ASB boosts mainframe power

ASB Bank in New Zealand is upgrading its Unisys mainframe.

The bank is to install the ClearPath Plus Libra 180, following Unisys' ceasing its support for the bank's current mainframe, the ClearPath NX 4800.

ASB technology and operations manager Clayton Wakefield says the Libra will arrive in New Zealand "shortly" and be operational in the third quarter of the year.

"We needed to look to the future and the Libra was the logical step forward. We also had a requirement for increased capacity and the Libra does 11050 RPM, whereas ClearPath does 9300."

RPM, relative performance measure, is a Unisys power rating standard, akin to IBM's MIPs.

The greater processing capacity "gives us some headroom and will let us accommodate some of the growth we're experiencing, especially around the online channel", says Wakefield.

The Libra is the latest in a line of Unisys mainframes the bank has had, starting with a B6700 from Unisys' forebear, Burroughs, installed in 1975.

The present ClearPath has been serving the bank since 1996, Wakefield says.

An advantage of the Libra is that if more capacity is required, it can be accessed by configuring software.

"We can type in instructions to get more RPM and another thing the Libra does is run on Intel processors, so you can run Windows on it, whereas ClearPath is proprietary."

ASB is in hiring mode, having recently advertised for a ClearPath specialist for a six-month contract related to the Libra upgrade, as well as a software tester, technology incident co-ordinator, technology change specialist and a technology manager for the bank's insurance and investment divisions.

Wakefield says the bank is hiring IT staff because it has "a fairly full programme of work across the board", from infrastructure programmes to "significant" software projects.

"That reflects ASB's growth and the fact that we see technology as a huge enabler."

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