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IBM business partner Strategic Computer Solutions Inc. tapped the iSeries platform for a server consolidation project at retailer Trans World Entertainment.

SCS initially focused on eight servers running a range of applications and unified the environment under an IBM iSeries i570 machine. Trans World Entertainment, a long-time SCS customer, had been running an iSeries 840 as its main production server along with three AS/400s in its distribution centers.

In addition, the company’s data warehouse involved the use of three Sun Microsystems Inc. servers and one Hewlett-Packard Co. peripheral server, all running Unix.

The project didn’t begin as a server consolidation initiative, according to Tom Boland, client executive with SCS. Trans World Entertainment’s lease on the iSeries 840 was coming up and the company was considering an upgrade, Boland said. The model 840 is an older iSeries server that IBM ceased marketing in late 2003.

The model 840 inquiry eventually led to a broader project. SCS engaged IBM to perform a server consolidation study at Trans World Entertainment, Boland said. The IBM study generated a map of the company’s overall server environment; SCS elaborated on that map and presented Trans World Entertainment with 12 different configuration options. That was in August 2004.

SCS’ next step was to hone the consolidation plan and launch the project, starting with Trans World Entertainment’s Albany, N.Y., headquarters. Finance, human resources, merchandising and supply chain applications now run on the iSeries i570 server. The company’s Oracle-based data warehouse also resides on the server.

The i570, based on IBM’s Power5 processor, provides virtualization so that the server can be partitioned to support different operating systems and different applications.

In Trans World Entertainment’s case, server resources are allocated to Manhattan Associates Inc. and Island Pacific applications running under i5/OS and the data warehouse running under AIX 5L. Manhattan Associates offers supply chain software, while Island Pacific focuses on retail merchandising and store operations, among other solutions.

The consolidation project was completed in August 2005, but Trans World Entertainment has embarked on additional work. Ten Windows-based Compaq servers not initially included in the consolidation will be phased in over time. A spokesperson for IBM said the servers will be integrated into the iSeries through Integrated xSeries cards.

In addition, the company is in the process of rolling out WebSphere HATS (Host Access Transformation Services), a Web refacing tool. Boland said Trans World Entertainment will use WebSphere HATS to create an inventory-on-demand capability for the company’s retail outlets.

Trans World Entertainment operates more than 800 retail locations in North America. The company’s brands include Coconuts Music and Movies, F.Y.E. and Wherehouse.

Dutch grocer expects outsourcing dividends.

Ahold CEO Expects Outsourcing Savings

Royal Ahold’s CEO said he expects the company’s recent outsourcing campaign to generate savings over the next five years.

Based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the grocer, which owns the Giant, Tops and Stop and Shop markets in the United States, last month handed more than $500 million in outsourcing contracts to Electronic Data Systems Corp., NCR Corp. and Atos Origin S.A. Since the initial wave of deals, Ahold has awarded a $65 million deal to Fujitsu Transaction Solutions Inc.

Under the agreement, Fujitsu will manage in-store technology such as point-of-sale systems and scanners. The deal covers Stop & Ship and Giant-Landover stores.

Anders Moberg, Ahold’s president and CEO, said the outsourcing deals will save the company 166 million Euros (about $196 million) over five years. In a conference call last week, Moberg said the company will incur some extra costs in the first year of the outsourcing contracts, but will generate savings in years two through five.

All told, Ahold seeks to slash costs to the tune of 650 million Euros as part of its recovery strategy. The company has been working to regain its full financial health since an accounting scandal in 2003.

Q1 Labs Eyes Channel.

Q1 Labs Targets Channel with Hybrid Appliance

Q1 Labs Inc. will tap its channel partners to market a newly launched security and network analysis appliance geared toward midsized enterprises.

The company on Monday debuted a new version of its QRadar-2101 appliance. According to Q1 Labs, the appliance provides midmarket firms with security information/event management, network behavior analysis and vulnerability assessment capabilities.

Tom Turner, Q1 Labs’ vice president of marketing, said channel partners will play a key role in bringing the appliance to market. The company works with more than 70 partners in the United States and EMEA (the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.)

Turner said customers of all sizes tend to work with a consultant when it comes to security purchases.

“They have a set of trusted advisors and, more often than not, the channel partner fulfills that role or is one of [an organization’s] trusted advisors,” Turner said. In addition to introducing the appliance to customers, channel partners can customize the technology for use within specific vertical markets, he added.

Vendors in recent months have unleashed an array of security-related appliances and many are targeting resellers as a gateway to small and midsize businesses.

Turner acknowledges the variety of appliances available, but said the QRadar-2101 differs in that it combines security and network functions. The tasks of looking into an organization’s security infrastructure and network infrastructure are generally accomplished with separate tools, he said.

Jason Knight, managing partner of The Broadleaf Group LLC, agreed that the combination of security and networking functions sets the QRadar-2101 appliance apart. He said the alternative to Q1 Labs’ all-in-one approach involves multiple systems and servers, which result in a more complex infrastructure.

Knight said day-to-day maintenance of the appliance is low, which is a plus for the type of clients his company pursues. The Broadleaf Group, a Houston-based IT services firm, focuses on midsize enterprises.

“The midmarket companies don’t typically have a robust IT group,” he said. “They … just don’t have a lot of time to spend administering and maintaining this type of solution.”

QRadar-2101, available immediately, starts at $37,700. Channel pricing is available.