecticut operations a more modern working environment at the Windsor facility. Among the IT infrastructure improvements over the Hartford location are the implementation of structured cabling with fiber backbone and full redundancy to the desktop level, with CAT6 (250MHz, 10Gbps) capability. That infrastructure supports newly implemented Voice Over IP (VOIP) telephony and wireless connectivity, with 125 access points to ensure full coverage throughout the building. The facility also has full videoconferencing capabilities and touch-sensitive electronic whiteboards in conference rooms, according to Margolis.

If playing a vital role in the success of the $100 million move to Windsor weren't motivation enough, ING's Hartford-based IT employees had a further incentive in moving from an antiquated building to a state-of-the-art facility: The majority of IT staff had been stationed in a basement space designed for housing computers, complete with raised floors for cabling, Margolis notes.

More-Attractive Facilities

As such, the move is a "big deal" for IT, Margolis says, especially at a time when ING faces the same pressures as other companies to attract and retain top IT talent. One senior IT manager, he adds, described the new facility as "ten times better" than the previous facility.

And the infrastructure and decor improvements aren't the only ones that make a difference. "Parking for most employees [at the Hartford facility] necessitated a 10- to 15-minute walk or time waiting for a shuttle bus," Margolis relates. Now, "Morale is way up in the [IT] group."

Editor's Note:: At the beginning of 2007, Amsterdam-based ING Group declared its intention to be carbon-neutral by the end of the year through the reduction of and/or compensation for all of its global carbon emissions that result from energy usage and travel. In September the company announced it would purchase renewable energy for all of its U.S. locations, buying 70 million kilowatt hours of clean wind energy credits from Radnor, Pa.-based Community Energy.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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