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Candle Corporation: Citizens Financial Group Realizes Tactical and Strategic Gains From Application Infrastructure Initiative
Leading financial services organization selects Candle's PathWAI solutions to maximize the benefit of WebSphere across the "buil

www.candle.com

After a brief pause, merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the financial services industry has resumed its breakneck pace. Financial services organizations are pursuing ambitious acquisition strategies to secure regional leadership. Industry leaders understand, however, that acquisitions to establish regional dominance will only carry them so far. To continue to grow market share, they must also offer customers high levels of service, paired with innovative and highly secure products. Today's financial services organizations require reliable and scalable IT infrastructures to deliver on these objectives.

Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a Rhode Island-based commercial bank holding company that operates more than 825 Citizens Bank branch offices in New England and the mid-Atlantic region, understands today's IT requirements like few other financial services organizations. The group, which has acquired more than 20 institutions since 1990, continues to prosper based on its commitment to service, ability to move rapidly in bringing new solutions to market and strategy to deliver personalized offerings to its 2.4 million customers. Citizens' rock-solid IT infrastructure is fundamental to its success in each of these initiatives.

Investing in the Future
In 2002, Citizens created its Integration Architecture Group (IAG), charged with upgrading the bank's branch technology to streamline customer service. The group also supports M&A integration activities. "Channel integration was fundamental to the IAG initiative," said Anthony Massaro, senior vice president, director of Enterprise Technology Services, Citizens Bank. "The bank wanted to ensure that customers could access their financial data via any delivery channel. As important, we wanted to ensure integration without the cost or risk of a mass migration to a new core processing system. We realized from the start that message-oriented middleware would be an essential component of the solution."

Citizens required a middleware solution that could empower writer (development) services for a single instance and leverage data across all message connections to provide customers with a common experience. The group selected IBM WebSphere MQ and TouchPoint Enterprise Services, which together meet its requirements for communication and integration among multiple business applications and processes. Citizens also leverages WebSphere Business Integration software to support the integration of new and existing applications and the deployment of new business processes.

"Prior to implementing WebSphere MQ, our branches operated in a stovepipe environment," Massaro said. "Records for various channels and lines of business were stored separately and could not be universally accessed. Our branch associates, therefore, could not always easily retrieve the information that they needed and were saddled with volumes of manual paperwork. Associates, for example, would spend, on average, 50 minutes opening a new account. Today, we can open an account in approximately seven minutes." Citizens has implemented a new account-opening application and has plans to launch new teller, call center, online banking and integrated voice response system (IVR) solutions as part of its integrated Web services-based architecture.

Protecting Assets
WebSphere MQ - which transmits business-critical information, such as account transactions, across multiple systems - is fundamental to Citizens' efforts to achieve end-to-end management of the customer relationship. Managing its implementation and performance is, therefore, a top IT priority.

"We required a partner that could provide support across the WebSphere ‘build, deploy, manage' life cycle," Massaro said. "Architecture support was essential, as we wanted to build a solid foundation on which we could expand as the scale of our operations grew. Time to market was also critical, which drove our need for tuning and deployment support. Finally, our goal of 24x7 availability established our requirement for a proven management solution."

Citizens considered several enterprise infrastructure management providers and selected Candle Corp. and its PathWAI‰ solution suite. PathWAI packages enable organizations to optimize their application infrastructure investments by overcoming the performance challenges associated with critical and sophisticated enterprise environments.

"Candle's reputation as a leader in the WebSphere MQ management space, combined with its ability to deliver the architecture, development and deployment services on the front end of the engagement, drove our decision," Massaro said.

Maximizing Yield
Citizens wanted to avoid mistakes that would cost valuable time and money in all stages of the application infrastructure life cycle. IAG selected Candle's PathWAI Architecture for WebSphere Business Integration, which helps organizations accelerate architecture design, minimize new application development cycles and ensure that completed solutions meet required service levels. Candle consultants helped guide IAG through the process of crafting an e-business integration architecture that would support new and emerging standards and technologies, such as Web services. IAG also leveraged components of PathWAI Developer for WebSphere Business Integration and PathWAI Deployment for WebSphere Business Integration to deliver tuning and implementation services that allowed it to launch the architecture pilot project in just 12 months.

Managed for Success
After creating the infrastructure, the group turned its attention to ensuring the performance and availability of its new middleware environment. Citizens selected Candle's PathWAI Monitor for WebSphere MQ and its monitoring technology for WebSphere Business Integration software. The PathWAI monitoring solutions allow Citizens to automatically view and proactively control WebSphere MQ and WebSphere Business Integration performance across the enterprise. They also enable Citizens to check the validity of changes to the system prior to implementation - to do "what-if" analysis before moving into production - a critical factor in an industry that requires rapid time to market.

"Candle's management solutions enable us to maintain tight control over the management of our application infrastructure, which yields higher performance levels and improved business performance," Massaro said.

PathWAI Monitor for WebSphere MQ includes services that have helped Citizens streamline the monitoring deployment process. Citizens leveraged Candle's installation, configuration and customization services, and extensive education and training programs. The organization has also deployed PathWAI Secure for WebSphere MQ to ensure protection of sensitive information across its WebSphere MQ middleware environment, helping the bank to meet increasingly stringent data security requirements.

Moving the Market
Initially, the Citizens project involved rolling out the new architecture to 10 branch offices. The bank plans to scale the implementation to more than 800 branches in 2004. The architecture will, ultimately, touch millions of users as Citizens incorporates online banking services.

"Results are the proof of a successful implementation," Massaro said. "We have already reported an increase in the number of products sold as well as in the speed of sales. We opened 100,000 new accounts in the first six months of the implementation. Candle's services and tools enabled us to launch an e-business architecture that supports Citizens' business objectives today and into the future."

For more information, please contact Marketing_Operations@candle.com and enter "IT Solutions Guide" in the Subject field.

www.candle.com

About IT Solutions Guide
IT Solutions Guide (ITSG), aimed at development and corporate managers, is a free quarterly supplement focusing on the most competitive tools, solutions, and services available in the IT and infrastructure technology world today.

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