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Success of ATM Service depends on Quality Communications to Clients.

Today, people on the go want the convenience of round-the-clock banking whether at home or when traveling. Consumer demand for 24-hour access to cash and other financial services, coupled with the need for financial institutions to cut manpower and service costs, spurred the rapid growth of the automated teller machine (ATMe. As the popularity of the ATMs has increased over the past five years, new business demands have emerged for more versatile automated-banking services and better control of the transaction process.

To meet these demands, Automated Data Processing embarked on a new venture in 1981. ADP's newly created Electronic Financial Services (EFS) Division was charged with the mission of providing our clients with comprehensive, centralized data processing services for their ATM systems. Additionally, by linking many financial institutions, our goal was also to provide a superior, shared-network system that would allow ATM customers to use their access cards at machines deployed by participating institutions across the country, as well as their own banks.

ADP/EFS, a division of the largest third-party computing services company in the world, knew that the success of this venture hinged not only on the creation of cost-effective networks linking us to our clients' ATM systems, but also on the effective management of network communications hardware and software components. Toward this end, we entrusted our New JErsey telecommunications control center with the job of operation a national multimillion-dollar network at maximum availability. To help accomplish this task, an investment was made in a Racal-Milgo Communications Management Series (CMS) 1010 (later upgraded to a 2040) network diagnostic management and control system as well as a complete, integrated-network system of Racal-Milgo intelligent modems and multiplexers. These two choices were important steps in building a viable, low-mean-time-to-repair network that contributed substantially toward developing a credible relationship with our clients.

Today, the measure of success of ADP/EFS's decisions is the dramatic increase in the number of networks supported and in the fact that we are now the largest third-party Tandem-computer-based ATM processor in the country.

From our central Clifton, New Jersey, site and a subsite in Massachusetts, we are currently doing processing for over 600 financial institutions comprised of large and small banks, savings and loans, and credit unions. This client base is spread over 35 states with heavy concentrations in California, Florida, Illinois and Massachusetts.

It is a matter of history that in 1982, ADP participated in the first coast-to-coast aTM transaction with The Exchange located in Seattle, Washington. In addition, through its association with The Exchange, ADP was also involved in the firest extension of shared ATM service across national boundaries into Canada.

Our network linkage continues to grow. Besides our sponsorship of The Exchange national network, ADP/EFS operates or is connected to 17 other major shared networks including Publix Teller, American Express, Hoor, Easy Answer, Avail, Transaction NEtwork, Pulse, Pocketbank, and ATMS programs.

As a result of these network links and shared relationships, we are processing transactions for over 11,000 ATMS nationwide in addition to the 1200 units we support directly. At the beginning of 1985, ADP/EFS processed over three million ATM transactions per month. Based on our current transaction growth rate of seven percent per month, we expect to process over four million ATM transactions per month by 1986, and 13 million by 1989.

The ATM user is the ultimate beneficiary of the versatile ADP/EFS system. This is reflected in the many transactional choices available based on the agreements between the user's financial institution and the various networks in which it participates. The user can go to network-affiliated ATMS in many states and use The Exchange card, a proprietary banking card, or a MasterCard or Visa card (the credit card is treated as an ATM debit card) to access as many as 20 accounts connected to any of these cards.

For example, a vacationer can obtain $50 from a checking account via an ATM belonging to an out-of-state financial institution using a proprietary card from the user's own financial institution. To do this, the user simply enters the card at the ATM, keys in a personal identification number or PIN, the dollar amount and the type of account to be accessed.

Interconnection Is Made with Other Networks

The selected ATM may be directly connected to the ADP/EFS network, an intercept processor, or another network. In any event,the ATM is continuously polled by the central computer to which it is attached. When a transaction request is received by an ATM, it passes this request forward to its controlling computer or switch. If this computer is an intercept processor or another network, it recognizes ADP/EFS as the responsible service provider by reading information from the magnetic stripe on the card inserted at the ATM. It then forwards the request to ADP/EFS on the appropriate special dedicated-network link. If the ATM is directly connected to ADP/EFS, its request will be forwarded to the ADP/EFS central site within a few seconds. this transfer of information is controlled by the Tandem computer system and Racal-Milgo communications equipment using 3270 bisynchornous protocol operating at 2400 b/s.

The ADP/EFS system identifies the customer and determines whether there are sufficient funds or credit line to accommodate the transaction without risk of loss to the financial institutions. If the transaction is authorized, an approval message is dispatched via the intercept processor or other network (if necessary) to the ATM that dispenses the money and in turn transmits a transaction completion notification back to the ADP/EFS system.

Authorization procedures are based on an agreement between ADP/EFS and the individual's financial institution. In the case of the scenario just outlined, ADP/EFS was empowered to authorize the transaction. If the financial institution provided the authorization itself, the request would have been routed on line to the data center at the ATM-user's bank. In the event that the bank's CPU processor was out of service, ADP/EFS might also have the authority to grant proxy approval. In this way, financial institutions can operate on line during normal business hours, and rely on ADP/EFS at other times.

Although unlikely, a hardware component or telephone line problem may prevent the ATM chosen by the vacationer from processing or completing a transaction. The New JErsey control-center staff--who monitor the system 24 hours a day, seven days a week--will quickly spot the difficulty that will show up as an error message on the printer or monitor. A member of the customer's ATM response team is immediately notified of the error, including the time the problem occurred, the institution the equipment belongs to, the station number,

and a brief description of the problem.

