Midwestern bank NationalCity achieved significant advances using a SOA-based approach to IT transformation, as described by Joe McCartin, executive vice president and CIO, NationalCity. McCartin provided details on a transformational journey at this month's Gartner Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit 2008 in Las Vegas. While presenting a picture of a successful SOA initiative, McCartin offered some caveats, as well as some sobering words on the state of commerce today.
Over several years, core system renewal programs at NationalCity became the launch pad for an SOA. This involved some 'demolition' of transaction routing and account analysis applications, renovation of savings and other applications, and new construction of an integrated data hub, a correspondence engine, an electronic payment and other applications.
At its center, the overarching scheme relied on an Enterprise Service Bus and defined Core Technology Assets. In some cases, on the front end, Ajax interfaces provided the delivery mechanism for the updated applications. Organizational changes were a large part of the program.
The company had to change the interaction model among different corporate stakeholders, said McCartin.
"We created an architectural review board. [It] engaged application people right at the beginning of a project. And then they look for what they call detection and positioning. Very early in the project you have an overt step
In effect, McCartin's team sought to detect where they could make use of common technology assets, or to consider whether a new project is a good fit for an enterprise service that could be built so it could be reused. The goal was to achieve a "positioning for common services early on," he said. As part of the overall renewal, applications were measured for complexity in terms of planning complexity (in terms of, for example, number of business units covered, or number of user cases involved), integration complexity (in terms of, for example, number of data bases or number of internal or external integrations involved), and other traits.
Two years into the effort, at the end of Q2 2008, by McCartin's estimates, the group had constructed 166 services that were leveraged 376 times. Service leverage was estimated in terms of cost avoidance, reuse. Application Residency [a measure of applications employing common technology assets] tripled in two years, even as transaction volume grew at 55%.
"We are getting reuse, and we are getting faster. It doesn't work all the time but it is working pretty well," said McCartin.
He further said that the NationalCity crew encountered obstacles along the way in the form of complexity of shared services. "The testers couldn't keep up with it," he told the Gartner conference attendees, advising them to "invest early in testing."
The application renewal journey was ultimately somewhat tragic. NationalCity's expansive national mortgage business and fallout from the global credit crunch overtook the company, leading to a U.S. Government-forced merger in late October with Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group. Said a somewhat sardonic McCartin, "SOA will not get you government funding."