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Shrinking A Whole Country

France is a fairly large country: Its 551,000 square kilometer area makes it the largest nation in Western Europe and places it above all U.S states except Alaska and Texas. From an IT perspective, consolidating business operations that are spread through the country can be difficult even in the modern era of high-speed communications.

That's the situation that French mortgage lender Credit Immobilier de France faced as it set out to roll its 17 data centers, spread throughout the country, into one centralized facility in its Toulouse headquarters. The company settled on an IBM eServer iSeries 570 system, as well as an IBM TotalStorage DS8000 system, to cover the company's 300 offices with more than 2,400 employees.

"We were using five different server platforms," said Marc Bergougnoux, managing director of GIE i-CIF, Credit Immobilier's IT organization. "Our main project was to converge on one system, which would allow us to create a new structure for our IT -- almost like a new company."

Credit Immobilier had been using older AS/400 and RS/6000 IBM servers as well as an HP 9000 server from Hewlett-Packard, which has traditionally been a strong presence in the Western Europe market. However, besides looking for more speed and efficiency in mortgage transactions in France's hot housing market, the lender wanted to retain some of its legacy applications, including ones running under the OS/400 platform that had been running on the older IBM systems. That greatly influenced the choice of the iSeries 570, which could handle those under i5/OS (the successor to OS/400), Bergougnoux said.

"We can run seven partitions on the iSeries, with i5/OS and AIX, as well as Windows for the storage side," he said.

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