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July 19, 1990

AUSTRIAN BANK LETS THE TRAIN TAKE THE STRAIN OF GETTING STAFF ONTO UNIX TRACK

By CBR Staff Writer

With the Unix operating system being chosen as the base for the whole data processing strategy of the Creditanstalt Bankverein central bank in Vienna, Austria, it looks more likely that Unix could be making a significant push in the commercial sector. Following the completion of the project, Computerwoche spoke to Roland Dippelreiter, head of data processing at the bank, and found that one of the largest problems turned out to be staff training. According to Dippelreiter, the bank employs around 7,200 staff, of which some 2,800 are at remote terminals. As far back as 1975, it was decided to link computer centres in Vienna, Graz and Innsbruck into the remote terminal system to process all cash transactions electronically. Dippelreiter continues, however, that in 1984, we decided to look for a successor to our by now outdated [Philips] system, and that this successor should meet certain requirements: firstly, the intelligence in the remote terminals had to be completely independent of the computer centres; we also wanted uniform, multi-function workstations; all existing functions were to be taken over be the new system; finally, it was required that system management should be done centrally. In addition, we laid down various technical specifications: it had to run on a standard operating system; it should use IBM’s SNA; there should be a relational database; and all software must be developed and supported by the supplier.

Austrian Railways

After various trials, only Siemens AG and Philips NV – the supplier of the old system – remained out of the original 15 tenders, with Siemens finally getting the nod. But as Dippelreiter continues, the difficulties ahead were less to do with the technical issues involved in meeting the Creditanstalt’s demands than a matter of training the bank’s staff in the intricacies of the new system within the required timescale literally over night. We reckoned that each employee would need an average of four days training for the transition to Unix, so we had to resort to the extraordinary measure of supplying a train, courtesy of the Aus trian Railways, which would be sent to wherever it was needed. Finally, a total of a week was spent loading the Wordstar commands and converting them into HIT documents – here, the main problem was in changing from a one dimensional text system to a multi-dimensional office system, and to explain this to the users. Despite all the difficulties, Dippelreiter is by and large pleased with the conversion to Unix, arguing that the potential for development that lies behind Unix is fascinating, and is now working on a project to provide a sin gle, uniform interface for all of the bank’s em ployees, both for the 3,500 on the counters and for the 3,000 in the central processing departments.

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