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Merrill Lynch is bullish on T1.


Four years ago, Merrill Lynch totally revamped its DP/communications network to support on-line, real-time, 24-hour global transaction processing.

The firm created a network to link 600 worldwide branches to the centralized DP facilities, and replaced outdated transaction processing systems with fault-tolerant equipment that can handle any protocol conversion.

Merrill Lynch's growing private digital network's 700 data lines and 500 voice lines serve 60 domestic and 11 foreign nodes over 150 T1 circuits, 700 tail circuits, and 2500 conventional channels.

Eye Of Whirlwind

At the center of this network, and accepting input from 17,000 workstations and 50,000 VTAM sessions around the world, is the Merrill Lynch Intelligent Network, or "MIN" for short.

Every transaction completed at each Merrill Lynch branch office is processed by this new switch.

Thanks to its protocol conversion capabilities, MIN can process this traffic for final handling, by 132 application regions, on five IBM and two Amdahl mainframes, and direct trades to every exchange floor around the world.

MIN is based on four 12-processor NonStop VLX systems from Tandem Computers Inc., Cupertino, Calif. Together, the processors let Merrill process over 300 on-line transactions a second.

An underlying requirement, critical to meeting Merrill needs, is ability to accept transactions as fast as they are entered at end-user terminals--a must in this high-speed world of order entry.

This rapid processing capability is based on the use of LU0, the SNA communications protocol, for communications between MIN and the LANs financial consultants enter transactions on.

MIN then converts the LU0 to LU2--the protocol used by IBM 3270 terminals, and the one most easily managed by the environment run on the mainframe computers.

MIN systems provide additional protocol conversion capabilities, acting as a bridge between the various system terminals. For instance, MIN can accept bisynchronous and SNA inputs and output the data to SNA hosts.

Safe And Secure

The Tandem platform, because of its inherent hardware and software fault-tolerance, assures transaction integrity.

Adding a layer of data protection on the network is MIN's store-and-forward capability.

With this capacity, should the host systems be down for any reason, the VLX processors store transactions that come in during that interval and forward them later when the systems become available once again.

While Merrill Lynch was implementing MIN, it also completed a LAN in each domestic branch office.

"We wanted to provide our financial consultants with a greater capacity to service their customers than they could with the existing system," says Bruce Seiben, group manager of the systems support group.

Each workstations on the new LAN--called the Merrill Lynch Professional Information System (PRISM)--has multiple windows. Each has transaction capability.

"Since CICS [Customer Information Control System] deals with one IBM 3270 transaction at a time, we needed a way to multiplex all those transactions.

"Thanks to MIN's protocol conversion capabilities, we can input many transactions without waiting for CICS response," Seiben says.

This capability also enabled Merrill to complete conversion to PRISM without impacting daily business procedures at the individual branch offices.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:second of seven articles on T1 networks
Publication:Communications News
Date:Oct 1, 1990
Previous Article:1.544 Mb/s: flight simulators now soar to realism.
Next Article:Econo-LAN & brouters end utility data snags.

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