Able-One Blog

The Value of Disaster Recovery - Contrans Group

A flexible and affordable business continuity plan, particularly one that addresses system redundancy and accessibility, while ensuring that the worst case scenario is looked after… is a an investment that a business takes to ensure a peace of mind and credibility. Beyond being looked at as worst-case scenario plan, or “the likelihood of this happening is slim to none”, a business can affirm its dedication to excellent service, above all to its customers, through a well-constructed disaster recovery solution.

Working with Rocket Software, Able-One implemented the iCluster replication software on Contrans’ production and high availability servers. Contrans is one of the largest freight transportation companies in Canada, with approximately 1,500 power units and 2,600 trailers under its management. The implemented software replicates transactions in real time so that data is consistent on both servers.  In the event of a disaster, the backup server can be used for production with minimal loss of data. It can also be used to provide ongoing operations during periods of planned outage. Shortly after the disaster recovery solution was put in place for their production AS/400, Contrans Group Inc. experienced a complete loss of their main computer room through a water leak.

 

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After implementing their Disaster Recovery/High Availability (DR/HA) solution Contrans was able to switch users to their backup system and get everything up and running within a couple of hours, with only minimal data loss.  Darren Levine, Contrans’ IT Director said: “This was about as massive an impact to an IT infrastructure as you can have.  But our customers didn’t even realize we’d had an outage”.

During this project Able-One managed two cutovers: they installed the new production server in Contrans’ newly built computer room, and restored the backup server, including rolling over all applications and migrating data.  With the Rocket iCluster software on production and DR/HA servers, Contrans can now rely on the availability of their data and applications.  From their experience, they know their data is in sync and users can be moved to their backup system with minimal business disruption.

Darren adds, “This was our first project with Able-One:  they lived up to our expectations and I would absolutely recommend them.  They’re very responsive and agile, and they understand what we were trying to accomplish.”

Find out how exactly Able-One Systems helped Contrans avoid disaster. Download the full story here

Topics: Infrastructure, Disaster Recovery

Able-One Helps Kraus Flooring Save Money While Improving Server Reliability

As they grow, many organizations struggle with the challenges presented by separate locations and siloed business operations.  Kraus Flooring was facing this issue with separate servers in Waterloo and Winnipeg, each of which dealt with a different aspect of the business – which would switch back to the head office in the event of a failure.  This was aggravated by the fact that they were experiencing power reliability issues at the same head office, which was impacting their ability to provide consistent computing resources for the business, or handle disaster recovery effectively. They knew they needed to:

 

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  • Create more robust, high-performance computing resources for their organization, while staying in budget.
  • Reduce the costs associated with running aging servers in separate locations.
  • Improve reliability and availability of their computing resources.
  • Create redundancy and disaster recovery for their business operations.

Able-One implemented an IBM power server configured with two logical partitions, modelled and sized to support the needs of their Winnipeg and Waterloo workloads. In addition, they consolidated Kraus’s x86 environment using VMware and shared storage.  The new power server was deployed in Able-One’s co-location facility in their London data center, which has the fire suppression, cooling, power and security measures that can be costly to implement in a customer’s computer room – and especially to duplicate in multiple locations. Able-One managed the entire project end-to-end, including migrating each of the server workloads to its partition on the power server in the data center.

With their new server consolidation in Able-One’s co-location facility, Kraus Flooring has achieved the economy of scale and reliability they sought.

Find out how exactly Able-One Systems helped Kraus Flooring achieve their goals. Download the full story here. 

Topics: Infrastructure

Linux on Power -  An introduction

With the continued growth in Linux and open source solutions, it is no surprise that IBM has increased their focus on Linux on IBM Power Systems.  IBM has been an active Linux participant for over 15 years and continues to be one of the leading commercial contributors to the Linux community today.  In September 2013 IBM made an additional $1 billion dollar Linux investment which included the opening of a new Power Systems Linux Center & many innovations around the world.  One of the game changing innovations that came from that investment was IBM Watson, IBM’s self-learning computer that beat Jeopardy (check out the video below), but can you guess what platform it is built on?  That’s right, Linux on Power.

 

In the spirit of Open Source, IBM has developed specific tools for Power (free of charge of course) to ensure their users are provided additional value.  Some of the most popular are the IBM installation toolkit for Power Linux, Software Development Kit, and Advance Toolchain.

