AIX > Case Studies > Manufacturing

When Enough is Enough


"Scotty, we need more power!" Capt. James T. Kirk implores his chief engineer, wanting to escape the clutches of a nearby Klingon bird of prey.

"I'm doing the best I can, Captain," the chief engineer responds, feverishly trying to put the warp back into his warp-drive engines.

Sure, this is science fiction, but the notion holds true with companies of all types realizing they need to inject a bit of zip into their IT infrastructures if they're going to keep up with or surpass their competitors. In the modern world of global operations, it's no longer enough to have "just enough," especially as organizations run their operations around the clock and their employees depend on quick, microsecond response times.

Most companies will surely admit this, realizing that more is often better, but the question remains: how do you eke that much more oomph out of existing systems? Just as Scotty is hard-put to get warp-seven speeds out of the Enterprise's warp-six-rated drives, many IT professionals are being asked to use dated computing equipment to fulfill the demands of their businesses to get just-that-much-faster response times.

There comes a moment, though, when everyone, even data-entry clerks, realize that the performance wall has been hit. "Sorry," the IT manager says to his CEO, "but that's the best we can do with the equipment we have." While this simple admittance may not result in a hull breach, as in the case of a blast from a Klingon disrupter on the Enterprise, it can impact how quickly a company can respond to changing business variables.

One company that was reaching this point was Logitech International, the well-known manufacturer of computer peripherals. Using two RS/6000* S80 servers and disk-based network attached storage (NAS) to run its business, the company was experiencing slow system-response and report-generation times, the latter often requiring hours to complete.

As Pierre Monnier, Logitech's CTO, explains, "The business was growing fast; I had more users on the system, more reports being run, and all of these issues together went beyond what the system was able to handle at the time."

Realizing it couldn't continue operating under such conditions, Logitech decided it was time to upgrade its own drives, including the RS/6000 systems and its storage network. Working with IBM and Imperial Technology, former maker of the solid-state disk (SSD) technology MegaRam, it now has a warp-like IT infrastructure capable of handling not only Logitech's current needs, but also its expected needs well into the future.

"We went from 12 processors running at 450 megahertz to the POWER4 pSeries running eight processors at 1.2 gigahertz, and let me tell you, it made quite a difference, from having difficulty keeping up with the load to having maybe 35-percent utilization-max-on the pSeries." -Pierre Monnier CTO, Logitech

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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