Published on 14-Feb-2012
"No matter how fast Landstar grows, we have plenty of headroom." - Greg Beeman, director of application development, Landstar
Landstar Systems, Inc.
Travel & Transportation
IGF, IGF: IT Financing - IBM HW, Risk and Compliance, Application Design-Build-Manage, Application Infrastructure, Business Continuity, Business Resiliency, Enterprise Modernization, Supply Chain Management
IBM Business Partner:
Landstar has been providing supply chain services for nearly 40 years, with transportation and logistics solutions to support the delivery of goods across the USA and globally.
The company needed a flexible and robust IT platform to drive its critical applications, and a solution that would provide the investment protection to support their unique business model.
Landstar implemented a pair of IBM Power® 570 servers to support the company’s business-critical IBM i applications. The IT environment includes other IBM software, such as IBM Rational®, IBM WebSphere® and IBM Tivoli®, as well as a core company database on IBM DB2®.
The IBM solution allows control of the software portfolio value through in-house application development, provides high performance and availability for business services and delivers superior IT economics via a small footprint, reducing operating costs.
Landstar has been providing supply chain services for nearly 40 years, with transportation and logistics solutions that support the delivery of goods across the U.S. and globally—from fresh produce to wind turbines. Unlike other transportation companies, however, Landstar operates under a unique business model.
“We don’t own any trucks,” explains John Higbe, VP of Information Services at Landstar. “We contract with independent owner/operators—what we call a business capacity owner, or BCO.”
Based in Jacksonville, Florida, Landstar helps coordinate loads for approximately 8,000 BCOs as well as third-party carriers across the country, helping them maximize efficiency and maintain safety. “In reality, Landstar is a technology company,” Higbe says. “We provide data to these independent operators as accurately and efficiently as we can, so they can make the best business decisions they can.”
Building a business on IBM Power Systems
Since Landstar’s earliest days, the company has relied on IBM technology, especially IBM i and earlier generations of IBM Power Systems™. The platform has given Landstar’s application development team the flexibility to build the solutions they need, exactly how they need them.
“We have the experience and people to go in and code a solution from beginning to end on IBM i,” says Greg Beeman, director of application development at Landstar. “90 percent of the time, we code our own custom solutions versus going out and buying a package. Writing our own software gives us the flexibility to control the value of our software portfolio—for our customers and our carriers.”
Today, the company’s IBM i portfolio runs on IBM® Power® 570 servers—one at the main data center in Jacksonville, and one at a company service center in Rockford, Illinois, which serves as a business recovery site. The equipment was acquired through IBM Premier Business Partner Dynamix Group.
Being located in the hurricane belt, business recovery is a top business concern for Landstar. Says Higbe, “All the IBM equipment we have here in Jacksonville is replicated in Rockford, and we do a role swap twice a year. Business recovery testing is a very active part of what we do at Landstar.”
The IT environment includes a number of IBM hardware and software components, including IBM Rational® Application Developer, which facilitates development across the organization. IBM WebSphere® Application Server powers the company’s web-based applications, and IBM Tivoli® Composite Application Manager is used for monitoring. Landstar’s primary database runs on IBM DB2® for IBM i database software. IBM System Storage® tape drives provide backup capacity.
A legacy of ROI
With the IBM i environment on the Power Systems platform, Landstar is able to keep in production all the applications the company has developed on IBM i. Their portfolio includes thousands of applications, some of which date back over 20 years and still support critical business functions. Because of the platform’s application investment protection, the IT team is able to build new capabilities into existing applications and focus on business innovation instead of application maintenance.
“Some of these programs have been running since the 1980s,” says Beeman. “We got our ROI on those applications about 20 years ago, and they’re still paying dividends.”
With POWER6® hardware, Landstar is able to take advantage of their existing IBM i expertise to develop the new applications the company needs in order to stay competitive. For example, the team has developed a custom application that allows operators to scan documents directly from their trucks to the IBM system. Another allows agents in the field to prepare quotes for customers using a web-based application. A custom single sign-on application ensures security and provides identity management for users of both web and desktop applications.
“Since we don’t own the physical trucks, we have to encourage the independent operators to want to move freight for Landstar,” says Higbe. “And the way you do that is to make it as easy for them as possible to do business with us. That’s what these applications are all about.”
The IBM solution has continued to demonstrate its value to Landstar over the years, with consistently high reliability and high business and application performance. The addition of the energy-efficient Power 570 server to the infrastructure has enabled a significantly smaller data center footprint, which translates to dramatic savings on power and cooling, enabling investment in other areas of the business.
Power Systems and IBM i: A platform for the road ahead
As development platforms and technologies have changed over the years, IBM i has provided a safe haven for Landstar—a flexible yet consistent foundation where everything can come together. “We can program our own solutions because IBM i is so flexible,” says Beeman. “Today we have Java applications that access our core database in DB2 on the i, and we have a team of Microsoft .NET developers that access information directly from the i using web services, or they’ll interface the .NET front end with stored procedures in DB2 on the back end.”
Looking ahead, the solution offers Landstar the scalability to accommodate the company’s growing IT needs. According to Beeman, the Power 570 servers, which were acquired under a lease through IBM Global Financing, will likely outlive the original three-year lease term. “Based on our ability to add more processors and more memory, we’ve determined that we can now make it a four-year machine,” he says.
For now, Beeman says the IT team is able to add applications every day without having to worry about capacity or performance. “No matter how fast Landstar grows, we have plenty of headroom,” he says.
And as business grows, Landstar will continue to turn to IBM. “IBM has been with us since day one in Landstar history and has been integral in providing the platform upon which we have grown into a multibillion dollar company” says Higbe. “That says it all.”
For more information
Contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/systems/power
For more information about Dynamix Group Inc., visit: www.dynamixgroup.com
For more information on Landstar, visit: www.landstar.com
Additionally, financing solutions from IBM Global Financing can enable effective cash management, protection from technology obsolescence, improved total cost of ownership and return on investment. Also, our Global Asset Recovery Services help address environmental concerns with new, more energy-efficient solutions. For more information on IBM Global Financing, visit: ibm.com/financing
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
Power 570, Storage: Tape & Optical Storage
Rational Application Developer, DB2 Extenders V9.5 for IBM i, IBM i, WebSphere Application Server, Tivoli Composite Application Manager for Applications
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