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Palm Beach Community College

Virtualization is one of those topics storage vendors talk a lot about while failing to convince customers.

Still, there are brave souls out there willing to give it a shot. Tony Parziale, CIO of Palm Beach Community College, has been virtualizing the colleges storage and servers since June. PBCC spent $1.6 million on IBM hardware, software, and services, to tie data kept on old mainframes and direct attached storage into one storage pool on a SAN.

PBCC’s new gear includes a zSeries 890 midrange mainframe running five SUSE Linux partitions, a 10-Tbyte IBM DS6800 connected to the mainframe, two BladeCenter blade server chassis, SAN Volume Controller (SVC) to bring all the storage into one pool, and Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) for backup.

“It’s a virtual world,” Parziale says. “The way I look at it, we have one opportunity every four years to make a major architectural change. The easier solution would have been to stay with the technology we had. But we achieved a lot of costs savings. Going to Linux eliminated proprietary software that was costing us $30,000 a month in licensing. We also eliminated storage and server sprawl and could consolidate our IT staff.”

PBCC can rightly be called a pioneer. Consider that in recent IT spending surveys, virtualization is a low priority among buyers. A Goldman Sachs survey of 100 IT managers at Fortune 1000 firms released this week shows only 29 percent are considering implementing storage virtualization over the next 12 months. Those findings track with studies done by others during the last year. (See Virtually Nowhere.)

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