Amdahl likely loser from Westpac-Trustbank merger

If the merged Westpac-Trustbank bank decides to go with IBM for its mainframe processing, it could spell the end of Amdhal in New Zealand as a mainframe alternative supplier.

If the merged Westpac-Trustbank bank decides to go with IBM for its mainframe processing, it could spell the end of Amdhal in New Zealand as a mainframe alternative supplier.

Even Westpac-Trustbank agrees that is a likely scenario.

Last week, the bank announced that it would be known as Westpac-Trust and that it intended to reduced its combined branches from 424 to 260. No information was forthcoming about how many of its 7000 staff would be laid off.

From an information technology perspective, the four data centres Westpac now owns will be reduced to two--one operational and one as back-up. Westpac, a former Amdahl site, runs IBM CMOS mainframes. Trustbank has five Amdahl mainframes, the vendor's biggest site in New Zealand.

Westpac's Australian site is very much Big Blue.

However, Amdahl New Zealand has recently cut a $1 million deal for Westpac/Trustbank locally with its ObjectStar rapid application development environment. Trustbank, before the merger, was a long-time user of ObjectStar.

"IBM is buying the business," says one senior industry source. "If Amdahl is forced out, IBM wil begin raping the mainframe busines again."

The bank's IT strategy manager, Pat Vallance, confirms that the Trustbank data centres in Hamilton and Christchurch will be closed. He doesn't foresee the 38 IT staff being affected because both bank's have a high degree of automation. "The impact will be low.”

Of the mainframe decision, he says a lot will be determined by how fast the bank can get through the conversion process.

Westpac will stay with its CIF (customer information file) database initially, but a major part of the strategy decision was to convert it to its WASP (Westpac account services platform) architecture. WASP will supersede CIF and, says, Vallance, also address the bank's Year 2000 issues.

Asked for his opinion on a non-Amdahl mainframe buying issue, he says: "It must make it difficult for Amdahl if that were the case.

"There are three options. One is how we utilise the Amdahl 1400s we have, another is to upgrade our two CMOS (IBM) machines, and the third is--and that's most probable--to buy extra CMOS machines."

Amdahl New Zealand managing director John Boone says that if the decision goes against his company, it shouldn't affect its ability to operate. "With our substantial installed base, I don't see how it affects our ability to service our mainframe customers," he says.

"CMOS technology makes the mainframe revenue streams vastly different."

Initially, Boone was reluctant to comment because: "We're in the middle of a bid."

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