Wells Fargo & Co. has licensed a new parallel processing system from Informix Software Inc. to manage workflow and mine the bank's customer information files.

The San Francisco company has enlisted the new Unix-based server software for use primarily in its retail businesses. It hopes to improve its customer service and better integrate disparate pools of information.

Amos Barzilay, director of industry marketing for Informix, said Wells is one of a growing number of banks employing Unix-based servers in their data base management.

Wells Fargo also operates data base software from International Business Machines Corp. and Oracle Corp. The Oracle data base, installed about three years ago, runs in the credit card and wholesale areas of the bank.

"For what we were trying to do, either Informix or Oracle could have provided the solution," said Lenny Gucciardi, senior vice president of Wells' information services group. He added that Informix finally won the bank over "with an attractive package" in terms of pricing and capability.

Financial terms and the length of the contract were not disclosed.

Parallel processing software, such as the package from Informix, runs on clusters of loosely configured microcomputers and allows companies to more quickly fetch and correlate data.

The retail-focused applications at Wells will include using the data base to support a 24-hour call center, according to Mr. Gucciardi. The bank has already installed some new applications, including one for the call center, within the past few months. A few others are still in development.

Mr. Gucciardi said the parallel processing system would allow the bank to "do a much better job of customer service," by pulling together data from different segments of the bank. The pooled information is useful in endeavors such as cross-selling consumer products. He said the data base consolidation could save money, but declined to be specific about cost reductions.

According to Mr. Barzilay, Wells' experience with other Informix products encouraged the bank to license parallel processing applications.

He said that Informix now has more than 100 bank customers, most of them abroad - where Unix-based systems are more popular.

Most of the "handful" of undisclosed American bank customers have been using parallel processing on a limited basis in select areas. But lately, Mr. Barzilay said, domestic banks have been expanding their use of the technology.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.