Advanced Systems Group Helps Mortgage Company Scale IT

The integrator taps IBM's iSeries system, with its Capacity On Demand capabilities, to ease American Mortgage Network's growing pains.

The plummeting interest rates over the past two years have meant a booming business for anyone in the mortgage industry, as people have rushed in droves to buy new homes or refinance.

It was no different for American Mortgage Network Inc. Though the company, also known as AmNet, has been originating loans for less than three years, it wrote $14 billion in mortgages last year alone, making it the 17th-largest wholesale loan mortgage company in the United States.

AmNet experienced such growth with a data center comprising a dozen Intel Corp.-based servers from various vendors, each running the San Diego-based companys proprietary loan origination and servicing applications.

"They were split up with different programs running on different servers, and we were trying to keep them communicating together and keeping them in sync," said Randall Myres, AmNets senior vice president and CIO.

Such a hodgepodge resulted in serious growing pains for AmNet. The company suffered problems with scaling, processing bottlenecks and an increasingly unwieldy platform—a difficult scenario for a company doing three times the amount of business per month at the end of last year as it was at the beginning of it.

"We could always add more Intel servers, but that just added to the complexity," Myres said.

In January of last year, Myres began looking for a solution. His initial thought was to go with a mainframe system, but he worried that it was taking the company in the wrong direction.

"The problem with that was that my idea was to get the data closer to the users rather than farther away," he said. "A mainframe takes data away from the users."

Instead, Myres decided to go with an iSeries system from IBM running the OS/400 operating system. The system, with its Capacity On Demand capabilities, enabled AmNet to buy an iSeries 825 server with three Power4 processors turned on and another three installed that could be switched on when business demanded it.

In addition, the system could scale like a mainframe and had the functionality of Intel-based servers but without the complexity.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read about a "modern mainframe" from Unisys.

When Myres told his IBM representatives he was interested in buying the system, they recommended he work with Advanced Systems Group—or ASG—a systems integrator and reseller based in Tustin, Calif.

"In looking at it, the solution that looked like the best fit was going to be the iSeries," said Rod Davis, a solutions architect with ASG. "They wanted a single platform of hardware—they could partition it out and run various applications between the different partitions. ... They wanted to consolidate everything down onto a single platform."

Next Page: Choosing a method for data processing.