CIO Symmetry

Jan 30 2009   6:59PM GMT

The Super Bowl and server virtualization: Don’t drop the ball!

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

Are you ready for some server virtualization? This year, the Super Bowl will be running on one of IBM’s smallest systems, the BladeCenter S. The system will support security and credentialing for 60,000 temporary employees and approximately 11,000 attending members of the media who have converged on Tampa Bay, where the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in Super Bowl XLIII.

The technology won’t be very visible to the 70,000 patrons expected on-site or viewing virtually, although one NFL IT executive said it will improve BlackBerry service. “The executives using their BlackBerrys will have an efficient and reliable connection” said said Jeff Huffman, IT manager for the New Orleans Saints.

The Saints, although not playing in the Super Bowl this year, are the NFL’s top pick for experimenting with the BladeCenter S in their small IT department of four. All 32 NFL teams plan to move to the system as their servers reach end of life. “We needed more reliability, we needed to be running better and faster. If Drew Brees wants his paycheck, he wants his paycheck — we couldn’t have server downtime,” Huffman told me today.

Even as professional football heats up this weekend, the teams will find cooling benefits in the blade technology. Huffman’s data center is a “converted conference room,” so condensing and modernizing equipment is crucial. “We’ve cut our servers down from 16 to one, so we aren’t using nearly as much electricity to cool them as we were before,” Huffman said.

So what kind of a Sunday victory will have Huffman hot under the collar? A Pittsburgh native, he’s a Steelers fan.

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