Fiserv’s CheckFree leverages its data warehouse to innovate in financial services

Published on 06-Nov-2008

Validated on 07 Oct 2013

"While efficient storage and continuous availability are essential, we realized we could dream bigger—and made a conscious decision to leverage information as a strategic asset. The bill payments data warehouse allows CheckFree to enable our financial institution customers to utilize information to improve their services and enhance customer satisfaction, while also better managing risk and reducing fraud. It’s a capability that sets us apart." - Kevin McDearis, Director, Engineering, Fiserv Enterprise Technology

Customer:
Fiserv's CheckFree

Industry:
Financial Markets

Deployment country:
United States

Solution:
Data Warehouse, Information On Demand, Leveraging Information

Overview

CheckFree, now part of Fiserv Inc., has been instrumental in driving this change. Fiserv is a leading provider of information technology services to the financial and insurance industries, and counts more than 6,000 financial institutions among its customers, including 22 of the top 25 U.S. financial institutions. Among other services,

Business need:
Leverage data and resources in new ways to foster business growth, maintain high service quality and keep operational costs down

Solution:
A data warehouse that helps associates use information as a strategic asset and unlocks its business value for optimized performance and improved customer satisfaction

Benefits:
Provided greater insight into consumer needs to help deliver innovative products; deferred more than $1 million in storage expenditures; improved data performance and maintained high service levels despite 100 percent data growth; able to handle more than one billion transactions yearly

Case Study

Paper or paperless?

This has become the prevalent question for today’s consumers. Be it for speed, efficiency, or simply “greener” living, more consumers than ever are receiving and paying their bills online. In fact, the 2007 Consumer Bill Payment Survey showed that, for the first time, online bill payments exceeded bill payments made by paper check among online households.1

CheckFree, now part of Fiserv Inc., has been instrumental in driving this change. Fiserv is a leading provider of information technology services to the financial and insurance industries, and counts more than 6,000 financial institutions among its customers, including 22 of the top 25 U.S. financial institutions. Among other services, Fiserv’s CheckFree supports electronic billing and payment (EBP) for thousands of these financial institutions, including banks, brokerages and credit unions. Its clients include Bank of America, U.S. Bank, SunTrust, Wachovia, Wells Fargo, Charles Schwab, Navy Federal Credit Union and USAA, along with regional and community financial institutions.

“CheckFree processes more than 1 billion transactions a year,” says Richard Jones, executive vice president and CIO, Fiserv. “For people who pay bills online, in most cases they’re using CheckFree capabilities at their bank sites.”

Leveraging information for business advantage

To achieve success, CheckFree uses information as a strategic asset, unlocking its business value to help financial institutions optimize performance and improve customer satisfaction. The company’s bill payments data warehouse is at the heart of its ability to leverage information for business advantage.

Data—including consumer usage information, case and claim data, electronic billing information and employee data—is gathered from different sources across the company, processed by extract, transform and load (ETL) technology, and then loaded into IBM DB2® software.

By gaining a comprehensive, single view of this data, Fiserv’s CheckFree can help its clients understand consumer bill payment habits and identify new market opportunities. For example, by analyzing all the services each customer uses, financial institutions can identify which services are missing from a consumer’s “basket” and recommend them. This is driving new revenue opportunities for both CheckFree and its clients and helping consumers find new ways to save time and money and better manage their finances.

Delivering flexibility and scalability

IBM DB2 9 running on IBM System p5® 575 servers, part of the IBM Power Systems™ family, helps drive this sophisticated bill payments data warehouse.

“IBM has helped us establish and maintain a trusted view of information so we can gain greater insight into consumer needs and help financial institutions enhance their service offerings,” says Kevin McDearis, director, Engineering, Fiserv Enterprise Technology.

The bill payments data warehouse environment consists of multiple IBM System p5 575 servers (each with 8 CPUs and 64 gigabytes RAM). It maintains approximately 25 terabytes of storage between application and backup storage. The majority of the servers run a single clustered database instance of DB2 distributed. A separate server handles all the extract, transform and load processing, while yet another is a hot-standby server that has been configured to take over if one of the other servers fails. IBM High Availability Cluster Multi-Processing (HACMP™) software allows for one of the servers to fail (or be taken down) and, with a minor amount of administration, have the application up and running on this hot-standby server so the company can meet the 24x7 service level agreements for electronic bill payments data warehouse environments.

