Freddie Mac manages a securities portfolio of $1.4 trillion and last year purchased $760 billion in mortgages. That's millions of dollars in loans purchased every second of every day.
This volume of information processing requires a small army to monitor and manage: Of the company's 4,500 employees, about one-third work in IT-related functions. It also requires a robust infrastructure. This year Freddie Mac will spend more than $350 million on new IT applications. Its 1,700 servers are mostly Unix-based, running IBM AIX, Linux and Sun Solaris, though there are some Microsoft Windows and even 78 Novell NetWare servers running in its data center. It also has a 1,200-port SAN--with equipment from EMC, Hewlett-Packard and IBM--that holds 350 TB of data. And not surprisingly, desktops and laptops outnumber the staff, with more than 7,800 PCs scattered around the McLean campus.
Freddie Mac's business puts it in the midst of the complicated web that is the mortgage banking industry. Here's how it works: Mortgage brokers troll the waters looking for the best deals and the most appropriate loan packages for consumers. Lending institutions--mostly banks and savings and loans (originators, in industry parlance)--put the loans together. Finally, title agents, escrow agents and other actors process the loans and produce the foot-high piles of closing documents.
For the consumer, this is the end of the loan process, but not for the mortgage companies. At this point the secondary loan market takes over. Think of this as the stock market, but instead of trading shares of corporations, the investors trade shares of groups of mortgages.