HostBridge Technology

A HostBridge Case Study


Content > Case Studies

Cross-Platform Mainframe Integration

Farm Credit Services of America


Farm Credit Services of America provides loans, insurance, and financial services to farmers and ranchers in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Based in Omaha, the company is part of the Farm Credit System, a $140 billion nationwide network of farm credit providers. Lack of integration led FCSAmerica to develop a custom solution called Pinwheel. To integrate their critical mainframe into Pinwheel, FSCAmerica chose HostBridge.

Challenge

FCSAmerica personnel rely on four disparate systems – a Systematics loan accounting system running on an IBM System z mainframe, two loan origination products, and a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. Over time, lack of integration grew increasingly problematic, impacting productivity to the point that personnel were falling short of business goals.

Because their systems were not integrated, FCSAmerica’s personnel had to duplicate efforts repeatedly. Loan officers would enter data in a loan origination application and then, upon approval, perform the same inputs with the loan accounting system. When customer information was changed in the loan accounting system, data entry personnel had to key the same changes into the CRM system.

FCSAmerica needed an integration solution that would enable seamless multi-platform interaction, present data from all sources in a common, easy-to-use interface, and make critical mainframe data accessible on demand.

“Finding the right mainframe integration solution was a priority,” says Mike Douglas, Lead Developer/Analyst at FSCAmerica. “The vast majority of our business is loans, so the loan accounting system on our mainframe is central to everything we do.”

Technical Requirements

The mainframe integration had several key requirements:

FCSAmerica chose HostBridge to meet these mainframe integration needs.

Solution

HostBridge products allow organizations to integrate CICS transactions into other enterprise systems, web-based applications (intranet, extranet, and Internet), or any service-oriented architecture. Interacting with terminal-oriented transactions, COMMAREA programs, and other CICS-managed resources, HostBridge delivers CICS output/input to distributed applications as standardized XML documents – without screen scraping or CICS system modification.

At FCSAmerica, HostBridge makes mainframe data and CICS screens accessible to employee-users through the CRM’s web-based front end and plays a pivotal role in automated, platform-to-platform data exchanges. HostBridge combines mainframe and Internet security technologies into a single solution, so that using it to access CICS applications actually becomes more secure.

By delivering CICS data as XML, HostBridge enables users to access the loan accounting system through Pinwheel’s web interface. Where they previously ran terminal emulation software and logged in to the mainframe as a disparate system, they now access relevant screens seamlessly by choosing a tab on the Pinwheel display. Financial officers, account managers, and others can access information from the loan accounting system – terms, rates, accruals, status, payoff information, and a wide range of customer data – on demand from their PCs. This is made possible by HostBridge’s COMMAREA program functionality, which allows the server application to call a COMMAREA program to access data from a variety of files with a single pass. In addition, mainframe login is handled transparently.

HostBridge is also a central component in Pinwheel’s automated data integration. Whenever any application is updated with new data, other applications are automatically updated with all relevant data. Whenever the mainframe is in the mix, HostBridge is the integration engine. If an account manager enters an address change in the CRM system, rules-based automation invokes HostBridge, which accesses the loan accounting system and updates the appropriate CICS screen. Similarly, when the mainframe is updated, HostBridge delivers the new data to Pinwheel. In addition, HostBridge is regularly called to provide mainframe data for automated decisioning.

Benefits

FCSAmerica credits HostBridge with a range of benefits, from simplifying the integration process for IT staff to working within the Pinwheel system to generate productivity gains and new business.

HostBridge was easy for FCSAmerica to install. In just a few hours, the IT team had accessed the mainframe through a URL. On the development side, HostBridge’s adherence to SOAP and XML standards and its built-in .NET components streamlined Pinwheel integration.

By far the biggest benefit is the way HostBridge, as a key component of Pinwheel, helped FCSAmerica regain lost productivity. The company has eliminated the extensive training previously needed to access the CICS system. More impressive, some FCSAmerica teams have experienced a 70 percent improvement in productivity – due largely to on-demand availability of loan and customer data and elimination of duplicated efforts. Also since implementing Pinwheel and integrating the mainframe through HostBridge, FCSAmerica has increased new business by more than 16 percent per year. In the first year alone, daily loan volume grew from $10 million to $12 million – without any increase in staff.

Copyright Notice

Copyright © 2011-2015 by HostBridge Technology. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, transcribed, stored in a retrieval system, or translated into any computer language, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, optical, chemical, manual, or otherwise, without prior written permission. You have limited permission to make hardcopy or other reproductions of any machine-readable documentation for your own use, provided that each such reproduction shall carry this copyright notice. No other rights under copyright are granted without prior written permission. The document is not intended for production and is furnished “as is” without warranty of any kind. All warranties on this document are hereby disclaimed including the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.

Trademarks

HostBridge and the HostBridge logo are trademarked by HostBridge Technology. All other trademarks mentioned are property of their respective owners.