Given the sensitive nature of the information stored, IBM DB2 Query Patroller software is used as an auditing lens to see who is accessing what data. It also enables CheckFree associates to determine what processes to execute and when to balance utilization and optimize throughput. Finally, DB2 Query Patroller software provides input into DB2 Design Advisor software in order to make recommendations on enterprise performance and tuning.

Optimizing performance and productivity with DB2 9

In recent years, the rapid adoption of electronic billing and payment services has led to an exponential increase in data and transaction volumes handled by Fiserv’s CheckFree, and has increased the company’s need to more efficiently store and manage data associated with those transactions. In addition, transaction data must be available at all times to enable CheckFree to meet 24x7 service level agreements with the company’s financial institution clients.

Upgrading to IBM DB2 9 has provided the company a powerful data server foundation that is reducing its cost of ownership of the bill payments data warehouse environment and improving data availability and performance.

For example, the advanced data partitioning feature has enabled CheckFree to rigorously test electronic billing and payment systems for new clients without having to create a dedicated data warehouse for its test environment. By repositioning and reusing storage through partition expansion, the company has been able to defer significant expenses and improve database performance while maintaining its service level agreements.

“With the new DB2 data partitioning capability, we were able to balance the workload on our current hardware and accommodate almost 18 months of additional growth,” explains Leroy Hill, manager, Database Engineering, CheckFree, now part of Fiserv. “This is instrumental in helping us maintain our service level agreements while gaining increased economies of scale.”

Likewise, the DB2 9 data compression feature is enabling Fiserv’s CheckFree to accommodate the rapid growth of information and maintain high performance without having to buy additional storage systems.

“Our database size has more than doubled since 2005,” adds Hill. “By upgrading to DB2 9, we recovered 2.3 terabytes of storage and deferred more than $1 million in storage expenditures during the fiscal year.”

Sustaining a competitive advantage

Fiserv’s CheckFree strives to make complex financial activities easier for businesses and consumers. And by doing so its business is soaring.

“While efficient storage and continuous availability are essential, we realized we could dream bigger—and made a conscious decision to leverage information as a strategic asset,” says McDearis. “The bill payments data warehouse allows CheckFree to enable our financial institution customers to utilize information to improve their services and enhance customer satisfaction, while also better managing risk and reducing fraud. It’s a capability that sets us apart.”

Pull Quotes:

"CheckFree processes more than 1 billion transactions a year. For people who pay bills online, in most cases they’re using CheckFree capabilities at their bank sites.”
– Richard Jones, Executive Vice President and CIO, Fiserv

"Our database size has more than doubled since 2005. By upgrading to DB2 9, we recovered 2.3 terabytes of storage and deferred more than $1 million in storage expenditures during the fiscal year.”
– Leroy Hill, Manager, Database Engineering, CheckFree

"While efficient storage and continuous availability are essential, we realized we could dream bigger—and made a conscious decision to leverage information as a strategic asset. The bill payments data warehouse allows CheckFree to enable our financial institution customers to utilize information to improve their services and enhance customer satisfaction, while also better managing risk and reducing fraud. It’s a capability that sets us apart.”
– Kevin McDearis, Director, Engineering, Fiserv Enterprise Technology

Solution Components
Servers

  • IBM System p5® 575

Software
  • IBM DB2® 9 with Data Partitioning Feature and Data Compression
  • IBM DB2 Design Advisor
  • IBM DB2 Query Patroller
  • IBM HACMP™ (High Availability Cluster Multi-Processing)

For more information

Contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/software/data/db2

You can get even more out of Information Management software by participating in independently run Information Management User Groups around the world. Learn about opportunities near you at: ibm.com/software/data/usergroup .

For more information on Fiserv, visit: www.fiserv.com

For more information on Fiserv’s CheckFree, visit: www.checkfree.com

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
System p: Power 575

Software:
DB2 9 for Linux, UNIX and Windows, DB2 Query Patroller, High Availability Cluster Multi-Processing (HACMP)

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2008 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America October 2008 All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com DB2, HACMP, Power Systems and System p5 are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml Other company, product or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. This case study is an example of how one customer uses IBM products. There is no guarantee of comparable results. References in this publication to IBM products and services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates. 1 Sponsored by CheckFree Corporation IMC14083-USEN-00

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