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Hardware Today: Using Your POWER for Good

By Ben Freeman (Send Email)
Posted May 24, 2004


Last week, Hardware Today's Server Snapshot dissected IBM's four eServer lines: the midrange iSeries line, the data-center-focused pSeries line, the Intel-based xSeries, and zSeries mainframes. Although the eServer portfolio features several processor types, the home-grown POWER chip takes center stage. And with POWER5 taking a lead role in the iSeries and pSeries lines, it's even more in the limelight.

IBM's home-grown POWER chip is a key component of its four eServer lines. We look at Alpine Electronics and the University of Washington, two organizations using POWER-based servers to push their applications to new performance levels.

This week, we highlight Alpine Electronics and the University of Washington, two organizations using POWER-based servers to push their hardware to new performance levels.

Alpine Taps POWER for SAP

Alpine Electronics of Americas (hereafter referred to as Alpine) is nearly a household name: Perhaps you know them vicariously through the earth-shattering car stereos in your neighborhood. A leader in "high performance mobile electronics," Alpine uses POWER-based pSeries systems to tune its SAP deployment.

The pSeries 670
The IBM pSeries 670, one of several systems used for Alpine Electronics' SAP implementation.

When Alpine deployed SAP in the first quarter of 2003 as part of a worldwide company implementation, it chose a midrange 16-way IBM pSeries 670 accompanied by 2-way and 4-way pSeries 630s, all running AIX 5.2 to power the operation.

Prior to SAP, Alpine was running Oracle Financial Analyzer on HP Unix servers. The IBM pSeries 670 was selected for the SAP deployment because of the project's flexible partitioning requirements. To run separate development, quality control, and production instances on the same box, Alpine needed to be able to flexibly reallocate processor power to each production instance. "At the end of the month, I need more power, CPUs, and memory to run the business," Vasile Giulea, IS Manager for Alpine told ServerWatch.

The pSeries 670's Logical Partitioning (LPAR) made it a sound choice. LPAR allows on-the-fly logical partitioning, which enables Alpine to divide 16 POWER4+ processors and 32 GB of RAM between its three instances. Eight are typically allotted to production, and four each for development and quality control. Then, when the going gets tough, the production instance gets a processor boost. By using LPAR, Alpine has lowered TCO by about 20 percent, "because it's less maintenance, you have only one computer to maintain," Giulea notes.

Giulea told ServerWatch that Alpine's migration from HP and Oracle stemmed not so much from dissatisfaction as from the desire to take advantage of the benefits of LPAR. "The HP was a very good machine; I didn't have any problems," Giulea said. Alpine went with IBM primarily because HP simply didn't offer a system with LPAR-type functionality at the time of purchase.

LPAR was introduced with the release of AIX 5.2 in October 2002. It beat HP's vPar to market by three months.

If ever there was doubt that time-to-market can win deals, here is one example that proves it true.

Alpine has worked with IBM reseller Advanced Systems Group, for the deployment and software support, but it receives 24x7 hardware support directly from Big Blue. So far, it has needed it only for a firmware upgrade, which went "very smooth," Giulea said. "I just called IBM, scheduled, and they came on Saturday, shut the system down, and upgraded the firmware."

Giulea's group also uses IBM xSeries machines, in particular, a 14 blade BladeCenter that runs Windows and RedHat on HS20 blades to power back-office applications.

>> UW Builds a POWERful Catalog

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