May 1, 2019 By Kip Yego 5 min read

Any Chief Information Officer worth the title knows that a database migration can make or break their career. Owens-Illinois (O-I), the world’s largest manufacturer of glass containers, recently undertook a global migration from Oracle to Db2. Our team sat down with Rod Masney, CIO, and Ray Case, director of SAP infrastructure and enterprise platforms at O-I, to discuss how it went.

O-I runs more than 60 SAP instances across 78 facilities on 5 continents, so the migration was a big project. Rod and Ray were involved in making and executing the decision to migrate from Oracle to IBM databases. I wanted to get their thoughts about why they chose to migrate, what they expect from their new database systems, and whether they experienced the OLTP and OLAP savings analyst have previously noted.

Q: Why not stick with the status quo? What were you searching for?

Rod Masney: Our company is undergoing a transformation. We’re trying to restructure our cost to our customers in the products that we make, and we look for every opportunity to reduce our total cost of ownership and IT. [So] we looked at our databases, we looked at our platforms [and] we made a decision.

Ray Case: In today’s world, where you’re not given more IT budget, it’s always important to find savings so that you can reinvest that money in other projects, other things that will make you have a competitive advantage. [For instance,] making us produce better bottles, more consistent, and actually being able to serve our customers better.

Ray Case: We also needed to produce cost savings, and those cost savings enabled us to meet our targets, and, also to be able to spend money on other things that make more sense.

Rod Masney: Things that are more strategic and less operational in nature.

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We had to consider Oracle; they were the incumbent. We looked at IBM Db2, and we looked at Microsoft SQL Server. The decision was not just about cost, but it’s also about reliability, and the relationships with the suppliers. It’s about making sure that our systems are available. IBM was the clear winner in this decision. There was a great opportunity to not only look at our total cost of ownership, but also work with a company that we could trust.

Q; How did it go? Did you need support along the way?

Rod Masney: IBM has methodology to migrate from any other vendor’s database platform to IBM Db2 is well documented. So we ran the process and it went very, very well, and on time, on budget, on plan.

Ray Case: Sometimes, that’s the best thing you can do is, is to go unnoticed. The fact that my phone wasn’t ringing off the hook, I would say it was an excellent migration.

Rod Masney: For the most part, no issues. Every once in a while we have a small issue, and IBM was there to help us. They had the defined migration process, and if there were issues, I could rely on the IBM team to help us out. They were part of the team.

Ray Case: We actually had one of IBM’s resources on most of our migration calls and, mind you, these migrations were happening over weekends, late at night. So 2:00, 3:00 in the morning, sometimes, we were having this team and this individual on the phone. And he would try to clear any roadblocks so that we could make the migrations as quick as possible.

Q: What benefits have you seen?

Rod Masney: Anyone that’s using SAP with IBM Db2 running underneath it was impacted by this. [Note: SAP processes underlie 100 percent of the revenue at O-I.] In some ways they didn’t know it happened. In many ways they did, in terms of performance improvements [and faster] transactional response times.

Overall, we’ve seen lower storage usage, approximately 50 percent lower. We’ve seen performance improvements in the 20 to 30-plus percent range, depending on the platform. Whether it’s an analytics platform, or whether it’s a transactional platform, we’ve seen good reliability and availability of the database. And, most importantly, we saw the TCO reductions that we expected to get. This involves database, platform, and managed services cost. The value that we realized is well into the seven figures.

Ray Case: One other interesting thing is, is that the DBAs that we had [before] we didn’t have to change them out. Essentially they’re the same people that supported Oracle before that now support Db2. They did go to training and learn. However, the migration or the change for them was, basically, okay, we’re doing one database now and now we’re doing another. I didn’t have to go get new DBAs to do this migration.

Rod Masney: Over time, we’ve seen less work associated with managing the Db2 platform.

Q: How can this migration set you up for future success?

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Ray Case: The people in the business need data. With a firm data foundation, IT can give the business some reports they can actually use, so they can use reporting to, actually, pull the data together, as opposed to somebody pulling the data out of the system and then trying to figure out how they want to manipulate the data.

Rod Masney: AI and machine learning, that’s also a next practice we need to look at as a company, because we need to embark upon a digital transformation of which reporting analytics, machine learning, and the like are an important part.

As we continue to transform the company, digital transformation is […] our next practice. Clearly, IBM Db2 BLU Acceleration will be a factor in enabling something like that. Reporting and analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, are an important part, especially for manufacturing.

Q: Was it worth it?

Rod Masney: [The transition] was well worth the journey. We’ve realized the cost savings, we’ve realized the storage reductions, we’ve realized the performance improvements, and I have a true partner that I can trust in IBM.

I’d advise other CIOs, don’t shut off the idea that making a database transition can add value to the corporation. Clearly, if you pause and take a moment, and look at what you’re currently spending, look at what you could be spending [it] could be an incredible opportunity to make an impact on your company.

Much like Rod and Ray discovered, updating your database strategy can bring benefits without unnecessary complications when you work with a trusted technology partner. Learn more about your potential cost savings and how IBM helps deliver a smooth migration today.

If you’d prefer to speak in depth with someone about your architecture and database strategy, our experts are also happy to provide a no-cost, one-on-one consultation to discuss your specific needs.

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