BACKGROUND: GATX Logistics, based in Jacksonville, Florida., is a subsidiary of GATX Corporation, which provides more than $6 billion worth of service- enhanced assets used primarily to help large companies transport, store or distribute their products and information. The company services a diversity of industries, ranging from consumer to business-to-business operations.

PLATFORMS: GATX Logistics, Inc. currently employs ten IBM Netfinity 7000 servers running either Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 or handling a Citrix WinFrame application. The Windows NT servers support client/server applications and the IBM AS/400 drives the logistics application through IBM's 5250 terminal emulation. IBM's Netfinity Manager software remotely manages the servers, while IBM's Clustering Solution, Vinca, provides mirrored client/server application databases. The Windows NT environment is supported by two 4.51GB mirrored drives and the clustered application databases utilize three 18.2GB hard drives in a RAID 5 configuration for full application support. In addition, there is one 18.2GB hard drive as a hot standby.

PROBLEM SOLVED: GATX Logistics needed to integrate a client/server technology, which would enable remote access to ­ and deployment of ­ various applications to over 2,000 PCs and clients scattered across North and South America. High-availability and manageability of business-critical applications were especially crucial to its success, given an extremely demanding distribution business. GATX Logistics needed to implement server technologies that would provide its remote employees with around-the-clock access to the company's Total Logistics System, a specialized AS/400-based application that tracks customer inventory and coordinates distribution schedules. The result: GATX Logistics employees can now process customer EDI orders faster and more efficiently than ever before. The Netfinity 7000 servers provide the level of high-performance GATX Logistics requires, while IBM's service offerings provide the added assurance that its systems will be well- maintained and supported at all times.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The cornerstone of functionality is the server's ability to quickly distribute data to off-site locations and generate a rapid turnaround time for queries received from remote offices. Also key to the Netfinity 7000s are the built-in redundancy features, such as hot-swappable fans, power supplies and storage, which add an extra level of reliability and availability to end users. The pre-warning alerts provided by Netfinity Manager software enable comprehensive control of GATX Logistics' environment.

STRENGTHS: The ease of access to data, high-availability features and overall fault tolerance of the server as well as IBM's accompanying service and support infrastructure are the key strengths associated with the Netfinity 7000.

WEAKNESSES: There is difficulty when attempting to run Novell's NetWare 4.11 SMP, the second processor, on the servers. GATX Logistics is awaiting the arrival of NetWare 5.0, which is said to remedy the issue.

SELECTION CRITERIA: IBM's well-known service and support offerings complement the company's solid hardware platforms. GATX Logistics' decision to purchase the Netfinity servers is based on its past experience and existing relationship with IBM, as well as the performance results that have been witnessed.

DELIVERABLES: The Netfinity 7000 servers are centralized and provide remote employee access to Microsoft and Citrix desktop applications, such as mail messaging programs, as well as GATX Logistics' highly-specialized client/server logistics application, Total Logistics System.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Because of IBM's world-class services, GATX Logistics has been able to install and deploy enterprise technologies virtually anywhere in the world within the span of two to three weeks. Pre- and Post-sales support has been excellent. IBM also has assisted GATX Logistics in quickly resolving the technical issues associated with installing and testing a new system. The "above and beyond" technical support provided by IBM led GATX Logistics to establish long-term service agreements with IBM.

DOCUMENTATION: The server documentation includes both electronic and paper configuration aids, in addition to comprehensive product guides and information on server trouble-shooting. Straightforward and comprehensive, the disk configurator made for a relatively simple deployment.

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