Completion of Banque Misr VRX/E to UNIX Migration Project

eT3 successfully accomplishes the largest Automation project in Banque Misr history ; VRX/E To UNIX Migration.  This multi-million project was fully designed, planned and managed by T3 ( sub-contracted by NCR Egypt) , and completed, in a record time of nine months.

Overview:

The project spans 36 major applications running in 154 of Banque Misr’s Automated Branches linked through Banque Misr’s private network across Egypt (Cairo and Alexandria). Hundreds of programmers, analysts, system engineers, designers, consultants and hardware/communications engineers were involved in this massive project. Thousands of programs, job control scripts, and utilities were converted to run in the new UNIX environment. Gegas and Gegas of files and database schemas were ported to the new environment.

Objectives:

  • Smooth Migration
  • High Stability / Availability
  • Protect Banque Misr Investment
  • Finalizing Host Migration Project in 9 months

Project objective was clearly explained at the beginning of the project by Banque Misr Top Management and by NCR / T 3 project manager:    “Within the fixed time frame, Banque Misr will switch all it’s computer activities to the new UNIX environment, without changing the existing branches network infrastructure,  and without touching the logic of all original applications.   Neither the bank’s end users nor it’s customers should feel any difference except the fact of getting ten times better performance” .

Time constrain also became a very critical issue when management highlighted the fact that all technical migration issues should be performed in only six months to give enough time, during the three other months of the project’s life, to perform intensive tests and parallel runs.

In addition to the above mentioned constrains, was the nature of Banque Misr itself as one of the giant leading Egyptian banks, considered to be on the top of mission critical environments.

Strategies:

  • Complete Vision with Phased Approach Implementation
  • Eliminating Risks
  • Adapting Latest Technologies

Design:

The whole process started with a migration design phase answering a multitude of questions.  Here are some of them:

  • How can we preserve the proprietary infrastructure (Thousands of kilometers of cables plus hundreds of communication equipments) in order to protect the bank’s investments?
  • Proprietary communication front-end processors (NCR Comten) should be kept as they are.  How can we integrate these proprietary Communications processors with the new UNIX open platform?
  • How can we remotely print in Banque Misr branches using the old communication topology under a UNIX platform?
  • What is the best programming language under UNIX to convert all these programs without getting fewer programming features?
  • How can we migrate all VRX powerful features to UNIX; especially concerning security, VRX logs & system auditing, VRX printing facilities etc?
  • How can we keep the same level of the existing fault tolerance in the new environment?
  • How far is the existing disaster recovery plan going to be affected? and how can we amend this plan to be efficient using the new UNIX environment?
  • How can we automate the following migration procedures with a minimum  manual intervention
    • programs
    • job control scripts
    • data files & database tables

Also enhancing all the applications was performed at this point of time, without touching the essential algorithms and getting the maximum advantages of the new environment.

During the design phase, the need for using a powerful middleware platform imposed itself. Once again eT3 covered this need immediately by presenting BEA Transaction Processing Monitor (TOPEND).

At the end of this phase, NCR / eT3 developed a “Design Technical Document”, including detailed specifications for programs, job control scripts, and utilities conversion, in addition to files and databases migration.

Implementation:

Project Management decided to build his plan on four main activities performed in parallel and covered, in full harmony, by four different teams. Main activities were broken out into a multitude of very well defined tasks and sub tasks.Dependencies and critical paths were detected after designing the full project plan.  Risk analysis was performed and contingency plan was designed covering all the risks according to their occurrence probability.

Follow-up and progress meetings were periodically held, corrective actions taken accordingly, and project status report was presented to Banque Misr top management on a weekly basis.

When the targeted date occurred, after three months of heavy tests and parallel runs, performed usually on afternoons and nights and during weekends,  project management decided to set-up a “war room” in Banque Misr computer center.  The room was equipped with several telephone lines, and some computer terminals to follow-up the first live days. It was enjoyable at  the first live hours to follow up the new UNIX system up and running.  Some users were just calling to ask “my terminal is ten times faster, what is going on?”.  At  the end of the first live days we discovered that the majority of users thought that we only tuned the VRX system to be faster.

The project turned to be a real success. At the end everybody was completely exhausted but don’t ask about the joy and internal satisfaction for each individual person involved in this historical project —  a great achievement that could not be accomplished without the team spirit between Banque Misr, NCR and eT3 staff.

The project will always be regarded as the biggest automation achievement in Banque Misr:  the leader bank in automation in the region.

eT3 , as usual, has just added a new glorious page in its history book full, of successes.