SiliconSpirit: People, Process, Technology


CapitalOne, based in Richmond, VA, and with facilities throughout North America, is one of the largest issuers of credit cards in the United States. Over the years Capital One has increased its focus on leveraging IT to gather customer profile information using techniques such as data mining and CRM algorithms. In 1998, Capital One was in the midst of a major IT initiative to convert its mainframe based Billing System to a more robust multi-tiered CORBA based technology. In addition to meeting the challenges of this new technology, Capital One executives wanted to expand into the Northern Virginia area in order to gain access to a larger labor pool.

Business Problems

Silicon Spirit provided a team-lead/application-architect and a lead developer to start the first satellite team for this project in Northern Virginia. The team faced technical and logistical challenges. Component development was in its infancy and container based packages such as EJB was nonexistent. In addition, the Northern Virginia facility lacked infrastructure in terms of facilities, process, and staff.

Silicon Spirit Solution

The architecture and design took into consideration the large-scale nature of the application. Over 20 million credit card transactions were to be processed on a daily basis. The team had to instrument coarse grained architecture patterns into the application in order to meet the performance requirements. Several distributed application patterns were crafted to compensate for deficiencies in the early versions of CORBA technologies.

Under direction from the Architecture Team in Richmond, Silicon Spirit was instrumental in building a remote application team within weeks and delivered the first functional release of the MGP (Maintain Global Parameters) application to the system testers in Richmond within 6 months on time and on budget. The staff faced and surmounted several cultural and logistical hurdles.

Silicon Spirit produced the following deliverables:

  • Business Use Cases and Technical Use Cases
  • Application Architecture Specification.
  • Architecture specification to represent the 4+1 architectural views for a multi-tiered architecture.
  • A Framework design document.
  • Detailed Design documents using Rational Rose class diagrams, sequence diagrams, and state transition diagrams.

Technologies that were used in this effort included the following:

  • NT based development, Solaris based deployment
  • Netscape Suitespot for web server, Java AWT for applets
  • Iona OrbixWeb Java client
  • Iona Orbix C++ server.
  • Persistence object to relational mapping tool.
  • Oracle database
  • PVCS and Symantec Visual Café for development
  • Rational Rose for object modeling.

Following the first functional release, Silicon Spirit staff performed a technology transfer to a Capital One technical leads and stayed on the project as individual contributors.


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