Business challenge

To keep production lines rolling, deliveries prompt and decision-making sharp, VEKA relies on round-the-clock access to real-time information from its core SAP business applications.

Transformation

VEKA deployed five IBM® Power® System E870 servers and four IBM FlashSystem® storage solutions to support its traditional SAP applications, as well as a brand-new SAP HANA environment on IBM POWER8®.

Results

30% faster

SAP ERP response time enables staff to work faster and more productively

20% quicker

email backup frees up resources and reduces impact on user performance

EUR40,000

yearly savings in energy costs due to lower power consumption

Business challenge story

Supporting critical business systems

VEKA AG designs, produces and distributes components of window, door, fence and railing profiles to other manufacturers. The company is a leader in its industry and operates production sites in 12 countries, with offices in 28 global locations.

“IBM Power Systems with IBM i and IBM FlashSystem keeps our SAP applications running round-the-clock, so we can deliver on time, every time.”

—Christian Otte, Server Center Manager, VEKA AG

Christian Otte, Server Center Manager at VEKA AG, says: “Over the years, VEKA has cultivated a strong reputation for high-quality products and on-time delivery. Maintaining excellent customer service means keeping multiple interdependent processes—from production and logistics to sales and finance—running smoothly at all times.”

VEKA is on a continuous path of digital transformation—automating, integrating and streamlining its processes wherever possible, enabled by advanced technologies. To ensure seamless operations, VEKA relies on integrated SAP Business Suite applications. “Like many manufacturing businesses, we utilize SAP applications to help optimize our inventory levels, production schedules and logistics processes,” continues Christian Otte. “To keep production lines rolling and customer deliveries going out on time, we need our SAP applications to run reliably and without interruption, around the clock.”

With VEKA’s business dependent on such a tightly integrated set of processes, any disruption to mission-critical systems would cause operations to grind to halt.

Christian Otte says: “To stay in business and meet strict manufacturing and delivery timeframes, our complex production systems have to keep running—no matter what. This makes it crucial for us to underpin our SAP applications with a stable IT platform.”

Transformation story

Trusted platform

VEKA has run its mission-critical SAP applications on the IBM Power Systems™ platform since 1999. As VEKA automates and integrates more and more business processes as part of its digital transformation strategy, it is essential to maintain top-notch availability and performance. VEKA therefore decided to upgrade to the latest IBM POWER8 technology.

“We wanted the sustained stability and reliability of IBM Power Systems,” emphasizes Christian Otte. “It is a tried-and-tested solution. We know from previous experience that IBM Power Systems is able to keep our SAP applications running round-the-clock.”

VEKA deployed three IBM Power System E870 servers running the 7.2 release of the IBM i operating system with the integrated IBM DB2® for i database. The IBM Power Systems servers and connected IBM FlashSystem® 900 solutions deliver reliable, high-speed performance for the SAP applications.

VEKA’s SAP ERP application shares resources on one LPAR (10 cores and 400 GB) with the company’s SAP Process Integration and SAP Enterprise Portal solutions. The remaining 14 cores and 600 GB of main memory supports further LPARs and SAP systems, including SAP Customer Relationship Management, SAP Business Warehouse and additional ERP and Enterprise Portal systems, as well as IBM Notes® and Domino®.

Christian Otte remarks: “IBM i running on IBM Power Systems servers is extremely stable and does not require a lot of maintenance. We have not experienced a single technical failure in our production systems over the last 12 years.”

He recalls: “We started off by implementing the new FlashSystem 900 storage arrays and the IBM team were a great help in integrating this innovative new technology into our IT landscape. IBM identified and resolved any issues that we encountered during the implementation quickly and efficiently. Day-to-day support from IBM has always been excellent. IBM FlashSystem storage is easier to manage and more efficient compared to many competing solutions from other vendors.

“Next, we migrated our existing Power Systems infrastructure to the latest POWER8 servers—a very smooth process. Thanks to the in-built SAN boot feature, we simply powered off our POWER7® partition, launched the POWER8 partition and, after a few minor adjustments and optimizations to take the best advantage of the new infrastructure, we were able to carry on running as before, just with faster servers and storage. Being able upgrade our entire SAP application infrastructure with almost no disruption to the business was fantastic.”

