By Andrea Orr  |  Posted 2005-06-27 Print this article Print

Ultimately, however, the county selected IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., to build an information-on-demand system running the ESRI applications, and ESRI would collaborate on designing the underlying architecture for the new system.

Because it found the IBM solution offered improved efficiencies, along with greater storage capacity, the county would be able to save money even as it doubled its storage capacity, Gerull explained. The county estimates it will save approximately $3 million in equipment and labor costs while also improving reliability and doubling storage capacity.

"You want to be able to create, capture and store information in a cost-effective way," said Pete McCaffrey, director of IBMs storage division, which also provided training to Pierce County on implementing the new storage system.

IBM infrastructure technology is made up of a scalable tape library connected to a 6TB DS4500 storage server, four eServer xSeries servers and four eServer BladeCenter servers, McCaffrey said. One important benefit of storing data on BladeCenter servers is that each blade can act autonomously or in unison with the others. Gerull and her IT staff, who worked to transfer data from the old storage system, opted to split one of its new BladeCenter servers so that half of it is used to store material for the Internet while the other half stores records for its own intranet.

"No major changes in operational systems are easy, but this one was a particularly long procurement cycle, and it did take a lot of testing on our end," said Marty Balikov, a regional manager for ESRI.

After the IBM technology was installed, Gerull said she discovered that there had been a long-standing problem with the accidental corruption of new data. Her IT staff had been devoting considerable time to retrieving that data just to fix errors. Now they have a full months leeway to easily correct mistakes.

At the same time, end users have remarked that the overall retrieval of county records from ESRI is much faster than it had been, she said.

Both those benefits have turned out to be icing on the cake for Pierce County, which had originally sought only to expand its storage capacity in a way that didnt break the bank.

Andrea Orr is a free-lance writer in San Francisco. She can be contacted at

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