Visa Pulls It All Together

Consolidation done in time for big retail season.

With the economy still sagging, many retailers dont know exactly how much business to expect this make-or-break holiday shopping season. Fortunately for them, they can expect a major electronic partner, Visa International, to be ready to handle its usual peak load of 10 million-plus transactions per second, thanks to the recent successful completion of a major legacy system re-engineering and consolidation project that took three years and the efforts of 600 IT professionals.

The BankCard Clearing consolidation effort—which involved merging two large chunks of Visas huge VisaNet worldwide transaction system and rewriting parts of the system that had been in Assembler code—is indicative of pressure many large enterprises are feeling to revamp large legacy systems to cut maintenance expenses and speed the rollout of new e-commerce capabilities. In Visas case, the consolidation project will allow the San Francisco company to cut dramatically the time it takes to support future mobile and other e-commerce features with its core systems, officials said.

But the process of upgrading was no simple task. For one thing, transaction systems such as Visas cannot afford downtime. Complicating the process was that some of the systems Visa was re-engineering were 27 years old, meaning that programmers familiar with them were practically impossible to find. As a result, the project required detailed project management expertise to rival what Santa must go through every year to get toys to all the good girls and boys.