Middleware Updates Transaction Process

For Bank Handlowy, the largest commercial bank in Poland, finely tuned IT support has become a competitive advantage.

The $1 billion institution automated its paper-based dealer system, in which the bank’s dealers record transactions such as foreign exchange swaps, spots, forwards, and money market loans and deposits. Under the old system, dealers recorded transactions on deal tickets, which were entered into an AS/400 DB2 database as a separate administrative function.

To enable the dealers to enter their own trades into the system, the bank implemented a Kondor+ front office system from Reuters Group P.L.C., which runs on a Sun Unix platform and uses a Sybase relational database. The bank, however, still wanted the information entered into its AS/400-based general ledger system, called IBIS/AS.

Middleware software was needed to process and reformat the Kondor+ data and insert it into the IBIS/AS system. When the search began two years ago, online middleware solutions were scarce.

The bank issued a request for information and drew 10 responses from middleware vendors. A proof of concept workshop for the message-driven tools cut the list down to three prospective solutions, explains Maria Piotrowicz, director of money and capital and market systems bureau in the bank's IT department.

The three vendors were given a list of specifications and asked to build a solution within two days. "Only HIE was able to build the system in two days," she says. Its Cloverleaf finance product supports different protocols and can read and write both to and from the database -- critical features for the banking industry, Piotrowicz says.

The bank installed Cloverleaf finance on an NT server and built the complete solution within one month, says Slawek Lokaj, IT specialist at Bank Handlowy.

The new system uses ODBC to collect information from the Kondor+ database system. Cloverleaf finance checks Kondor+ every 10 minutes, translating any new information and writing it to the IBIS/AS system within moments. Helping with the coordination of data between the two systems is a data reconciliation interface that was also built using Cloverleaf finance.

Since the initial implementation, the bank has built several additional interfaces using Cloverleaf finance and has also enhanced the original interface. "We like that we can still control the system," Lokaj says. "We don’t have to rely on the vendor for every change. And that is very important to us."

The bank is satisfied with the connectivity Cloverleaf finance provides between the additional applications and the main banking system. "It’s quite easy to do and also quite powerful," Lokaj says.

The bank plans to continue using Cloverleaf finance for future middleware-based integration projects. The biggest one may come if the bank merges with another financial institution, always a possibility in today’s European banking community.

"We are experienced now in middleware technology," Piotrowicz says. "If a merger happens, it will be easier to integrate the systems and have a completely integrated environment."