Service-Oriented Architecture Pays Off for Synovus Financial

The winning solution in the case study contest sponsored by the SOA Consortium and CIO magazine provided integrated business solutions using existing applications and legacy systems. Learn how they did it.

By Esther Schindler
Tue, September 30, 2008

CIO — What does it take to achieve a successful, award-winning SOA implementation? Try asking Synovus Financial Corp., a provider of investment services, commercial and retail banking to 35 banks in the southeastern U.S. In late September, Synovus won a service-oriented architecture (SOA) case study competition sponsored by the SOA Consortium and CIO magazine. The competition highlighted business success stories and lessons learned for organizations pursuing SOA adoption.

Synovus' Emerging Business Opportunities partnered with NACHA, the Electronic Payments Association, and eWise, a financial software provider, to create a consumer secure vault payment (SVP) platform for a new Automated Clearing House payment program. The project reduces consumer identity fraud risks; it also gives merchants guaranteed payment from a consumer's financial institution at lower cost than credit card processing fees. By May 2008, Synovus had rolled out the SVP to 37 financial institutions. The project will continue until 2012.

A key technology challenge was to pass information securely between the various partners using only Internet technologies. Synovus had to avoid complexity and keep the solution affordable, since merchants and financial institutions had to adopt it quickly and integrate it with their own IT systems. Furthermore, Synovus could leverage the company's existing SOA infrastructure.

The company credits its success to SOA's reliance on industry standards, which enables adoption across disparate languages, operating systems and vendors. "This was critical to our approach because any proprietary implementation would fail," wrote David Mize, Synovus director of architecture and development, in the winning project submission.

The SVP project impacts a very large domain. To be successful, it requires fast and committed adoption from merchants, billers, consumers and other supporting businesses, such as financial information processors and merchant hosting companies. Its payback is based on transaction revenue from sponsoring merchants and billers, as well as transaction fees from consumer payments and purchases, wrote Mize.

SOA architecture diagram
Synovus SOA high level architecture diagram

Synovus began with a high-level vision and plan. The participants identified the enterprise systems of record and critical business applications within each delivery channel.

The SVP application uses 19 Web services. Ten were reused from previous SOA implementations, one was acquired from Metavante for processing payments and three came from eWise for switch operations. That left only five Web services for the Synovus development team to build and test. Project organizers judged that the cost and effort, from a Synovus IT Web service standpoint, was 65 percent cheaper than a project from scratch. Each company involved has or is adopting a SOA infrastructure.

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