REVIEWER: Bagrat Bayburtian, senior vice president of enterprise solutions for First American Registry.
BACKGROUND: First American Registry (FAR), a member of First Advantage Corporation, is the nation's leading and most innovative provider of screening and risk management services exclusively designed for the multifamily housing industry. Through its corporate offices in Maryland and 30 branch offices throughout the U.S., FAR provides services to more than 20,000 property management executives who manage more than 5 million units. FAR's mission is to provide the most accurate, current and versatile nationwide resident screening resources available in America today. By using a database of more than 33 million landlord/tenant court records and 100 million criminal records, FAR's Web screening system provides online resident and employment screening services to a nationwide base of more than 20,000 business clients.
PLATFORMS: MS SQL Server 2000 on Windows 2000 and DB2 on IBM's i-Series platform.
PROBLEM SOLVED: FAR's services and client base were growing extensively. However, its flagship service - the Resident Screening System - could not sustain client demand. The software system was crashing on virtually a daily basis. The successor Resident Screening System, delivered by Synergy, was used to transform FAR's legacy database application into a sustainable, reliable and scalable B2B Web-database system. Using this enhanced system, FAR now processes more than 3 million online applications annually from business clients on their prospective residents/ employees for verification of rental histories, credit reports, driver records, criminal records, etc. This enterprise system manages more than 200,000 hits per day, while processing more than 20,000 applications and reports daily. Synergy has also successfully managed the major challenge of continuously enhancing the system's functionality while ensuring uninterrupted operations.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The system is implemented as an n-tier application powered by Synergy's Intelligent Data Manager (IDM) core engine. The user interface is a thin client-tier Web Browser, supporting both IE and Netscape. The middle tier is implemented as COM+ components (Visual Basic ActiveX transactional components); the presentation tier is implemented using XSLT transformation and Active Server Pages (ASP) running under Microsoft Internet Information Service (IIS); and the back-end database is based on MS SQL Server 2000 on Windows 2000 and DB2 on AS/400 server. Asynchronous report processing is organized via a message queuing system. Using XSLT transformation at the presentation tier helps separate the presentation tier from the middle tier, making the modifications to the user interface easy and straightforward. This is especially important as the user interface has been updated frequently throughout the project. In order to avoid any duplications and double data entry, Synergy designed an XML data exchange interface and Java-based software framework that allows communication with many third-party applications and processing of the screening requests from within their systems.
STRENGTHS: The Resident Screening System is highly reliable, due to the superb database and systems architecture, as well as the constant stress tests and analysis by Synergy. The volume of hits and data has increased by 400 percent, while the system's performance also improved greatly.
WEAKNESSES: Because the Resident Screening System had to address legacy integration issues, some implementation trade-offs had to be made. For example, because users were accustomed to its user interface, FAR decided to not upgrade it initially with IDM's rich presentation layer and advanced controls and functions.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Synergy's sophisticated COTS database tools for the Web, combined with their experience delivering and maintaining high-volume, database-centric solutions for large clients in the government and international organizations, was very attractive to FAR. Given our positive experience with the Resident Screening System, we have engaged Synergy to create new enterprise-level intelligent applications which take full advantage of IDM's Web-enabled business intelligence suite.
DELIVERABLES: The product is the Web-based Resident Screening System, as well as Synergy's 24x7 support services.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Synergy provides systems analysis, development, technical support, maintenance, database administration and technical documentation. Additionally, Synergy provided application and database installation scripts which allow for the seamless integration of additional servers to the Web farm.
DOCUMENTATION: Synergy created and provided user manuals for administrators and users, and systematically updates all technical documentation, including UML-based specifications, on the system and all modifications made to it for FAR.
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