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County Government On Demand

"We use the p690s to host our portal, our customer-service and -information system, all of our e-commerce applications, materials management and other Web-type applications," notes Angel Petisco, assistant director of Miami-Dade County's Enterprise Technology Services Department. "The zSeries servers are used for our transaction-based applications, such as criminal justice, law enforcement, tax collection, jury processing, employee relations and payroll."

Prior to adopting these systems, Miami-Dade had been using a large number of discrete Windows* and AIX*-based servers. "Our computer room was looking like a rabbit farm," says Peter Oelkers, systems support manager with Miami-Dade County. "And every time we turned around, it seemed like the rabbits were giving birth to other rabbits."

This model of independent-server computing resulted in many IT and business issues, including, in the case of IT, increased human-resource needs, unnecessary software-licensing fees and disconnected computing resources; and, in the case of county business, departmental information gaps, complicated customer navigation of online county resources and longer lines at county offices.

Knowing that the use of county services would only continue to grow as the population increased, putting additional strain on its already taxed IT environment, the county began looking at ways to cut costs and improve customer satisfaction. This first prong of this effort involved looking at ways to consolidate its server base.

"We looked at the entire industry, at IBM, Sun*, HP, with the mindset that if we're going to consolidate, which platform is going to allow us to do it most economically and provide economies of scale," Petisco notes. "We could have gone with HP or Sun, but we also wanted to have the ability to address peak workloads by having processors in reserve, which would allow us to dial them into our environment as needed."

The choice became clearer after Oelkers attended a pSeries platform conference shortly after the new servers were announced. According to him, "I came back to Angel and said, 'There's this platform out there and we have to have it.' Angel was a little hesitant at first, not wanting to be the first ones out there to use the technology, but he said, 'Let's keep that in our back pocket.' As we moved forward, I came back to Angel and said, 'Listen, maybe this is the right time now. This thing could have cost savings, it could have consolidation ramifications, and it could bring a lot of goodness back into the organization.' "

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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