IBM unveils middleware for financial sector

IBM has unveiled 15 middleware bundles targeting the financial services and insurance industries, with applications such as risk...

IBM has unveiled 15 middleware bundles targeting the financial services and insurance industries, with applications such as risk and compliance management and claims processing.

The packages are made up of existing IBM products and also include business applications from suppliers such as SAP and PeopleSoft.

The bundles provide market-specific functionality developed by Fidelity Information Services, Sanchez Computer Associates and Fiserv.

Walter Hatten, senior vice-president and technical services manager at Hancock Bank in the US, said he is using a software bundle that IBM previously put together for him as part of a server integration project. The project involves moving Windows and OS/2 applications to an IBM mainframe that is running SuSE Linux.

The package includes e-mail archiving software from start-up ZipLip, which will help Hancock address US Securities and Exchange Commission rules governing electronic-document retention.

"There's just been a tremendous growth over the years," said Hatten, noting that the bank's server farm has grown to about 500 systems. "One need we had was scalability. Being able to scale in a mainframe environment rather than a PC environment was crucial."

IBM said there are no pricing advantages to purchasing the bundled software compared with buying the products on an individual basis.

Bill Bradway, an analyst at Financial Insights, said the integrated offerings should help users reduce software implementation cycles. IBM's move also "eliminate the gaps" between the IT and business requirements of projects.

Doug Brown, director of industry marketing for IBM's software group, described the middleware packages as "a head start" for users.

"In the past, we would have had our salespeople talk with customers about applications, servers or security," Brown said. "Now we're in a conversation with customers about people productivity, integration issues and middleware all coming together to form a foundation for the project, instead of individual product parts."

Lucas Mearian writes for Computerworld

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