Caja Castilla La Mancha Moves to Open Systems with CICS For HP 9000

No matter where in the world a bank happens to be,providing the best customer service is always an important challenge. Providing the right mix of products and services to its customers is a very important concern to the Spanish retail bank Caja Castilla La Mancha (CCM). During its long history of providing essential banking services, like savings accounts, CCM has banked on its three IBM 3090 mainframes to handle transactions and the bank's core business functions.

Due to the growing popularity in Spain of buying insurance through banks, CCM recently set up an insurance subsidiary called Castima to sell insurance to its customers at the bank's branches. Yet the bank lacked the means to offer these new insurance sales transactions at its branches without straining its existing computing resources. And with the addition of each new customer service application requiring costly upgrades to its fully utilized mainframe systems, CCM recognized that it could realize significant savings by moving to more cost-effective open systems, along with gaining experience in implementing distributed computing.

After carefully evaluating upgrade costs and reviewing several open systems approaches, CCM decided to offload its new insuranceapplication to an HP 9000 Model I50. By using HP's CICS/9000 and the HP Encina/9000 Peer-to-Peer Communications (PPC) gateway, CCM was able to maintain full transactional robustness while maintaining interoperability with CICS on the mainframe.

Relief for a Fully Utilized Mainframe-CICS for HP 9000 Formed by a merger of 3 smaller banks, each of which has been in business for along time, CCM is a medium-sized retail bank with 500 branches in the area of Spain known as Caja Castilla La Mancha. Retail banks in Spain cater to regional areas of the country, usually specializing in savings accounts for their customers.

Being an IBM r shop, the bank handles its account transactions and business functions with three IBM mainframes connected to approximately 1,500 terminals and PCs at the branches. At the time the bank decided to offer insurance at its branches, its mainframes were already overloaded.Adding any additional applications would require expensive hardware upgrades.

CCM looked to distributed systems because a way had to be found to create the infrastructure for additional applications without further burdening the mainframe. At the same time, the bank sought to preserve its legacy investment in mainframe and branch terminals by extending their functionality. By offloading the insurance application to a Hewlett-Packard open systems platform that could be closely linked to the legacy environment, the bank could gain needed additional computing power without consuming the mainframe resources. Consequently, the new system would have to synchronize closely with CICS on the mainframe because, first, it would be accessed through the mainframe by terminals and PCs at each branch location, and second, essential customer data would need to be moved off the mainframe in order for transactions to be completed in the new application.

CCM needed to gain a benchmark in experience by which to evaluate the offloading of mainframe applications onto different servers-both as an indicator of future flexibility in addressing company-wide interoperability and as an alternative to expensive mainframe upgrades. Driven by this need to implement open systems, CCM wanted the ability to develop and deploy applications which would seamlessly communicate with its mainframes and give branches fast access to data located on either the new servers or the mainframe.

The Business and Technological Advantages of CICS on HP 9000 Before deciding to go with HP, CCM evaluated several options. IBM recommended mainframe upgrades to handle the additional application. But the bank sought a more cost-effective solution and recognized the potential of an open systems approach to enable a more flexible and responsive environment for the development and deployment of new applications. CCM had no open systems at the time,and IBM didn't propose its CICS ™ /6000 systems-opting instead to push for mainframe upgrades. DEC was also evaluated; but at that time, HP had the only CICS solution under UNIX r which would allow effective interoperability with CICS on the mainframe via a two-phase commit, yet still be able to service hundreds of users.

The project called for strong legacy system integration, and the bank was concerned that LU6.2, another solution discussed at the time,would not allow the bank to keep doing things in the way they were used to with the same COBOL calls.With LU6.2, code has to be written on both sides to enable the two machines to communicate. What was actually needed was the ability to write a program that would run on one system and get transaction information from the other system.

It was decided to build the new insurance application on top of CICS/9000 using an HP 9000 system connected to one of the 3090s via token ring. A software house, assisted by HP technical assistance, was given the task of developing the application,which was created in three months using HP-UX, Oracle, and CICS for HP 9000 with the HP Encina/9000 PPC gateway.

