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Over & Under

Florida State University is moving from IBM pSeries servers to System p5 platforms to keep up with user requirements

Florida State University is moving from IBM pSeries servers to System p5 platforms to keep up with user requirements

For some businesses and industries, predicting peak workloads is easy. It may happen at certain times of the day, week or month, depending on factors such as financial processing (as with fiscal year end close). Or it could be seasonal, as businesses ramp up and begin taking orders for the holidays. In those cases, companies can either size their IT systems up front to compensate for these periods - having more than enough processing power on hand to handle both everyday and spiked user requirements - or use a for-fee capacity-on-demand scenario, which allows IT departments to turn processors on and off as needed.

But other organizations don't have the luxury of a predictable user workload. At any point during the day, week or month, processing requirements may spike, with computing-response times taking a hit and users drumming their fingers as they submit and wait for simple queries. Of course, these organizations, too, can ramp up for what they think expected usage might be - buying big, processor-packed systems - but that can leave them with periods during which their computing resources are being woefully underutilized.

Thankfully, as Florida State University (FSU) recently discovered, computing technology has matured enough to allow most organizations to avoid this oversized, underutilized conundrum. This is especially true on the IBM* POWER5* technology-based System p5* platform, which offers dynamic LPAR and, perhaps more significantly, Micro-Partitioning*.

"If we need additional resources beyond what we've physically allocated, we can have the system dynamically allocate more out of a pool based on throughput and loading, says Randy McCausland, director of infrastructure, information services, with FSU."

This allows FSU and other advanced System p5 users to make better use of their computing resources, using their systems to their fullest advantage without wasting processors during downtime. Now they can size appropriately and, thanks to virtualization, run more servers under the wraps of fewer physical servers. So they realize the benefits of not only increased processor horsepower, but also of a more flexible and automated computing environment, allowing them to place resources both where and when they're needed.

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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