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Freddie Mac integrates X.400 and applications.

Freddie Mac, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., is one of America's busiest purveyors of mortgages. Located in McLean, Va., Freddie Mac receives mortgages from 5,000 to 6,000 financial institutions daily and adds value by processing and packaging these funds into securities that are then sold through 200 brokerage houses to investors.

Managing such high volumes of data and still providing reliable and responsive service to investors is no small feat, and today Freddie Mac is about to implement an X.400-based delivery system.

While there are benefits in being flexible enough to support multiple delivery mechanisms, Freddie Mac determined it would be more advantageous to move to a single, well-defined messaging standard upon which they could deploy an intelligent messaging interface between customer systems and Freddie Mac systems; applications themselves could generate the data to drive message transfers.

A second critical objective was to implement this upgraded service so Freddie Mac's 7,000 customers could all potentially be switched over transparently with no changes to their existing interfaces or programs.

Case for X.400

"We are progressive in our technology," says Mullett, "but we also focus on proven technologies. X.400, in our opinion, satisfies both criteria."

The primary reason for selecting X.400 is that it allows Freddie Mac to deliver messages almost anywhere in the world via private and public network services.

"We want to provide a level of customer service unmatched by any industry," Mullett says. "No matter what system the customer is using, we aim to communicate."

In selecting an X.400 vendor, Freddie Mac looked for not just OSI standards compliance, but also the availability of proven, easy-to-use APIs (application program interfaces), good administration facilities, and vendor reputation. Freddie Mac's team not only evaluated the vendors' products as X.400 messaging systems, but took the next step and developed prototype applications to test ease of integration with the implementations.

A dual pilot test phase lasted six months. "The dual pilot was the single biggest decision influencer," Mullett says. "There's nothing like seeing it run with the application you want to build before you buy."

Messenger 400 from OSIware Inc., an Infonet company, was selected for use with a Tandem Guardian system. Messenger 400 has APIs at each layer of the X.400 implementation to enable integration of user interfaces, gateways, applications access to the message transfer agent (MTA) and network layers. This is a plus for Freddie Mac which will be able to tap into X.400 services at will. Currently they plan to integrate only at the user interface and MTA levels.

Implementing solution

The first step for Freddie Mac is replacing the proprietary delivery system with the dedicated Tandem-based Intelligent Delivery System (IDS). Messenger 400 is used as transport to deliver customer data to mainframe applications and vice versa. Non-stop SQL is used as the relational database and development environment.

The data flow remains the same, but the interface will be via a data-driven API which triggers the IDS's X.400 communications engine.

Business systems will not access X.400 facilities directly; instead, Freddie Mac's own applications of customer messages will advise the IDS that there are messages pending. The IDS will take incoming X.400 messages, strip the X.400 headers, identify the data and route to the appropriate application for processing.

Similarly, outgoing messages generated by mainframe applications are passed through the IDS. An applications directory look-up is performed to identify data type and intended customer, the message is wrapped in an X.400 envelope, and sent on.

This sounds straightforward, but Freddie Mac has added a creative twist to the process: the data itself triggers the process of information look-up and delivery via parameters set up in a relational database.

"This approach gives us flexibility," says Mullett. "We can add and route new message destinations and file types without having to change any code in the Delivery System. Our first objective was to provide application-generated message delivery."

Future with X.400

Freddie Mac's original objectives were to provide an application-generated message delivery service to its customers and make the upgrade transparent. With X.400 an additional means of person-to-person E-mail will be available to customers, and Freddie Mac will be positioned to move toward EDI.

While faxes, phone calls, memos or the postal service may never be totally replaced by X.400, Freddie Mac anticipates that it is the strategic messaging platform to which their business customers eventually will move.

Says Mullett, "Our project motto has been 'Quality Movement of Quality Data' and we are confident that our requirements will be met by our choice of hardware platform, X.400 vendor and implementation plans."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Federal Home Mortgage Corp.
Publication:Communications News
Date:Aug 1, 1992
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