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County Government On Demand

Miami-Dade County has also begun a program to allow online property-tax payments. This has provided benefits to both the county and county homeowners. The former can predict revenues at certain times of the year, with homeowners paying their tax bills online within more or less the same period. And the latter, the homeowners, can now pay online at their convenience, on the actual due date, without waiting in line. And because many Miami-Dade County residents are from out of state or overseas, they can pay without having to drop a check in the mail and be assured that payment was indeed received.

It's at periods such as this--during tax time, for example--that the pSeries servers' on demand capabilities come into play. By powering up processors as needed, Miami-Dade County can now meet peak demand cycles without paying for the processors up front. It can now lease the additional capacity when and where it's required.

"We have a lot of peaks and valleys throughout the year," Petisco says. "So with on demand processing, we can scale back when we don't need the additional resources or throw them back at applications when they do need it."

Similarly, this capability provides more flexible application deployment. In the past, Miami-Dade County would've added new discrete servers as applications went online. Now, it can simply install an application on a pSeries partition and dedicate a newly activated processor to that partition. Petisco's group has also moved the county's water and sewer department to the pSeries boxes, whereas in the past it had hosted them on discrete servers.

"We now have an environment in which we can simply add additional workload without a tremendous amount of expense, reconfiguration or installation or de-installation of equipment, which can be quite disruptive and costly," Petisco says.

In keeping with the on demand theme, Miami-Dade County is considering upgrading to the new eServer p5 systems, which allow for Micro-Partitioning*, creating even larger economies of scale. The organization (which is currently analyzing the ROI involved in the move) then might be able to reduce its current processor count to " somewhere in the order of maybe 55 to 60," according to Petisco. " And if we do that, we'll just have created a 20 or so processor equity we didn't have before."

This move to Mirco-Partitioning might also reduce middleware software-licensing fees, which are often currently processor-based. As Oelkers explains, " If I'm allocating, say, three processors toward a middleware component product, I have to license those by the number of processors, which in this case is three. If I move to Micro-Partitioning, I might only need two processors. So right out of the gate, I'm saving myself one processor license."

Around the Campfire

What began as a consolidation effort has since become much more. Miami-Dade County now not only has more floor space, but also increased hardware and software flexibility. It can assign processors as needed, when needed, and easily add new applications to its software suite. Perhaps more significant, however, it has saved the county a great deal of money. " I would estimate that we saved close to $2 million by putting applications on the pSeries server rather than on independent, discrete servers," Petisco says.

Other organizations might want to join Miami-Dade County around the campfire, listening to the tales it has to tell. And thanks to the thought and careful consideration that went into its new and improved IT environment, there are happy--if not instructional--endings to all of them. 

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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