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Creating a Community

How Palm Beach Community College learned that consolidation and virtualization can result in more than just ease of administration and lower overhead costs.




Continuing Opportunities
The decision to move to the System z platform made, Palm Beach Community College also decided to introduce the BladeCenter servers into its IT environment. This would help reduce its reliance on the 70 or so stand-alone servers it had been using for a variety of purposes, including distance learning.

 

"Each of them had its own applications and storage, so you have to manage each one individually," Parziale says. Now, about half of those stand-alone servers have been migrated to the BladeCenter servers populated with HS20 blades, and the school is using VMWare to virtualize those servers for additional consolidation purposes. Using these virtualized servers, the organization can also pilot applications without having to buy the hardware to support them, a huge cost savings.

At the same time, in July 2005, Palm Beach Community College also brought in the DS6800. As part of its overall consolidation effort, it wanted a single storage platform, no matter where the data came from - be it the System z890 or its BladeCenter server. To make the most of this move, the school deployed IBM's SVC, which would allow it to virtualize storage across all its platforms. Rather than having direct-attached storage that may have been underutilized, it now has a single virtualized storage pool that has a much better utilization rate. "We might have had a server with 200 GB of storage but were only using 20," notes Parziale. "It was a waste of resources."

Backing up this system is the IBM 3583 Ultrium Scalable Tape Library. In the past, backups were a somewhat muddled affair, with the mainframe-generated data and Windows technology-based data having to be backed up to different devices. And in the case of that environment, backups were taking up to 24 hours to complete.

"Now," says Parziale, "we put the four-drive 3583 unit in place and we're backing up off the SAN with Tivoli* Storage Manager (TSM). We've been able to cut the backups for our entire enterprise down to five hours."

Although this consortium is an important reason why Palm Beach Community College decided to consolidate many of its IT assets, the school had additional reasons as well. For example, it wants to run WebSphere* on Linux on the System z platform to power a college-wide portal system. Although consultants had suggested running WebSphere on either a Windows technology-based platform or as part of z/OS, the school insisted that it run in a virtualized Linux partition on the mainframe. In February of this year, IBM and the college ran a proof of concept regarding exactly that.

Once operational, this portal will allow students to have a single point of entry for all of the college's services, including e-mail, grades, class registration, messaging and course management. As Parziale describes it, "It would be a single cockpit view of their Palm Beach Community College life." The school also wants to launch similar portals for staff and faculty, all of them using WebSphere running within Linux on the System z890 platform.

 

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at jjutsler@provide.net.



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Creating a Community

How Palm Beach Community College learned that consolidation and virtualization can result in more than just ease of administration and lower overhead costs.

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