£15m data migration plan follows merger

Britannia Building Society is migrating one million Bristol & West savings accounts on to its IT system following the acquisition...

Britannia Building Society is migrating one million Bristol & West savings accounts on to its IT system following the acquisition of the building society's branch network.

Britannia plans to spend £15m to ensure a smooth migration of Bristol & West's customer accounts. However, analysts have warned this could involve a lot of manual work.

The savings account data will be transferred between Bristol & West's IBM mainframe and Britannia's Summit system, which was supplied by Attentiv.

Both organisations use the same software supplier - Fineos - for their service centres, which should help the migration.

As well as data, Britannia will migrate the PCs used in Bristol & West's 65 branches from NT4 to Windows XP. The branches will also have to be included in Britannia's self-managed wide area network.

Martin Ellison, Britannia's group head of strategy and planning, said of the society's systems, "It is all Sun Solaris with front ends that use Microsoft desktops. There is some detail to be worked through with Bristol & West."

Jost Hoppermann, financial services analyst at Forrester Research, said, "There are a lot of question marks whenever a large migration of this sort occurs."

When financial services companies migrate customers' accounts, they can adopt one of two approaches, said Hoppermann.

The company that is being acquired can replace its systems with more modern systems and use middleware to provide a common front-end. This allows staff in the merged organisation to access records, regardless of where they originated.

Alternatively, the data can be migrated on to the back-end systems of the new owner. Replacing the existing IT systems is generally easier than migrating the data on to the new owner's database.

Hoppermann said companies that opt for the latter approach need to ensure the migration is successful in three areas:

  • The back-end IT systems have to be compatible
  • The rules used to migrate information from the old database to the new one have to transfer the information accurately
  • The front-end system has to accurately represent the original data.

Hoppermann said, "How can the data model of Bristol & West be transferred to Britannia? A lot of manual or semi-manual work might have to be done."

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