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Marist College and IBM System z grow together

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WILLIAMS: Marist College is a small liberal arts college on the banks of the Hudson River in upstate New York. We're about 4,500 full-time undergrad students and about 800 grad students.

McCONAGHY: Our z9, we have several hundred servers running on there that are clearly servicing the entire college -- not just the physical college but also our distance learning students.

WILLIAMS: I've got over 600 servers for students. For me to buy that number of servers and actually try to manage them would be cost prohibitive, plus time prohibitive. We couldn't do it any other way but with z/VM.

McCONAGHY: When you virtualize, you don't have nearly the complexity in terms of cabling and physical requirements. It reduces the amount of cost to run servers.

WILLIAMS: z/VM is a complete virtualization. Everything that the real hardware does it provides in the virtual environment.

McCONAGHY: The flexibility to create servers on the fly, be able to manipulate the resources to share resources between servers, things that may be very difficult to do on other platforms, you can do very quickly using z/VM.

WILLIAMS: It takes less staff to do that. I have more tools that I can actually manage. I have the ability to watch what the performance data is and so I can see how virtual machines are running.

McCONAGHY: It also is very stable, it's very reliable. So you don't have a lot of worries about crashes and outages. We run z/VM systems that literally haven't shut down in a year.

There are several other virtualization platforms out there now. One advantage z/VM has over them is the obvious which is that it has about a 30-year head start. So it's solved a number of the problems that they're now starting to understand. One of the biggest advantages is scalability still. They can handle perhaps a dozen or more images on a single hardware platform. VM can handle hundreds to thousands.

WILLIAMS: We're able to consolidate everything on a smaller footprint. Our power consumptions are less. Our air conditioning consumptions are less. So it allows us to maintain our green initiative.

McCONAGHY: Linux on z/VM has been a huge step forward primarily because those who have loved VM for many years always knew its power. And then Linux came along, and Linux allowed us to run applications that before were really prohibitive from being run on a mainframe.

The value of it being a real native Linux rather than an emulation is primarily the fact you don't have to rewrite applications in order to make them run. When we're looking to do new projects, the first thing we ask is, will it work on the mainframe?

WILLIAMS: You're constantly looking at what other applications we can move there. Currently we're looking at REIP, we're also looking at [INAUDIBLE] collaborative environment.

McCONAGHY: Any mainframe customer demands high availability and high reliability. So you do have the expectation that when you bring in an IBM storage like a DS8100 it's going to work from day one and not have any major problems.

We certainly found that to be true. Being a college, we can't afford to dedicate too much floor space to a data center. Our business is educating students, which means we need to put students and desks in a classroom and not put servers there. So by saving on power, by saving on the footprint that we take up in the building, we're saving the college money.

WILLIAMS: System z has been wonderful. Fabulous. I can't say enough superlatives about what it has done for us.

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