5 More All-Stars

Five businesses reflect high-tech solutions to a variety of issues.

FREEZE.COM

In a new data center-style project, this Waite Park, Minn., provider of downloadable desktop software sought a way to handle peak server loads without overbuilding the infrastructure needed for quieter periods. In addition, it wanted to be able to repurpose servers on the fly and reduce IT staff time needed for server provisioning. IT selected the Ardence Server Edition server-management tool, which enables the on-demand streaming of Windows from commodity networked storage. When IT needs to reprovision a server, it uses the Ardence software to stream the operating system and associated applications to a blade in its IBM BladeCenter. The download includes just enough of the operating system software to get the blade executing; additional libraries follow when required for the operation. IT can now provision servers in five minutes vs. the previous five hours and move capacity from server to server, and has quadrupled productivity. Freeze.com has about $1,750 per blade invested in this model, with three fully populated blade centers and two more in staging. This model has enabled IT to reduce at least two full-time server administrator positions and place an increased focus on issues that have an impact on the bottom line.

INTELLIDYN

With a $2 million budget, this data warehouse provider in Hingham, Mass., migrated from a mainframe-based, vendor-specific computing infrastructure to a scalable, highly available and reliable open architecture. Intellidyn collocates the infrastructure, which is powered by Sun servers running Solaris 8, at an AT&T data center. For its storage-area network, the company combines Sun and Hitachi Fibre Channel storage arrays, uses StorageTek tape libraries and handles consolidation, back-up and restore capabilities and clustering via the Veritas Foundation software suite. SAS provides business-intelligence tools. Intellidyn expects to realize a 685% ROI in year one as it becomes more agile.

RELIANT ENERGY

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QUICK STATS

MEDIAN PROJECT DURATION:

Seven months.

MEDIAN PROJECT BUDGET:

$282,500.

NOTEWORTHY:

Project budgets in this category ranged from $100,000 to $2 million.

In the course of two months, this Houston-based electric utility ushered in significant process improvements and increased efficiencies through implementation of a technology framework for document management and compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. For example, Reliant has reduced time spent adding up spreadsheet information for weekly reports from four days to a half day. With easy report customization, building reports for internal business users or external auditors is an almost instantaneous process compared with the couple of days previously required. Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, which many companies still must conquer, has become a matter of course, easily and cost-effectively met through the new framework, provided via Stellent's Sarbanes-Oxley Solution. The framework serves as the foundation of the company's new Reliant Energy Sarbanes-Oxley Resource Tool, which gives the compliance team an enterprise view of the company's internal control makeup so it can track and schedule changes based on business proprieties. The project cost $110,000.

THE WEATHER CHANNEL

Challenged by the need to provide value-added services while reducing cost of ownership and improving flexibility, the Weather Channel's IT team crafted next-generation server and storage infrastructures. The Atlanta-based company doubled performance by migrating applications and databases from Unix to HP Integrity Linux servers, running the Red Hat operating system. In turn, it then consolidated servers. By implementing tiered storage, using Hitachi Lightning and Thunder arrays, the company recovered more than 30T bytes of Tier One storage capacity. Tools in the Veritas Storage Foundation suite enable IT to move data from one storage tier to another. The Weather Channel estimates it has lowered the total cost of server ownership by 90% through this $315,000 project, saving as much as $1 million on hardware and software maintenance, and saving another $1 million through consolidation in the Linux environment. In addition, it has created a foundation on which its business can grow with value-added services.

UNITED WAY OF THE TEXAS GULF COAST

This Houston fund-raising organization carefully watches spending but knows that scrimping on technology doesn't make for good business. That's why IT knew a converged voice and data network was the right architectural choice to use at a new facility. With its Cisco VoIP system, IT estimates saving 30% on cabling costs. IT also distributed Research In Motion's BlackBerry handheld devices, which integrate with the VoIP system to provide employees access to e-mail, voice mail, faxes and calendars wherever they are. Staff at community resource centers also have gotten a boost from the converged network, as they can conduct low-cost videoconferences over it. United Way invested $250,000 in this project and expects to see $120,000 in savings in the first year and $200,000 by year three.

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The 10 most powerful companies in enterprise networking 2022