REVIEWER: Ken Kuehn, senior director of AS/400 Systems Development for KOCH Entertainment.

BACKGROUND: KOCH Entertainment, headquartered in Port Washington, NY, is one of the fastest-growing independent music companies in the U.S., founded 18 years ago in North America. KOCH's operations encompass record and video labels as well as distribution companies in the U.S. and Canada. The company, with about 150 employees, operates its own record label based in New York City.


PROBLEM SOLVED: Our System i platform drives pretty much everything else in our organization. It stores all of our inventory information, order data and sales records. If it goes down, it has a negative impact across the entire organization. One time, the System i's redundant power supplies had failed, prompting IBM technicians to work around the clock to get things back on track. But every time they installed a new power supply, the next one shorted out. With no power, the System i would not come back online, and our employees couldn't access the mission-critical applications that run the business - particularly the inventory, financial and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Although we were able to come back up without losing any data, we were down for so long that it had a big impact on the business. At $650,000 per day in sales, we stood to lose about $1.5 million in billing with 36 hours of downtime. Going forward, we didn't want that single point of failure with our major server.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: DataMirror iCluster is a complete high availability and disaster recovery solution that mirrors critical DB2 application data and objects in real time from our primary system to its secondary systems for continuous availability of business applications as well as disaster avoidance and protection. Our IT team is able to conduct backups on a secondary system while keeping the production server up and running around the clock. The two systems are always in sync, ensuring data integrity and consistency. Employees can access mission-critical applications from the production server or, alternately, employees and record label customers can access data via a Web-based application from our business-to-business (B2B) Web site.

STRENGTHS: iCluster enables us to conduct tape backup on the backup machine, reducing our nightly batch window so that ERP applications and inventory systems are always available to sell and track orders. Because users can run queries without impacting the performance of critical applications already running at capacity, our IT team avoids expensive upgrade costs.  iCluster's self-healing capabilities and centralized monitoring GUI reduce administration significantly, resulting in much lower cost of ownership. We're delivering uninterrupted access to our data efficiently and reliably. We're running a much smoother, leaner and more efficient organization that's much more responsive to customers.

WEAKNESSES: iCluster is so closely linked to the file system that developers must be involved in the implementation. You can't just add files on the fly - you have to be in tune with how these groups are established. Cross-training is definitely a must, and we're glad DataMirror's Professional Services team can help us in this area.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We evaluated a number of solutions, but when we discovered DataMirror iCluster we were hooked due to its robustness, reliability and flexibility.

DELIVERABLES: Our salespeople travel extensively, and many work remotely. We also carry numerous international record labels, which are responsible for maintaining their own inventory levels using tools available at the B2B site. The Web site reports inventory levels from our production System i. iCluster ensures that all of these stakeholders have continuous access to our corporate data including customer profiles, inventory levels, shipping data and billing information. They may be coming in through the Web, but the data is driven off of the System i. DataMirror iCluster gives them the power to process orders, ship products and access customer data to improve customer service levels.

VENDOR SUPPORT: DataMirror's Professional Services team came on site to assist with our server/version migration. They were very responsive and knowledgeable.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation was complete and easy to understand.

DataMirror iCluster
DataMirror Corporation
3100 Steeles Avenue East
Suite 1100
Markham, Ontario L3R 8T3
(905) 415-0310

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