Visa unveils payment systems monitoring tools

Source: Visa

Visa USA and its member financial institutions have a new perspective on how well the technology in Visa's global payment network is functioning.

Visa today announced the completion of multiple systems monitoring tools that will allow the company to monitor the "health" of various payment streams through graphical displays that translate complex technical details into a real-time picture of Visa's global payment infrastructure.

The tools, called Visa Service Views, were developed over a 24-month period and unveiled at META Group's annual conference "Metamorphosis" in San Francisco today. They allow Visa to track every transaction running through VisaNet, the world's largest payments processing network, in real time.

Annually, Visa's global payment system handles more than 40 billion transactions, and processes payments in excess of $1.7 trillion (USD). Some 21,000 financial institutions and more than 20 million merchant locations are connected to VisaNet worldwide, and rely on Visa's payment systems to conduct commerce in 136 countries.

The new monitoring tools display data in a myriad of formats, from red-yellow-green "traffic" indicators, to color graphs, to "tickers" crawling across the bottom of a desktop computer or PDA screen. Because the data is being monitored in real time, it allows real-time alerts about any problems or bottlenecks in the payment network, allowing traffic to be routed around the trouble spots quickly with minimal impact on operations.

"This is like putting a simple-to-read, simple-to-interpret dashboard on the most powerful and reliable payments processing network on the world," said Ben Rewis, Vice President at Inovant LLC, Visa's IT organization. "By tailoring this information to the needs of our Member financial institutions, we not only deliver reporting they really care about, we also improve the reliability and flexibility of VisaNet."

The new offerings are part of Visa's embrace of a growing discipline known as Business Service Management. The goal of the discipline is to extract and present complex, real-time technical data in the form of the service it renders for the user. By presenting the data in this way, users are able to make far better business forecasts and process models - saving time and money and helping to ensure greater cardholder satisfaction.

"The core of Business Service Management is providing the capability to manage technology as a business service rather than individual infrastructure elements," said Michael Buchheim, senior vice president and director, Technology Research Services, META Group, Inc. "Visa is really doing it right. You can visually see the power of Visa's integrated tools, but they also have process definition, service design and governance models as a strong foundation, and they are institutionalizing behaviors across the company to support the effort. These are the kind of best practices that are the core of Business Service Management."

Inovant LLC, Visa's IT organization responsible for global transactions processing, is already using this approach to the internal monitoring of transaction authorizations at all of VisaNet's processing locations worldwide. Not only does it make it possible to spot overall problems much earlier, it saves as much as 75% of the time needed to resolve a given problem by quickly identifying its source.

In fact, the change has allowed Visa to move from a reactive approach to system issues to a proactive one - even to the point of alerting members and other processing partners about impending issues with their own networks. In the first year of operation, the new system has enabled Visa to issue 44 proactive calls to Member financial institutions alerting them to potential issues that could have affected their payments business.

"In a business that handles $1.7 trillion a year, and more transactions in an hour than all the world's stock exchanges handle in a day, every second lost is worth millions," said Keith Hunter, Executive Vice President of Global Processing Services at Inovant LLC. "Visa Service Views has enabled us to shift our management of the global payment system from measuring the performance and reliability of technology platforms, to measuring the performance of specific Visa business services."

Over the next year, Visa will be extending some of these services directly to its member financial institutions, as well as large merchants and others with a direct connection into VisaNet. This will allow members to obtain real-time reporting that matches up with the metrics they choose to gauge their business, and measure how their products are performing in the marketplace.

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