Fresh off delivering its first work statements, the Banking Industry Architecture Network has placed a bulls-eye on major core suppliers, shifting gears with hopes getting some traction in recruiting U.S.-based banks to the SOA standards group.

The thinking is if Fiserv and the pending combination of Fidelity and Metavante participate in the development of future BIAN standards or simply offer compliant SOA core upgrades, the tech firms are so influential that U.S.-based banks - which are too busy navigating the recession to place a high priority on SOA standards group participation - will adhere to BIAN simply to achieve interoperability with the large core providers. "With Fiserv and Fidelity, you have virtually all of the top 80 banks," says Robert Hunt, senior research director in the retail banking practice, TowerGroup. "Pretty much every bank of $50 billion in assets and up touches one of these companies in some way. "

Fidelity would not respond to request for comment, and Fiserv said it was "monitoring" BIAN and would not comment further. "We would love to see the Fiservs and Fidelities of the world join us," says David Vander, worldwide managing director for banking at Microsoft, one of BIAN's founders. Vander would not say how many U.S.-based banks would have to adhere to BIAN in order for it to achieve critical mass, but he did say "major U.S. banks" would need to be involved. The year-old BIAN had yet to attract a single U.S.-based bank as a member as of the end of July.

"I don't think that any bank is going to [join] BIAN to get BIAN. Banks will buy solutions and if those solutions are BIAN compliant, that will make the banks take a close look at BIAN for other solutions," says Bart Narter, a senior analyst with Celent.

BIAN's challenge is to convince Fiserv and Fidelity there's value in shedding some propriety of their own SOA best practices in the name of more efficient, less costly SOA deployments that could be sold to banks. "The question is what's in it for Fiserv and what's in it for Fidelity?" says Narter, adding the potential benefit for those firms could include interoperability with BIAN's other members, such as founding member SAP. "And Microsoft's also in BIAN, which has to be noted."

BIAN's initial set of deliverables, which it says have gotten 200 downloads by banks and service providers in about a month, include guidance for meta-model definition, services lifecycle management, business definitions for payment agreements, payment execution, clearing, settlement and business partner relationships. Credit Suisse, Deutsche, ING and Postbank are listed as bank authors, with the rest of the author listings dominated by vendors such as SAP and Temenos - which just released a new BIAN-compliant application, Steria Mummert, Callatay & Wouters, CGI, Axon, Sungard and Microsoft. SWIFT is also listed as an author. BIAN has 22 total members listed on its Website.

One of BIAN's biggest shortfalls thus far has been the lack of IBM's participation, given IBM's large stake in developing SOA and rivalry with SAP. Fidelity's technology is partially linked to IBM: It uses WebSphere in its Xpress product, but core banking sources say that technology likely falls outside BIAN's focus on message content. And Fiserv has linked to IBM's customer information control system environment in products such as MortgageServ.

"We are in the semantic definition of services, we are not looking at the ultimate sort of technology that would underpin the creation of a solution," says Bill Irving, executive director for BIAN in North America, pointing out that some current members, such as SAP and Temenos, are competitors. Irving also acknowledged the recession has made courting individual banks a tougher sell. "In this market, the timing of doing anything is tough."

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