Erie 1 BOCES (Board of Cooperative Education), West Seneca, NY, is a long-time mainframe user, most recently migrating from a z/800 to a System z/890 in early 2006. The organization has upgraded its mainframe many times since its first one arrived in 1965, but this time there suddenly was a new issue to deal with: energy.
“Just look at the price of energy,” says Carol Troskosky, CIO at the educational services support firm, which provides applications and IT services to more than 100 public school districts in New York. “Power certainly is a consideration now.”
Her strategy: maximize the use of the mainframe.
“Power has become a really big issue in the data center, but it isn’t the only issue,” says Jerald Murphy, senior vice president of research at the Robert Frances Group. In addition to power, IT managers must concern themselves with running out of physical space in the data center and aging legacy applications.
Growing demand for IT services and the new kinds of applications and capabilities technology makes possible are driving organizations to expand and modernize their applications and data centers. Where once the data center held a handful of refrigerator-size boxes housing the mainframe and its storage, today’s mainframe increasingly is being crowded inside the glass house by racks of open system servers and storage arrays. All that consumes power and generates heat, which requires yet more power to somehow remove. Blade servers, the latest rage, compound the power and cooling problems by greatly increasing the processing density.
“Companies brought a lot of stuff into the data center in the last five years,” says Mike Kahn, managing director, Clipper Group. “That’s the impetus to rethink space and power issues. Increased CPU density means more power, more heat, and it’s the same with storage.”
For most IT organizations, there’s no turning back; users demand services.
“We wanted to do more through the Web,” says Troskosky, whose organization is being asked to support about 40,000 users and more in the future. To meet this demand, the organization upgraded to the z/890 and implemented two Integrated Facilities for Linux (IFLs) to run multiple z/VM Linux instances supporting its Java Web applications.
The experts recommend consolidating discrete physical servers into virtual servers running under z/VM, upgrading to a more energy efficient z/890, and purchasing energy at the lowest possible costs through a consortium. Yet even after doing all that, Troskosky expects energy consumption at Erie 1 BOCES to keep going up.