Consolidating SAP operations with IBM POWER8
BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding relies on a range of SAP software to manage the business, and looked for ways to streamline IT management and consolidate system operations.
Manfred Leistner explains: “Fast access to business information is key to keeping manufacturing plants running and delivering good customer service. For this purpose, our business divisions heavily rely on integrated SAP applications for almost every aspect of business management, including SAP ERP, SAP ERP Human Capital Management, SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization and SAP Business Warehouse applications.”
Working with IBM and IBM Business Partner FRITZ & MACZIOL, BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding had already consolidated its SAP solutions from multiple instances and servers to the IBM POWER platform. Based on that foundation, the company identified an opportunity for further optimization, moving to IBM Power System E870 servers with IBM POWER8® processors.
By using sophisticated server virtualization techniques provided by IBM PowerVM®, the company could build an extraordinarily flexible, reliable and high-performance solution that would offer increased capacity at lower total costs of ownership.
Manfred Leistner continues, “Together with FRITZ & MACZIOIL, we migrated and consolidated our mission-critical workloads, including SAP ERP solutions, to the IBM Power System E870 servers, which provide the reliability we need to ensure excellent performance for all group companies cost-efficiently to maintain our high customer service quality.”
Using IBM PowerVM virtualization, the company operates about 20 production SAP systems used by 1,400 staff at peak times on the two IBM Power System E870 servers. BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding also runs IBM Connections™, IBM Domino®, and IBM WebSphere® Application Server on the IBM Power Systems™ environment.
To support the SAP applications, the company relies on the IBM AIX operating system and IBM DB2 with BLU Acceleration. The powerful IBM POWER8 processors in combination with the flexible scalability of the virtualization help the company to run its SAP applications in a two-tier configuration, where the SAP application and the IBM DB2 database run in the same partition to make most efficient use of available resources and minimize network latencies between database and application.
The company went a step further to optimize performance and upgraded one SAP Business Warehouse application to IBM DB2 with BLU Acceleration. Manfred Leistner says: “IBM DB2 with BLU Acceleration scales wonderfully well up to our 30 cores on IBM POWER8—improving flexibility and minimizing downtime for business users.”
Data is managed within a fully virtualized storage environment based on IBM SAN Volume Controller, built with IBM Spectrum Virtualize™, and IBM Storwize® V7000 disk storage systems. BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding takes advantage of the integrated Easy Tier® feature to automatically move the most frequently used data to super-fast IBM FlashSystem® 840 storage, transparently increasing performance by 20 percent across all its systems and platforms.
The automation provided by Easy Tier ensures that manual administration workload is minimized, while data is stored on the most appropriate device to optimize performance while ensuring the most cost-effective storage hierarchy.
BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding relies on the IBM cloud solution IBM MobileFirst™ Protect Devices to manage mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets efficiently.
Performance boost reduces licensing costs
BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding estimates that moving from distributed scale-out application servers to a two-tier scale-up configuration on IBM POWER8 saved administrators about two hours maintenance and troubleshooting per week, reducing our overall operating costs.
The company has additionally embraced IBM Power Enterprise System Pools technology, with Elastic Capacity on Demand, which provides the ability to aggregate capacity over several systems. In the past, a failure at one data center would have slowed down its business applications by 40 percent. Thanks to IBM Power Enterprise System Pools, BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding has an agile, cost-efficient disaster recovery plan and is able to continue to provide full performance even with just one server, making sure that staff and customers will not be affected by a disaster.
Manfred Leistner concludes: “The upgrade to IBM POWER8 technology came with the biggest performance increase since we started using IBM Power Systems. We were delighted to see that on average we have gained a 40 percent performance improvement for all our diverse workloads. Even better, because of the faster single-core performance, we save up to 40 percent in software licensing costs when we can reduce the number of cores we use for an application without slowing down our business users.
“Moving to IBM DB2 with BLU Acceleration was easy and provided an instant performance boost for our SAP Business Warehouse. Analysts in the sales department can now gain new insights into markets and customers 20 times faster, helping them to make faster, better business decisions, act more quickly, and deliver better customer service. Consolidation to central systems has introduced standardization to company administration, and the simplified systems landscape is more agile and contributes to lower costs and greater efficiency, matching our corporate business objectives for enabling growth.”