If you've bought a house, chances are Freddie Mac has touched your loan. A leader in the secondary mortgage market, Freddie Mac--the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.--owns one-sixth of all American mortgages. Its computers process tens of billions of dollars every day and exchange critical information with a host of banks, brokers and investors.
So when the company decided to migrate critical applications from mainframes to Web services, the executive team knew the transition would be a high-wire act without a net. A single misstep could choke off the flow of transactions, compromise security and land Freddie Mac in serious trouble. But the payoff--streamlined operations that would save billions of dollars--was worth the risk.
Freddie Mac, based in McLean, Va., nailed its balancing act through a combination of great planning, distributed architecture and solid investment in the right standards.