Superpartners completes $10m integration project

With a rapid, six-month integration project behind it, superannuation funds manager Superpartners will merge some 600,000 records from the Australian Retirement Fund (ARF) this week bringing its total number to around five million.

Superpartners CIO Tony Gold puts the low cost and fast completion of the project down to an enterprise application integration platform that "treats applications as modules".

"We have an integration platform based on Webmethods which was implemented last October," Gold said. "It has given us a platform to be agile enough to take on new businesses in a short timeframe and gives us the ability to interoperate quickly."

Gold, proud of the work of his IT team, said for a $10 million project, it was a "very modest" budget.

"Other places would have taken 12 to 18 months and spent $25 to $30 million," he said. "We had the contractors and technical people running hard."

ARF announced the appointment last year of Superpartners as its fund administrator for a five-year period beginning April 1, 2005.

Describing ARF's mainframe-based system as "fairly proprietary", Gold said the standard super fund transition protocol was a big factor in making sure the records were done in the timeframe set.

Superpartners runs an Oracle-based member administration system and a variety of vendor packages to handle "esoteric parts of the system", like shares. Its systems are a mix of HP-UX on PA-RISC and HP wintel blade servers.

Preferring to get projects done rather than give them codenames, Gold said the six month, in-house "program" consisted of establishing the funds records on the core administration system, a lot of data confirmation and business rule coding, and making the other applications work off the Oracle database.

"We've also developed real-time updates from the member database to the Pivotal CRM application," he said. "The heavy integration piece is only 40 percent of the work done by IT over the past six months. For example, the e-commerce site was also upgraded."

To performance-test the new and modified systems, Mercury's Loadrunner tool was deployed.

"We have found it most useful; even better, we have been able to demonstrate that the webMethods EAI piece is well architected to handle the anticipated volumes with plenty to spare," Gold said.

The usual number of 50 to 60 in-house developers doubled in the space of six weeks. The contractors will be kept for warranty and knowledge transfer but won't be staying permanently.

"One of the biggest challenges was managing multiple projects in the timeframe but we have good structures in place where contractors had clear objectives," Gold said.

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