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core banking systems’.


Naturally, this sounds like a daunting task but, from board approval in January 2004 (at which point Kershner joined in a full-time capacity), the new platforms were up and running by July of the following year.


At that point, Webster converted a recently acquired Massachusetts-based bank, FirstFed America Bancorp (Webster’s first move beyond the borders of Connecticut); the full conversion of its original core business happened in October.


Such speed might cause surprise within non-US banks but it shows a key benefit of the outsource model.


The bank started with a list of nine or ten vendors, said Kershner.


There was a ‘mini-evaluation’ but his background meant he had been involved in a number of system selections and replacements so was aware of the capabilities of the offerings.


So it quickly moved to a shortlist of two – FIS and Fiserv.


The bank looked at the entire product suite of the two domestic heavyweights as well as their product plans.


It was keen on a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) approach so was interested in the vision of the two companies from this perspective.


At this stage, FIS was starting to formulate its SOA plans.


These were basically centred on stripping out the XES middleware layer from one of its acquired systems, the Sanchez-derived Profile, and using it as a front-end to tie together and deliver functionality from all of its core systems.


XES was previously called Profile/Xpress, described by Sanchez as a ‘transactional customer management system’, constituting an integration and aggregation engine to link


For one thing, the bank felt it needed the processing capabilities of FIS’s mainframe back office system (Systematics) to provide the scale for doubling or tripling the size of its business.


‘But traditionally, mainframe integration has been very cumbersome and costly.’


It wanted an integration layer that could facilitate easy integration between the mainframe and its other


Core Banking Systems Case Studies: North America www.ibsintelligence.com 41


Sanchez’s own products to those of third parties.


Written in Java, FIS said it would gradually extract components of its core banking engines and populate this layer with business functionality.


Webster Bank was convinced by the FIS roadmap and decided to go with its solutions, although it did select Fiserv’s Informent data warehouse.


Implementation


In parallel with XES, the bank chose to implement Oracle/ BEA’s Weblogic as its broad integration layer.


While it decided to standardise on a number of FIS’s systems, it also implemented and integrated a fair number of other systems, including ACI’s Base24 for ATM/POS payments and PM for card management, Oracle Financials general ledger, NCR ImageMark for cheque imaging, Hyland OnBase for document imaging, and an in-house developed retail internet banking system.


‘At the time we began work, everything with regards XES was at the planning stage,’ said Kershner.


As a result, it was pretty much a joint development. The goals were compatible and there was a good working relationship, he said, with each side challenging each other ‘very strongly’ throughout.


Why the interest in SOA in the first place?


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