Starting his career as a COBOL programmer, Steve Hassett has been involved with mainframe systems for a long time. "They work so well that there is no getting away from them," he says, "and large enterprises rely on them as much as ever."
But with companies wanting to innovate to provide better customer service - via modern applications - how do you provide mobile access or move to the cloud?
Fortunately, Steve knows a way. His company, GT Software, of which he serves as President, provides APIs that wrap around company legacy systems and allow the production of new products and services. These APIs effectively offer a bridge between the modern applications companies hope to develop and the legacy mainframes they’ve long invested in and want to continue to use.
GT Software's offering is crucial for large companies that want to continue with mainframe systems because of their speed, reliability and impeccable security. It’s not uncommon for a single mainframe to process hundreds of millions of transactions in a single day. These COBOL-based systems have been around for decades and are still essential to operations in banking, telecom and other large industries.
But banks, and other large enterprises want to provide the modern applications that customers are demanding. How do you bridge the gap? One way is to rip out the old backend systems and replace them with new ones. This can be costly and very risky. Many large conversions end up as costly failures. Another is to make use of the type of tools that Steve's company offers. If speed to market is a consideration, the tools that GT Software provides must be given a serious look.
Steve gives a recent example of success in the banking space. "Our client, a large French bank, wanted to be the first large financial institution in France to execute a real-time payment. This global giant had a very ambitious objective, including a very aggressive timeline. The level of complexity required for a real-time payment to execute on legacy systems was a major obstacle for them, as it is for most banks," Steve says. "Fortunately, our Ivory Service Architect allowed them to meet the timeline and achieve their goal or executing the first real-time payment in Europe. In fact, this bank went from proof of concept to production in under two months."
Steve is bullish about the future of his company, especially regarding banks and fintech. "Every bank needs to modernize their legacy systems," he says, "especially now that they know they need to accelerate digitalization."
Explaining further, Steve says that with real-time payments and the Fed Now initiative, authentication needs to occur instantly. But these back-end legacy systems are old and built for batch processing - so the most efficient thing for these large corporate customers to do is to use API tools such as the ones GT Software provides. "Ivory wraps around the legacy system and allows new products and services to be built quickly," he says.
Innovation is hard for large fintech companies and banks because of the massive legacy systems in use, but demand for new products is being driven by both consumer demand and the regulatory environment, especially in Europe with PSD2.
"Thankfully," Steve says, "creating connectivity between systems that are 60 years old and modern functionality can be quite easy if you know how. We've been doing it for numerous large global companies for years."
And large legacy systems aren't going away, according to Steve, and they don't need to. "One theme we’ve seen arise from COVID-19 is the reliability of these large systems. For example, when the state of New Jersey's unemployment office became bogged down with claims, it was discovered that the backend systems were running fine - it was the front-end interfaces that were the problem," he says. "What was needed was more robust front-end systems that would allow better and faster interaction with users."
Dealing with this problem, especially for banks and fintechs, can be made infinitely easier by another tool that Steve's company has at their disposal. GT Software’s Open Banking SmartBridge provides a seamless, flexible way to interface with the expanding universe of open banking fintechs and regulators. It makes creating complex legacy APIs simple and eliminates coding by hand.
"Under the strain of tight budgets, businesses often make the mistake of trying to develop their own integrations for every fintech, banking service, or standard out there," says Steve, "and this is almost always riskier, time consuming, and more expensive than companies initially estimate." They quickly end up with a backlog of APIs and a lack of talent to support it. They should not have wasted already limited resources to find out that brittle point-to-point integrations don’t work. "They could have avoided an avalanche of unmanageable change requests," he says, "and now they have to try to code their way out of the problem."
Steve's career includes founding an early SaaS startup, work for The Weather Channel, Sage Software and Verint Systems and he has been at the helm of GT Software for more than three years. He believes that his timing is very fortunate.
"Large legacy systems aren't going away. Better e-commerce and digitization is in demand - even more so because of the pandemic. GT Software's future is bright," he says. "we intend to go after the global 500 companies that we don't currently work with and also to make deeper inroads into banking and fintech.”