IBM made a very strategic move with the announcement that Little Endian is supported with the introduction of the Power 8 processors.  The x86 Linux application ecosystem is very large and x86 platforms use Little Endian mode. That announcement definitely contributed to a significant increase in interest in PowerLinux by both customers and Linux application providers. The list of Linux applications now supported on PowerLinux is growing rapidly.  A good blog to read on this topic is “Just the FAQs about Little Endian” by Jeff Scheel, IBM Linux on Power Chief Engineer.  https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/community/blogs/fe313521-2e95-46f2-817d-44a4f27eba32/entry/just_the_faqs_about_little_endian?lang=en

In comparison to x86, many people now accept that running Linux applications on IBM Power will lead to better performance and reliability.  What surprises many is the lower total cost of ownership (TCO) typically found for PowerLinux solutions versus x86. The lower TCO is a result of IBM’s aggressive Linux on Power pricing combined with lower total costs for databases and Linux applications that are often priced per core.  Typically many more cores are required in an x86 environment to adequately run the same workload versus what is required with PowerLinux.

IBM’s Power Systems support the industry standard SUSE, Redhat and Ubuntu Linux distributions as highlighted below:

IBM and SUSE http://www.ableone.com/linux-on-power-suse/)

"IBM believes open standards and open-source software are absolutely critical to the future of IT, and IBM actively supports and encourages the adoption of Linux. Our partnership with SUSE is a key component of this Linux strategy."

- Jean Staten Healy Director, Linux Strategy, IBM

 

IBM and Redhat - http://www.ableone.com/linux-on-power-redhat/

“As prominent members of the open source community, Red Hat and IBM have a long history of making significant investments in Linux technology. Red Hat is a leading provider of open source solutions and IBM is one of the largest Linux contributors”

 

IBM and UBUNTU - (http://www.ableone.com/linux-on-power-ubuntu/

“The leading platform for scale-out computing, Ubuntu Server helps you make the most of your infrastructure. Whether you want to deploy an OpenStack cloud, a Hadoop cluster or a 50,000-node render farm, Ubuntu Server delivers the best value scale-out performance available.”

If you would like to discuss more of what Linux on Power can do for you and your organization or have any other questions please do not hesitate to contact us today! (http://www.ableone.com/about/contact/ )

Topics: Infrastructure, PHP, linux on Power

Top Ten Reasons for PHP on IBM i

By Eden Watt, Vice President, Application Innovation, Able-One Systems & Amy Anderson, DIrector of Business Development, Zend

 

In a previous blog - http://info.ableone.com/blog/php-in-the-enterprise-an-introduction - we reviewed the myriad of reasons to use the PHP scripting language for your web and mobile applications.  In addition, we briefly reviewed how Zend makes this Open Source language a robust platform for enterprise application development.  But did you also know that Zend Server provides a native PHP solution for IBM i and that thousands of organizations are running PHP apps on IBM Power platforms?

Today, we share the Top Ten Reasons for using PHP from Zend Technologies to modernize your IBM i applications.

NUMBER 10:

The IBM i integrated operating system lets you focus on your application instead of the underlying technology and, unlike other platforms, you don’t have to worry about the stack underneath it.

You’ve heard of LAMP (Linux, Apache, MariaDB or MySQL, PHP) and other stacks that come into play for deploying PHP but if you’re on IBM I, your database and application server should be all set.  Maybe we can call it iP or iAP..

The original architecture of AS/400 included integration of relational database, security, networking  and storage management with use of single-level storage to remove the necessity of customers managing storage.  Combine this with an object-based operating system to ensure integrity and reliability, the technology independent machine interface (“TIMI”) which allowed compiled programs to move from one release and one processor family to another without recompilation and expectations that multiple workloads can be run on the machine with load-balancing capabilities and you have a platform built to handle the most complex business applications.

Compared to IBM i, most open source stacks require a “Do It Yourself” approach that is prone to configuration errors and component mis-matches.  This forces the developer, who wants to focus on building great applications, to deal with operating system settings and load balancers.  On IBM i, these things are handled, giving the developer more time for innovation.

NUMBER 9:

PHP Runs Best on POWER8

As is well documented, the POWER8 processor is significantly faster than POWER7, and improves user throughput.  Among its many advantages, POWER8 handles dynamic languages, including PHP, more efficiently than POWER7.  So without any modification to the app and without changing and settings on the processor, POWER8 will just be faster.

