Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Web Services Goes Live: One Deployment at a Time. (Tech Topics)

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Web Services Goes Live: One Deployment at a Time. (Tech Topics)

Article excerpt

Two years after the hype around web services ignited like a roman candle, flared in the night and fizzled, the technology itself has settled into a fairly predictable adoption curve.

So you'll hear of a few bold leaders--typically in capital markets and commercial banking--engaging in proof-of-concept pilots, among them Bank of America and Wachovia Securities. Meanwhile, the would-be followers wait for all the relevant standards to mature. They wait, too, for vendors like Sun, Microsoft, BEA, and IBM to show a significant track record of "no fault" installations with their infrastructure toolkits, and for prepackaged software vendors to support services in a broad and obvious way.

Only then will the majority begin to make commitments in their own IT shops.

That's the safe way. But is it the smart way? There are reasons, proponents say, why banking and brokerage clients should push forward with in-house development. Martin Orbach, director of industry marketing for SeeBeyond, a Monrovia, Calif., developer of systems integration tools--including web services--explains that the expense of standard integration methods has many of his clients willing to explore the web services option.

"You've got a competitive economy, new competitive boundaries in the financial services industry, and issues around risk management with the pending Basel II requirements. All of these factors are all creating straight-through-process demand which web services can address," Orbach says.

Other niche vendors in the vanguard agree that business need is driving both understanding and acceptance of a sort, and that both are more solidified than they were even six months ago, albeit among a select group.

"I'd describe adoption as a bifurcated curve," says Mike Versace, the Boston-based national director of financial services for Niteo Partners, Inc., a New York-based division of NEC involved in web service deployments. Clients include Bank of New York, Bank of America, and ISITC-IOA (the International Securities Organization for Institutional Trade Communication-International Operations Association), a global working committee of securities operations professionals representing custodian banks, investment managers, brokers, and vendors.

"The early users certainly 'get it,' when it comes to web services," says Versace.

"Some of them are even developing plans to adopt the technology so it can be used to fullest potential -- that is, creating new automated workflows that are enterprise wide." Many other clients -- those who represent the second curve, according to Versace -- are equally aware of enterprise potential, yet might still opt to go after the development on a departmental basis to test component performance.

This group tends to be more IT driven, with less outside vendor involvement and a tendency to think of web services strictly as a technology rather than more broadly as an enabler.

To realize the full vision of web services ultimately, says Versace, companies will need to engage in a significant amount of business process redesign and create applications from that informed perspective rather than putting cutting edge "wrappers" on legacy code.

Cash management pilot under way

Niteo is involved, along with client Bank of America, in the multi-bank proof-of-concept cash management project being undertaken by the Financial Services Technology Consortium, New York City. While web services is far from "idiot proof" in its transition to full maturity, it is largely viable in the context of case scenarios the FSTC tested in the first phase of the project. This included service exchanges among bank-to-bank and bank-to-corporate- and small businessclient participants for receiving balance information reporting and alerts, notes Bill Jetter, senior vice-president of e-com-development for Bank of America.

"We're sorting through the findings of the first phase of the project and will be writing up a report that includes comments on potential minefields as well as best practice recommendations," says Jetter. …

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