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AMPORTS Inc. Moves to PureFlex to Help Ensure the Future of Its Computing Environment


Bill Cappadora CIO, AMPORTS Inc. - Photo by John Davis

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Customer: AMPORTS Inc.
Co-Headquarters: Jacksonville, Florida, and Baltimore, Maryland
Business: Import/export automotive port processor
Challenge: Facing an impending system upgrade
Solution: Deploying two IBM PureFlex System servers to replace two IBM Power Systems servers that were going off lease
Hardware: Two IBM PureFlex System servers, an IBM BladeCenter server and two IBM Storwize V7000 storage devices
Software: Three RPG-based homegrown applications, JD Edwards OneWorld ERP software, MIMIX Availability from Vision Solutions and VMware

System upgrades are inevitable, for whatever reason—whether machines are going off lease, getting slow and unpredictable, or experiencing component malfunctions. But the how of upgrading can cause IT managers night sweats.

Upgrading can be a daunting task that involves many moving parts, such as ensuring that the replacement boxes will function the same as their predecessors, applications will migrate properly, workday outages won’t occur, costs won’t spiral out of control and implementation will happen as scheduled.

AMPORTS went through a deliberate fast-track implementation process comprised of 3 stages, with each stage lasting 3 days, all of which took place over the course of 1 month

But as long as those in charge don’t make rash decisions, the results are sure to be well worth it, as AMPORTS Inc. has discovered. Before its IBM Power Systems* servers were scheduled to come off lease, the company knew it had to upgrade, but to which system remained somewhat elusive. It could have gone with replacement stand-alone units, implemented a centralized blade-like environment or taken a chance on a newer technology. Looking toward the future, it decided to take the latter route, moving to IBM PureFlex* System that allowed CIO Bill Cappadora to avoid those dreaded night terrors.

“We wanted to keep running on IBM i, but we didn’t necessarily want to upgrade to newer Power* boxes—not that we didn’t like the ones we had. Rather, we had other things in mind, including running not only IBM i in a smaller footprint, but also our x86 instances,” he says. “This has allowed for much easier system management across all our platforms with the same reliability as our old systems.”

Fine-Tuning

Co-headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, and Baltimore, Maryland, AMPORTS operates in the rather interesting niche market of import/export automotive port processing. This may sound like it’s in the logistics business, with the company working with shippers, for example, to facilitate the movement of autos as they leave and enter the country, but it instead considers itself an extension of automobile manufacturers, Cappadora explains.

When vehicles are being exported out of the U.S., manufacturers will send them to AMPORTS facilities for what the company calls “upfitting.” If they’re headed to Saudi Arabia, for instance, AMPORTS will swap out owner’s manuals and, in some cases, car labels specific to that market. If vehicles arrive damaged, the company will fix them and, if they’re going to be exported via ship, wrap guard and/or undercoat them to reduce the potential for rust and minor damages.

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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