A new data platform revitalizes a century-old manufacturer

By | 4 minute read | April 9, 2020

A company can only survive for 115 years by reinventing itself, questioning assumptions and constantly looking for an edge. Owens-Illinois (O-I), the world’s largest manufacturer of glass containers, used worldwide by many leading food and beverage brands, recently began just such a reinvention. After decades of growth, spanning 78 plants in 23 countries on five continents, O-I is undertaking a data transformation from the ground up by reassessing their data infrastructure. And they came to IBM for help.

Data for a global enterprise

Data might not be the first thing you think of when you hear glassmaking, but it’s essential to this global enterprise. According to Chief Information Officer Rod Masney, a worldwide operation like O-I involves a huge volume and variety of data from procurement, logistics, manufacturing and sales operations. So the CIO is responsible for petabytes of data, on every topic imaginable: everything from transactional data, to manufacturing metrics, to financial data and projections—all housed in a sprawling database that supports more than 60 SAP instances.

O-I’s incumbent Oracle database worked, but Rod felt trapped. Oracle had high recurring costs, unexpected charges, a large footprint, and continual maintenance tasks. In a competitive industry with shrinking IT budgets, this left no room for strategic thinking, reorganization or optimization. The IT department felt like they were treading water.

As Ray Case, their director of SAP infrastructure & enterprise platforms, put it:

“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 and other things that will make you have a competitive advantage.”

Rod and Ray addressed fundamental questions that might sound familiar to many IT departments: do we need to stay locked in to an unsatisfying vendor? Can we reimagine a database to drive better results at a lower cost? How much time and effort would it take to make a change, and would that investment pay off?

Given the significant number of reasons to upgrade the data management strategy, Rod’s bold plan was to completely migrate O-I’s worldwide database infrastructure. The primary goal was to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO), and he succeeded. But he also discovered that a better database brought with it a whole host of benefits that set them up for future success.

Many businesses that switch from Oracle to IBM Db2 can see up to 80 percent cost savings. You can discover your potential TCO savings with this simple cost calculator.

One transformation allows another

The remit for O-I’s database migration included a multi-petabyte database underpinning 64 SAP systems. All this had to happen without causing disruptive downtime for a global network of users in virtually every time zone.

O-I achieved these goals, on-time and on-budget with a solid migration plan supported by IBM every step of the way. They’ve seen major benefits, including:

  • Cost reduction “well into the seven figures”
  • Ongoing 50 percent reduction in storage footprint
  • 20-30 percent improvement in transaction speed

From an operational standpoint, the migration was seamless. Ray Case noted that he knew things were going well when his phone wasn’t ringing off the hook the morning after each major change. The end users generally didn’t notice that their SAP instances were running on a new database—the main difference was quicker run times. For IT, that’s a good thing. Any major project that doesn’t result in hundreds of support requests can be a pleasant surprise.

So taken on its own operational terms, the migration was a success. O-I saw cost savings and benefits similar to what was reported in Quark + Lepton’s comparison of Db2 and Oracle for OLTP and OLAP deployments. But the migration’s ongoing value is not even in operations, it’s in strategy.

Beyond the brief: Operational benefits from migrating

The ongoing value of this database migration is in what it will allow O-I to do in future. For example, users company-wide can access cleaner, less fragmented data directly from the platform, rather than needing to download it locally.

According to Ray Case, this ability to avoid fragmented data can transform operations and help a worldwide organization stay in sync. To have one “source of truth” for the organization, you need everyone to leave the data in the system and use reporting to pull the data together. The ability to get trustworthy, clean data quickly brings extra value because “the slower you are in making decisions, the more it costs.”

Strategic potential for advanced analytics

The data capabilities of their new platform are essential, but the cost savings also make it possible to reallocate funding toward advanced initiatives. So without both those factors being achieved together, advanced analytics would be impossible for O-I.

As Rod Masney said, “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.” After the migration, “we can certainly focus on things that are more strategic and less operational in nature.” Ray Case agreed, saying that these newly-available resources and process improvements will ultimately help them “produce better bottles” more consistently, and ultimately be “able to serve our customers better.”

Like Rod, Ray and the rest of O-I’s dedicated staff, you may also be able to serve your customers better with the cost reductions, speed increases, and single source of truth that Db2 is capable of providing.

Start by calculating your potential cost savings when switching from Oracle and learn more about IBM’s migration assistance. Or, if you have specific questions about your architecture or upgrade needs, our experts are happy to provide a no-cost, one-on-one consultation to help you explore your options.