At the same time, the open source PHP community has released PHP7, which provides a 2x performance improvement over its predecessor, PHP 5.6.  So between a faster processor and a faster PHP kernel, IBM i customers will find that tremendous performance gains when they run PHP7 on POWER8.

NUMBER 8:

"Cadillac support" at open source prices

IBM i service and support has long been the envy of the tech industry.  IBM i support has consistently ranked in the top 5 for customer satisfaction.  Many customers would even agree that they have been somewhat spoiled by IBM’s long term support for the software and operating system.

Zend has followed IBM’s lead in providing extended support for older versions of PHP that the open source community has dropped.  For example, both PHP 5.3 and 5.4 are no longer supported by the community, but Zend has a multi-year commitment to supporting those versions. 

When running business-critical applications, slow and incompetent support is not an option, no matter how it’s priced.  Both IBM and Zend deliver fast response times and expert level support so that businesses can operate smoothly and confidently.

NUMBER 7

Your web & mobile apps will be easier to manage and fast to deploy

Zend Server is an enterprise PHP application server powering deployment for web and mobile development.   In PHP, deploying an application is the process of copying, configuring and enabling a specific application to a specific base URL on Zend Server or on a cluster. Once the deployment process has finished, the application becomes publicly accessible on the base URL. Zend Server automates the deployment process, providing productivity gains as well as minimizing human error in the deployment process.

But the biggest productivity gains come from using Z-Ray, which gives developers real-time, non-intrusive insight into their website and mobile applications, improving performance and speeding time-to-delivery.  Z-Ray is available in Developer, Professional, and Enterprise Editions.

NUMBER 6:

Leverage your IT assets and deliver leading edge solutions

The prevailing assumption at most businesses is that analytics, content management, and mobile apps must all be built on the x86 platform.  If you run your core business applications on IBM i, that assumption forces you into an expensive and labor intensive exercise of building and maintaining an extract and transfer process to move data from IBM i to your new applications. 

But the x86 platform is not a requirement for your new applications.  Zend Server runs natively on IBM I, and it is the very same code base that runs on x86 platforms.  By building your web & mobile applications on IBM i, you can avoid the hassles and expense of maintaining a data transfer process.

Zend lets you better leverage the resources you've already bought and enable new technologies with minimal disruption to the business.

NUMBER 5:

Easier Systems Management

As every IBM i customer knows, the integration of the hardware, operating system, database, and storage drastically simplifies systems management.  Your PHP applications can enjoy the same level of integration and simplicity when you deploy them on IBM i. Just  as IBM i manages the system components on behalf of your core business applications, so will it manage the same for your web & mobile applications when you build them with PHP on IBM i.

NUMBER 4:

Procedural or OO Development – It’s your Choice

Many of the development languages currently in use for web & mobile applications require an object oriented development approach.  While this is a proven technique for app development, it can be a daunting step for IBM i shops, where the development team is steeped in procedural programming .

PHP helps you bridge that gap.  With Zend Server on IBM i, you can start with a procedural approach that will be comfortable and familiar to your RPG and COBOL developers.  As your organization grows in its familiarity with PHP, you can start using some of the objects in the Zend Framework.  And if you have developers who are eager to go all in on object-oriented, they can easily go there with Zend Server.

No one is forcing you into a new development paradigm, but it's there if you want to go there.  ie, procedural to OO programming; go when you want, if ever.

Take advantage of a programming language with millions of developers worldwide, used by some of the most popular online content management systems

Use Zend Studio PHP IDE, which allows developers to edit code and with debug and build automation tools. 

 NUMBER 3

Easy to secure, less vulnerable to hacks

People in the x86/open source world don't know what they’re missing but those of us that have managed this platform for years, know that this true..

IBM i security plus Zend Guard to protect PHP applications with encoding and obfuscation, prevent reverse engineering and to secure website intellectual property.  

NUMBER 2:  

Lowest Total Cost of Ownership in the industry

You’ve heard it before.  Managing enterprise applications on IBM i has been reported as the most economical platform.  The vast majority of IBM I shops believe the platform delivers better ROI than other servers.

So now you can take advantage of this for your web and mobile interfaces too with PHP Zend for i.

NUMBER 1:

Native Integration to extend your legacy applications

Zend has an open source PHP toolkit for the IBM i that enables native integration with all IBM i objects – RPG, ILE, CL, C, data areas, DB2/400…

Topics: Modernization, PHP

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