Pick Systems Partners with IBM to Optimize and Its Solutions

In the open systems world, it is critical for software companies to optimize theirproducts to leading business hardware platforms. Today, the IBM RS/6000 continues to bePick Systems primary development platform for its UNIX offerings. Pick Systems developsits database technology first for the AIX operating system and then for other UNIXenvironments as the release cycle expands. For example, when the company engineered D3Release 7.1, it was done first on AIX. Only after the AIX port was operational didPick’s engineers begin working on other platforms. One of the main reasons for thisis because IBM offers the development support to make it a seamless process.

"We try to make this a mutually beneficial relationship," said Pam Terry, IBMGlobal Alliance Manager for the Solution Developer Program. "We are constantlysharing notes on trends in the marketplace, new applications that enterprises are lookingfor, and other market intelligence. Since we both maintain such close ties to ourcustomers, we’re in a perfect position to give each other candid feedback from themarketplace, to continuously improve our products and services."

The close ties that the companies share go beyond exchanging technical information. IBMassists its software partners in validating and documenting product performance.Pick’s engineers have access to IBM’s Solution Partnership Center (SPC) in SanMateo, Calif. The SCP facility boasts the entire range of IBM RS/6000 equipment, allowingPick engineers to test and perform benchmarking on the smallest to the largest systems.IBM often requests Pick to do performance benchmarking on new equipment, and at othertimes the benchmarks are run for a Pick Systems customer who needs to know how a selectnumber of users will run on a certain size IBM system. "The SPC is a definite timeand cost-saver for us," said John Bramley, Pick’s Vice President of Engineering."If we want to port an application or run a performance test, we go there. Many timessales are contingent on performance numbers, and the SPC is a great resource for gettingthe information we need."

IBM’s SPC has enabled Pick to test its products on a variety of platforms."IBM has so many different machines and other products, it is impractical for us tostock them all," Bramley explains. "But the SPC has all the machines configuredand ready to go with the appropriate software and peripherals. We don’t have to dealwith staging machines – we can just go there and validate our products on theirmachines. It saves us a lot of time and we are able to conduct performance analysis on thelatest IBM systems before they are available for general release."

This support has enabled Pick to deliver a better product by leveraging the technologygoing into the RS/6000. "When you look at the benchmarking numbers on the new 64-bitS70 for example, there’s a 1,200 percent performance increase over IBM’sprevious high-end RS/6000 systems," Bramley says. "This has helped us addsignificant credibility as a platform provider for large systems."

IBM benchmarking has also laid the groundwork for new business generated via Big Blueitself. By working hand-in-hand with IBM, Pick has secured a number of large-system salesdirectly from their sales channel, and the continued benchmarking has helped establish D3as a very high performance DBMS.

One such client was a Wisconsin claims management company that had an old Pick DBMSapplication running legacy hardware which was expensive to maintain. The company decidedto take a step toward the future. Being in a growth mode, it was important to selectcomputer hardware that would see them well into the coming millennium.

Computech Services, a local IBM Business Partner, arranged for a switch over to the new64-bit IBM S70. But before its client could commit to the new IBM system, it needed toverify that their old Pick-based applications would run – and run efficiently –on the new hardware. A quick call from the IBM sales rep to Pick Systems confirmed whatthe client had seen in an IBM specification sheet – that the D3 v7.1 DBMS wascompatible with the AIX 4.3 OS running on the S70.

Pick Systems was the first company to test its applications on the S70 system atIBM’s San Mateo Solution Partnership Center. "We found that our 32-bit versionof D3 loaded and ran without modification," said Pick’s Bramley. "We ranperformance benchmarks scaling from 100 to 1,000 users. The S70 revealed performanceincreases up to 12 times the number of database transactions per second compared to afully-configured RS/6000 Model J40, previously IBM’s fastest single-nodeRS/6000."

It was enough to convince the client, who bought the S70 and services from the ComutechServices – and a 200-user D3 license. In addition to the scalability to take thecustomer through its aggressive growth stage without modification, the open systemadvantages of D3 provide interoperability with other computer systems and applications.

Where the Pick-IBM synergy may prove most fruitful is in the e-business realm. "Itoffers new sets of opportunities, needs, rules and challenges," says IBM’sTerry. Pick is looking to bring the benefits of IBM’s e-business initiatives to itsVARS channel. "We want to make sure that our VARs understand the efforts we’repursuing to make our platform – and their apps – compatible with the future ofdatabase implementation for e-business solutions," said Ted Ellison, Vice Presidentof Marketing at Pick Systems.

In the end, its partnership with IBM provides Pick with faster time to market, lowercosts of doing business and broader business opportunities.

About the Author:

Craig Burbidge is Product Marketing Manager for Pick Systems (Irvine, Calif.).

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