To benefit from the latest innovations from SAP, VEKA decided to implement two additional IBM Power System E870 servers and build a brand-new SAP HANA environment for its growing SAP Business Warehouse application. The SAP HANA environment, as well as other non-core systems such as test and development and project systems, run on the two additional IBM Power System E870 servers—one with 24 POWER8 cores and 1 TB main memory, the other with eight POWER8 cores and 320 GB main memory.

Christian Otte elaborates: “There is an on-going shift in the IT world towards in-memory computing to speed up data analytics and to support real-time business insights. To gain first-hand experience of this new technology, we decided to migrate our SAP Business Warehouse solution to SAP HANA. We selected POWER8 servers to support our SAP HANA database for the same reasons we have always chosen the platform for our traditional SAP applications environment—scalability, stability, reliability and performance.”

The advanced virtualization capabilities offered by IBM PowerVM software enable enterprises to run multiple SAP HANA environments within a single IBM Power Systems server, introducing great flexibility and highly cost-efficient operation. Rather than investing in multiple separate appliances, VEKA can allocate suitable compute and memory resources from the E870 servers to ensure it has the optimal configuration for each SAP HANA task.

Christian Otte comments: “Parallel to our exploration of SAP HANA, we to continue to run our ‘classic’ SAP Business Suite environment safely on IBM i, with both solutions running on the same POWER8 platform, separated in different LPARs.”

For smooth, cost-efficient backup and disaster recovery, VEKA runs IBM Spectrum Protect™ software, combined with IBM ProtecTIER® to deduplicate its data, and IBM Storwize® V7000 data storage. The IBM i environment is backed up to an IBM ProtecTIER system with the integrated IBM Backup, Recovery & Media Services. IBM Spectrum Protect enables software-defined backup to protect practically any environment—including Microsoft Windows, IBM AIX® and Linux—either from physical or virtualized platforms.

Results story

Superior stability, powerful performance

As well as providing the high availability and reliability that VEKA has come to expect from the Power Systems platform, the company’s new POWER8 and FlashSystem infrastructure has delivered a significant boost in performance as key enabler of the digital transformation program.

Christian Otte comments: “With the infrastructure upgrade, we have slashed response times for our SAP ERP environment—our most important business system—by 30 percent, approximately 250 milliseconds. This impressive jump in performance will help to increase user productivity, streamline workflows and cut cycle times. We have already seen an increase in daily workload performance, for example. We generally install SAP updates on at least one of our systems about once per month. And it now takes just a few minutes to extract application update files—10 times quicker than in the past. Since our administrators no longer have to wait 30 minutes until they can proceed, they are able to work faster and more productively.”

He continues: “We have also considerably increased the main storage in our Power Systems servers. We now run with a ratio of 40 GB per POWER8 core to make the most of the computing performance. Despite running the same number of cores, the increased memory enables us to process workloads much faster—contributing to the overall performance increase. What’s more, improved performance has accelerated IBM Domino backup times by 20 percent, cutting resource usage and reducing impact on other systems during the backup window.

“In addition to helping boost overall system performance, IBM FlashSystem storage has slashed energy consumption across our two datacenters. The FlashSystem solution consumes much less power than our previous storage and we expect to save around EUR40,000 per year as a result—an outstanding saving.”

Christian Otte concludes: “The combination of strong performance and tried-and-true stability means that we can keep operations running smoothly around the clock. By ensuring that our mission-critical SAP applications are available 24/7, running on IBM i on IBM POWER8 servers with IBM FlashSystem storage helps us to deliver on our clients’ requirements on time, every time.”

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About Veka AG

VEKA AG is the world’s largest extruder of PVC profile systems for windows and doors. Headquartered in Sendenhorst, Germany, VEKA employs approximately 5,000 people worldwide and reports annual revenues of more than EUR790 million (USD880 million).