OS/2 vs. Windows: It's a 'brave new world'

Oct. 23, 2006 | by Tracy Kitten

*About the authors: Dan Gruber and Peter Kulik are both ATM experts for Fifth Third Processing Solutions. Gruber, the channel manager for ATM products and services, focuses on the delivery of new ATM products. He has 26 years of industry experience in banking and EFT operations, project management and new-product development. Kulik, new technologies channel manager, is a regular trade-press contributor and industry-conference speaker. He has 20 years of experience in the ATM and banking industries. To submit a comment about this commentary, please contact the editor,Tracy Kitten.

The era of OS/2 ATMs is ending, and as the Windows ATM era begins, ATM deployers are facing some tremendous new advantages and challenges.


Dan Gruber
s are, for all practical purposes, "locked down," and are not at significant risk of viruses, worms, spyware and other scams. With Windows, the flexibility to upgrade and take advantage of an open-systems environment comes with higher security risks.

New capabilities and tools are helping to address those challenges. In particular, the ability to remotely distribute software and files from a central location is in most cases eliminating the need for a service call.

Financial institutions will no longer be dependent on service vendors to load local screen changes, install the latest virus patches, or upgrade software applications. In today's environment, a service vendor will charge anywhere from $350 to $700 per site visit. With Windows ATMs running software distribution, the service call is eliminated and the cost of upgrades is substantially reduced.

Most manufacturers stopped shipping new ATMs with OS/2 in early 2005. (Read also,IBM bids OS/2 farewell.)

About 21 percent ofFifth Third Processing Solutions'12,000 ATMs are Windows-based. Considering that it's not unusual for ATMs to be deployed for 10 years or more, the rate of migration is substantial, and ATM managers are facing an increasing challenge to manage graphical screens, software updates and virus patches, to name a few.

FIs and independent ATM deployers have found that Windows ATMs, combined with a robust software-distribution package, offer a great deal of benefits and flexibility. For example, with software distribution, an entire fleet of ATMs can be scheduled to ru

Peter Kulik
n a specific sales campaign in a certain time period and revert back to the original set of screens without ever requiring an on-site visit. Deploying software-release updates, security patches, full-motion videos, even an entire application, is possible with software distribution.

Our customers consistently express concern about protecting their Windows ATMs from security threats such as viruses, worms, and spyware - concerns we read about every day in the trade press (and occasionally experience).

Having the ability to distribute security patches enables deployers to keep their ATMs protected from the latest threats and vulnerabilities at all times.

Most ATM manufacturers proactively test, authorize and certify patches for installation, which can usually be distributed just like any other software upgrade.

By managing the Windows environment and keeping their ATMs up-to-date, ATM network managers can help their Windows ATMs achieve the same level of security their OS/2 ATMs enjoy with the added power and flexibility of the Windows environment.

Software distribution typically has both server and client components; the server is located centrally, and the clients are "agent" software modules on the ATMs.

After an initial service call to install the software-distribution agent, an ATM is ready to accept distributions from the server. Typically, the only ATM technical requirements are a Windows environment with TCP/IP communication.

Some features to look for in selecting a software distribution product for ATMs include:

  • The ability to designate authorized requestors for different types of distributions.
  • The ability to name authorized approver(s) for distributions.
  • Automatic virus scanning of files before distribution (and rejection if infected).
  • The ability to review and monitor patch distributions.
  • Immediate notification of failed distributions.
  • Complete history reporting of distributions for each ATM.

Topics: Bank / Credit Union, Key Management, Other, Outsourcing, Remote Management, Software, Trends / Statistics

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