Business challenge

To boost the cost-efficiency of the IT infrastructure that supports judicial and administrative processes across Virginia’s Judiciary, SCVA decided to consolidate and simplify its IBM Z® mainframe application infrastructure.


With Vicom Infinity and IBM, SCVA migrated to an IBM z14® Model ZR1, delivering the capacity and performance to consolidate its multi-system footprint to a single frame using IBM z/VSE®, IBM z/VM® and Linux.


Delivers substantial cost reduction

enabling investment in new digital services

Reduces management requirements

freeing staff time for value-added activities


use of limited data center floorspace with a compact 19-inch rack size

Business challenge story

Supporting 24/7 services

To keep judicial and administrative processes running smoothly in 325 courts,120 magistrate offices as well as the Supreme Court and Appellate Courts of Virginia, the Office of the Executive Secretary, Supreme Court of Virginia (OES/SCVA) uses a variety of internal and public-facing applications. These mission-critical systems drive everything from case management to financial reporting, and a significant proportion are powered by IBM mainframe technology. As a government organization, OES/SCVA is always on the lookout for ways to optimize the IT architecture that supports its daily activities.

Mike Riggs, Director of Judicial Information Technology at the Supreme Court of Virginia, begins: “Previously, we have used two IBM mainframes virtualized with z/VM, running z/VSE and Linux on Z, as the platforms for our core applications. While our IBM Z infrastructure continued to offer the reliability, security and performance we needed to keep our applications and daily operations running smoothly, having two separate machines was not optimal for us in terms of cost-efficiency or manageability.”

OES/SCVA’s mainframe footprint was the result of a historical decision to invest in a second machine to run an externally funded system, and the organization had no immediate need for a separate high-availability or disaster-recovery platform. A long-term, highly satisfied user of IBM technology, OES/SCVA engaged IBM to explore options for consolidating its IT infrastructure.

Transformation story

Boosting performance, reducing costs

Working with IBM Gold Business Partner Vicom Infinity and IBM, OES/SCVA decided to consolidate its two zBC12 mainframes to one IBM z14 Model ZR1. With this ultra-secure, versatile solution, OES/SCVA is dramatically reducing its total cost of ownership (TCO) and delivering excellent value to the citizens of Virginia.

“We quickly realized that moving to a single-frame IBM z14 would offer us all the performance we needed in a compact footprint,” recalls Riggs. “Although we’ve since moved to a modern colocation facility, at the time of the deployment our data center was housed in a building constructed in the early 19th century. The 19-inch rack size of the z14 ZR1 went a long way to helping us optimize our use of the new floorspace.”

To help evaluate, configure and deploy this latest addition to the IBM Z family, Vicom Infinity guided OES/SCVA through the implementation process. This engagement helped the organization architect the solution to deliver a boost in I/O rates and realize the true processing power of the server.

“Vicom Infinity was instrumental in helping us complete our throughput analysis, which enabled us to optimize our configuration and contain our capital costs,” adds Riggs. “The reliability of IBM Z is outstanding—in the 20 years I’ve worked with the IBM Z platform, we’ve never experienced an hour of unplanned downtime. Our migration to the z14 was no exception, and IBM helped us complete the work inside a standard maintenance window with no issues whatsoever.”

OES/SCVA first moved two logical partitions (LPARs) from each zBC12 server to the z14 ZR1 platform—realizing reduced CPU overhead and releasing more processing power for the workloads. Today, OES/SCVA is using 12 of its 16 IBM Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) processors to deploy Linux on Z services in support its core applications, offering substantial headroom for future growth.

“We’re now surpassing all of the performance studies we did with Vicom Infinity,” Riggs continues. “There’s so much growth potential in the z14 that we believe it will support our needs for many years to come.”

