IT Management

The Province of Quebec (DGTIC), an internal government organization providing IT services to more than 125 departments and agencies, last year was able to migrate close to 200 Oracle databases and other types of services from Unix environments (SUN-Solaris and IBM-AIX) to Linux on System z. This migration will result in 90 percent reduction in Oracle licensing cots.

This project also resulted in the selection of DGTIC as winner of the 2007 Excellence in Technology Award from SHARE.

"The statistics behind the work done at The Province of Quebec over the past year tell a compelling story," says Martin Timmerman, president of SHARE. "It is phenomenal to see the real successes the organization has achieved through its hard work. It is a well-deserved recipient of an award that on a yearly basis offers proof of how SHARE can solve business issues through IT technology."

In 2007, 100 more Oracle databases (migrations or new implementations) are planned as part of the continuation of this highly successful project.

As a member of SHARE, DGTIC has attended many meetings. Through peer interaction at SHARE, DGTIC personnel greatly benefited from the cross-pollination of ideas and technologies. The Province of Quebec found SHARE's VM and Linux education invaluable in helping configure this solution. The networking aspects are somewhat complex due to the many different agencies supported by these various Oracle databases. This article describes some of the challenges of the project, the critical success factors, results, and lessons learned.

Challenges

One challenge was the complexity of providing data processing services, including networking, data processing, and telecommunications service to a large and varied group of departments and agencies across the Province of Quebec. The DGTIC provides services on many hardware platforms, including the mainframe, midrange, and PC servers. On the mainframe side, there are 19 z/OS images providing services such as DB2 and CICS.

"We have mainframe services such as z/OS and z/VM," says Marc Plamondon, mainframe software manager for the DGTIC. "We have five z/890s and one z/800 and a z9 EC, representing just under 5,000 MIPs. We also have 450 Unix and Windows servers encompassing 700 images on AIX, Sun, and some HP and Data General servers."

Developing the architecture for the project also was challenging. The architecture was subject to approval by the DGTIC architecture board and developed over a one-year period. During this phase, there was no live box on the floor. At the conclusion of the architecture phase, a z9 EC machine with five Integrated Facilities for Linux (IFLs) was purchased with 48GB of central storage. We also installed z/VM 5.2.0 and several Novell SUSE SLES 8 and 9 Linux virtual machines.

Regular bi-monthly reviews were conducted to ensure the architecture was understood and that it conformed to DGTIC standards for security, naming conventions, software levels, and network topology. The challenges during this phase were mostly around acceptance of the idea that virtual servers could achieve similar results as physical servers, especially on the mainframe. Security zone isolation, again, needed to be proved. These challenges were addressed through presentations, discussions, and training.

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