Published on 31-Mar-2009
"IBM definitely offered a performance and scalability capability that was far superior to anything else we had or evaluated. The different protocols that it could handle with respect to connectivity made the DataPower appliance appealing as a leader in that market segment." - Director, a leading North American bank
North American Bank
Enabling Business Flexibility, Service Oriented Architecture
This leading North American bank needed to be able to integrate disparate business systems and meet business scaling needs. The bank chose IBM WebSphere DataPower Integration Appliance XI50 network devices as a hardware ESB to provide content-based routing, joining front-end users with back-end services.
Implement SOA to integrate disparate systems and meet business needs for scalability, flexibility and fast deployment
Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) based on flexible SOA appliance integrating bank’s front-end consumers with back-end providers
10 million USD savings over five years compared to third-party proof-of-concept Low initial cost of ESB solution Ability to deploy new services in one weekend versus weeks or months with previous technology Scalability to meet needs for five years or more Zero downtime in four years
Competing in today’s turbulent markets requires flexibility and the agility to respond quickly to change. For a leading North American bank, a major part of that challenge is being able to bring its banking applications together with the databases that support them in a rapid fashion and to put new services, as well as alterations to existing applications, on the fast track.
The bank pursues two lines of business that together provide an extensive range of financial products and services. The first, Retail Markets, covers retail markets, wealth management and credit cards, providing a full range of offerings to more than 11 million individual and small-business customers. The second, World Markets, acts as the wholesale banking arm, offering a variety of integrated credit and capital market products and investment and merchant banking services to customers in global and North American financial markets.
In 2003, the financial institution decided to implement a service oriented architecture (SOA) to integrate disparate business systems, meet business scaling needs, and simplify and accelerate the tasks of adding new services and enhancing existing ones. At that time, the bank’s applications were integrated through an older technology, which was costly and too rigid and difficult to change. “If we were changing a back-end system and had six or seven channels connected directly with no integration layer, it became a huge coordination effort and significantly increased the risk to every deployment,” says an IT director. “All of the applications had to be involved in any type of migration or back-end change.”
The bank has a customer-centric multi-channel retail system that brings together retail branch, online banking, telephone banking and automated teller machines (ATMs). As with most large enterprises that have invested in legacy back-end applications, the bank needed to migrate these applications away from the older technology and implement an ESB that would make it possible to rapidly couple front and back ends in a consistent way. There were also new shared services being created, such as enterprise faxing that mandated a new loosely coupled integration layer.
Seeking an SOA solution
The bank kicked off a project to roll out an enterprise service bus using a leading J2EE™ application middleware vendor. However, performance testing revealed that the solution could not meet the financial institution’s threshold requirements in terms of scalability, performance and open standards.
The bank started to consider other cost-effective solutions on the market that could help it implement an SOA to boost the scalability and performance of its integration environment. It needed a solution that would be easy to use and that would offer XML transformation capabilities to facilitate integration with all of its customer support systems. In addition, the solution needed to be able to integrate with its standard IT environment, which consists of Oracle WebLogic Server, Oracle Database, Solaris Operating System, IBM IMS™ Connect and HP Managed Services.
As it investigated available solutions, the bank discovered IBM WebSphere® DataPower® SOA Appliances and engaged IBM to provide a field trial of the solution. It decided that if the IBM SOA appliances met the company’s criteria, it would make sense to implement them to meet its integration needs.
“IBM definitely offered a performance and scalability capability that was far superior to anything else we had or evaluated,” says the director. “The vast number of different protocols that it could handle with respect to connectivity made the DataPower Appliance appealing as a leader in that market segment.”
Impressed with the success of the trial, the bank invested in IBM WebSphere DataPower SOA Appliances in 2004.
Solution components: Redundant, scalable solution to meet future needs
Currently, the North American financial institution powers its SOA integration layer using nine IBM WebSphere DataPower Integration Appliance XI50s. The appliances are deployed as a hardware ESB, facilitating the routing and transformation of disparate message formats and providing content-based routing. Today there are more than 25 different front-end consumers and back-end providers that attach to the bus. The bank has defined over 170 different service operations that it publishes to this ESB.
For instance, the IBM DataPower Appliances deliver front ends for IBM IMS Connect-based mortgage and lending applications, and provide protocol bridging and binary data conversion functionality.
As another example, an enterprise customer information repository consolidating all customer information has published to the ESB and is consumed by all the various telephone and platform banking applications that need the information. “We could handle all of our current load on one of the DataPower boxes, but we have multiple boxes for increased fault tolerance and enterprise class availability, as well as transactional growth,” says the director. The nine appliances are divided between a primary production site and a disaster recovery site.
The bank has also invested in additional IBM DataPower Appliances for domain-specific services. Shared domain services such as enterprise faxing and customer-centric secure electronic communications have their own application integration layer, which uses another seven DataPower XI50s.
“These solutions will scale to projected usage volumes for five years and more,” says the director. “We have strong demand for domain-specific integration services as well as those on the ESB. By creating a robust integration layer in our architecture, connectivity changes become easier and more flexible, resulting in a more agile enterprise.”
Meeting the test of open standards
With the out-of-the-box support that the IBM WebSphere DataPower Appliances supply for the forward-looking specifications that the bank built into its messaging model, it has the flexibility it needs to extend the ESB to accommodate new consumers and providers. These are vendor-neutral, open standards—a set of mature and ratified specifications of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) such as SOAP, WS-Addressing and WS-Utilities.
In addition, the financial institution has deployed the SSL/TLS encryption functionality on the DataPower Appliances, which helps to secure the solution for the bank and its customers.
Ease of use minimizes training needs
The bank found that junior staffers with two weeks of training could meet the technical requirements for performing administrative tasks on the appliances, such as updating style sheets, schemas and registries, and working through the development lifecycle of services within the ESB. IBM also provides classroom training for new IT staff to ensure that the financial institution has the skill set to take full advantage of the flexibility of their solution.
10 million USD savings over five years
By replacing the third-party solution with WebSphere DataPower SOA Appliances, the bank enjoys an ESB solution with a low initial cost and a projected savings of 10 million USD compared to the third-party trials.
And when it comes to bringing new users on board, the IBM WebSphere DataPower Integration Appliance XI50s make the job quick and easy. “Most of the effort is working with the consumers and providers, enabling them to understand the structure of a service,” says the director. “The actual technical implementation is about 5 to 10 percent of what we do, and we can do it seamlessly, without any downtime, because of our deployment model. A service that would have taken weeks or months to implement can now be deployed over a weekend or a couple of successive evenings using the WebSphere DataPower solution.”
Stellar performance and availability
During peak workloads, the ESB handles more than 120 transactions per second, easily managing the bank’s demands. More than 2 million transactions pass through per day. “As far as uptime is concerned, it’s been over four years since we implemented the DataPower Appliances, and we’ve had zero outage impact,” says the director. “The WebSphere DataPower SOA solution provides us with the flexibility to meet our growing needs and easily and quickly respond to change.”
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
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