One of the key issues to be addressed was that the branch terminals and PCs would still be connected to the mainframe via SNA over X.25. However, the branches do not make direct requests to the HP 9000. Every transaction generated in the branch comes to the 3090. When the 3090 system sees that a transaction is not within its functionality, it invokes a CICS facility called "transaction routing" and sends the transaction to the HP 9000. The HP 9000 receives the transaction; since part of the information the HP 9000 needs is back on the 3090, it then invokes a another CICS facility called "function shipping" which recalls information from the 3090's data-base. In essence, the mainframe is acting as a file and communications server to the HP 9000, which serves as both a back-end data source and application server.

To expedite insurance sales, new insurance transaction definitions were added to existing customer portfolios in the bank's 500 branches. An example: when a customer goes to any branch to request life insurance, the bank employees select one of the new insurance transactions. Via distributed transaction processing (DTP) between mainframe CICS in MVS and CICS in HP 9000, the transaction updates the customer information in DB2 on the mainframe and the insurance policy records in Oracle on the HP 9000. Fundamental to the success of this transaction process is HP's ability to provide the two-phase commit synchronization of updates between the mainframe and the HP 9000 via CICS/9000 and the HP PPC Gateway.

The new system has been in production since December'94 and now has about 500 users carrying out transactions for up to 100 policies a day. CCM is very pleased with the system and expects transaction rates to increase in the future.The bank relied heavily on HP's technical assistance for the completion of the system implementation. During the establishment of the DTP functionality between the two CICS, HP technical people also assisted the bank in fine-tuning the way they were doing DTP banking functions between their CICS regions on the mainframes.

The Future at Caja Castilla La Mancha-Open Systems CCM's first open system was an experiment in the transition to a new computing architecture. With this new insurance application implementing an open systems approach, the bank wanted to learn about the possibilities of running CICS on open systems and gaining interoperability by having the two CICSs communicate with each other.

The bank's objective was to find out if this was feasible or not and now that the experiment has been successful, the bank will be looking to offload other applications into different servers, which can offer much more cost-effective solutions than mainframe upgrading.

Currently, there are several more applications being considered for offloading. With this new application, CCM has been able to reduce the complexity of application development and deployment, and has realized the benefits of improved flexibility and quicker responsiveness. All of these improvements will help CCM in the years ahead as it looks to provideincreasing levels of service to its customers. CCM, looking forward, knows that it has taken a sure step towards pervasive distributed computing.

Hewlett-Packard's Middleware Engineering Initiative A number of companies are benefiting from rapid deployment of middleware solutions to meet information systems needs of improved flexibility, higherreturn on investment, faster time-to-market, and greater reliability. The HP Middleware Engineering Initiative (MEI) delivers these benefits through a variety of techniques such as re-engineering, mainframe rehosting, and devel-oping new enterprise client/server applications. HP MEI helps customers by focusing on two areas:

First, it integrates HP and partner technologies to create the best possible underlying distributed computing infrastructure. For example, HP's DCE/9000, Encina/9000, and CICS/9000 and MC/ServiceGuard high-availability products are tested together to deliver greater performance, data integrity, and availability.Both HP Encina and CICS are also integrated with HP's OpenView System Management framework and are integrated with the HP SoftBench application development environment.

Second, HP's MEI reduces deployment time of new functionality by providing applications, tools, and services from HP and its partners. Examples include HP's DCE/9000 and Encina/9000 JumpStart programs for product installation and training. HP has also partnered with companies such as Magna for its "3 tiers in 3 days" program targeted at mainframe COBOL users, as well as Open Horizon for its "Enterprise Accelerator" program to DCE-ize legacy client/server applications.

Today, there are over 100 systems integrators, VARs, and ISVs that deliver products and services as HP's MEI partners. For more information, contact any of our worldwide sales offices or HP Channel Partners. (In the US, call 1-800-637-7740.)

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Printed in USA 11/95