IT Management

Hewitt Associates was one of the first companies to receive IBM’s new System z9 Server. z/Journal interviewed Dan Kaberon, manager of Computer Resource Management at Hewitt Associates, regarding the company’s initial impressions of the z9, as well as some of its long-term plans for the platform. Dan informed us that he manages 10 fantastic teams of associates with a variety of responsibilities around systems and storage. 

z/Journal: Would you briefly describe your environment to our readers? 

Dan Kaberon: Hewitt Associates administers employee benefits for about 300 of the world’s top employers with about 18 million participants. Before we implemented z9, our primary Sysplex environment was composed of eight systems, with two z900s (for network management and ICF) and six z990s. The systems are spread across two facilities several miles apart with all storage mirrored using dedicated fibre with FICON. 

z/J: We understand you went through a z9 ESP (Early Ship Program). How quickly did you run production work on this machine? From which generation were you coming, z900, z990? 

DK: Hewitt Associates has had a wonderful relationship with IBM for processor ESPs. We have participated in all but one generation of large CPU ESP since 9672 G2. We have high expectations from all our mainframe technology. Through the latter part of the development and internal testing of the z9, we relied on input from our close IBM colleagues in the test labs to understand exactly how ready this machine was to handle the real world. Over about 10 years of tight joint work, we understand and respect each other well. They [IBM] had put this machine through a lot and were confident. IBM shipped our ESP machine from Poughkeepsie on Friday, August 12. It arrived in our facility on Saturday, and we converted the z990 and installed the z9 into full production on Sunday, August 14. The new system was IPLed and joined the Sysplex by 10:30 a.m., less than 48 hours after its departure from the plant. 

z/J: How stable was the ESP environment? Do you feel it’s a mature technology? 

DK: Our confidence in z9 has played out well. The machine has been rock solid with no negative surprises from the day we installed it to the present. 

z/J: We understand you have installed additional z9 machines in your environment. 

DK: Our objective for participating in ESP was to gain experience and accomplish performance measurements on the machine to handle our peak loads in October and November when employees enroll in benefit plans for the coming year. IBM was gracious in meeting our needs and we upgraded two more machines the weekend of September 24 to 25. 

z/J: Did the z9 meet your performance expectations? 

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