Jewelry manufacturer Stuller is running its Oracle databases and ERP software on a 10-year-old HP Superdome server, but the time has come to put the workhorse to sleep. Rather than moving to the more popular x86 hardware, the company decided to stick with Oracle on Unix. But why?
The Lafayette, La.-based company is experiencing growth, taking in more than 4,000 orders per day from its more than 30,000 customers. Though the Superdome seemed to be able to handle the load during normal times, peaks during end-of-the-year holidays as well as Valentine’s and Mother’s Day put a strain on the system.
“We were beginning to reach capacity, especially in those periods when we had peak volume,” Chief Technology Officer Carol Skarlat said. “For us to meet our goals with the increasing amount of throughput to the organization, we needed to upgrade.”
In the end, Stuller decided to stick with Oracle on Unix, upgrading to a new HP Superdome server based on Intel’s Itanium chip. But along the way, the company eschewed the possibility of moving to x86 hardware because of concerns about performance and uptime and chose HP and Itanium over IBM Power thanks in part to its existing relationship with HP. Meanwhile, Sun Microsystems hardware didn’t make the short list, and Skarlat – who started at the company months into the decision process – wasn’t sure whether the team even looked at Sun.
In addition to company growth driving the hardware upgrade, Stuller also wants to upgrade to Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12 but couldn’t do so on its existing Superdome. Skarlat says that for eight months per year, the company has a predictable, steady order pattern. But that changes in November, December, February and May, when holidays strain Stuller’s order system. The company also wants to do more e-commerce -- the majority of orders today still come over the telephone and fax machine.
“Jewelry is one of the slowest-changing industries when it comes to technology,” Skarlat said.
About a year ago, the company embarked on a study to determine what server infrastructure it wanted to support its Oracle databases and ERP software. It could stick with Oracle on Unix, a still-huge market that is nonetheless shrinking year after year, or it could migrate to x86 hardware, whose popularity continues to trend upwards.
According to Gartner, Unix revenues dropped 27% last quarter while x86 revenue jumped 32%.
“We looked at the possibility of having multiple boxes and platforms [on x86],” Skarlat said. “But with the new Itanium, it’s just going to give us the capacity in one place, and it reduces our points of failure.”
The company has already started migrating over to the new Superdome and plans to be done with the move and into production by October -- just in time for the holidays.
Mark Fontecchio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.