Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising provides elegant support

IBM Power Systems deliver high performance in a dynamic environment

Published on 02-Jul-2012

"I go to IBM first as my number-one strategic technology partner. And my first choice is the Power platform because of the flexibility, reliability and scalability." - Roxanne Reynolds-Lair, CIO, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising

Customer:
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising

Industry:
Education

Deployment country:
United States

Solution:
IGF, Energy Efficiency, High Availability

IBM Business Partner:
Key Information Systems, Inc.

Overview

Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising is a private college that prepares students for careers in fashion, graphics, interior design and entertainment. Based in Los Angeles, the school has graduated more than 30,000 students in its 40 year history. Today, FIDM is the west coast home of the popular TV series Project Runway, and is the site of HGTV’s original series, Design School, featuring eight FIDM interior design students.

Business need:
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) needed a reliable, flexible and scalable platform to serve as the foundation for new student and alumni portals and other critical applications.

Solution:
FIDM worked with IBM Premier Business Partner Key Information Systems to implement two IBM® Power® 770 servers running IBM i and Linux, protected with IBM PowerHA® high-availability technology.

Benefits:
The solution supports the portal activities of FIDM staff, students and alumni, delivering new services faster with IBM POWER7® to support peak processing times such as student registration.

Case Study

Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising is a private college that prepares students for careers in fashion, graphics, interior design and entertainment. Based in Los Angeles, the school has graduated more than 30,000 students in its 40 year history. Today, FIDM is the west coast home of the popular TV series Project Runway, and is the site of HGTV’s original series, Design School, featuring eight FIDM interior design students.

“It’s a very dynamic environment,” says Roxanne Reynolds-Lair, CIO of FIDM. “The students who are coming in are very tech-savvy, and their expectations are high. They push us to take on new technology.”

For Reynolds-Lair, the ongoing challenge is to meet increasing user needs and to deliver new services faster while managing budget constraints. “You have to find a platform that can scale to meet the needs of a college environment with limited IT resources,” she says.

Providing a resilient, powerful IT foundation

IBM has been the hardware vendor of choice at FIDM for more than 30 years. Based on the strong resiliency and high performance of earlier systems, the school continued to refresh the IBM hardware at regular intervals, implementing the latest processors and technologies from IBM. Building a portfolio of innovative applications on the IBM i platform has enabled FIDM to deliver higher-quality services than ever before, and they are continuing the IBM hardware legacy with IBM Power Systems™.

“IBM has continued to meet and even anticipate our needs,” says Reynolds-Lair. “When new IT requirements come up, I go to IBM first as my number-one strategic technology partner. And my first choice is the Power platform because of the flexibility, reliability and scalability.”

With the help of IBM Premier Business Partner Key Information Systems, FIDM recently implemented two IBM Power 770 servers, including one equipped with IBM PowerHA high-availability technology. The main system is divided into 12 partitions running IBM i and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6. The school runs a number of business-critical applications on the Power platform, including web portals with more than 17,000 active users.

“With the Power 770, we get the equivalent of 12 boxes,” says Reynolds-Lair, “but it can be managed around the clock by only two administrators.”

The Power servers are deployed in conjunction with an IBM System Storage® DS8800 enterprise disk storage system. Built-in IBM Easy Tier® technology and a mix of solid state drives help boost storage capacity and performance, especially during peak processing time, such as student registration.

Gaining higher performance with superior economics

With each refresh of the platform, FIDM continues to be impressed with the quality, performance and capabilities of IBM Power Systems. Because the school can run multiple operating systems on a single machine, the Power 770 helps to optimize the infrastructure by reducing server sprawl, helps keep power and cooling costs under control, and requires little administrative overhead.

“I looked at one piece of software this past year that would have required seven separate x86 servers at each of our locations,” Reynolds-Lair recalls. “When I put an application on the Power platform, I don’t have to worry about how many servers or administrators I may need to make it run. I can focus on the business.”

The new systems have also had a significant impact on portal performance—a key factor in making sure critical processes such as registration run smoothly. In past years, too many students trying to register concurrently created multi-threading problems that would freeze the portal server. The new Power 770 easily accommodates these peak processing demands, delivering services with higher quality while controlling security, resiliency and business risk.

Raising service quality with improved availability

The school’s secondary Power server is equipped with PowerHA high-availability technology, providing FIDM with new capabilities to ensure access to critical systems. The school conducts routine role swaps every six months, running the full workload on the PowerHA server for a full business day.

“We needed a high-availability solution that did not require a full-time person to administer,” explains Reynolds-Lair. “With limited resources, we don’t have that luxury. But now with PowerHA, it’s part of what we do, and I didn’t have to hire any extra people.”

Partnering for success

Reynolds-Lair shares credit for her team’s success with a number of organizations, starting with Key Information Systems, which she describes as “phenomenal.” Key Information Systems assisted FIDM with planning and sizing the solution, and with implementation.

Another partner in success was IBM STG Lab Services, which provided valuable training and implementation services, particularly around PowerHA. Rounding out the project team was IBM Global Financing, which provided the school with flexible financing options.

“I have a great local IBM team,” says Reynolds-Lair. “It comes down to a true partnership that really is collaborative and co-creative.”

Building on a platform for innovation

The Power 770 platform has enabled FIDM to carry on a long tradition of IT innovation—a tradition that has won them four COMMON/IBM Power Systems Innovation Awards since 2005. The new solution has also helped protect the school’s long-standing investments in IBM i.

“We have some applications that we wrote 20 years ago, and they still work fine,” says Reynolds-Lair. “With IBM, we’ve been able to maximize our existing resources and our skill set without doing a rip and replace. And we continuously look for new ways to extend and expand on what we already have.” FIDM has been able to extend their application technology with Java, streamline student communication with integrated text messaging and expedite financial aid processing with IBM Lotus® eForms.

“Power is a platform for business,” adds Reynolds-Lair, who was recently named an IBM Champion for Power Systems. “I know that’s been said for many years, but it’s very, very true. It allows CIOs like me to focus on the business and not worry about the technology.”

For more information

Contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/systems/power

For more information about IBM Premier Business Partner Key Information Systems, Inc., visit: http://www.keyinfo.com

For more information about Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, visit: www.fidm.com

You can follow Roxanne Reynolds-Lair on Twitter at: @IBMiCIO

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
Power 770, Storage: DS8800

Software:
PowerHA

Operating system:
IBM i, Linux

Service:
STG Lab Services: Power

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, New York 10589 Produced in the United States of America June 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Lotus, System Storage, iSeries, Power, POWER7, PowerHA, Power Systems, and System i are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the United States, other countries, or both. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.