SNS Bank Future Proofs Global Banking Applications with Micro Focus Visual COBOL

Global Banking Applications

22 October 2014

SNS Bank, one of the top four banks in The Netherlands and part of the SNS Reaal group, has successfully modernized its core banking system, working in partnership with Micro Focus (LSE: MCRO.L), the leading provider of enterprise application modernization, testing and management solutions. The project involved moving SNS Bank’s business applications from a Unisys mainframe system to a distributed environment using Micro Focus Visual COBOL, which future proofed its core banking portfolio and significantly reduced business risk.

SNS Bank has relied on its core banking applications for over 25 years. Used by nearly all of its 5,000 employees every day, these applications process all client transactions and connect the SNS online banking facility to its back end systems. Every SNS Reaal company utilizes these systems today in order to deliver key banking services to their customers.

Outlining the challenge, Ramakant Patki, Head of IT Infrastructure and Operations at SNS Bank said: “Our system ran on a Unisys mainframe but since the advent of the internet, the bank has seen a steady rise in online transaction volumes, raising concerns regarding the readiness of the Unisys mainframe to cope with this increased business demand. The performance of the system was actually very good, but we were conscious that Unisys’ mainframe market share is diminishing and therefore had to assume that expertise and support will be more difficult to source in the future. We looked carefully at our staffing levels and it was clear that our Unisys experts would be retiring within the near future.”

To transition to a new IT environment fit for a modern and online world, and to foster collaboration between existing development teams while retaining a high-performance core banking system, SNS Bank chose a proven solution from Micro Focus. Using Micro Focus Visual COBOL, IBM Global Services oversaw the move from Unisys to an IBM AIX environment, delivering the application re-platform solution.

“The project involved 2.8 million lines of code and a sizeable DMS II database representing a formidable challenge for the project team”, commented Patki. “We had previous experience with Micro Focus Server Express during a previous pilot project when it had successfully converted a small, stand-alone application. This prior experience, coupled with its market leading position and proven track record clearly identified Micro Focus as the right choice for our modernization project.”

The Micro Focus Visual COBOL solution was used to automatically convert 95% of the current COBOL system, while the remaining code was manually rewritten to C++ and COBOL. All DMS II data was automatically converted to an Oracle relational database and a new framework based on C++ was developed for its core banking system. More than 150 people were involved in the move from Unisys MCP to IBM AIX, ensuring business process continuity and consistent integration across its core systems.

Bank, said: “We want to streamline our development processes and standardize on a single environment for our team of 25 COBOL developers, allowing them to collaborate more effectively with existing teams. Visual COBOL is a natural next step for us and we can see many benefits, including superior debugging capabilities and new tools for application modernization. We expect to see efficiency gains as well as a rise in developer productivity levels.”

“This is another example of how our clients are embracing change and a future platform strategy, by reusing trusted applications with the help of Visual COBOL,” added Ed Airey, Product Marketing Director at Micro Focus. “By delivering maximum value from their core IT assets with our technology, our customers can accelerate the competitive advantage inherent in their critical business systems.”

The Visual COBOL environment offers smart editing and debugging, enabling developers to manage complex problems easier and faster than before. Visual COBOL will be used with Micro Focus Developer Hub, enabling developers to centrally store source code and application artifacts as well as debug their applications remotely on UNIX from the Eclipse environment. This makes fault detection and correction easier, enabling higher quality standards for application development efforts.

Confirming the benefits of the modernization project, Patki concluded: “Moving our core banking system to a modern distributed environment has drastically reduced our business risk and has given us a path to the future. The Micro Focus Visual COBOL solution will give us modern development tools, greater development productivity and a platform for future innovation.”

About Micro Focus

Micro Focus, a member of the FTSE 250, provides innovative software that allows companies to dramatically improve the business value of their enterprise applications. Micro Focus Enterprise Application Modernization, Testing and Management software enables customers’ business applications to respond rapidly to market changes and embrace modern architectures with reduced cost and risk. For additional information please visit

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