Quebec’s largest financial institution is turning to network monitoring software to help tighten its connection to the SWIFT payment messaging network.

Mouvement Desjardins (Desjardins Group) said Monday it has installed

Computer Associates’s Unicenter Network and Systems Management (NSM) with the help of Montreal-based service provider Expertus Technologies. The project is intended to ensure Desjardins users can securely send and receive about 2,000 messages each day over SWIFT, an industry-owned cooperative that links 7,500 financial institutions in 200 countries.

Claude Girard, manager of development and maintenance of information systems at Desjardins, said the bank started noticing messages weren’t getting through after it ran into some configuration problems with some new firewalls.

“”We were in a reaction mode,”” he said. “”You have to be logged onto the software to know what’s happened. In my department, it wasn’t possible to log into the system just to see if there was a problem with the tools. So we were using the users to inform us when they had a problem.””

The Canadian Payments Assocation has regulated that banks have to maintain 99.9 per cent uptime when they send payments. According to Expertus CEO Jacques Leblanc, most banks are using FTP to exchange payment information with SWIFT, which makes it hard to know when a problem occurs. The volumes of these transactions are relatively small, he said, but the amounts involved can be millions of dollars, which is adding to the pressure on banks to improve their connectivity.

“”It doesn’t happen very frequently, but when it happens, the credibility of the bank could be an issue,”” he said. “”Reputation, risks — banks are very concerned about that.””

Unicenter NSM is designed to offer predictive warnings about possible problems through auto-discovery, explained CA Canada general manager Joanne Moretti.

“”It’s almost like a thousand eyes and ears looking for different behaviour patterns,”” she said. “”If it sees things — and we’ve done that with what we call neural technology — that match these patterns, it will give you an alert.””

Desjardins only installed the solution two months ago and is still working some of the kinks out, Girard said.

“”For the moment it’s difficult for us to give figures about the results of this solution, but our intention is to have a stronger monitoring of our servers,”” he said.

It may take a few months for Unicenter to accumulate enough historical data to offer accurate predictions, Morretti added.

Expertus, which specializes in straight-through processing (STP) solutions, wants to make a name for itself by extending the resiliency of SWIFT to payment applications at banks and credit unions across the country, Leblanc said, particularly now that SWIFT has moved from X25 to an IP platform.

“”A lot of banks have very old legacy payment applications based on COBOL and the mainframe,”” he said. “”Now with all the pressure from regulations, and also the pressure to reduce the cost, we’re well-positioned.””

Last year Desjardins Securities said it would work with IBM to improve STP in its brokerage unit.


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