Collectors of hard-to-find tableware will have an easier time doing business with Replacements Ltd. now that the firm has completed implementation of Oracle's Database 10g, Real Application Clusters (RAC) and Enterprise Manager 10g on Red Hat Linux, company officials said.
Jim Meredith, manager of information technology for the Greensboro, North Carolina–based Replacements, says his firm's newly launched architecture software has increased IT performance, reduced costs and helped the global tableware provider automate several data center operations.
More importantly, Meredith said, Replacements employees can do a better job of locating products and serving customers via phone -- something he says had been difficult in the past given the fact that the company controls several facilities that house an inventory of about 10 million pieces of tableware in over 200,000 patterns.
Meredith said that one of the key factors in the decision to update Replacements' IT infrastructure in June 2005 was the desire to reduce costs, which had ballooned in recent years.
"Over a three-year period from 2002 to 2005, we spent a couple million dollars running our Oracle database," Meredith said. "For a company our size that's a pretty healthy investment or cost."
Clustering seen as key
Meredith said the decision to replace the company's single-server implementation with a clustered-server environment has helped Replacements Ltd. significantly reduce user complaints about performance problems.
Meredith said those performance improvements have led to reduced runtime, meaning that less time is now needed for after-hours processing. He added that the firm is now running a four-node RAC on four servers running Linux.
Replacements also moved to a clustered-database environment in September of last year, improving application availability and performance by four to five times, according to Meredith.
Controlling the grid
Replacements implemented Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Grid Control to improve systems administration and manage and monitor its applications and its newly clustered infrastructure.
Meredith said that his team is saving time on storage management as a result of Database 10g's Automatic Storage Management (ASM) feature, a database volume manager and file system, which Oracle says is optimized for database access. He added that the ASM feature completely displaced the firm's old volume manager and file system.
"Oracle and ASM are preventing the need for any kind of cluster file system," Meredith said. "We're simplifying administration in one way, although we had to get over a learning curve and a psychological hurdle in order to get used to ASM."
More choice through Linux
The decision to run everything on Red Hat's Advanced Server 3 Linux operating system meant that Replacements could save money on hardware acquisition and maintenance costs by switching to commodity servers.
Meredith said that Linux also gives the company more options for third-party applications vendors, should the need for new systems arise.
"We wanted to improve performance and reduce costs and get more open," Meredith said. "Getting vendor independence is important to us because we know that gives us more choices and reduces costs through the magic of competition."