2 page Case Study
Posted: 8/27/2012
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Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG BizTalk steers Communication between banks

* We were looking for a Middleware solution with per-spective. That is to say, we did not want to begin from scratch whenever we needed a new interface for a, not yet, integrated system. *

Michael Nedved
Software Development Manager

As a result of the specific role of central banks as mediator, in-termediary, clearing partner and information-broker in the ex-port and capital markets the business processes of the Kontroll-bank naturally involve many systems and therefore “ very many interfaces to operate” maintains Michael Nedved, Head of IT at the Oesterreichische Kontrollbank. “ What we were missing was a Middleware solution for business critical SWIFT transaction handling, which will be comparably suitable for our requirements for security, simplicity and transparency.

The Oesterreichische Kontrollbank (OeKB) is a special institute in many respects. As provider of financial and information services for business, fi-nancial institutions and the Republic of Austria it is, in the background, re-sponsible for the smooth functioning of the central capital and export pro-cesses. How critical this role is for the financial market is shown in the availa-bility requirements, which Michael Nedved bases on his IT infrastructure. „ If our systems are stuck in Direct Set-tlement for a day or customers can no longer access applications provided by us in the usual places on the stock exchange, then our financial market au-thority is standing at the door. That you can rely on.

Although the BizTalk Server has al-ready been in use at OeKB since 2008 and knew how to convince in this time through its stability and simplicity, internally it meant a big step to recon-sider its use also for the highly sensi-tive core processes of the capital mar-kets and, parallel to that, to broach the issue of knowledge culture in the company, remembers Lech Ledóchowski, CIO at OeKB. “ We wanted to reduce complexity and increase our connectivity and this without compromising security. A considered step further it means that the functioning of a business critical solution must not depend on the expertise of an indi-vidual.”


However, before the Microsoft BizTalk solution for the business critical SWIFT transaction handling of the whole Oesterreichische Kontrollbank was implemented, some obstacles – more in principal than technical – still had to be overcome, “ especially since Microsoft“, as Andreas Winterer, director of Microsoft partner Auris Consult ex-plains, “ with the exception of the Dutch KAS Bank, had still not exhibited Best Practices in the area of SWIFT handling. Even our Proof of Concept for the im-plementation and knowledge transfer could not shake this.

Ironically, it was two strengths of the BizTalk Server that gave our project some headwinds at the beginning: its simplicity and its cost,“added Michael Nedved with a smile , “because it is assumed in business critical finance that only things which are really good, which are to the user outwardly visible, appear complex and uncluttered, cost something. In both aspects we have to disappoint expectations because the BizTalk Server doesn’t interfere with any code, it works in the background and costs only 10% to 14% of the old solution, which required a lot of confidence creating work in the specialist departments.

At the end the ultimate deciding factor for the Microsoft platform solution from the BizTalk Server and the SQL Server was, next to the aforementioned strengths of the BizTalk solution, the high degree of integration, which brought together the aspects of future and security in an exemplary way. Once more Michael Nedved comments on this. „ We were looking for a Middleware solution, which gave us not only a foundation, but also a perspective so as to minimise our integration outlay and at the same time drastically improve our agility. In plain English, we did not want to begin from scratch whenever we needed a new interface for a, not yet, integrated system.


Andreas Winterer points out how ex-actly the wheat separates from the chaff here. „ While individual developments in error handling and infrastructure coding, which are not even reuseable in the end, are already consuming a lot of time and money, with the Biz Talk Server you get „Out-of-the-Box“ error handling, meanwhile the infrastructure code is not even touched. The simplicity of the BizTalk server is that we can abstract from the infrastructure level and focus on the essen-tials. We encapsulate the code and define how the packets should behave at the business logic level.

The essentials are in this case the correct routing of very complex SWIFT messages (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), which, individually, already fill, to some extent, hundreds of pages. „ The routing and not the messages themselves,“ as Michael Nedved notes. „ We are not getting into code, rather we are caring about the mapping, which should be the actual task of middleware – to build bridges between the systems and for communication between the banks.

For the sake of completeness it should be added that the mapping is carried out towards the Front End and towards the Back End: Data comes in, data goes out. By SWIFT or, as with communication with local banks, more cheaply and direct by Message Queuing and fixed lines. The interface of the in-house applications is uniform; it is called XML and pays its way. Michael Nedved explains, „ In total this project needed around 30-40 mappings to be written for the integration of other systems. Total outlay: 12 man-days. No more. That means that today we budget for half a man-day where before we needed three or four man-days.


When it comes to clearing transactions between banks – whether it be in the sector of commercial papers, Direct Settlement or OTC businesses – it is the smooth functioning of the Back End components which is absolutely business critical, „ but not sufficient“, as Lech Ledóchowski highlights, „ A costefficient and above all a highly available solution is needed, like the BizTalk Server which simultaneously helps to minimise the integration, maintenance and management costs. Thereby the costs cannot enter through the back door again.

The figures, which Mr. Nedved is, at the same time, laying on the table, underline this evidence. So today at OeKB the maintenance costs are reflected in the budget at around 14% of the old solution, and in this calculation all adapters (which are a standard feature of the BizTalk Server) and also the licence costs for the SQL server are already included. As far as the operational costs (for the Server and storage) are concerned, OeKB lies at 7% of the old system because the new solu-tion can easily run alongside the existing OeKB server network. Also, with the internal budgets, the employee costs for new developments, OeKB is saving itself, yet again, around 65% of the costs.

Because of the performance and stability, acceptance in the department is no longer an issue. „ When around 500,000 outgoing and 250,000 incoming messages a month all arrive correctly, then it is already an argument that cannot be ignored in the long-term“, maintains Michael Nedved very contentedly and adds after a short pause, „ But actually this is just the beginning. A first project. Because we have not yet really played the platform strengths.

Solution Overview

Organization Size: 750 employees

Organization Profile
The Oesterreichische Kontrollbank Aktiengesellschaft (OeKB) is Austria’s central financial and information services provider for the export sector and capital market. The special institute, founded in 1946, is in the ownership of Austrian banks and provides services to businesses, financial institutions as well as institutions of the Republic of Austria.

Software and Services
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Vertical Industries
Banking & Capital Markets