The Banking Industry Architecture Network, a group that promotes the use of services-oriented architecture among banks, has recruited IBM to its board, the group announced today. This will give BIAN a foot in the door at U.S. banks that are heavy users of IBM technology.

Services-oriented architecture is a concept in which applications are built in reusable, interoperable and sharable chunks that can be mixed and matched. A piece of programming that gathers customer information, for instance, might be shared by applications in different parts of a bank. This eases the development of new applications and can speed up the time-to-market for new products. And when programs from different vendors share the same services-oriented architecture, as in BIAN's vision, those programs become easily integrated and can share information simply, ideally saving time and cost in bank IT departments. BIAN's Service Landscape 1.5, released in July, is a blueprint and how-to-guide for deploying web services in a large bank.

"For long time this was on our wish list because IBM has a huge presence, especially in U.S. banks," says Hans Tesselaar, director of sourcing, innovation and governance at ING and executive director of BIAN. "Every time we approached a bank to see if they wanted to become a member, as long as IBM wasn't in, it didn't make sense for them." IBM also made the rounds of existing clients that use BIAN models; many expressed interest in moving toward an open standard without destroying their investments in IBM equipment. "It was a win for both parties," Tesselaar says.

To date, no U.S. banks have joined BIAN. But the list of international bank members includes ING, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Credit Suisse, Scotiabank, Deutsche Postbank, Rabobank, Standard Bank of South Africa, UniCredit Group and Zürcher Kantonalbank. Vendor members include Microsoft, Temenos, Infosys, SAP, SunGard and Callatay & Wouters.

BIAN is working on a new version of its services-oriented architecture "landscape" that's due in April; according to Teselaar, that's still on track.

"Open standards create interoperability and accelerate the adoption of new technologies that help industries work more intelligently," said Chae An, vice president, financial services solutions, IBM, in a statement. "BIAN's collaboration with industry groups such as Object Management Group and SWIFT demonstrates its commitment to making its banking models more valuable to its members. Through the BIAN community, IBM will continue working to address the requirements of financial institutions through solutions based on open standards."