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A Perfect Game

The United States Bowling Congress strikes it big by virtualizing with BladeCenter

Jim Oberholtzer, VP of technology for the United States Bowling Congress, says it’s easy to set up its portable data center at tournament sites.

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CUSTOMER: The United States Bowling Congress
HEADQUARTERS: Arlington, Texas
BUSINESS: Governing body for the sport of bowling
HARDWARE: An IBM System i 525, an IBM BladeCenter H chassis, an IBM BladeCenter S chassis and an IBM System Storage N series
SOFTWARE: IBM i 6.1, DB2 and Infinium ERP
CHALLENGE: Consolidating many standalone servers, improving customer services and reducing operational costs
SOLUTION: Virtualizing its many Windows and Linux servers and an IBM i instance to the more manageable BladeCenter solution and using Systems Director Active Energy Manager to cut cooling expenses

Every week, beginning in the fall and running almost through spring, avid bowlers take to local lanes in leagues. But many of these competitors are oblivious to the United States Bowling Congress (USBC), which tightly regulates it all. “We establish the rules of bowling,” says Jim Oberholtzer, USBC VP of technology. “We certify the bowling balls, the pins, the oils and chemicals used on the lanes—anything crucial that has to do with the sport.”

The organization is also responsible for keeping track of the players and their scores during the many tournaments throughout the U.S. every year—including the two big ones, the USBC Open Championships and the USBC Women’s Championships. This requires a robust and foolproof IT environment, because USBC’s IBM DB2* database contains what Oberholtzer calls the single source of truth for bowlers.

That’s why, when the USBC decided to relocate its headquarters from Greendale, Wis., to Arlington, Texas, it also decided to alter most of its IT infrastructure, moving from one-off PC servers supporting single applications to a heavily virtualized IBM BladeCenter* solution running multiple operating systems and applications on individual blades. And because it’s running IBM Systems Director and its Active Energy Manager, the organization saves thousands in cooling costs.

The USBC learned from that deployment to create a similar environment to run its major tournaments, using another BladeCenter solution that includes Intel* technology-based blades and a POWER6* blade running IBM i. This portable data center can be set up in a matter of hours instead of days—and, as with the BladeCenter solution at the organization’s headquarters, is highly virtualized and energy efficient.

“The obvious answer was the BladeCenter system, because it was becoming clear that we should ... consolidate in some fashion.” — Jim Oberholtzer, VP of technology, the United States Bowling Congress

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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