HostBridge Technology

A HostBridge Case Study


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HostBridge and IBM products provide foundation for development of a new Web-based call center app

at Navy Federal Credit Union


Large banks and credit unions deal with significant volumes of high-value transactions daily. Internally and externally, customer service representatives and customers must be able to retrieve data in real time from Customer Information Control System (CICS®) applications via non-mainframe applications.

These organizations are heavily invested in their existing CICS applications, which are core to the business and contain decades of corporate information and business logic. However, a lack of integration often handicaps the ability to access CICS data from non-mainframe applications while trying to recreate all the logic on a non-mainframe platform represents a major risk.

Such was the challenge faced by the Navy Federal Credit Union – the world’s largest credit union, with three million members - in the development of its new Web-based, call-center application. Navy Federal needed a way to maintain the existing business logic of its CICS applications, but extend its use by making it available as Web services to portals, dashboards or new Web-based applications. Navy Federal has more than $35 million in assets, 150 branch offices and more than 7,300 employees worldwide. It serves the U.S. Department of Navy military and civilian personnel, and their families.

HostBridge Technology, an IBM Premier Business Partner, enables companies to overcome the integration barrier through its CICS application integration software. The HostBridge solution XML enables any CICS application or data source, providing organizations with a scalable tool for integrating CICS transactions and data with non-mainframe applications and business processes.

Deploying HostBridge makes CICS applications available as a collection of smaller “services” which can be used selectively by groups inside and outside the company. That means the HostBridge solution can be an essential component of a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).

SOA is an architecture that allows different applications on different machines to communicate using standards-based interfaces. CICS applications have no inherent ability to participate in this standards-based architecture, requiring instead an “adapter” to handle the communications with other programs in an organization.

HostBridge creates an interface to CICS terminal transactions that makes them accessible by remote applications, so customers are not required to reengineer their existing applications and avoid the risk of altering decades-old code. HostBridge also provides a single interface to all their CICS resources, so it simplifies integration projects versus using multiple integration engines for the multitude of CICS applications.

The ability to make Web services created under CICS available to external applications enables HostBridge customers, such as Navy Federal, to avoid limitations on efficiency and scalability of alternatives to integration employed by many organizations. Prior to installing the HostBridge solution, Navy Federal used terminal emulators to recreate the green screen text interface to the mainframe applications. They would then parse the text and extract portions of the terminal screen based on row column coordinates, a process called screen scraping.

By leveraging the HostBridge solution, along with IBM CICS Transaction Server, Navy Federal moved away from its screen scraping applications and developed a Web-based call-center application, Universal Agent Desktop (UAD).

The HostBridge solution includes IBM WebSphere® Application Server, IBM DB2® Universal Database®, the IBM Rational® Development Platform, IBM System z™ mainframe server and the IBM z/OS® operating system.

“We focus solely on CICS integration, and all our code runs under CICS on the mainframe,” said Michael Wilson, vice president of marketing for HostBridge.

Improved employee support and customer service

Concerns about the scalability of the UAD application were eliminated. Such scalability is critical to Navy Federal, as the majority of employees now use UAD to process financial transactions initiated on behalf of the membership each day. Members initiate more than 400,000 on-line banking sessions a day. Navy Federal used the screen scraper solution before it replaced it with the HostBridge solution.

Navy Federal has enhanced its transaction efficiency considerably, reducing response times from 30 seconds with screen scraping to subseconds with the HostBridge and IBM solution. Another benefit of the solution is a decreased level of maintenance.

“Our long term relationship with IBM and HostBridge has enabled us to move our application development forward to provide Web-based applications that support our employees, who in turn service our members,” said Phillip Arsenault, vice president, technical services for Navy Federal.

A highly specialized IBM partnership

HostBridge Technology participates in IBM PartnerWorld® Industry Networks, which offers a rich set of benefits to all IBM PartnerWorld members who want to team with IBM to build their vertical market capabilities, expand their partner network and attract customers in the markets they serve. It is working toward gaining optimized status in the banking industry.

In addition, the company has earned designation as an IBM SOA Specialty Partner and participates in the IBM ValueNet program.

HostBridge leverages each of these programs to extend its reach with IBM funded telemarketing campaigns and marketing collateral. “Demonstrating our extensive partnership with IBM provides value and peace of mind for our customers,” Wilson said.

Two of the functions process the rows of data in the spreadsheet; the third encodes the URL prior to sending the data to the HostBridge service. The main subroutine iterates over the rows of data and, using the XmlImport method, invokes the HostBridge service for each row. It also handles returned data, noting successful cancellations in green, as illustrated below, and errors/exceptions in red.

IBM Business Partner:

HostBridge Technology, LLC

HostBridge Technology meets clients’ CICS integration needs by providing access to applications and data residing on IBM mainframes, using industry standards like HTTP and XML documents, thus easing the integration of legacy systems with emerging technologies. HostBridgeTechnology is headquartered in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

“Our long term relationship with IBM and HostBridge has enabled us to move our application development forward to provide Web-based applications that support our employees, who in turn service our members.”

Phillip Arsenault,
vice president,
technical services,
Navy Federal Credit Union

For more information

Please contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner.
Or you can visit us at: ibm.com
For more information about ISV resources from IBM PartnerWorld, visit: ibm.com/partnerworld/ industrynetworks
For more information on HostBridge, visit: hostbridge.com
For more information about Navy Federal Credit Union, visit: navyfederal.org

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© International Business Machines 2008

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