A natural do-it-yourselfer, John Evans is no stranger to home remodeling projects. As vice president and client executive at NTT DATA Services based in Seattle, John also helps modernize the businesses of leading financial services institutions, enabling them to reduce costs and gain greater flexibility and scalability. In this Game Changer interview, John describes how he helped a leading financial services data and analytics company give new life to its legacy system responsible for handling over 90% of the nation’s property data.
Q: I hear that on weekends you’re an extreme do-it-yourselfer with many home remodeling projects under your “toolbelt.” How did you get started and what have you been working on?
A: My family and I moved to Seattle about eight years ago. We love everything about this region of the country — the ocean, the mountains and the food. We found a house with “good bones” but we knew it needed updating. Home renovation has become a family affair: my wife has the design ideas; my son helps with the heavy lifting. I do the implementation. Last year, I finished remodeling our entire kitchen, taking it down to the studs and starting from a clean slate. I removed a load-bearing wall, changed doors into windows and handmade all the cabinetry. I also did all the drywalling, plumbing and electrical work. Now I’m working on a bathroom. It’s a lot of work and sometimes things don’t go as planned and changes need to be made on the fly, but I like figuring out solutions to remodeling challenges.
Q: Do you carry that “do-it-yourself” attitude to your role at NTT DATA?
A: I carry that attitude with me wherever I go. I grew up in Newcastle, a working-class city in England. When I was 16, I took a vocational class to learn Cobol programming. I enjoyed that work, so I decided to continue my education in the technology field. I put myself through night school, earned a degree and eventually built my own consulting business — I guess you could say I was a do-it-yourselfer even back then. I’ve been managing applications development, maintenance and infrastructure projects for 25 years now because I love taking on new challenges for my clients and figuring out how we can give old systems new life.
Q: What’s been your favorite remodeling project for an NTT DATA client?
A: Recently, my team helped a leading financial services data and analytics company modernize its mainframe application. This was a mission-critical system that handled over 90% of the nation’s property data. The legacy system was inflexible and becoming too costly to support. Our strategy was to migrate to Linux, which would offer the client greater scalability, as well as significant cost savings they could apply to modernization projects on their journey to the cloud. The solution leverages unique NTT DATA IP that emulates a mainframe on a Linux environment, providing batch and online transaction processing, and security features.
The project was complex because the nature of the business is complex. We brought NTT DATA’s full breadth of services to the project — infrastructure resources that could design and architect the platform, our Application Modernization team that did the heavy lifting of getting the application to run in a Linux environment, middleware experts that enabled complex printing and scheduling functions, and of course project and program management to drive governance. Testing extended over many months to ensure that the solution was not only functionally correct but operated at the scale and at the performance levels that our client required.
Because our client’s customers rely on this system daily — and there were few windows to go live — if the results of processing the property data were a day late or a penny off, then our client would be subject to millions of dollars in penalties. To mitigate risk, we conducted extensive parallel testing; performed integration testing with our client’s customers; and procured, and configured, additional environments to ensure we could handle the capacity at the right performance levels. We went live over a three-day weekend.
As a result of this modernization effort, the customer is processing more data faster and more accurately than they ever have before. They’re able to grow their business more quickly than they have in the past because of the scalability and flexibility that the new platform provides. And migrating their legacy system to Linux lays the foundation for the company to take that next step into the public cloud to further reduce their operating costs.
This system is not only critical to our client’s business but is an essential component of the U.S. property market. After a successful go live, our client has experienced some of the busiest business cycles in its history without any issues.
Q: You’ve been with NTT DATA for 25 years. What inspires you about the work you do?
A: What I really enjoy about large renovation projects is the challenge of having to understand my client’s requirements — whether that client is a financial services executive or my wife — building a plan and navigating issues as they arise. And when it is all done, there is nothing more rewarding than stepping back, sipping a cup of tea, and saying, “I did that for my client.”
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Post Date: 26/09/2019