Perl on MVS/USS and the Art of SWIFT-Message Handling - Bernd Ulmann
Friday, The Camel Room, 945, 20 mins

SWIFT is the worldwide inter-bank-communication-network - nearly every transaction spanning banks is handled by SWIFT-messages. These messages have a very clumsy format which is indeed hard to parse. There are numerous commercial solutions for the generation and parsing of SWIFT messages but these are normally very expensive and do not necessarily integrate well into every environment.

We decided to develop our own solution for the generation of several SWIFT-message formats as well as the parsing of some other types. Therefore we decided to run Perl on our Mainframe (it seems that we are one of the very, very few shops doing this in a production environment and we encountered quite a lot of problems with Perl in an EBCDIC-environment which are partially still unresolved).

This turned out to be a good decision - due to Perl we were able to write a prototype parser for so called MT541/3-messages in a single, whereas external sources claim to need one to two man months using Java. :-) We now have a solution which is running in production mode and processes incoming SWIFT-messages, representing trades worth several 10 to 100 million Euros a day.

This solution is far ahead of most commercial packages and is easily extendable. Without the decision to run Perl on the Mainframe (which made some problems without "hosties", who always are quite afraid of new technologies on "their" mainframe), we would not have been able to accomplish the project's time and performance goals at all.