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03:20 PM
Deena M. Amato-McCoy
Deena M. Amato-McCoy
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JPMorgan Chase improves cash management site with configuration management tool.

To enable corporate cash managers to monitor their investments, wires and ACH transactions electronically, New York-based JPMorgan Chase (JPMC; $1.2 trillion in assets) developed its first global banking Web site in 1998. As more users relied on the site, the bank launched a more robust cash management portal in 2001. The Java-based site was supported by a combination of Unix and Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) Windows NT platforms, and featured many customized applications. And with more than 10,000 users signed up for the service, performance was critical.

But the site was subject to performance failures with every manual application update or upgrade, and monitoring its components was difficult, according to Kurt Hansel, assistant vice president, applications development analyst, for the bank's treasury services division. "If there was a problem, we had to conduct a conference call with 30 people to understand who was logging in to servers and see what happened," he relates.

So in 2002, JPMC began exploring solutions to allow it to gain more control over application upgrades and provide real-time reports on changes, all with vendor support. Relicore's (Burlington, Mass.) real-time application and server configuration solution, Clarity, fit the bill. Hansel declines to confirm if JPMC considered other solutions.

In just a few days in summer 2004, the bank's Internet infrastructure team loaded the software onto its application and Web servers, and configured the servers, Hansel recalls. The team also installed the solution on eight quality assurance servers for a six-month proof-of-concept period prior to deployment in the production environment. JPMC did not have to purchase additional hardware for the implementation.

Clarity collects configuration data from each server and passes it to a centralized repository residing at JPMC that enables the bank to depict the business flow of data through its existing IT infrastructure, detect where independent sources of data are merging and determine any changes that need to be made. "With visibility into what changes are being made, we can resolve issues immediately," Hansel says. "The solution helps us ensure that coding is correct—we are not putting out as many fires anymore."

Report Card

Further, the impact analysis reports created by Clarity "allow us to keep an eye on what is happening internally," he continues. "We are minimizing our resolution time and, in some cases, avoiding problems altogether." The reports also free up IT dollars previously allotted to "developing new code or spending time with developers on the phone," Hansel adds. "This has helped us achieve a return on our investment within six to 12 months."

In 2005, JPMC upgraded its online platform to BEA Systems' (San Jose, Calif.) WebLogic Server. "As we built the platform, we used Relicore to compare our new application and Web servers to our existing ones. This helped us ensure they were running simultaneously before we went live," Hansel explains. "Now, we use Relicore to analyze our firewalls. This helps us determine which ones are working and if any need to be closed down."

The bank also plans to integrate Clarity with its Web-based IBM (Armonk, N.Y.) Tivoli enterprise console by the first quarter of 2006. "[Clarity] is a powerful tool—we have not yet touched all of its capabilities," says Hansel. --Deena M. Amato-McCoy

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