In addition to applications running on z/VSE and Linux on Z, the organization has UNIX and .NET applications running on distributed servers, all of which consume data from the core applications on the new IBM Z. Because all these core applications are now hosted on a single, ultra-secure and easy-to-manage system, OES/SCVA is on the road to further simplifying its application infrastructure. The organization is using Java and IBM WebSphere® to create intuitive graphical user interfaces (GUIs), increasing the accessibility of legacy applications in addition to creating new applications and services. The databases of choice to host the data for all these core applications and services are IBM Db2® and Oracle Database on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on IBM Z.

Riggs explains: “IBM z/VSE continues to be a strategic platform for OES/SCVA, and we work closely with IBM to beta test new code and improve the operating system. When we can expose our z/VSE applications to users via GUIs, we don’t have a need to port them to Linux—freeing our developers to focus on building new digital services instead.”

The reliability of IBM Z is outstanding—in the 20 years I’ve worked with the IBM Z platform, we’ve never experienced an hour of unplanned downtime.

Mike Riggs, Director of Judicial Information Technology, Office of the Executive Secretary, Supreme Court of Virginia

Results story

Ready for the future

Since replacing its two IBM zBC12 mainframes with a single IBM z14 ZR1 frame, OES/SCVA has significantly reduced its data center footprint and TCO—empowering it to deliver better value for the taxpayer dollar.

“By moving from two mainframes to one, we’ve effectively cut our maintenance costs in half,” continues Riggs. “In fact, we’re able to use a smaller amount of CPU resources in the IBM z14 to support the same workloads as before, which is reducing some of our software licensing costs significantly.”

As OES/SCVA ramps up its use of the z14, the organization has already seen impressive improvements in the performance and manageability of its applications.

“On our first overnight batch run, we cut our processing times by one and a half hours with no tuning at all,” comments Riggs. “In the past, prior to even the zBC12s, it was often a struggle to complete our overnight batches by 8 in the morning, but today we’re able to complete the processes comfortably by 1 a.m. In fact, our jobs were finishing so much faster on the IBM z14 that we had to reassure our operators that there was nothing wrong with the application batch processing!”

By using z/VM to orchestrate its mainframe resources, OES/SCVA can maximize the value of its investment in the IBM Z platform.

“We run IBM WebSphere Application Server cells built up on Linux in multiple z/VM guests, which the hypervisor allows us to do almost seamlessly,” says Riggs. “With z/VM, we can also dynamically re-allocate and cap resources. This is particularly valuable for our developers, because it helps ensure that the applications that we build are lean and can run in lower-provisioned environments. We are supporting 325 courts across Virginia with a systems team of just seven systems people—and z/VM is key to the efficiency of our IT operations.”

With Vicom Infinity’s help, OES/SCVA is looking at ways to simplify the encryption of sensitive data and safeguard citizens’ information. IBM z14 enables pervasive encryption, which will efficiently encrypt OES/SCVA’s data both at rest and in flight.

“If we need to meet a new information security requirement, our developers have to put whatever they’re doing on hold, encrypt the necessary fields in our databases and then perform regression tests to ensure the new code works as intended with our other applications,” Riggs explains. “When we roll out pervasive encryption, there’ll be no need for these kinds of time-consuming changes—all of the work will be done up-front during the engineering process.”

By embracing Linux on Z, OES/SCVA is making it easier to attract new talent and keep pace with changes across the IT industry. The organization is also a key advocate for mainframe programs at universities across the US, where it supports elective placements for students to learn IBM Z languages.

We’re now surpassing all of the performance studies we did with Vicom Infinity. There’s so much growth potential in the z14 that we believe it will support our needs for many years to come.

Mike Riggs , Director of Judicial Information Technology, Office of the Executive Secretary, Supreme Court of Virginia

SCVA logo

Supreme Court of Virginia (SCVA)

The highest court in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Supreme Court of Virginia is one of the oldest continuously active judicial bodies in the United States. The Office of the Executive Secretary provides administrative support for all the courts and magistrate offices within the Commonwealth. It supplies all IT services—including internet, e-mail, case management, video technology, and technical support—to the courts and magistrate offices in the Commonwealth, comprised of more than 4,000 statewide Judicial employees. 

Take the Next Step

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