FIS is a leading provider of technology solutions for merchants, banks and capital markets firms globally. Its employees are dedicated to advancing the way the world pays, banks, and invests by applying scale, deep expertise and data-driven insights. FIS helps clients use technology in innovative ways to solve business-critical challenges and deliver superior experiences for its customers.
Improved User Experience and Platform Support
InvestOne is a key offering for FIS. It runs over 60 percent of the markets mutual funds and derivatives for FIS premier fund providers. This equates to $40 trillion in funds under management. FIS leverages InvestOne on a hosted basis for financial services organizations as well as delivering it to clients as an on-premises solution. Chuck Wainscott, Director of Architecture with FIS asset management group, talks about the history of this solution: “InvestOne was inhouse developed using COBOL in the 1980s. It was based on an IBM mainframe environment and was considered very leading-edge for its time. In the late 1990s we started down a modernization path with a view to improve the user experience. We first built a Java-based HTML5 user interface, replacing the green screens and adding web service APIs to enhance and simplify process automation and data management. The COBOL engine remained, while we created a Java wrapper around the core business functionality that is still in use today.”
During the early 2000s, with the growth in distributed systems as a viable platform for enterprise applications, FIS ported InvestOne to Unix to support new clients on modern distributed platforms. FIS used a third party mainframe emulation middleware technology and Micro Focus Server Express on Unix to maintain a single-source mainframe and distributed application, allowing FIS to support both platforms with the same codebase.
New-Found Scalability with Visual COBOL Docker Support
With that much improved and optimized user experience, and multi-platform support in place, the team turned its attention to the development and delivery effort. As times were changing, FIS wanted to improve the speed, efficiency, and quality of software development, support, and the resulting delivery process. FIS also looked to simplify operational resilience and recovery. This could be achieved by promoting standardization across platforms. “We now had a cloud-compatible Java front-end and, as this offered us the most flexibility, we wanted to consolidate all activities onto it. Also, as the industry grew and mergers and acquisitions drove a market consolidation, we recognized that our clients require scalability and stability above all. We made the decision to fully replatform InvestOne in a Linux environment to take advantage of modern IT architectures that deliver horizontal scalability using cloud native containerization,” comments Wainscott.
Rewriting InvestOne was never a serious option as the team was happy with the existing functionality and they had built a deep COBOL based business and solution knowledge. They also did not want to risk any instability to clients. “We chose Micro Focus Visual COBOL, which includes a JVM code generator that can compile COBOL applications directly to Java byte code,” says Wainscott. “This gave us the opportunity to fully reuse our valuable COBOL code without any risk and integrate it with the rest of our Java architecture.”
FIS introduced the Java Engine Tier (JET) which replaces all functionality provided by CICS in the mainframe environment. Leveraging Visual COBOL, this runs the same COBOL business logic with the JET layer managing the environment, such as database connections and transaction flow. The Java front-end and JET are containerized using Visual COBOL Docker support. This easily and securely integrates in FIS’s DevOps-driven CI/CD delivery pipeline. “The new architecture now allows us to easily scale up InvestOne to process increased workload just by spinning up a new container,” commented Wainscott.
20% Performance Boost and Accelerated Time to Market
“We initially worried that replatforming and running COBOL as Java byte code would negatively affect our system performance,” says Wainscott. “However, InvestOne is all about data input and output and data processing speed rather than pure compute speed.”
InvestOne is in constant development, with 15 scrum teams working on it around the world. The consolidated stack of tools promotes more effective teamwork, according to Wainscott: “Leveraging Micro Focus Enterprise Developer in combination with Visual COBOL enables us to maintain both mainframe and COBOL versions of InvestOne through COBOL JVM development. This suits different customers and has accelerated our coding and testing cycle. We now deliver enhancements and bug fixes to our clients every month. Through the container model, our developers can test and run InvestOne anywhere without having to rely on a complicated and time-consuming installation on a server.”
FIS clients enjoy the performance benefits of the new platform and really like the low-risk implementation as there is no change at all required to their business processes. All of InvestOne’s existing logic is ported ‘as is’, giving them speed, scalability, and flexibility
Wainscott concludes: “Constant innovation and reinvention has been our mantra for over 40 years now. The modernization journey we are on with Micro Focus is amazing.”