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Fashion school proves fertile training ground for the Smart i

Fashion school proves fertile training ground for the Smart i
Photo courtesy of Dennis Fletcher

Q: When did you get all your new Power Systems servers?
A: In December 2007, we upgraded some of our servers from POWER5* technology-based boxes to the POWER6* 570. We got that box, which is our main production box, and we took advantage of IBM’s CBU (capacity backup) offering to deploy a smaller 570 as the capacity backup unit with just two partitions in it: our main college database partition and a WebSphere* Portal partition. We still have an older 520, but we’re looking to upgrade that when the lease is up at the end of this year. That’s the high-availability box for the IP telephony solution. The fourth box, the 520 Express, is the Smart i box. We got that earlier this year.

Q: Didn’t you upgrade to IBM i 6.1 as well?
A: Yes. That was an adventure. I was always under the assumption that software vendors would be current on the i operating system. That wasn’t the case. So we put in a requirement through CAAC and, contrary to what many customers think, IBM doesn’t have any contract with ISVs. They obviously want—and encourage—vendors to write for the platform, but there’s no accountability to move within such-and-such amount of time.
We ended up going live without two of our ISVs. We gave them full notice and said, “Look, this is it. We’re going. It’s a business decision and we’re upgrading in December whether you’re ready or not. You’d better be near the phone.” We also gave them notice that this is important to us and we may have to look at replacement vendors for future needs if they weren’t willing to be more current.

Q: Would you recommend to other organizations that they act as an “alpha” for development efforts?
A: Many companies are just not set up to do this. I would say that if it makes sense to the business and if it’s something the business needs, that would have to be the first component. The second is timing. Timing is critical. If you’re willing to go through the process of being the alpha, it has to be important to the business, because your business has to be willing to put in the extra resources and hours to make it work. On the flip side, you’re at least moving forward instead of waiting for someone else to come up with a solution, and you have the opportunity to influence the direction of your chosen product.

Q: Were you the first Smart i user?
A: I think we’re going to be the first to implement Smart i. I don’t know of any other customers that have. Hopefully, we’ll be a good example to future customers.

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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