Time to Mobilize
How Banamex, a leading Mexican bank, part of Citigroup, was able to migrate over 5 million lines of code from VB6 and ASP to C# and ASP.NET using the Visual Basic Upgrade Companion, in compliance with all corporate policies set for quality assurance and information security.
Banamex is a leading bank in Mexico and one of the strongest and most influential institutions in Latin America. Founded in 1884, it belongs to Grupo Financiero Banamex, which integrates business units in the insurance, pension and brokerage industries. In 2001 Banamex was acquired by Citigroup for $12.5 billion USD, thereby extending its range of financial services both in Mexico and elsewhere in the world.
The purchase also meant a race against time to adhere to Citigroup’s corporate Quality Assurance policies, many of which called for a more up-to-date IT model. Citigroup establishes that all software must be supported by authorized providers, thus putting at risk a large amount of client-server applications that were developed by Banamex in Visual Basic 6.0 (VB6) and whose period of support, as announced by Microsoft, ended in March 2008.
Moreover, Banamex was losing the ability to promptly react to market changes and demands, since it lacked a platform that would enable them to develop new system functionality in a swift, safe manner.
Consequently, a migration to .NET (Framework 2.0) was presented as the most reliable solution, given its benefits in terms of time/costs savings and maintainability. Banamex then engaged in a thorough analysis that included candidates from various countries, and selected Mobilize.Net as the official supplier for the project, because of its extensive background and level of expertise. Mobilize.Net’s assessment tool would also allow preparing a highly precise work plan to optimize resources and meet the specified delivery dates.
The project consisted of 124 applications written in VB6 and ASP (distributed at a ratio of 75/25) for a total of nearly five million lines of code. The level of functional equivalence after migrating to .NET could not be less than 100%, under the strong condition of preserving all business logic incorporated into the systems through years of operation and maintenance. Some of the more than 2500 components did not work in .NET in any way and had to be replaced.
After choosing an external supplier, it was necessary to design a secure collaborative environment for development and testing tasks. The geographical barriers as well as the nature of the applications forced to develop a communication strategy that would help minimize the dependency on services only available in the Banamex environment (physical devices, databases, etc.).
At the same time, Citigroup’s information security policies required to establish an appropriate mechanism for protection of sensitive data to be used for sending and receiving video, accurate control of migrated and tested versions, among others.
However, not all of the Banamex environment could be accessed remotely, either because of their nature (physical devices) or the sensitivity of its contents (data sources). These factors prompted the need to replicate the Banamex environment before executing applications and systems with such characteristics.
Coupled with the previous challenges was the time factor, since the entire project had to be implemented within extremely tight deadlines due to the imminent conclusion of Microsoft’s VB6 support.
To begin with, Mobilize.Net's Visual Basic Upgrade Assessment Tool was used to gauge the project and ensure that customer expectations and provider goals were realistic and attainable. The resulting analysis made possible to identify several particularities in Banamex’s applications and systems in order to build a customized version of the Visual Basic Upgrade Companion, Mobilize.Net’s migration product.
The collaborative environment was optimized with Mobilize.Net’s specialized methodology for project planning and execution, supported by various mechanisms of communication and data transfer. The implementation of Microsoft SharePoint Server facilitated coordination efforts between project teams, comprised of approximately 50 full-time consultants from Mobilize.Net and 50 technicians from Banamex.
To ensure the effectiveness of remote working, Mobilize.Net received validation as a member of the Banamex Virtual Private Network (VPN), thus enabling a more direct channel of communication for testing activities and the subsequent verification of functional equivalence. It was the first time ever that Banamex awarded this privileged access to an external provider.
Additionally, several advanced safety devices, such as access key generators (e-tokens) and methodologies for secure transmission of information, were brought in to ensure the integrity of data and services transmitted through the channel between Mobilize.Net and Banamex.
During the planning and execution phases of the project, all regulations set by Citigroup’s internal politics for information security were rightfully met, including confidentiality contracts with the provider’s personnel. Upon completion, the entirety of Banamex software has the support of approved providers, as stipulated by Citigroup.
A secure collaborative environment for testing and development was effectively implemented, which enabled Banamex to work with an external supplier even in highly complex projects and outside the Mexican territory, an unprecedented event in the organization. This model is intended to replicate with similar levels of success in the future.
Mobilize.Net's modernization methodology guaranteed 100% functional equivalence, limiting potential disruption risks and keeping intact the business logic contained in the systems. At the same time, the fact that the migrated applications behave identically to the original ones kept impact on learning curves for end users at a minimum.
One of the benefits inherent of automated software migration is that the time needed to debug the code is much lower in comparison to a rewrite. The Banamex project was no exception, and Mobilize.Net delivered top levels of quality and order throughout the process of source code managing. Moreover, the .NET platform offers clear opportunities to improve system performance, which the bank will seek to exploit in the short and medium term.
With the deployed solution it will be possible to develop new system functionality at a more efficient pace, injecting dynamism and flexibility to the process of adaptation required by the financial environment of the new millennium.
Part of Citigroup, and one of the most widely recognized companies in Latin America, Banamex provides banking services to over 10 million users in 1500 branches throughout Mexico.
Following the acquisition by Citigroup, Banamex was required to comply with several corporate QA policies, which forced the modernization of 124 applications (5M LOC) developed in VB6.0 and ASP. Moreover, Banamex needed a platform that would allow them to react to market changes and demands by quickly developing new system functionality.
Besides the imminent VB6 cease of support from Microsoft, all business logic should remain intact in the migrated applications. Citigroup’s highly strict dispositions in security and communication were to be addressed during the project, while the environment needed to be replicated, since not all of its particularities could be accessed remotely.
Using Visual Basic Upgrade Companion, almost five million lines of code were migrated to .NET, reaching 100% functional equivalence at the end of the project. The project also included the creation of an effective collaboration environment and the implementation of highly advanced security tactics in order to guarantee full confidentiality in data handling.
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