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Agenor deliver WebSphere upgrade for major bank

by Gary Montgomery, on Oct 3, 2019 1:07:14 PM


Copy of End to End Upgrade Programme

A Major Global Bank and highly valued client recently engaged the services of Agenor Technology to deliver a significant End to End Upgrade Programme to address critical issues on a key technology platform. Keep reading to find out how how the Agenor Technology Team delivered value for our client and got the programme completed both on time and within budget. 

Customer Context:

WebSphere is an IBM Middleware tool that allows applications to interface with the user through the internet. Many of the Global Bank’s key applications have their web components running under WebSphere and as such are a critical infrastructure component for key Customer Services.   

Due to the age of these WebSphere versions and the associated support arrangements, many of the applications were at high risk of exposure to issues which could result in customer impact. The old versions of WebSphere hosted key business applications and carried multiple security vulnerabilities which could have caused significant Customer and Financial impact in the event of a cyber-attack.

The key benefit of this programme was therefore strategic risk mitigation. In addition, the programme remediated legacy applications allowing them to run on strategic infrastructure, supporting simplification.

Following a period of initial analysis, it was identified that almost 200 applications were utilising old versions of the WebSphere Application Server.

Agenor Technology formed an effective delivery team, collaborating with client staff and various external vendors whose input was critical to the success of the programme.

The Problem

The scope of the project was to migrate around 30% of the 200 applications which were using WebSphere versions 4, 5.1 and 6.1 to the latest WebSphere build. The rest of the applications were scheduled for decommission or were subject to other development considerations and therefore not included in the programme. The intended timescale for this work was 3 years from 2016 to Q2 2019.

The impact on the Global Bank organisation:

  • Significant operational risk exposure of running WebSphere versions 4, 5.1 and  6.1. 
  • Security vulnerabilities in WebSphere Application Server version 4, 5, 6.1 each with a risk to live service on the mainframe and distributed estate.
  • These old versions of WebSphere host key business applications and carry multiple security vulnerabilities which may cause significant Customer and Financial impact in the event of a cyber-attack.
  • Operational complexity because of diverse and out of support WebSphere platforms make it difficult to administer and more costly to maintain.
  • As the WebSphere versions get older, the more complex and costly the migration delivery becomes. The risk of major unsupported incidents arising also increases year-on-year. From a risk perspective, delaying this strategic maintenance programme will cost the organisation more in the long run.
  • As WebSphere supports the web-facing element (used by customers) then failure of these components could potentially cost the organisation in loss of business and be picked up quickly by social media commentary, leading to increased scrutiny and reputational damage.

The Goal:

Primary Outcomes as logged by Agenor at the start of the Programme in the governance documentation:

  • Remediate significant operational risks - exposure of running WebSphere Application server versions 4, 5.1 and 6.1
  • Improve and address security vulnerabilities in WebSphere Application Server versions 4, 5 and 6.1.
  • Improved resilience with decreased risk to live service on the mainframe and distributed estate
  • Deploy new WAS infrastructure in-line with strategic roadmap and Global Bank standards. New hardware efficiency in terms of power consumption.
  • Operational simplification through consolidation onto a single strategic WebSphere platform which is easier to administer and more cost effective to maintain
  • Accelerated time to market through increased automation and faster provisioning of services into WebSphere.
  • Enable the decommission of legacy P-Series servers.

The Challenge:

  • A lot of time and effort was consumed on applications which had no clear business owner or future strategy
  • Delays in the associated Application teams fully with the programme due to their other business priorities
  • Project was used as a proving ground for new tooling and infrastructure and whilst overall this was a good thing for the bank, it caused delays to the Programme where standards and Production processes had to be established.

Risks/Issues and Dependencies:

Key Risks and Issues as logged by Agenor at the start of the Programme in the governance documentation:

Key Risks / Issues / dependences



Risk (Project)

It is likely that there will be residual risk left in the form of business risks where a specific business franchise has not agreed to the technical actions. 

A risk would be raised and agreed with the application-owning business area.


Availability of Resources (Business & Technical) to plan and deliver the project at the different stages

Programme to set up Resource Planning.  Allowance was made in the business case for external resourcing to supplement internal resources.


There is a dependency on other large initiatives and individual in-flight projects to ensure that legacy WebSphere versions v4, v5 and v6 are de-commissioned from the estate.

Close collaboration, monitor & track the delivery of these Programmes to ensure the dependencies are factored into the WebSphere Programme Migration Planning, Technology Solutions Design and Implementation Plan.

Risk (Project)

There is a risk that the Programme Delivery Planning will be impacted by other large Programmes.

Programme to Identify the W&G (and other programmes) impacted business services and factor these into the Programme Delivery Planning for approval.

Risk (Project)

There is a risk that the Programme Delivery Planning will be impacted due to the  number of change slots as each service is expected to take an outage.

Programme to set up Change Implementation Board and allocate enough Change Implementation resources.

Risk (Operational)

Risk of potential disruption to service while the migrations are underway. (This will be managed by the project).

Risk is managed through the standard Change Governance process.


The Result

The programme was a success – all applications in scope were migrated, completing all objectives and allowing the business to sign-off and close the project.

  • 24 application implementations successful without any customer impact
  • 96 project risks raised, addressed and closed by the Programme
  • An analysis of change management stats shows that the Programme safely implemented 310 individual technical changes with zero impact on customers


The decision by the Global Bank to mobilise a Programme and engage Agenor Technology to deliver the required outcomes has proved to be an effective decision. The Agenor Programme team worked collaboratively with the Global Bank staff as well as various external Infrastructure and Application suppliers.

This engagement was completed on an Outcome Basis, with payment provided for delivery of specific outcomes. Due to the complexity of the programme, Agenor worked closely with the client at all stages to ensure both parties shared the Risk/Reward associated with this approach. The fact that the programme delivered on time and within budget is testament to that collaborative approach.

If you are facing a similar programme and would like to engage the skilled services of Agenor Technology, please get in touch today: 




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