Frost Bank taps GT Software for mainframe integration

Source: GT Software

Facing the challenge of legacy modernization across its diverse software infrastructure, Frost Bank has found its solution in Ivory Service Architect, the mainframe integration and SOA architecture from GT Software.

In order to standardize mainframe access across its assortment of platforms and packaged software, Frost Bank has installed Ivory from GT Software, a leading provider of rapid SOA development solutions that leverage mainframe resources.

Frost is the banking subsidiary of Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc. (NYSE: CFR - News), a financial holding company with assets of $15.3 billion at March 31, 2009. Frost's core banking applications come from vendors such as Fidelity Information Services and Shaw System Associates, and typically reside on the mainframe. Other customer-facing applications reside on the desktop and in financial centers, in a client/server setup. "Ultimately, they all need to talk to the mainframe," said Uday Shetgeri, executive vice president, Application Development & Maintenance at Frost.

Shetgeri, who is responsible for service delivery of applications to the business and manages mainframe and client/server programmers, said that many of the packages only interface to the mainframe using MQ, or CICS/TG, or non-standard based approaches. "We had multiple connectivity technologies that were becoming difficult to support," commented Shetgeri.

Frost needed a standardized way of interfacing services to the core applications. "We also wanted a contemporary paradigm like SOA/Web services that the mainframe programming staff could adapt and use" said Shetgeri. "That intersection made it necessary to standardize access to the mainframe as web services."

Software vendors each had their own way of connecting to mainframe data, many requiring skills in COBOL or CICS programming. Some adaptors have low price points but can be expensive in the long run, Shetgeri said, because of the expertise required to set it up and use it. A six-week proof-of-concept project was established, and "Ivory appeared to be a right fit."

Ivory's intuitive development studio enables mainframe developers to leverage any mainframe transaction, application or data, as well as Web services, to create a single- or multi-function composite service. Simple to learn and operate, the Ivory studio features a graphical environment that enables the easy orchestration of building-block functions into business services. This drag-and-drop environment enables developers to define Web service inputs and outputs, and then graphically model the multi-step process to implement the service.

According to Shetgeri, a primary concern was the fact that Frost's mainframe programmers, "normally don't use drag-and-drop tooling, but these developers took to it quickly. For the proof of concept we brought in staff that had not worked with Web services. Using the Ivory Studio, they were able to quickly roll out Web services. This was convincing."

"GT Software's support team has been very responsive. The company made sure the transition for Frost employees was smooth, and whenever there is a critical juncture for us, the GT Software support team is onsite, providing service."

"Frost Bank's Ivory implementation is a stellar example of how companies today can efficiently and elegantly integrate the mainframe into their technology infrastructure, with maximum agility," remarked Rob Morris, chief strategy officer for GT Software. "At a time when cost savings and leveraging existing technology assets are critical business objectives, it is great to know that innovators like Frost Bank are achieving their integration goals using Ivory Service Architect. This demonstrated success continues to fuel GT Software's commitment to delivering integration solutions that leverage SOA for maximum performance."

Ivory Service Architect supports deployment of mainframe-based Web services across the widest range of platforms, giving organizations broad flexibility in where they choose to house SOA-related workload. No other solution on the market today offers such a variety of options for mainframe SOA. Without requiring any changes to the service definition, Ivory supports the deployment of mainframe-based Web services across z/VSE, z/OS, CICS/TS, CICS, IMS, Windows, Wintel, UNIX, and Linux. Key benefits of this broader platform support include the ability to shift SOA-related workload off the mainframe, as well as the ability to leverage new mainframe MIPS-reducing hardware such as zIIP, zAAP, and IFL processors.

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