ING Investment Management is one of the world’s largest investment managers and globally administers more than U.S.$500 billion in assets across 33 countries. In the U.S., ING was looking for a sourcing partner to provide enhanced back-office capabilities. It selected The Bank of New York Mellon (BNYM), but needed a system to support scalable and reliable data flow between the two organizations. Microsoft helped ING deploy Microsoft® BizTalk® Server 2006 R2, Microsoft BizTalk Accelerator for SWIFT, and InfoPath® Forms Services to provide interoperability with BNYM infrastructure. ING now has a system capable of handling large volumes of financial data without adding significant technological complexity. Situation
Based in the Netherlands, ING Group is ranked by Forbes as the world’s ninth-largest company. In the U.S., the investment management arm manages more than U.S.$224 billion for its clients. The firm specializes in customized client investment solutions and works with a variety of investment products for a diverse client list. ING decided to outsource institutional back-office functions, including trade settlements, trade enrichment, reconciliations, accounting, and valuations processing. ING needed a best-of-breed solution, automated processes continually improved by market conditions and clients, and access to a sourcing partner’s global infrastructure. ING chose The Bank of New York Mellon (BNYM) for its scale and depth of knowledge in all types of securities processing. Thomas Schreier, Senior Vice President of IT at ING Investment Management, says: “We needed a way to communicate with BNYM, but it has a different infrastructure from the one we have at ING. We needed a simple, quick, and secure way to move data between the companies.”
ING has systems built on Microsoft® technologies, but BNYM uses a variety of in-house technology environments. ING began looking for technology that could act as a gateway to the BNYM architecture, with three key requirements.
- Interoperability. The solution had to connect with divergent systems and move different types of data files—such as XML, flat, site template, comma separated value, and Microsoft Office Excel® spreadsheet software files—easily. The technology needed to be compatible with BNYM architecture.
- Flexibility. ING needed technology that could handle staged migrations. Because of the volumes of data involved, the company wanted to migrate different systems in different time frames, without creating significant business disruption.
- Reliability. ING wanted to provide its clients with guaranteed messaging and closely manage service and maintenance costs associated with financial messaging and data transfers.
“When looking at solutions, we always had interoperability, flexibility, and reliability in mind,” says Schreier. “We needed something that could be a hub for all data movement across the organization.”Solution
After taking these requirements to several vendors, ING chose Microsoft to provide the connectivity it needed. Schreier says: “We had a long standing relationship with Microsoft, but needed to know that the solution would operate not just with our own software, but with BNYM software too.” In May 2008, Microsoft provided ING with a proof of concept that demonstrated how ING could send SWIFT and other messages to BNYM through Microsoft BizTalk® Server 2006 R2. Once this was complete, it took just one month to implement the solution in a test environment.
The key Microsoft technologies are:
- BizTalk Server 2006—a business process management server that communicates with different software systems.
- InfoPath® Forms Services—an application to generate XML-based forms over the Web.
ING consolidated several data hubs into one place—the ING Data Store—that acts as a central repository for all of the organization’s information going to or coming from BNYM. Microsoft helped connect BizTalk Server to the ING Data Store. Once live, all the data moved between ING and BNYM will go from the BizTalk Server to the ING Data Store. From here, data can be transferred downstream to other systems easily. “We can use it as a true conduit for our back-office data,” says Schreier. “We won’t need to rely on system-to-system connections and we can interface disparate systems efficiently.”
InfoPath Forms Services is used for manual checking of data and exceptions. When flawed messages enter the system, they can be flagged quickly and displayed in InfoPath forms, for review and amendment. With InfoPath, the amount of time that messages are out of the system is minimal. “BizTalk Server is excellent at communicating data between systems, but we also need clear information for end users. InfoPath makes this easy,” says Schreier.
ING is going live with the solution in December 2008 and Schreier is in no doubt
that the Microsoft environment, using BizTalk Server connected to Microsoft SQL Server® 2005 data management software, is crucial to the outsourcing project’s success. “BizTalk has gone through several iterations and is now a prime-time product,” says Schreier. “This has been one of the smoothest implementations we’ve had.”
Expert Guidance Throughout ImplementationBenefits
Because ING had an established relationship with Microsoft, Schreier’s team already understood its development and operational tools. ING also has Microsoft Services Premier Support and benefited from architectural and design reviews throughout the project. Microsoft has made experts from the BizTalk Customer Advisory Team available to ING for operational reviews and guidance on issues such as backing up data, system management, and additional strategic implementations. These factors made the deployment fast and straightforward and ING was able to start sending test messages in less than one month.
ING has created a stable and reliable solution for the free flow of data in and out of BNYM. With BizTalk Server and BizTalk Accelerator for SWIFT, ING can be assured that settlement and trade matching messages will be transmitted automatically and seamlessly between the two organizations through SWIFT messaging. Schreier says: “This venture is fundamental if we are to continue offering better services to our customers. The solution from Microsoft is a vital part of the project.”
The reliability of BizTalk Server was crucial in the selection process—hours that could be consumed by system monitoring and problem resolution can now be assigned to application development. The team can also bring more financial messages into the BizTalk Server environment. ING plans to move other inter-application communications through BizTalk Server. The current reliance on system-to-system connections will be phased out and the firm will add flexibility to its communications as uploaders and exporters are removed from systems. “BizTalk Server will allow us to cut costs across the environment,” says Schreier. “We’re spending too much money on fixing and monitoring data communications processes and with BizTalk Server we hope to see considerable savings in this area.”
Standardized Development Environment
As ING connects different applications to BizTalk Server, information will move seamlessly between systems. This will eliminate some interfaces and result in considerable data consolidation in others.
ING can use BizTalk Server and pre-built mapping components to give data more meaning and alter the schema and format of business documents. Furthermore, users will subscribe to process changes automatically, cutting down on training and maintenance time.
More Reliable Data Movement
The simplified environment will mean a move from scheduled testing and monitoring to event-driven activity. Currently ING has several scheduled monitoring tasks that require supervision by the IT team. Using BizTalk Server, processes become incident-based, as the system responds to information entering from internal and external sources.
Not only will there be a reduction in the number of scheduled tasks, but management and supervisory activity will be noticeably reduced. “The information mesh that we have now will be replaced by a simpler, more stable environment. This will be crucial as the volume of data moving through the business is increasing so quickly,” says Schreier.
A Stronger Strategic Partnership
ING was impressed with the flexible approach taken by the Microsoft team, and its commitment to finding the right solution. From initial consultancy, to design and readiness reviews and on-site training, ING benefited from a wide range of services. Schreier is now planning to send his employees to Microsoft training facilities to take full advantage of the capabilities of the new solution. “Microsoft didn’t come in with a high-pressure sales pitch; it just asked, ‘How can we help you?’ It is a perfect example of what we look for in a strategic partner,” says Schreier.
A Central Hub for All Communications
Using BizTalk Server, ING has created a hub-and-spoke model for data movement. Currently there are two spokes—one for use within ING and one for BNYM, but, in time, it wants to add more.
ING is already looking at using BizTalk Server to connect to another third-party investment application. “This is going to be the new standard for any communication within the organization,” says Schreier. “BizTalk Server will become the focal point of all our messaging.”For More Information
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