Westpac was using Oracle's Siebel Universal Customer Master (UCM) software at the heart of its multi-brand strategy, including the St.George, Bank of Melbourne, BankSA, RAMS and BT Financial Group brands.
The software was working well on a mainframe and IBM's DB2 database, so the bank was initially sceptical when Oracle suggested an Engineered System would be faster and cheaper, Westpac's CIO for payments and shared services technology Paul Spiteri told iTWire.
The feeling was "why would we consider this?" he said. Westpac wanted proof that the proposed system really was applicable to the bank's needs, that it could be implemented in a timeframe that could fit into existing plans, and that it would be maintainable.
In six weeks Oracle produced test results that Mr Spiteri characterised as "frightening": more than 4000 transactions per second at 46ms. It was hard to believe they were real, he observed.
Westpac decided to go ahead with the project, but chose a managed service from Oracle to reduce the risk. While the hardware was to be installed in the bank's data centre, Oracle would manage it.
This meant it was necessary to establish the division of responsibilities and to fit Oracle into Westpac's problem resolution processes. "That was the hardest part of implementing [the system]," Spiteri said.
The hardware specifications were jointly determined. Spiteri spoke of "really pragmatic leadership from Oracle," allowing an arrangement that benefited both parties.
The new system went live in late June and "it's been running great ever since" with performance reflecting the results of the proof of concept. Westpac is seeing two to 12 times faster online transactions involving reads or writes, and batch processing times reduced by around 95%. Some jobs ran so quickly that Spiteri thought they had failed.
These performance gains were obtained "basically straight out of the box," he said.
In addition to the performance improvement, Mr Spiteri expects the project to pay for itself in just over two years. He said it has also simplified the operating model and reduced operating risk.
"We could have thought of 1000 reasons not to do this," but the organisation showed leadership and now has a foundation to achieve customer leadership.
The writer attended Oracle Open World as the guest of Oracle.