Online transactions made in real time – a staple of online broking and banking – have been brought into the superannuation industry through BT’s Super for Life product and enabled by InfoComp’s service-oriented architecture (SOA) offering.
Earlier this year, BT and parent company Westpac launched Super for Life, a superannuation product that can be accessed online through Westpac internet banking. Users can view their super and bank balances on the same screen and make real time contributions from banking to their super accounts. BT is the investment manager backing the product.
The manager, which had already installed InfoComp’s Composer database, asked the software provider to extend the functionality of CBIS, or Composer business integration server, its SOA tool, once the Super for Life project was undertaken.
CBIS, an integration layer across the Composer database, is at the core of Super for Life’s ability to deliver online transactions. When transaction figures are entered, a ThoughtWorks system passes the information to a TIBCO ‘data base’, which ferries it on to CBIS, which then orders backoffice services linked by the tool to carry out the task.
“TIBCO is the conductor, and CBIS is the orchestra,” Tony Forward, BT chief information officer, says.
The product’s use of CBIS is directly related to web services. “Web services give us all the straight-through processing,” Richard Holmes, BT systems architect, says.
Integrating the bank’s systems into Composer and then developing Super for Life cost approximately $20 million, with $14 million put directly towards technological costs, and took more than 18 months of work. At its peak, the project employed 100 people. Around 70 systems were connected to Super for Life’s underlying system, and 23 of these are used to carry out real-time functions.
The anatomy of the system is comprised of four major parts: internet banking, customer accounts, web services and a web portal server, Holmes says, while five core systems drive the product: Westpac’s bank trading, internet banking, customer information, group data warehouse, and investment accounting systems.
InfoComp worked closely with the bank and investment manager to integrate the IT systems.
“From day one, we started with them on this migration project,” Rob DeDominicis, InfoComp chief executive officer, says. This entailed shifting BT’s superannuation products and backoffice registry into Composer.
An SOA is designed to be flexible. It breaks functions or business rules down to services or tasks, such as creating accounts or changing addresses, which can be used separately or linked with other services, and can be used for multiple applications. The aim is to effectively integrate services.
But implementing SOA introduces some challenges too, such as buying and installing a new layer of infrastructure to sit across a database. Depending on how many systems are integrated into the SOA, it can be time-consuming to stress-test the ability of these services to transmit messages under duress.
But these checks are necessary. Stress and volume tests of the Super for Life system found bottlenecks in the web services messaging channels that needed to be remedied, Holmes says.
“Now, several thousand concurrent users can use it at once.”
The manager is also tweaking the system to accommodate unusual combinations of transactions.
DeDominicis says the Super for Life installation was a large-scale project, taking approximately seven months to complete, and was one of the most complicated installations the company had undertaken.
Source: Investment Magazine