Bank of Ayudhya PCL., also known as Krungsri, is one of Thailand’s largest banks, and it is leading the way in leveraging its host applications by creating mainframe web services using the HostBridge JavaScript Engine (HB.js). These web services are revolutionizing how CICS applications are accessed and exploited through integrations that dramatically improve productivity, and to enable the bank to offer innovative new services. None of the integrations developed with HB.js require changes to the host applications, nor do they rely on screen-scraping technology.

The bank has a core banking system that runs on the mainframe. Access to these traditional, legacy CICS/Cobol core banking applications has been through 3270 emulation software. The bank had a business requirement to integrate data from these applications with open systems platform applications. The challenge was how to integrate the data between these platforms.

Integration Requirements

Pongsak Poovantana, Krungsri’s Senior Vice President with responsibility for the mainframe and data center, searched the internet for solutions to help modernize the bank’s legacy applications. The bank’s view of modernization did not include scraping data from 3270 screens. Instead, it wanted something that could return the data from the field on the screen, or read the data directly from the database, which in the bank’s case was a VSAM file format. Ideally, an integration solution would return the mainframe data as either XML/JSON, or some other standard format. These requirements guided the search for an integration solution.

The search led Pongsak to HostBridge, a CICS integration solution that looked promising. After reading the HostBridge website content, he contacted the company and started a dialogue that helped Pongsak understand that HostBridge could satisfy the bank’s integration requirements. Pongsak approached his management team with the idea of using HostBridge to do a proof-of-concept project.

Once the bank’s management team understood that HostBridge was not just another screen-scraping integration solution, Pongsak got approval to proceed. Management understood the limitations of screen-scraping as an integration technology. It is a brittle integration approach, notoriously unreliable, breaking easily when 3270 screen geometry changes. It also doesn’t scale well. So when reliability and performance matter – as it almost always does for core banking applications – screen-scraping is a poor integration alternative. When it became clear that HostBridge does no screen-scraping, Pongsak began what would become a successful pilot implementation.

Initial Deployment Efforts

As a result of the pilot project, the bank became a HostBridge customer. The initial focus was on improving the productivity of core banking application users using HB.js.  Pongsak’s team began to develop and deploy several, new mainframe web services to provide access to data from a number of sources: VSAM files, 3270 screens and CICS COMMAREA programs.

Bank of Ayudhya IT staff training on developing mainframe web services with HostBridge

Bank of Ayudhya IT staff training on developing mainframe web services with the HostBridge JavaScript Engine.

One such productivity project was undertaken to address a user complaint. Bank users had an application access sequence that required the navigation of more than 20 host application screens to get all the data necessary to respond to a single customer inquiry. It took an average of a minute per screen to complete data retrieval to respond to just one customer. A web service was created using HB.js, to orchestrate all the screen navigations and data flows. It now takes just a single click and only one minute to do what previously required much longer, reducing the elapsed time to complete the transaction sequence by 95%.

Better User and Customer Experience

The productivity advantage resulting from the creation of mainframe web services at the bank was impressive. The internal users that were exploiting these CICS web services were very happy and asked for more of these integrations. User satisfaction was important. So was delivering a much better experience for customers, who made these inquiries via telephone or in person. The productivity gains from orchestrating these transactions with HB.js-created web services allowed bank personnel to quickly respond to customer inquiries, much faster than previously possible. These productivity gains were realized without changing the host applications. Similar projects that focus on user-application interaction productivity improvements are also in the works, and they are delivering comparable benefits.

The bank’s users are getting some impressive productivity gains from these web services that orchestrate and streamline host interaction. More impressive is the speed at which Pongsak’s team is developing and deploying the web services that deliver these gains. Before HostBridge was implemented, management anticipated a months-long development effort to create the needed integrations.  HB.js lets the bank’s developers create CICS web services to expose the core banking system in a fraction of the time.

The bank now has already completed some projects using HB.js to create web services for CICS application integration.  One of them was for the bank’s tele-sales team, and it provides mobile access to customer information that resides in CICS applications. Using the HostBridge JavaScript Engine, it took Pongsak’s team just an hour to develop a web service to enable mobile access to this data in CICS. Similar web services-based integration projects are underway.

The integration projects that use HB.js are changing the perception that applications which require mainframe participation are slow: either the development cycle is slow, or the integrations to host applications perform poorly.  Now, using HostBridge to create mainframe web services, the bank is experiencing rapid development and deployment of integrations that perform extremely well. “With HostBridge, we have the existing program available on the host, and we just develop the JavaScript, call it, and it returns the data,” states Pongsak.  “We can respond quicker and deliver results faster.”

From 6 Months to 1 Hour

A project that Pongsak is very proud of involves international funds transfer. This process requires systems in other countries to connect and interact with the bank’s mainframe system. Developing the integration to accomplish these money transfers was expected to take six months. Using HB.js, and in just one hour, Pongsak’s team was able to create a CICS mainframe web service to perform the operation, positioning Krungsri as the first in Thailand with the ability to do this type of funds transfer. The speed at which this mission-critical integration was complete was so fast that Pongsak received a call from the bank’s head office in Japan, asking how he was able to get results so quickly.

Pongsak and his management team are now very familiar with what HostBridge can do, and they are eager to continue creating mainframe web services to enable integration and improve productivity. This much is sure: with HostBridge, they’ll spend far less time developing integrations, and the ones the bank deploys will help deliver a better user and customer experience.

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