St George takes ATMs beyond five 9s

St George Bank claims it can schedule 100 per cent availability of its Multicard Eftpos and ATM network after upgrading it to continuous processing capability .

The bank's chief manager of electronic banking solutions Martin Eltoft said this was a "big improvement" on the previous level of network availability; over the last 18 months the bank had dealt with six hours of scheduled downtime.

While that may not sound like a lot of downtime, St George's Multicard network averages about 1.5 millions transactions a day through 40,000 EFTPOS devices and 3000 ATMs. A lot of customers can be inconvenienced in six hours while the bank's IT staff spend between one and four hours on OS or application software upgrades and up to six hours for hardware revises.

The solution, from local software developer eFunds, runs on a Hewlett-Packard NonStop (Tandem) and IBM OS/390 server platform.

St George Bank has licensed a continuous processing feature in eFunds' Connex Advantage for switching, authorising and settling payments with cardholders' banks. That component enables the application to run concurrently on multiple Tandem systems, Eltoft said.

St George is reportedly one of the first non-US banks to adopt continuous processing.

Neither the bank nor eFunds would disclose the value of the solution, citing competitive reasons.

The bank is also installing new file replication software developed by US IT company Network Technologies to give the bank "comprehensive" disaster recovery capability.

Eltoft said the bank has configured the application to run on its head office site in Kogarah, Sydney and its disaster recovery site in George St, Sydney. He said this means that during peak times, the processing load for card transactions is shared between the two Tandem systems.

When required the bank will move all processing to one of the two Tandem systems to allow upgrades to be performed on the now unused machine, he added.

The bank installed the Tandem systems, \STG1 and \SRG3 in 1984 and has been using a model based on two HP Nonstop S74006 servers (high-end fault tolerant servers) for four years, according to Eltoft.

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