Accenture banks on the .NET platform with its Alnova financial solutions
Only 10 developers had to work on the project, and some processes which are normally very time intensive and complicated only took a few seconds—Net Express was certainly the most user-friendly and flexible solution we evaluated.
Product Technical Development Director
Alnova Financial Solutions (Alnova), one of the product suites in the Accenture insurance and banking portfolio, is a market leading solution that allows retail banks to adopt different levels of transformation and change. Accenture has provided Alnova solutions to financial institutions for over a decade and currently has more than 108 Alnova clients across 22 countries, including Deutsche Bank, Barclays Bank and Bank of Ireland.
The Alnova product suite helps financial institutions solve many IT issues and increase service capabilities and revenues while containing–and often reducing–costs. Technically, Alnova is an end-to-end modular banking system designed to provide retail banks with integrated customer-centric financial services.
Accenture observed a growing number of small to medium sized banks (those with up to 5 million accounts) trying to compete with larger players while controlling IT costs and maintaining customer focus. These small to medium sized banks needed a flexible and scalable IT solution, and Accenture wanted to provide a product tailored to their needs.
Creating a solution from scratch would have been neither fast nor effective. Especially as Accenture wanted to leverage its existing and proven Alnova mainframe based system as far as possible. The bulk of the mainframe system was written in COBOL. Accenture turned to Micro Focus® Net Express to support the reuse and extension of the existing Alnova mainframe application to the Microsoft .NET Framework. The goal was to create the Alnova .NET suite of products, while maintaining a unique business logic source code for any platform in order to comply with maintainability and cost management requirements.
Micro Focus Net Express is a development environment used to create, maintain and modernize COBOL business systems. Using Net Express, programmers can extend COBOL business processes and interfaces for integration with the Microsoft .NET Framework, J2EE, Web services and XML.
The existing Alnova mainframe system is large, consisting of 11 million lines of COBOL code across 5,500 COBOL programs. Accenture needed to reuse this business code while designing and implementing a contemporary technical architecture. Performance was also critical, as any solution for banks with five million or more accounts must be robust and scalable. The data access code was preserved to a very high level because Accenture adopted Microsoft SQLServer using OpenESQL support within Net Express.
Using Net Express, Accenture was able to successfully and rapidly move the COBOL core base of its application to Windows. Following the initial implementation, Accenture embarked on a series of large scale benchmarks to determine and prove the scalability of the new systems. Using an 8-way machine attached by a 24 CPU application servers farm, Accenture was able to obtain 250 transactions-per-second. This easily proved the performance and scalability of the solution, providing more than enough processing power for the target banks along with a dramatic reduction in hardware infrastructure.
Accenture is now able to deliver its Alnova core banking solution on Windows. By combining the reuse of the existing application with the Microsoft .NET Framework, Accenture has also been able to include new features in the existing system. In addition, access to COBOL business logic has been wrapped using Web services technology for integration purposes to align the solution to a Services Oriented Architecture (SOA).
Working with Micro Focus, Accenture is now able to competitively deliver a large-scale mainframe COBOL application re-platform to a new and expanded customer base, offering all the advantages associated with modern agile business systems under Microsoft Windows flexibility and speed to market.
Accenture itself saved time and money by not having to make changes to the source code. Massive automatic compilations, which can normally be very time intensive, took only a matter of seconds with Net Express. But most importantly, Accenture has already won several major customers with Alnova .NET solution, including ABN Amro (Spain), Banco Azteca (Mexico) and Credem (Italy).