Inc. have developed a system for linking banks' mainframe computers to newer client/server environments. Hardware and software are to be available in the first quarter for connecting International Business Machines Corp. mainframes with Tandem high-end servers. Data Switch plans eventually to provide links for big servers of other vendors, such as Sun Microsystems Inc., Digital Equipment Corp., and Hewlett-Packard Co. Michael Ruggieri, vice president of strategic marketing for Shelton, Conn.-based Data Switch, said changes in the way banking customers use technology had spurred the demand for such connectivity. Though banks will continue to run core applications on mainframes, he said, they are embracing client/server technology to run applications designed to make them more competitive, such as decision support. Activities such as credit card processing, for example, are being enhanced with fraud detection, buyer profiles, and other marketing applications usually run on large servers like Tandem's, Mr. Ruggieri said. Such applications require real-time links between mainframes and servers, he said. "We found that customers such as banks and credit card issuers need high-speed connectivity between their servers and mainframes to offer better service and to maximize use of their investment in information management," Mr. Ruggieri said. Bill Bradway, a technology analyst with the Wellesley, Mass.-based Tower Group, said there probably won't be a groundswell of demand for such technology in retail banking environments. Banks don't need, for example, to perform profit analysis and similar applications in real time, he said. But live dynamic data will be required in special areas, he said - in trading, for example, where a derivatives portfolio needs to be valued in real time or a bank needs to understand its position at any time of the trading day. Other applications that will drive connectivity between the two computing environments include disaster recovery and data warehousing, Mr. Ruggieri said. The flood of bank mergers and acquisitions is also making connectivity necessary, he added, since consolidation of technologies often requires linking disparate system environments. In the coming months Data Switch is to increase the connectivity speed between Tandem and IBM systems. Early next year it is to introduce systems to connect between IBM mainframes and other servers.

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