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An Educational Experience

The University of Georgia cuts costs via sub-capacity pricing

The University of Georgia cuts costs via sub-capacity pricing
Photography by Stan Kaady

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CUSTOMER: The University of Georgia
HEADQUARTERS: Athens, Ga.
BUSINESS: Higher education
HARDWARE: System z 890
SOFTWARE: IBM Information Management System (IMS), DB2, DB2 Query Monitor for z/OS, Tivoli System Automation for z/OS, Tivoli OMEGAMON DE, and z/OS Resource Management Facility (RMF)
CHALLENGE: Cutting IT costs while improving computing performance
SOLUTION: Tweaking and tuning its z890 so it could take full advantage of sub-capacity pricing

When the University of Georgia’s central IT department, Enterprise Information Technology Services (EITS), requested funding from the administration to upgrade an aging mainframe to an IBM* System z* z890 in November 2005, it wanted to be sure it was keeping up with the newest technology. After all, it needed a quicker machine that would support the new 64-bit z/OS* operating environment and reduce cost. But as so often happens in cases like these, the university got much more than what it had expected.

So much more, in fact, that it won 2008 SHARE Award for Excellence in Technology. Not that the school did anything fancy, like making the z890 roll over and play fetch (the school’s sports teams are the Bulldogs), as many organizations are wanting to do these days, running this, that and everything else on their mainframes. No; it simply found innovative ways to save money for the school and the state of Georgia, which in part funds the university.

As Shannon Marable, IT manager with University of Georgia’s EITS, explains, “While we were researching this new machine, we discovered that running 64-bit on the System z platform would enable us to take advantage of the sub-capacity pricing metric for select IBM software. Given these tight budget times, the potential for cost savings was very attractive and was one of the reason that we convinced the administration to fund the upgrade.”

This upgrade was so attractive, Marable adds, that it’s saved the university “thousands every month. Sometimes, it’s $10,000, $20,000, to over $30,000 a month.”

Keeping Current

Although it didn’t officially open its door until 1801, the University of Georgia was incorporated in 1785, making it the first state-chartered university in the country. Since then, it has grown beyond what its original board of trustees could ever have imagined. It now has 15 colleges and schools, ranging from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Pharmacy to the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and the College of Public Health.

Located in Athens, Ga., it has—as of the fall of 2007 semester—a student enrollment of more than 33,800. It also has a work force of more than 9,000, including faculty, administrators and clerical and maintenance staff. Its total budget is $1.3 billion, 37.6 percent of which comes from the state of Georgia.

EITS helps support the school’s information technology, which comprises the centralized computing services for the entire university. A short list of the applications it oversees includes those for housing, accounting, budgets, payroll, human resources, a student information system, registration, student records, student fees and admissions and recruitment. “And there are many more,” Marable remarks. “We try to be flexible to departments’ needs and specific business requirements.”

Many of those applications run on the z890, which is split into two partitions: one for production and the other for development and testing. The z890 also runs the IBM Information Management System (IMS*), DB2*, Tivoli* System Automation for z/OS, Tivoli OMEGAMON* DE and z/OS Resource Management Facility (RMF*).

Prior to moving to the z890, the school had an x47-based mainframe. Although it was running well, the school realized that it might be time to move to an upgraded system, and in particular, one that ran in 64-bit as opposed to 31-bit. “We still had a little room for growth on that older system, but we couldn’t go any farther with the OS,” Marable notes. “It was 31-bit, and we wanted to run things like a newer version of DB2 in 64-bit, which the older version of the operating system didn’t support.” The move to the z890 was thus prompted more by a need to keep current with the technology than operational issues with the older machine—the school also wanted to reduce costs.

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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