Big in Japan
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As I visited with a number of the Japanese mega-banks they found themselves in situations not unfamiliar to American or Western European banks. The mega-banks are all a product of mergers and there is a need to rationalize systems across the merged entity. They also find themselves with large monolithic systems that are increasingly inflexible, but don’t know where to start or how to start. Most are investigating SOA as a solution to this problem. The buzzword in Japan seems to be EA or Enterprise Architecture. In reality it is about SOA. Since most of the mega-banks had monolithic cores across the entire bank, they didn’t require the integration layers that the US banks needed to deploy in order to provide the customer a single view of all his or her accounts. Everything was in one giant system. The sheer magnitude of the system makes it both hard to change and hard to leave. SOA can be a way for these banks to first modularize, and then gradually migrate. This is the same situation most very large banks face, and SOA could be the path to break up the monolith and gradually chip away at it. It is a daunting task, which is why the mega banks are more in a contemplative mode than an action oriented one.