BSQ is focused on financing housing in EU member states (mainly Germany). It provides services in the area of retail banking. The range of products offered includes savings accounts and mortgage loans.
After the financial crisis in 2009, BSQ made some drastic changes to its IT environment to save and control costs. It merged three core banking systems and looked critically at its underlying mainframe infrastructure. This was more expensive to support and maintain than a modern open system platform. However, Mr. Florian Kröner, IT Director for BSQ Bauspar had an even more pressing concern: “The average age of our mainframe developers was between 50 and 54. This meant that the knowhow invested in the system in the last 25 years would disappear within the next 10 years, when our key developers reached retirement age. Although managing costs is vital, this knowledge is actually critical to the running of our business and it was clear to us we needed a solution fast.”
Mr. Kröner decided on a multi-step modernization project to protect intellectual investment and reduce costs. It was important to do this without risking business continuity and with transparent knowledge transfer of programs and business processes into the new environment.
The core system includes nearly 3,000 programs comprising 5.5 million lines of code (LOC). In addition, there are 21 million LOC with expanded COBOL code, close to 1,000 JCL jobs, and 60 Assembler programs. It was a daunting task, but having worked with Micro Focus previously on implementing DevOps processes using the Micro Focus Silk toolset, Mr. Kröner knew he could accept the challenge with their help.
In a sensitive environment such as BSQ, the main goal is to minimize risk. With that in mind, Mr. Kröner worked with specialist partners CGI and BGK. Together, they divided the modernization project into three key phases. Starting with the stabilization phase in which the mainframe workload was transferred to the new open systems environment. Micro Focus Enterprise Developer® was used as development tooling for initial validation, testing, and compilation of COBOL applications, minimizing the need to rewrite code. Micro Focus Enterprise Server® rapidly deployed the code to the new target platform, maintaining system availability and reliability. A full backup scenario was introduced to ensure continuity, and a factory-based continuous integration process captured, tested, and redeployed production workloads seamlessly.
During the consolidation phase, Micro Focus Enterprise Analyzer® proved its worth, as explained by Mr. Kröner: “An in-depth analysis through Enterprise Analyzer revealed redundant code and unused processes. These were cluttering the system and we were able to enrich our eco system with a well-structured data warehouse and document management system, while discarding 50 percent of our code. This was a great productivity benefit for us.”
The modernization phase is described by Mr. Kröner as the difference between a plate of spaghetti and lasagne: “In the spaghetti scenario you can’t easily see where processes start and finish and if you pull on a piece of spaghetti, you may well splash someone with sauce. Lasagne has the same key ingredients, but has separate layers that can be split horizontally and vertically. Keeping this picture in mind, we deployed the Micro Focus Enterprise solutions to separate our monolith code-stack into COBOL-based business layer and Java-based presentation layer. Under the hood of the Business Rules Manager (BRM) we were able to hold the layers logically connected. This gave us a flexible base to form the bridge between our development teams. The complete stack is now supported outside of our main solution and can run in an open Docker environment. This means we could package the solution commercially and offer it to other financial institutions.”
Mr. Kröner is very clear on the benefits of the multi-step modernization approach: “Our phased project enabled us to stabilize, consolidate, and modernize, with each step delivering its own productivity benefits along the way, while minimizing risk and guaranteeing business continuity. With the Micro Focus Enterprise solutions, we realized an 80 percent operational cost saving by moving to an open systems environment; we optimized our application landscape by eliminating 50 percent of code during the consolidation phase; and finally, our new environment supports technology coexistence so that our development effort is much more productive and future-proof.”
He concludes: “Micro Focus and our implementation partners were with us every step of the way and we don’t hesitate to recommend this approach to anyone.”
With the Micro Focus Enterprise solutions, we realized an 80 percent operational cost saving by moving away from the mainframe; we optimized our application landscape by eliminating 50 percent of code during the consolidation phase; and finally, our new environment supports technology coexistence so that our development effort is much more productive and future-proof.
An in-depth analysis through Enterprise Analyzer revealed redundant code and unused processes. 50 percent of our code was deemed unnecessary and could be discarded. This was a great productivity benefit for us.