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IBM Reels In Cajasol

IBM on Monday announced a $60 million contract with Cajasol, a mid-sized bank based in Madrid, to provide hardware, software and IT services for the next four years.

Cajasol, the product of a merger this year between Caja San Fernando and Caja El Monte, is Spain's eighth-largest bank with more than 800 branches. As a result of the merger, the newly combined company is in the process of consolidating its IT platform and updating its legacy hardware and software systems.

In a release announcing the pact, IBM said the systems consolidation program will allow Cajasol to expand its business in Andalusia, Madrid and the Spanish Mediterranean coast and enable it to offer a variety of real-time services to all of its branches and banking customers.

"We will continue contributing our IT capacities and business know-how to Cajasol's innovation goals, which will have a positive impact on the services that this savings bank provides its customers," Ampara Moraleda, an IBM general manager, said in a statement.

Cajasol officials said it plans to upgrade the software in its mainframe and distributed computing environments to improve the security, reliability and availability of its core banking applications.

In addition to providing new software and servers, IBM will provide maintenance and consulting services throughout the consolidation project and spiff up the company's disaster recovery software portfolio and processes.

In recent years, large banks have increasingly turned to IBM's Core Systems Transformation (CST) solution to upgrade and replace their legacy back-end systems that are struggling to keep pace with increasing volumes of mortgage, loans and deposits.

CST, based on a service-oriented architecture (SOA) , is designed to offer key banking utilities as Web services, allowing customers and branches to update and exchange information in real-time from any location. The services are delivered with core transaction processing gear from IBM's WebSphere and Rational software, servers and storage equipment.