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Several months ago we had a discussion of iSeries and
"large" web sites. The following, from a www.midrangeserver.com
newsletter talks about a current site with over 50,000 daily visitors.
Sorry, but midrangeserver did not have a link to the article so
here it is <condensed>

* High-Traffic Web Site Powered by the iSeries

by Dan Burger

Frequently iSeries and AS/400 shops are stereotyped as
conservative and set in their ways. The impact of the Internet,
it is assumed, has yet to be fully appreciated by the OS/400
flock. Certainly the trash-talking by competitors, such as
Sun and Microsoft, has had an influence on the
perception of the iSeries as a Web server.

That's what makes the Andin International instance so
interesting. In early December, after operating just over
a month, the number of daily visitors to Andin's site,
Jewelry.com, grew from approximately 1,000 to more than
50,000. The holiday season is stunning for the jewelry trade
--a $50 billion market in the United States--so Andin wasn't
surprised by the amount of traffic on his site; in fact, next
season the company expects to reach more than a million
visitors per month.

Early in the discussions about how to build a Web site that
could handle this volume, , before any platform was chosen,
Andin was open to suggestions and invited several Web
application vendors to make presentations.

"We listened to dozens of proposals from companies that told
us IBM wasn't the way to go," said Ofer Azrielant,
chairman of Andin International. "They told us we needed to
run the site on Sun or Microsoft. In the end, we had confidence
that the eServer iSeries would deliver performance and reliability
for the high volume of traffic we expected on the site, while
allowing us to integrate our new systems with our existing
technology."

Andin's existing hardware included eight iSeries and AS/400
servers, spread out at several locations around the world.
The company purchased two additional iSeries machines in order
to be prepared for the processing power required by a high-volume
Web site.

Jewelry.com uses three iSeries boxes. A Model 820 with one CPU
is used as a staging environment, for testing, verifying, and
checking out new features. Two machines operate in the production
environment: A Model 270 with one CPU does the database services
work, and a Model 820 with one CPU operates as an application
server.

One of the reasons Andin executives chose the iSeries was "so
that every three months we wouldn't have to delve into the
infrastructure side again," said Kris Chronister, vice president
of marketing at Andin. Of course, the company could also rely on
its experienced staff of approximately 35 OS/400-skilled
technicians. Having the skill set in house played a big role in
the decision.

"The experience with IBM iSeries was a contributing factor," said
Andin's chief technical officer, Steve Passer. "But the number-one
reason was financial." The cost of purchasing a non-OS/400 platform,
including the database, and factoring in personnel and training
issues, tilted the balance sheet in favor of the iSeries.

Andin is a company that likes to roll its own software, so during
the planning stages there was debate over whether or not they
would develop the applications for Jewelry.com in-house. "We
compared the features of WebSphere out of the box with what we
would have to write custom," Passer said. "WebSphere saved us
about 40 days in development time. And since we didn't have much
time to spare, it made the choice fairly straightforward."

No one on Andin's IT staff had experience with WebSphere before
setting up Jewelry.com. "It's been one of the more straight-forward
platforms to adapt to," Passer said of WebSphere. Competitors
warned that WebSphere was more difficult to work with than some of
the other Web application servers. "I've worked with both WebSphere
and Dynamo before, and that is simply not true," Passer said. "We
are coming from a shop that has great iSeries talent. One guy
(described as the "King of Java") was able to jump in and learn
the WebSphere Commerce Suite with no additional hard-core training."

The issue of maxing out on capacity was faced early on. Passer said
stress tests were performed at the IBM iSeries headquarters, in
Rochester, Minnesota. From that, it was determined that adding a
second processor would be "an easy fix." The next round of increasing
capacity is more complicated. "After two CPUs in the iSeries," Passer
explained, "the application server has too much overhead and doesn't
really offer a big advantage over multiple application server
instances. In all cases, it means more CPUs, but there are major
software issues one gets bogged down with."


jim
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