Our migration project was extremely complex and took approximately three years to implement. Talend technology was a key success factor,” concludes Penné. “One of the challenges we faced was migrating in a single cut-over rather than in steps.Jan Penné, systems architect at Landesbank Berlin AG
Landesbank Berlin AG (LBB) is a universal bank that can trace its roots back to 1818 when its affiliate, the Berliner Sparkasse savings bank, was founded. From the very outset, Berliner Sparkasse has been committed to serving the public interest. It is the market leader in Berlin, renowned for its strong customer ties, fair conditions, secure business base and modern approach to banking. The LBB’s business model is built on four pillars: private banking; corporate banking; commercial real-estate financing; and selective capital market activities. Berliner Sparkasse serves around two million retail customers and approximately 69,000 corporate customers from over 200 branch offices in Berlin.
In order to cope with ever-rising data volumes, LBB wanted to modernize its existing core banking system. Implementing a new system, however, is the equivalent of open heart surgery for a bank. It requires thorough preparation long in advance. And the changeover must run without a hitch – if not, it can bring the entire bank to a standstill. In 2011, LBB successfully completed this challenging migration project. The Tools & Methods Framework (TMF) team and integration technology from Talend were key success factors.
LBB is a member of Germany’s national savings banks group, an organization that comprises savings banks and state-owned banks (Landesbanken) as well as insurers and other companies. As such, it has access to the services offered by the organization’s central IT provider Finanz Informatik (FI). FI offers its own modern core banking system known as OSPlus and LBB was keen to switch to this solution. Because the central system supports all banking-related processes and transactions, any switch to a new system has far-reaching implications for the entire system landscape.
FI offers OSPlus as a hosted solution as part of an all-round service package. In order to integrate its own banking applications for customer, address, revenue and account data, LBB needed to create an entirely new interface landscape parallel to OSPlus rollout. The bank wanted to use a standardized solution capable of converting a wide range of data formats. In OSPlus, for example, around two terabytes of data are generated every day and stored in a DB/2 database. LBB either stores this data or loads it to various applications, the majority of which are built on Oracle databases. “Our job is to provide colleagues in different departments with information. And we have to ensure that it comes in the right format for the target system,” explains Aliekber Akkoyun, head of the development team at LBB. “The data is transferred from database to database, or from a database to a file system – or vice versa. We also load data to web services and queues. Our previous integration platform was not up to the task of handling big data – it was just too much for it to handle,” recalls Jan Penné, systems architect at LBB responsible for the new integration platform.
LBB needed a data integration platform that could meet all of these challenges. LBB’s team started evaluating solutions available on the market and came across Talend’s open source platform in 2009. “We had been successfully using the SOA platform developed by Sopera before the migration project, and so we knew that Sopera and Talend collaborate closely. In fact, our decision to go with Talend proved an even smarter move for the bank when Talend acquired Sopera in the fall of 2010. It means that we now have a uniform integration platform for our data and our applications,” continues Penné. The open source model also helped sway LBB’s decision in favor of Talend: “We have had very positive experiences with open source solutions. This open philosophy increases adaptability and also means that feedback and requests from customers can be implemented more rapidly. In addition to the professional support from providers such as Talend, there is also a whole community on hand to answer any questions we may have. Furthermore, licensing policies are usually much more transparent and flexible. Talend’s software licenses are not tied to CPUs,” enthuses Penné.
LBB chose Talend Integration Suite (now Talend Data Integration), the commercial version of Talend’s open source data integration platform, and started to transition its interface landscape at the end of 2009. In all, over 1,000 interfaces were implemented as Java programs, with some systems featuring over 100 interfaces. Thanks to the large number of connectors that came with the Talend solution (over 450), most of the work could be done using standard out-of-the-box tools. Only a few interfaces required special modifications – which was no great challenge for experienced Java programmers. The interface landscape is being implemented in two phases: run-up and live mode. The transition to the new landscape is progressing rapidly and is scheduled to be completed in September 2012. The old interfaces will be replaced by the end of the year. At various times, up to 25 developers worked exclusively on the Talend part of the project. The second phase focuses on ongoing support for the Talend infrastructure as the interfaces will have to be continuously adapted, expanded and new interfaces added. Although LBB is currently working with Talend version 4.02, it is preparing to update to version 5.
All interfaces at LBB have the same aim: To optimize processes by delivering information. When a business process is triggered in the OSPlus banking system, data is transferred to other applications via the Talend’s enterprise service bus (ESB) and interfaces. The applications then trigger or enhance other processes. Most interfaces are event driven; only a few are scheduled. The Talend interfaces are designed as executable Java programs. This means that they align with the company-wide process automation strategy – as they can be triggered and started by the CA Autosys job scheduler. A different tool, ConnectDirect, is used for transferring files.
LBB has established a highly standardized process for information logistics and interfacing. Talend plays a defining role in the success of this solution. Technical experts are available for all process challenges, helping to optimize and define business processes. From a technical standpoint, the target system always defines the formats and workflows that are required. To ensure that this process is also transparent within the company, a dedicated TMF portal (Tools & Methods Framework) containing information and forms was created. The portal also outlines the company’s error management workflow, a uniform process that applies to all interfaces.
Previously, Talend products and solutions marketed by the former Sopera were managed by two separate groups in the IT organization. Now, however, the growing alignment between both integration suites is being clearly demonstrated by a pilot project using Talend ESB for asynchronous processing. Proof-of-concept scenarios use information distribution mechanisms based on the open-source Apache Camel routing engine.
“Our migration project was extremely complex and took approximately three years to implement. Talend technology was a key success factor,” concludes Penné. “One of the challenges we faced was migrating in a single cut-over rather than in steps.” Aliekber Akkoyun admits that this did give them some cause for concern: “If something had gone wrong, it would have shut down the whole bank. But we soon relaxed once we saw that the new banking system and the interfaces ran perfectly from day one.”