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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.

Picking Up a Spare

Based on what it learned from developing its new IT infrastructure, the USBC began considering how it could use a BladeCenter solution and virtualization in a different environment, outside its hardwired headquarters. The most obvious need was for the two major tournaments it operates.

“Between those two events, you’re talking about 150,000-160,000 bowlers. The Open Championship takes 154 days to run, and the bowlers start at 7 a.m. and finish bowling around 2 a.m. We then do pin-setter and bowling-center maintenance for four hours and then start all over again. We do that seven days a week for 154 days to get all the participants through,” Oberholtzer says. “The Women’s Championship has roughly the same schedule, although it lasts only 100 days.”

The USBC is charged with tracking all of the activity during these tournaments, including who’s playing, on which lanes, with what scores, etc. In the past, the organization created a temporary local data center. Setting this center up required a lot of hardware and staff.

“The infrastructure we run at the Open and the Women’s Championship is equivalent to probably better than 50 percent of small businesses in the world. We run almost 30 instances of Linux and Windows running various different pieces of the software necessary to manage the tournaments. We have the responsibility to set it up, get it up and running, run it for 154 days, tear it down, take it back to headquarters, set it up again, and then, when another tournament approaches, tear it down, take it back out to the tournament and set it up again. It took four people two weeks to do this,” Oberholtzer says.

Realizing there had to be a better way, and understanding the power and portability of the BladeCenter solution, the USBC decided to acquire an IBM BladeCenter S chassis running three HS21 Intel technology-based blades and, because it uses local storage for this implementation and not an N series-based NAS environment, a JS12 POWER6 processor-based blade running IBM i.

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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