Home Financing Center is a growing mortgage banker that needed to gain better control of its data. After replacing a difficult-to-use Oracle database with Microsoft SQL Server 2005 data management software, the director of business intelligence recovered 90 percent of his time. Now he’s standardizing other databases on SQL Server and building companywide business intelligence capabilities that will help the company stay ahead of competition. Business Needs
Home Financing Center is well known for its responsible lending policies and personal customer care. As a growing midsize company, Home Financing Center tries to invest in technology that’s easy to maintain but still offers a rich feature set; yet neither of these characteristics could be applied to the database software supporting the company’s mission-critical LoanQuest application from MortgageFlex Systems.
“LoanQuest had been running on Oracle for years, and it was never a good fit for us,” says Gerardo Lopez, IT Support at Home Financing Center. “It was used by almost everyone in the company, yet we couldn’t support it in-house because we couldn’t afford programmers for Oracle. Every time staff reported errors or wanted us to add tables, we had to phone the MortgageFlex Systems support staff.”
MortgageFlex provided a script that initiated a data dump to a text file every night, but Robert Galea, Director of Business Intelligence at Home Financing Center, did not feel confident that he could achieve a complete restore of the data should an incident occur. “Despite my research, I never found a solution that I felt would be viable,” Galea says. “And the GUI [graphical user interface] was written in Java and was not at all intuitive.”
The company also had applications running on two other database programs. Galea had written a lead-tracking application and a database solution that ran on Microsoft SQL Server 2005 data management software for the company’s website. A third-party data application, called Mortgage Servicer, ran on a Sybase database. Galea wanted to replace these disparate data solutions with a single data management and reporting solution that would save money and improve business insight. Solution
In late 2009, when MortgageFlex began offering multiple database options for LoanQuest, Home Financing Center jumped at the opportunity to migrate to a version that runs on the Windows Server 2008 operating system and the 64-bit version of Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Standard data management software. “As a growing business, we chose Microsoft SQL Server over Oracle. It’s less expensive to acquire and manage, it’s more user-friendly, and it has all the scalability and reliability that we need,” says Lopez.
||As a growing business, we chose Microsoft SQL Server over Oracle. It’s less expensive to acquire and manage, it’s more user-friendly, and it has all the scalability and reliability that we need.
IT Support, Home Financing Center
The company purchased a new Dell PowerEdge 2900 server, and Lopez engaged a local system integrator to perform the migration, which was “painless” and took less than a week. The migration included converting the company’s Crystal Reports data to interoperate with SQL Server. “Our owner is a fan of Crystal Reports, so it was a relief to see how easy it was to convert those reports that had been written for Oracle,” says Galea. “We just changed the data source location—it was that simple. I was impressed.” Galea is also happy with the simplified database management provided by the SQL Server Enterprise Manager administrative tool.
Not least of all, Galea is glad that Home Financing Center is finally standardizing on a data management solution he can use to build companywide business intelligence. SQL Server 2005 was up and running by September 2009 and Galea immediately started to migrate the Mortgage Servicer application from Sybase to SQL Server. When he is finished, the total data volume of all four SQL Server databases in the organization will reach approximately 16 gigabytes (GB). The LoanQuest database itself has 12 GB of data, with an estimated 900,000 records in the largest table. Benefits
Home Financing Center is benefitting from a cost-effective Microsoft data management and business intelligence solution that IT staff can use to work more productively to serve the needs of the business. “Microsoft SQL Server provides all the tools we need to pull data from our different systems into a user-friendly reporting solution that helps management make better business decisions,” says Galea.
Home Financing Center is no longer contending with a database that caused a financial and productivity drain on the company. “The most obvious benefit from moving to Microsoft SQL Server was that we saved approximately $70,000 by not having to renew our Oracle license,” says Lopez. “We priced out what it would cost per user with both systems, and Microsoft definitely fit our budget better.”
Because Home Financing Center already has in-house IT staff who are familiar with SQL Server, the lender is also saving money by no longer having to pay for a support contract with MortgageFlex.
Improved IT Productivity
Since taking advantage of improved manageability with SQL Server 2005, Galea estimates that he has saved 90 percent of the time he used to spend on database administration tasks. “When I showed my colleague how easy it was to schedule a SQL backup in two simple steps, he was amazed,” says Galea.
Galea calls the SQL Server Enterprise Manager interface 100 percent more intuitive than the Oracle command line interface. He uses it to schedule backups and nightly batch processing. “We can also monitor the database closely with automatic notifications,” he says. “If disk space is running out, we get a notification sent to our mobile devices. With SQL Server, we can use the Identity property [which automatically generates a number for each new record] right out of the box, whereas we had to write the same functionality ourselves in Oracle.”
Increased Business Insight
Now that Home Financing Center has standardized on a Microsoft database solution, Galea can easily combine data from any of the company’s databases to help management better analyze the business and stay ahead of competition.
“We’ll be able to link data about leads, applications, and servicing and get answers to important questions such as ‘What percentage of leads turn into a loan application?’ The added insight into our business is a lasting benefit,” Galea concludes.
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