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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.

A Scratch Game

The USBC and the predecessor associations from which it was formed (the American Bowling Congress, the Women’s International Bowling Congress and the Young American Bowling Alliance) have been bowling’s governing bodies for more than 100 years. It works with local and state bowling associations to certify tournament and league play, as well as bowling centers and equipment, to ensure the sport’s integrity.

No small feat, especially given the number of tournaments run on the state and local levels. “There are some 8,000 tournaments held in the United States on a yearly basis, and we have to keep track of the many variables involved in them, including who’s playing, what their scores are, et cetera,” Oberholtzer says. “And that doesn’t even take leagues into account. We also have to collect information on those, with the secretaries reporting things such as how many games are played and the pin-fall count per bowler so we can calculate averages.”

State and local bowling associations send that information back to the USBC using a packaged solution it provides. That solution will soon be replaced, however, by a Web-based system that will tie directly back to the USBC, with pertinent data being fed directly into the DB2 database on an IBM System i* 525 running the Infinium ERP suite. The USBC is also developing a Java* technology-based program that will let local and state associations and bowling facilities without ready access to the Internet enter information and then upload it to the USBC when they do have access.

“Our current Web applications are all being rewritten, and they’ll be replaced with an entirely new code base by next summer. Right now, the background, membership and award systems are all written in RPG. Those will be rewritten in Java on the front end and perhaps a combination of RPG, Java and .NET on the back end, with everything going against DB2,” Oberholtzer says.

Although the organization runs both Windows* and Linux* applications, DB2 running on the 525—which the organization plans to upgrade to either a POWER6 or a POWER7* processor-based system when its lease expires—is the brain behind the USBC’s ability to keep track of the thousands of transactions it receives. Without it, the organization would have a much harder time maintaining data integrity.

“That S chassis ... gives us the capabilities we need for the tournament and the robustness to keep us running for 154 days. We simply can’t have a failure.” — Jim Oberholtzer

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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