TMW Says Windows-Based Dispatching System Can Run with Big System i Boys
September 1, 2009 Alex Woodie
For many years, the biggest trucking outfits in the United States relied on IBM AS/400 technology to run their critical dispatching workloads. Like the casino business, the stability and ease of use of the AS/400 just seemed tailor made for managing trucking companies. But benchmark tests recently performed by TMW Systems at an IBM Innovation Center shows that its Windows-based dispatching software, TruckMate, is beginning to handle the heavy dispatching workloads usually attempted only on the System i.
Tests at the IBM Innovation Center in San Mateo, California, centered around System x servers running the Windows Server operating system and the DB2 database. TMW came up with a benchmark called the TruckMate Benchmark Utility that’s designed to simulate the entry of a freight bill into the dispatching software, along with other common tasks associated with the freight-bill creation process, including creating and posting orders, creating trace numbers and pay rates, assigning drivers and vehicles, and refreshing the system for dispatch, pickup, and delivery activities.
Multiple test scenarios were created that simulated companies with 200, 520, 1,000, and 2,000 service representatives working on the system simultaneously. The benchmark then ran the simulated workload against the hardware, which was composed of two System x Model 3850s, each equipped with four quad-core 3.2 Ghz Xeon processors and 32 GB of RAM. For all but the 2,000-user test, the hardware was scaled back using virtualization. A DS3400 SAN was used for storage.
In all cases, the System x equipment proved up to the task, running at between 25 percent and 75 percent capacity, and delivering sub-second response times. When the Model 3850s were opened up, delivering 32 CPUs and 64 GB of RAM, the TruckMate software was able to process the equivalent of 679,680 freight bills over a 24 hour period. That is considered heavy lifting in the trucking industry.
“We are extremely proud of how TruckMate performed under this testing,” says Randall Burrell, senior vice president and TruckMate general manager for TMW, which is based in Cleveland, Ohio. “Our developers have been eager to subject their software to the rigorous testing and . . . the results of that program reinforce, for current and future TruckMate customers alike, their choice of technology platform is robust, scalable, and capable of growing along with their most ambitious business plans.”
And while TMW is not eager to compare TruckMate to TL2000, its i OS-based dispatching suite, the company is clearly saying that its Windows product should be considered for workloads previously only considered for the AS/400 or System i. That includes its own i OS-based product, as well as the i OS-based products from its competitors in the trucking industry, including Innovative Computing and McLeod Software. (Ayers Rock Software, another i OS trucking software developer, is up for sale.)
“We think it’s more valid to compare Windows-based products with other Windows-based products of similar capability, and the same for AS/400-based products,” says Monica Truelsch, director of marketing for TMW, in an e-mail. “But frankly, we haven’t been asked to provide any performance benchmarks on TL2000 against another commercial AS/400 product in a very, very long time.”
Truelsch admits that, on average, TL2000 customers are running bigger truck fleets than TruckMate customers. But there are many TruckMate customers running fleets bigger than 1,000 trucks “quite successfully,” she says. And the number of TruckMate customers “significantly outnumbers” TL2000 customers, she adds.
“The OS/400-IBM i systems are a rock-solid technology platform to run high-volume transactions through, no doubt about it, and they will have a place in this industry for years to come,” Truelsch says. “But I think that they will no longer be able to lay exclusive claim to running TT 100 carrier operations.”
TT 100, by the way, refers to the annual list of the top 100 for-hire carriers and the top 100 private carriers put together by Transport Topics magazine.