Welcome!

You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Jeremy Geelan, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

ColdFusion to the Rescue

A stopgap solution saves the day

In the 21st century business environment, companies live and die by their fat and bogus enterprise applications. New mega-industry groups have been created not only to develop these applications, but deploy, support, and train.

Nigeria is not left out of these influences. The banking industry in Nigeria is a typical example. Every bank in the country runs massive core banking applications such as Finacle from Infosys, FlexCube from Iflex (an Oracle company), Bankmaster, Phoenix, Equations, Globus, etc. These apps are expensive, clunky, and terribly difficult to use. Of all these, the cost of support, training, and hardware requirements are most annoying. Deploying any of these applications would set any organization back no less than a million dollars and it could take between eight months to four years to install. Additional user licenses could run as high as $2,000.

The cost would have been easier to account for if the ancillary cost didn't build up so fast. In terms of usability, organizations spend a lot training users how to use these apps. They usually build their processes around their idiosyncrasies instead of the other way round.

Access Bank is a typical example of a Nigerian enterprise that has deployed some of these applications. Access Bank was incorporated in 1989 as a commercial bank. It was a small fringe player until March 2002 when it was taken over by a new set of owners led by Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede and Herbert Wigwe. At that time, the bank was running FlexCube 4.3. Either because the bank, before the new management came in, didn't implement it well, or for some other reason, FlexCube was anything but flexible. It was slow, buggy, and not user-friendly. However, in delivering its vision of transforming Access Bank into a world-class financial services provider, the new management knew it had to upgrade the banking application to the latest version. And like all enterprise applications, it would take time, cost a lot, and everyone had to be well trained.

Since customers couldn't wait for the FlexCube upgrade before getting superior customer service (why else would a customer stay with a bank when he could get better service from a competitor down the road?), the IT department was saddled with the responsibility of finding temporary solutions while the upgrade project was handed over to a project implementation team.

Like other banking applications, FlexCube 4.3 was a three-tier application with an Oracle 8i database, an application server running the business logic, and client interfaces. Since bottlenecks were at the client and application server, it was apparent that any solution must bypass the trouble spots to deliver speedy response to end users.

Specifically, the proposed temporary solution should be able to deliver all customer, account, and transaction information seamlessly to account officers and back-office staff without needing to install client-side applications. The solution must be web-based. Moreover, it must be cheap and cost-effective since it would just be ad hoc. Ad hoc because at that time it was thought that the solution would be discontinued once the FlexCube upgrade was in.

Immediately, the IT group swung into action. A slew of technologies were considered. ASP was dropped because it was considered legacy. ASP.NET was almost chosen because it came from Microsoft, was mature, and would plug well into the existing infrastructure. However, the cost of add-ons to provide functionalities such as charting, PDF generation, etc. was way beyond budget.

ColdFusion was considered. Everyone was initially put off by the price, especially when competing technologies were basically free. However, by the time the capabilities that ColdFusion could provide straight out of the box were considered dollar for dollar against ASP, JSP, ASP.NET, etc., it was obvious it was the clear winner.

ColdFusion was discovered to have the shallowest learning curve among these products. Its rapid application development paradigm was also way beyond the others.

The bank made a decision. A proprietary framework similar to Mach-II was developed. The first batch of modules was released to the staff in less than two weeks flat. This was achievable because there was no need to integrate expensive third-party middleware for PDF generation, charting, and LDAP. The most amazing thing was that only a short mail was sent out describing what the application could do. There was no need for expensive training because the interfaces and workflows were very user-friendly and extremely intuitive.

The benefits Access Bank derived from this adventure were manifold. The most important being that it was able to live up to its service delivery standard to the customers. The reality is that customers don't know and don't care what core application the bank uses. What matters is the quality of service they get.

Another benefit was that for the level of service delivered, the ColdFusion application was cheaper, more efficient, faster, and easier to use.

Overall, the application's return on investment (ROI) was the best the bank has ever seen. The total cost of deployment was less than 10 user licenses to the core banking application. Because all non-transactional activities were migrated to it, user licenses were only bought for the back-office staff, reducing the total cost of using the core banking application itself.

After this, the bank systematically developed other applications around the first one. The initial application, called Infopool, has now become the platform on which the bank is running almost all its processes. These include the bank's Web site, employee/self-service portal, the stock broking platform, etc.

Unlike other large organizations, especially other banks in Nigeria, Access Bank has discovered that implementing smart applications can complement core banking applications and reduce the total cost of business. All these would not have been possible without Adobe ColdFusion.

Other Information
Access Bank runs ColdFusion MX 7 Enterprise on three ML350 servers on Windows 2000 Enterprise Servers.

More Stories By Adédèjì Olówè

Adedeji Olowe, a business intelligence expert, has been using ColdFusion for several years. He has experience developing and extending enterprise applications for companies in the financial industry as well as systems integration.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
Whenever a new technology hits the high points of hype, everyone starts talking about it like it will solve all their business problems. Blockchain is one of those technologies. According to Gartner's latest report on the hype cycle of emerging technologies, blockchain has just passed the peak of their hype cycle curve. If you read the news articles about it, one would think it has taken over the technology world. No disruptive technology is without its challenges and potential impediments t...
If a machine can invent, does this mean the end of the patent system as we know it? The patent system, both in the US and Europe, allows companies to protect their inventions and helps foster innovation. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be set to disrupt the patent system as we know it. This talk will examine how AI may change the patent landscape in the years to come. Furthermore, ways in which companies can best protect their AI related inventions will be examined from both a US and...
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of San...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...