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IBM Partner Consolidates Music Retailer
By John Moore, Ziff Davis Internet


IBM business partner Strategic Computer Solutions Inc. tapped the iSeries platform for a server consolidation project at retailer Trans World Entertainment.

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SCS initially focused on eight servers running a range of applications and unified the environment under an IBM iSeries i570 machine. Trans World Entertainment, a long-time SCS customer, had been running an iSeries 840 as its main production server along with three AS/400s in its distribution centers.

In addition, the company's data warehouse involved the use of three Sun Microsystems Inc. servers and one Hewlett-Packard Co. peripheral server, all running Unix.

The project didn't begin as a server consolidation initiative, according to Tom Boland, client executive with SCS. Trans World Entertainment's lease on the iSeries 840 was coming up and the company was considering an upgrade, Boland said. The model 840 is an older iSeries server that IBM ceased marketing in late 2003.

The model 840 inquiry eventually led to a broader project. SCS engaged IBM to perform a server consolidation study at Trans World Entertainment, Boland said. The IBM study generated a map of the company's overall server environment; SCS elaborated on that map and presented Trans World Entertainment with 12 different configuration options. That was in August 2004.

SCS' next step was to hone the consolidation plan and launch the project, starting with Trans World Entertainment's Albany, N.Y., headquarters. Finance, human resources, merchandising and supply chain applications now run on the iSeries i570 server. The company's Oracle-based data warehouse also resides on the server.

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The i570, based on IBM's Power5 processor, provides virtualization so that the server can be partitioned to support different operating systems and different applications.

In Trans World Entertainment's case, server resources are allocated to Manhattan Associates Inc. and Island Pacific applications running under i5/OS and the data warehouse running under AIX 5L. Manhattan Associates offers supply chain software, while Island Pacific focuses on retail merchandising and store operations, among other solutions.

The consolidation project was completed in August 2005, but Trans World Entertainment has embarked on additional work. Ten Windows-based Compaq servers not initially included in the consolidation will be phased in over time. A spokesperson for IBM said the servers will be integrated into the iSeries through Integrated xSeries cards.

In addition, the company is in the process of rolling out WebSphere HATS (Host Access Transformation Services), a Web refacing tool. Boland said Trans World Entertainment will use WebSphere HATS to create an inventory-on-demand capability for the company's retail outlets.

Trans World Entertainment operates more than 800 retail locations in North America. The company's brands include Coconuts Music and Movies, F.Y.E. and Wherehouse.

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