Learning about BACSTEL-IP

As I’m spending half my time living in the Isle
of Man
at the moment, I took the opportunity to attend a talk organised by the Isle
of Man section
of the British Computer Society (BCS).
It was given by representatives of a company called BottomLine and
was all about BACSTEL-IP and
new provisions for EFT being rolled out by BACS,
the UK’s Automated Clearing System.

Although the presentation was part sales-pitch and regarding an industry I don’t work
in directly, there were some interesting pointers which I took away.

  • It was interesting to hear about some of the trials and tribulations of
    moving a UK-wide customer base from traditional X-400 messaging and dial-up applications
    all the way to a new infrastructure, using IP as its main transport, combined
    with a nation-wide roll-out of a PKI infrastructure. Must have been an enormously massive
    project for BACS to embark on; and I hope to read more about it in the near future.
  • Migrating to a new platform is a costly business to all around. It’s interesting how
    this move is being touted as an opportunity to revise business practices and increase
    efficiencies which might help clients justify the cost of moving to the new service
    (especially when they have no choice in the matter)
  • One of the presenters talked about how BACS had enlisted feedback from all its suppliers
    as to the service, then he followed by saying that BACS had ignored everything they
    told them. Unfortunately one of the facts of project life is that stake holders will
    take decisions that are affected by many factors .. and technical excellence has a
    very small bearing on these. Other factors, like industry perception, current climate,
    disposable budget and a host of other hidden factors play such a significant role
    in decision making that they are hard to discount, yet also extremely hard to quantify
    and plan for.
  • Users signed up to BASCTEL-IP will have a variety of mechanisms to connect to the
    central servers. It was interesting to note that connections via the Internet had
    no guarantee, while direct dial-in connection had a 99.8% uptime SLA. Granted, BACS
    have no control over quality of service over the Internet, or whether their client
    has any ISP issues, but
    1. TCP/IP was designed to self-heal and keep working even if part of the network is destroyed
    2. They were having “teething” problems with the direct dial-in network, so no one could
      use it yet

Anyway, all-in-all a very informative talk, and a great job of IOM-BCS to
put it toghether. If I’m around next month, I’ll make sure to attend their next

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