Bank of America Ready to Begin Work on SOA Update

System expansion needed for surge in transactions

Bank of America Corp. plans to soon begin work on the third generation of its service-oriented architecture to support an expected doubling of Web services transactions from its current 550 million per month.

The next-generation SOA, expected by the third quarter of next year, will use IBM's Information FrameWork (IFW), a set of business models and an information architecture blueprint, to integrate application processes.

Bank of America is still negotiating with IBM for an enterprise license, said Kim Kazmaier, senior integration architect at the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank.

Kazmaier said the IFW will allow Bank of America to map business requirements, such as automating the entire procedure of opening new accounts, into a business process that is linked using Web services.

"That is a real-world example of a reference model [that] fully describes those steps and defines services interfaces for the steps," he said. "Without a reference architecture, you can spend an inordinate amount of time and energy building and maintaining that holistic view of the process."

The bank plans to begin using IFW by the end of this year to map out new standard processes within its SOA that can cross customer channels such as online banking and call centers. By next September, Kazmaier said, he expects the bank to have added to production 20 to 30 Web services using IFW.

The new SOA model will build on the current second-generation system, which is based on the integration platform of Fairfax, Va.-based WebMethods Inc. and integrates existing applications.

Bank of America now has about 100 Web services that integrate 1.8 billion customer interactions per month occurring online, in call centers and branches, and at ATMs.

For example, Web services support all voice response for call centers, as well as money transfers and transaction histories for online banking.

Using IFW, the bank expects to more quickly develop new Web services at a lower cost while also forging closer ties between IT and the business, Kazmaier added.

"The business talks about how they can increase revenue by improving customer service," he said. "The business can communicate what their requirements are, and we can show the business what the process would be."

ESB on the Way

Bank of America also plans to deploy an enterprise service bus (ESB) as part of the next-generation SOA to help it monitor Web service compliance with service-level agreements. The bank is still gathering requirements for the ESB it will select for the project. Kazmaier declined to provide details about those plans.

Bank of America launched its first SOA in 1998 with a middleware message-oriented system using the Java Message Service standard and IBM MQSeries middleware.

In 2001, as the bank was preparing to roll out a new J2EE-based customer interaction system, it began using XML and Web services to integrate existing applications into the new system.

In 2002 and 2003, bank officials replaced the first-generation SOA with WebMethod's platform, which provides Web services adapters to integrate customer data over multiple channels.

Bank of America and Wells Fargo Bank are among the biggest users of SOA technology in terms of the number and quality of Web services they have in production, said Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst at ZapThink LLC in Cambridge, Mass.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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