The European Bank for Fund Services GmbH (ebase) was founded in 2002
as a subsidiary of Cominvest. Cominvest is the result of the fusion of ADIG
Investment GmbH and Commerzinvest. The parent company of ebase and
Cominvest is the Commerzbank AG.
Ebase is one of the largest service platforms for fund sales and a neutral
partner for fund procurement and custody. It is exclusively active in the B2B
sector. The partners of ebase are prestigious names in the financial
services sector: capital asset companies which outsource their product
custody services to ebase as well as funds outlets (broker pools, asset
managers and insurance companies) which use ebase as a custodian on a
ebase has been operating three Internet applications to date. They wanted
to consolidate these applications into one system to achieve an increase in
flexibility and performance while reducing maintenance requirements. A
further challenge was to provide the application with a new, future-oriented
technological base that would ensure its long-term operation.
Since 2000, applications have been developed for sales partners, for the
Commerzbank sales department and for end customers. These applications
have grown successively, eventually reaching their limits in terms of
upgrade potential and performance. With the system reaching maturity, new
requirements could only be incorporated at increasing costs and decreasing
At the same time, external circumstances have also changed. A hotly contested market for service platforms has developed: In 2002, apart from
ebase, over a dozen other providers crowded into this market. Established
fund sales outlets sought transaction management partners (service
platforms for fund sales). Platforms demonstrated their range of services
and had to promise a series of new features in order to both keep existing
partners and win new ones. For the three Internet applications surviving to
this date, this meant implementing extensions such as comprehensive
reporting, web warehousing and the option for co-branding (customization
of the application).
The above scenario was accompanied by a marked downturn in the
financial markets that still continues today. The overall caution of investors
also prompted them to return to high-quality consultation with regard to
funds transactions. The demand for more consulting has also brought with it
increased demands on the systems used. Set against a background of ever
tighter IT budgets, this represents an enormous challenge.
Any decision on how to proceed further was to give meaningful
consideration to the investments made until now, a point that cannot be underestimated. Existing resources – such as hardware, software and
employee skills – should be reusable.
To be able to achieve medium-term savings and respond to future
requirements faster and with the best possible efficiency, it was decided to
replace all previous applications with a new system based on Microsoft’s
.NET platform. To meet the sometimes contradictory objectives given
above, the applications had to be completely redeveloped while still having
recourse to as many proven and familiar features as possible. This was
achieved as follows:
- The existing applications based on VB 6 and ASP (Active Server Pages)
were migrated to C# and ASP.NET on the platform of Microsoft’s new
- A database portal based on the .NET technology was created. To make
access to the Oracle DBMS (database management system) faster,
ebase decided to use DataDirect Technologies’ Connect for .NET 100%
managed provider. This significantly enhanced data access without a
change of hardware.
- Improved maintenance and expandability are the result of, among other
things, the proven Microsoft Visual Studio.NET development
environment in combination with Windows XP Professional. Specially
hardened Windows 2000 servers with Internet Information Server (IIS 5)
and .NET Framework are used as server platforms.
With regard to the implementation of the project, ebase decided to work
with CSC Ploenzke, a leading management consulting company with
considerable experience in systems design and e-business integration as
well as know-how regarding design, planning, implementing and
deployment of extensive and complex .NET Web applications.
- Within 4 months, the existing 3 applications (for end customers, sales
partners and Commerzbank) were consolidated into one stable,
scalable, easily-maintained, integrated portal application and additional
new functions were incorporated. The former applications based on VB
6 and ASP were successfully replaced by C# und ASP. NET.
- A portal (Internet, intranet) was created as an integration basis.
- The systems takes into account flexible definitions of workflows:
changes in the page sequences can be carried out by an ebase
administrator while the system is running. Operational maintenance can
be carried out by ebase employees without recourse to developers.
- The application represents an up-to-date and upgradeable
- Rapidly implemented, high-performance and stable data access to the
Oracle DB in the backend is achieved with the aid of DataDirect
Technologies’ Connect for .NET provider (replacement of ADO and
- A simple deployment to the application servers in the secure server net
could be attained by means of an MSI file (Installer Package).
- The online platform is now modular and customizable. In other words,
ebase also has to ensure online that the legal stocks of the individual
sales partners are uniquely encoded to them with regard to individual
accounts, account items, types and variants. Therefore, the data are
segregated using different depot types and variants. A simple CMS
(Content Management System) was individually developed to manage
news, links to forms and the order shop. The contents are displayed in
a rules-based, customized view.
- The texts in the menus and the page contents are multilingual.
- Reporting functionality was realized by the integration of Crystal
The following requirements will be implemented in the next development
stage of the application:
- Online account statements, additional and more detailed reports (special
query parameters), further broker-related sales information,
- Upgraded version of the portal with functions for sales support.
- Establishment of web services for premium cooperation partners.