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(Note: the IBM iSeries eServer was called the IBM AS/400 when this article was written.)

Dot-Com Startup Shoots and Scores with iSeries
By Joanna Moore
Industry Reporter
DECEMBER 19, 2000 —, an Internet-based service for managing amateur sports leagues, opened its virtual doors earlier this month. ScoreBook gives sports leagues free Web sites that they can customize in realtime, adding game scores and pictures without needing Web design or programming skills. With a number of projects sitting on the bench, is counting on the iSeries to help its business grow.

The mastermind behind is amateur baseball league manager and sports enthusiast Mitch Miles. He approached IBM Business Partner and longtime AS/400 software provider Strategic Business Systems with the ScoreBook idea, and the company agreed to fund startup costs for staffing and technology. In fact, says John Myers, corporate director and president of Strategic Business Systems, “our employees thought it was such a good idea that they wanted to invest personally if we didn’t as a company.”

The whole idea behind ScoreBook is to give amateur leagues — which typically lack the resources and finances to host their own Web sites — a way to get online and provide team rosters, game schedules, and other information to players and fans.

Strategic’s staff built the site using LANSA for the Web, which is also the foundation of Strategic’s AS/400-based corporate site, along with an in-house application called WebSurvey/400.

Strategic hosts the ScoreBook site on an iSeries 270 housed at the company’s headquarters in Ramsey, New Jersey. The box also runs other Strategic applications, and ScoreBook uses a just small percentage of the its processing power and 2 GB memory. Because LPAR isn’t available on the 270 to separate the different apps into their own partitions, Strategic isolates the apps using libraries and a firewall that restricts access to specific applications.

Sports leagues register with ScoreBook and create individual Web sites using templates. Anyone can view the site, but only members with a user ID and password can make changes. The LANSA Repository links the application to DB2/400, and the information entered by the leagues updates the database in realtime. “LANSA lets us define the data in the repository once, then develop standard templates to generate system functions without writing a line of code,” Myers says. “LANSA manages all the database function that you’d have to do by hand in an iSeries environment.”

LANSA also generates RPG CGI script that’s compiled to get the OS/400 object code that runs the ScoreBook site. ScoreBook chose CGI-scripted code because it’s faster than Java, Myers says, but the site also uses JavaScript to allow for live HTML functions.

To keep the site afloat, ScoreBook plans to make money from ad revenues, but the startup can’t survive on ads alone. The league Web sites will continue to be offered at no charge, but ScoreBook may bill team sites on a subscription basis in the future.

ScoreBook is considering adding several other features to make the site more attractive to players and teams. For example, it plans to add capabilities to feature stats on individual players, which should really drive up Web traffic as fans look for more info on their favorite athletes, Myers says. Individual stats should be a big hit with players as well, says David Obermeyer of the New York State Section 9 wrestling league. “Right now, half the kids on the team are interested [in the site],” he says. “But when I’m able to post their individual stats and individual photos, there’s an ego thing. I’m sure they’ll want to check the site all the time.”

Another project on the sidelines is to bring in a Domino server to handle ScoreBook’s automated e-mail. ScoreBook currently uses OS/400 e-mail and LANSA’s built-in e-mail functions to do the job. For the time being, ScoreBook is pleased with the performance of OS/400 e-mail, but it may upgrade to Domino if its e-mail load grows much bigger.

As the number of hits increases and capacity demand grows, it will be easy to pull out the old processor cards and add faster processors to the 270, Myers says. “If we were in a PC environment,” he says, “we’d have to do a lot more work in order to get that done. We certainly looked at running this on the PC, but the problem you get in to is — when you scale beyond what that one PC server will handle — you have to rewrite your applications. That’s not necessary with the iSeries.”

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