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February 01, 2006

Banking on diligent change in migration

Few HP 3000 customers could be more careful than banks and lenders. The nature of their business is probably more regulated than any industry. These institutions aren't known as risk takers, especially in their IT choices.

So that seems like a set-up for a calamity when a vendor of enterprise systems like the 3000 cuts off the future of the line. But reports from CASE Software show what the right tools and patient testing will deliver to the migrating customer. Like any migrating set of customers, these banking firms want a minimum of costly change.

Rick Gilligan is the Senior Software Specialist at Computer and Software Enterprises, which serves  lending institutions with its Asset Based Lending Environment. The ABLE application suite ran for years, well, in an able manner, at places like Chase Business Credit, which participated in an HP 3000 success story about their installation. But HP has moved on from its 3000 futures, which means places like GE Finance, Wells Fargo and others have to shift to another platform. Gilligan and CASE have been making that happen ever since HP stepped back. The work began in earnest in 2003, when CASE announced its primary and secondary migration goals.

Windows, Linux and HP-UX were the platforms to consider in 2003. CASE also wanted to replace IMAGE databases with Eloquence, and swap out the VPlus screens with AcuBench screens. ScreenJet's tool set went to work to support the VPlus transfers. Every one of those tools needed some time to grow up into a superior solution.

The road to migration looked long in 2002, judging by Gilligan's review of the state of CASE's tool choices back then. "At that point (April 2002), the ScreenJet convertor was still in development," he said, "AcuCOBOL support for HP Macros had quite a few major defects, Eloquence didn't have audit trail and database replication features and  many of our internal development tools were SPL/Splash based (having been developed during the 80's and 90's)."

But CASE was keeping in close touch with the vendors of all those solutions. "We have been working closely with Marxmeier and M.B. Foster regarding Eloquence since 2001 to clearly define the business need for enhancements to Eloquence, such as audit trail and database replication." Gilligan said. "It’s gone very smoothly with both organizations."

"We also worked closely with ScreenJet and successfully converted our on-line application maintenance forms from VPlus to ScreenJet with almost no application code changes (mostly those that could take better advantage  of some AcuCOBOL Thin Client features like pop-up message boxes). That relationship has also gone smoothly."

'Toss in Acucorp and you’ve got our major partners (tool vendors) who made our migration relatively smooth. All four were responsive to our business needs (enhancements, beta  testing and defect repair)."

HP was the ultimate winner in platform destination; the applications are being revised to run under HP-UX on Itanium-based servers. CASE has taken steps to make its next shift easier, though.

"We have, however, carefully chosen our tools so that we could port to Linux on IA-32/EM64T, or Linux on Itanium with a minimum of work," Gilligan reports. "We currently have no plans to support other platforms, but we did want to make our next migration easier, whenever it might be forced upon us."

Choices for database and COBOL compiler took two different journeys. One technology never varied thoughout the project, which goes "Gold" to the clients with a release this summer. The other choice had code developed and tested for it, until a licensing issue forced a change of plans. More on those topics tomorrow.

07:35 PM in Migration, Newsmakers, User Reports | Permalink

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