RBS completes batch processing separation to prevent further IT failures

Matthew Finnegan

Royal Bank of Scotland has completed the separation of batch processing systems across the individual parts of its business, as it seeks to increase the resiliency of legacy IT in the wake of a series of high profile technology failures.

A system glitch relating to an update to CA7 batch processing software was blamed for an outage in 2012 which left millions of customers across the RBS group unable to access accounts, with Ulster Bank customers experiencing problems for weeks.

The incident is currently under review by the Financial Conduct Authority, and has prompted the bank to increase its annual IT budget of £2 billion by an additional £450 million in order to prevent further occurrences.

The bank has now stated that it has completed the separation of its batch processing systems in order to mitigate the affects of IT failures in future.

"To improve the resilience of our IT systems, on 21 March 2014 we moved our existing single batch scheduler for NatWest, Ulster Bank Northern Ireland and Ulster Bank Republic of Ireland onto three dedicated and separate versions (RBS already runs in a separate scheduler environment)," the bank said in its first quarter financial results.

"Separating the batch schedulers means that, if a problem occurs with transactions on one of these brands, it will not impact the activity taking place to support the other two, avoiding a repeat of the 2012 system outage."

The bacth processing systems are situated on separate infrastructure in RBS' Edinburgh data centre, and individually backed up.

The bank is currently in the midst of a major project to rationalise its legacy estate built up over years of acquisitions, as it aims to lower costs and improve resiliency through a 50 percent reduction of its technology platforms.

The bank's legacy IT came under further scrutiny in December, with CEO Ross McEwan pointing to "decades" of underinvestment in IT as customers were unable to make purchases on the busiest shopping day of the year.

The Prudential Regulatory Authority has hit out at UK banks' legacy systems, claiming systems are "antiquated" and are no longer "robust".