The problem may be as simple as incompletion of an authorized transaction due to a jammed receipt printer that needs to be cleared. Or it could be more serious, as in the case of modem or communications line failure. In this instance, advanced technological control equipment--datascopes, VF line analyzers, VF and EIA monitoring facilities and the CMS 2040 diagnostic management system--are applied to pinpoint and solve the problem.

The CMS system allows technicians to monitor and test in real time central-site and remote-diagnostic modems, modem sharing devices, dial back-up equipment, and the quality of telephone lines across the network. It consists of three color monitors, twin disk storage units, two log printers and five network interface processors (NIPS). The centrally located NIPS are used to diagnose and control their own allocated data communications line and channel components. Operating from a color-coded menu on the CMS CRT screen, technicians can perform as many as 16 test functions on up to 256 channels across the network. Monitoring and testing is performed using the derived diagnostic side channel that does not interfere with main-channel data.

Checking Modem or Line Failure

When a modem or line failure is suspected, the technician first checks a circuitry log that provides the ATM and modem address, type of line, dial back-up capability, and the apprpriate telephone company repair office to call. The technician subsequently initiates diagnostic circuit tests using the CMS 2040. A data-base search is initiated by keying in the T7 diagnostic address that tells the CMS 2040 the channel and modem to be tested. The technician then presses the RETURN key to enable circuit/modem diagnostic tests. Typical nondisruptive diagnostic tests include modem-status monitor, modem-circuit analog parameters, and global-monitor circuit. Diagnostic tests that include modem self-test, end-to-end line and modem test, and loopback test may also be initiated. Results of the tests are displayed on a CMS color monitor.

When the CMS 2040 response is negative due to a telephone-line failure, the technician then tests the line by patching a datascope into the EIA monitor patch-panel channel on which the device exists.

If there is no response and the remote location is so equipped, the technician can make a temporary connection simply by dialing two special back-up telephone numbers that terminate at a registered automatic line adaptor (RALA) connected to the remote modem. In this way, service is restored through the public switched network.

The proper telephone company is immediately alerted and informed of the circuit problem. Prompt reporting of a telephone-line problem coupled with a precise and accurate description of the fault leads to repairs many times within 10 to 15 minutes. This ensures that network uptime is maintained at a very high level. If the problem reported had alternatively been a network hardware or ATM problem, the appropriate financial institution and the proper vendors would have been immediately notified.

ADP/EFS technicians are also able to use the CMS system to record and analyze all network installations and moves. In addition, the data center maintains a site profile, a complete trouble log, and downtime report for each ATM, and produces montly reports detailing ATM outages, durations and reasons.

The ADP/EFS network is a modified star network emanating from Clifton, New Jersey. Local ATMs are connected to the center via 2.4-kb/s multipoint lines employing either 3270 Bisynchronous or SDLC protocols. Remote locations are reached via backbone circuits that are typically terminated by Racal-Milgo CMS 9601 or Omnimode 9600 four-port multistream modems.

Backbone Network with 27 Circuits

This backbone network currently has 27 circuits running from the central Clifton, New JErsey site to major hub switching locations in Florida, California, Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts, and several other states. Hub locations are judiciously selected to optimize circuit design based upon end-point density. Four 2.4-kb/s circuits are usually derived from a 9.6-kb/s backbone. These circuits in turn support either multipoint lines or statistical multiplexers.

In some cases, for example, a 4.8-kb/s circuit extension using the Omnimode 4800 may be used to extend the backbone to another hub location or alternately to service a more-heavily loaded statistical multiplexer. The Omnimux 160 statistical multiplexer is employed to connect remote hosts or intercept processors to the central site for ATM transaction authorization purposes. The IBM 2780/3780 contention protocol is used to control the passage of data across these links. Up to eight such links, each logically separate, can be connected to an Omnimux 160, thereby reducing the cost of communications associated with this feature of the ADP/EFS service.

Alternatively, a 2400-kb/s channel drives up to 20 ATMs on a multipoint circuit using 3270 Bisynchronous or SDLC protocol. Or it supports a single high-volume point-to-point connection that is usually needed for a link to another network. Another significant use of the Omnimux 160 eight-channel statistical multiplexer is to drive 2.4-kb/s polled multipoint lines. ADP/EFS is among the first companies to use the Omnimux 160's for this purpose--an innovation that has substantially reduced our costs. We have also completed evaluating the new Omnimux 160 16-channel unit that will minimize additional costs as our client base expands. Our first backbone using this 16-channel unit went into production during May of 1985. In addition, to allow flexibility inusing different types of ATM machines, we are currently testing a Racal-Milgo uni-port board that will allow us to mix and match asynchronous, Bisynchronous, and SDLC protocols.

The success of our ATM service offering is very dependent on the quality of communications that our clients experience. Emphasis on quality communications will increase over the next few years as our clients expand their ATM and point-of-sale offerings to meet the ever more-demanding needs of the marketplace. We at ADP/EFS believe that our present network forms a solid foundation on which to build the exciting electronic financial-delivery system of the future that will inevitably impact the way all of us conduct our monetary affairs.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:O'Reilly, James
Publication:Communications News
Date:Dec 1, 1985
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