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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.

Keeping Score

In the meantime, Oberholtzer has been busy virtualizing the Windows and Linux HS21 blades using VMware. He now has “six or eight copies of Linux, another four for development, and around 10 instances of Windows.” Not wanting to stop there, the USBC is also running IBM Lotus* Domino* and Sametime* on the H chassis, in a cluster-like environment. “We’re 100-percent virtualized on that BladeCenter,” Oberholtzer says.

The virtualized infra-structure contrasts starkly with the organization’s previous environment. Now, if one instance goes down in the current environment, the USBC can simply move processing to another existing operating-system instance or create an entirely new one, giving it a resilient computing environment.

The USBC even plans to create an identical environment to act as a replicated backup of its production systems. This too would be virtualized and use a network-attached storage (NAS) environment, working just as its current system does. If there’s a complete failure (unlikely, given built-in BladeCenter redundancy features), the organization would simply failover to the backup system and continue working.

Realizing the benefits of virtualization, the USBC plans to use VMware View in a thin-client-like environment. Rather than having fully loaded workstations on each user’s desktop, functional but bare-bones thin-client devices will tie back to the BladeCenter and its Windows and Linux applications. The devices will support mice, keyboards, local processing and memory for programs such as Microsoft* Excel, but all other processing will take place in the data center and on the virtualized BladeCenter solution.

As with the organization’s server consolidation effort, this will help reduce maintenance overhead, with administrators no longer patching applications and operating systems directly on each workstation. Instead, they’ll be able to do it on the centralized, virtualized servers. If something happens to a desktop device, administrators can simply regenerate new volumes based on nightly backups and let users reconnect to the networked system.

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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