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County Government On Demand

Remember going camping as a kid and hearing those old scary tales around the campfire? The one about the one-armed madman who's terrifying lovers'-lane teen-agers in the middle of the night? Not very scary stuff these days, with all those gore-glorifying movies, video games and books out there.

But IT professionals have other tales to tell, many having to do with the proliferation of so-called discrete servers. These stories can be horrifying, especially when one begins counting the costs of purchasing, maintaining and administering these machines. The numbers can quickly begin spiraling out of control, leaving company executives shrieking in the night, hiding in their sleeping bags and telling themselves, "It's only a story. It's only a story. It's only a story."

Unfortunately, it's not only a story. Too many organizations are faced with exactly that problem, and hiding from it won't make it go away. Instead, they need to face the darkness, realizing that the server-proliferation trap can not only quickly sap IT budgets, but also stifle organizational innovation.

Consolidation on the other hand, can help them both save money and add enhanced capabilities, such as on demand computing, to their once-scattershot IT environments. And as Florida's Miami-Dade County recently discovered, a careful and methodical approach to consolidation can give scary server-farm stories fairy-tale endings.

A Rabbit Farm

Miami-Dade County is home to some 2.5 million people, making it the most populous county in Florida. It's also the state's fastest growing county, thanks to its consistently warm and sunny climate, which welcomes both permanent and semi-permanent residents to the region. It's also considered the unofficial "Gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean."

Because of this dramatic growth, the county must continually innovate, making sure its residents receive only the best in public services. To do so, it's created a solid IT underpinning consisting of, among other computing solutions, three IBM* pSeries* 690 servers and two IBM zSeries* 900 servers.

"I would estimate that we saved close to $2 million by putting applications on the pSeries server rather than on independent, discrete servers." -Angel Petisco, assistant director of Miami-Dade County's Enterprise Technology Services Department

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at



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