Visa dumps legacy mainframes in scalability drive

Visa has based a new €500 million (£432 million) processing environment on highly-customised versions of fast transaction software in a move which involved switching off its old mainframes.

Share

Visa has based a new €500 million (£432 million) processing environment on highly-customised versions of fast transaction software in a move which involved switching off its old mainframes.

Adam Banks, senior VP at Visa, told Computerworld UK that with the continued rise in credit and debit cards payments, it was vital that the in-house platform could be scaled up rapidly.

“With all the availability and performance requirements, we couldn’t keep processing payments on mainframes,” he said. “The (new) platforms can even be scaled to process payments not just within Europe, as required by legislation, but within the country where the transaction takes place, if required.”

The new systems are run on Unix-based platforms with Visa running IBM DB2 relational model database servers, and the Java-based IBM Websphere development and application server software. The company also uses the SAP NetWeaver integration platform.

However, Visa has highy specific requirements so these systems have been heavilly customised. The credit card company needed a system that received payment requests and delivered authorisations in under two seconds to stores, and this meant Visa actually turns around the information within its own datacentres in under 20 milliseconds. It also needed a resilient clearing and settlement system for its connection with banks.

“We have about three and half million lines of code, just for the authorisation system,” he said. It took about 800 IT and support staff to built the system, in locations across Europe, including London. Those staff remain on board as the company maintains the system, handling the code and managing software updates from the suppliers.

Both the authorisation and clearing and settlement systems run simultaneously in two datacentres, in case one location should fail. “The target is 100 percent availability,” Banks said. “We’ve only dropped about two transactions in the last three years." Around 29 million transactions go through Visa's systems every day.

Promoted