Client/server technology is catching on south of the border.

Like many financial institutions in the United States, Banamex, a leading Mexican banking institution, is moving to a client/server computing environment in hopes of improving its operations.

The Mexico City-based bank is installing a number of computer servers, running client/server software from Sybase Inc., to extract data from its mainframes and turn it into useful information in a more timely manner.

The new systems will be integrated into the bank's existing mainframe environment.

Linking the two computing environments will enable the company to leverage its existing technology investments and still benefit from the new systems, Sybase officials predicted.

According to Bob Landry, an analyst at Wellesley, Mass.-based Tower Group, a technology consulting firm, client/server software products, such as those from Sybase, are typically used by Mexican banks in decision- support areas, such as cash management, risk management, and trust.

The company expects banks in both Mexico and Canada to eventually match the rate at which client/server technology is adopted here.

Samuel Lara, director of Banamex's systems engineering development for delivery of client/server services, said that efficiently distributing critical information to bank employees is necessary for Banamex to maintain a leading position in Latin America.

"The Sybase architecture will facilitate a new client/server environment that enables our many computing system users to be more productive while still using legacy systems and data," he said.

Banamex has a major investment in a number of mainframes, which store critical corporate data. Mainframes are typically viewed as ideal for heavy processing jobs, but the large systems often make it difficult for users to access and use stored information.

As a result, Banamex decided to install a client/server computing environment that will work with its existing large-scale systems and data, and improve information distribution to its many users, said Sybase officials.

"Banamex's move to a client/server environment that uses legacy systems and data is a prime example of how Sybase software enables organizations to leverage investments in existing computing systems while still being able to migrate to new, more efficient technologies," said Richard Yanowitch, vice president of corporate marketing for Sybase.

In order to distribute the financial information, department-based networks at all the bank's offices will be connected to Sybase's relational data base servers.

The front office systems running on clients at the bank's branches, as well as the back office information systems running on servers, are being built on an SQL Server system.

Local UNIX servers running Sybase's OmniSQL software will be able to access information centralized on the system's mainframes.

SQL Server will also be used with the bank's existing applications, such as internal technical support software provided by Remedy Software and customer support applications provided by Aurum Software.

In addition, Banamex will be using Open Server, an application program interface that enables integration of non-Sybase data and applications.

Like Banamex, many banks and financial institutions are moving to client/server computing environments as a way to gain competitive advantages through improvements in system performance, distributed information, and data management.

Sybase client/server software is used in many leading financial institutions, including Chase Manhattan Bank, Citicorp Investment Bank, Fuji Bank Ltd., American Express, and Salomon Brothers.

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