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Why Chase Manhattan chose channel extenders.


A Division of The Chase Manhattan Bank figured there were three options to bridge a quarter-mile gap between its mainframe and a trio of laser printers.

"The cost of setting up a remote site was a bit more than we wanted," according to Joseph Wright, manager of hardware and space planning and implementation for MCB, the Chase division that handles a 185-branch network, including 271 automated teller machines.

"We had doubts about the backup capabilities of microwave, plus its reliability at this point," adds Joyce Remo, manager of systems planning and programming. It was also considered too expensive.

They decided to go with channel extension.

MCB (for Metropolitan Community Bank) uses three pairs of Data Switch 9045 channel extenders and a fiberoptic link to transmit massive data loads from a data center to three laser printers a quarter-mile away.

The three IBM 3800 Model 3 printers produce 360,000 documents each week. The printing load is divided between account statements and internal Chase reports.

MCB handles data from 620,000 checking accounts plus ATM transactions in a 12-county area of metropolitan New York. Consolidations and office shuffling to reduce costs and take full advantage of one building's specific design as a data center created the need to connect the IBM 3090 Model 400J mainframe with the remote printing pool.

After deciding on channel extenders, MCB narrowed its choices to three vendors.

"Because we were supporting critical production, we did not want to take a chance on being a beta site for a small vendor trying to get off the ground," explains Remo.

After testing end-to-end over spools of cable, MCB picked the DATA Switch extenders and channel switches for their performance. The extenders didn't let transmissions attenuate over the fiber.

"We were looking for a specific transfer rate--4.5 megabytes on data streaming--and we wanted to mix various data streaming and DC interlock devices on the same channel," says Wright.

Harry P. Haldt III, manager of operations planning and support, notes that besides the laser printers, MCB has remote 4245 impact printers.

"Those two types of printers have different requirements. To support them with some vendor's equipment, we would have needed two sets of channel extenders operating in two different modes, and we didn't want to do that," he says.

From Feet To Miles

Maximum cable distance from CPU to printers is normally 200 feet. With the extenders, MCB could reach 3 miles in its current configuration.

Fiber runs between channel extenders at each end. When MCB installed the fiber underground, the circuitous route required to go down and across the street and back resulted in about a mile of fiber.

MCB considered an above ground run, but has had cars hit poles and knock out power and phones in the busy Long Island suburb where the data center is located. The division didn't want to take a chance on getting its data knocked out.

The setup features two divergent paths for the fiber, and while multiple channel extenders are used, one could fill MCB's needs.

"You don't want to run everything on one," Haldt says. "You want to have at least two to split your load and have the third as a backup."

MCB programs its channel extenders and runs diagnostics through an IBM PS/2. "That has come in helpful in locating different glitches whose source we weren't sure of. You can program it to add devices, all from one location," says Wright.

Haldt expects MCB's printing requirements to hold steady. New banking packages introduced by Chase Manhattan should bring more customers and more checking account statements. However, this is balanced by an MCB effort to convert from printing to on-line availability of report data that is accessed by terminals.

"We are trying to reduce the amount of paper we print," says Haldt. "But it'll probably stay stable. Those three printers will keep humming along."
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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Author:Tanzillo, Kevin
Publication:Communications News
Date:Aug 1, 1990
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