24 August, 2022 | Written by: Gerry Johnstone
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Evolution is a natural state for technology and for business, both must constantly evolve and move forward to keep up with demand in one way or another.
Vivo Energy, the distributor of Shell and Engen branded fuels to retail and commercial customers across Africa, is no different. Over the last few years Vivo Energy has seen substantial and continuous growth and improvement, from a business point of view as well as a strategic technical point.
In 2019, Vivo became a world leader in the SAP S/4HANA arena, being one of the first oil and gas companies of its size to deploy the full suite in one integrated platform. This included SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Cloud for Customer, and SAP Integrated Business Planning.
When Vivo scaled their IT estate for their SAP instances, they worked on an agile approach with Service Express to deploy four IBM Power Systems across two of Service Express’ U.K. data centres. Two systems sat within each data centre, providing separate virtual machine environments via logical partitions (LPARS). This allowed for disaster planning, if the primary data centre was hit by a catastrophe then services would automatically failover to the servers in the second data centre.
Continuous growth from Vivo, at an unexpected rate, meant that in 2021 they needed to look at their IT estate once again. The existing Power8 and Power9 systems weren’t able to continue supporting Vivo’s rate of growth and use of SAP HANA.
Mike McCormick, Chief Information Officer of Vivo Energy, turned to Service Express UK for an answer. ‘We turned to Service Express, not just as a current provider but as a trusted partner. We needed a partner we could trust to help us continue to grow, and with a long history of quality service and technical expertise that dates back to legacy Blue Chip days, there was no question of discussing our growing needs with Service Express.’
How sustainable was future growth?
Vivo’s choice was to scale out with another server or to scale up. Graeme Penman, Presales Consultant for Service Express, explains why it was so important for Vivo to make decisions today that would help future growth:
‘Whilst the current HANA estate is deployed on IBM Power, the choice of scale-out servers being used meant growing on demand, e.g. more memory and CPU was a challenge.
The scale-out servers only support a finite amount of memory, which is key for HANA, once that was consumed all Vivo could do was either physically upgrade memory in the servers or add more servers with lead times on hardware delivery and installation impacting the speed at which Vivo could respond to meet their business’ demands.’
Graeme goes on to explain that after looking at the various ways Service Express could provide Vivo with a more flexible and responsive approach to growing compute on demand for the SAP HANA estate there was one undeniable solution. The challenges faced by Vivo could only be answered by deploying IBM’s Power10 E1080.
‘We are now able to offer Vivo a class of service that allows them to respond to their business demands for resource in near real-time and offer improvements in overall system performance with the latest Power10 processors and memory sub-systems that exceed previous generations of IBM POWER.
We have deployed a pool of E1080s in our Secure Hybrid Cloud which Vivo can grow into on demand and pay for what they need. The Pools 2.0 CPU resource consumption is measured on a minute by minute and aggregated at the pool level, not just the server.
This means we can optimise how Vivo use CPU resource more cost effectively. Vivo only pay for the CPUs they need which in the HANA world is relatively low. HANA workloads are by their nature not CPU intensive and more often than not customers will purchase compute with large numbers of CPU that will run idle for most of the time.’
This flexible and responsive approach has given Vivo the capacity to run their business today, as well as tomorrow as growth continues.
McCormick, reflecting on the move to the new solution, ‘This has allowed us to move the critical care and maintenance activities of our server fleet, to experts who provide the same level of diligence that we provide ourselves, allowing our lean infrastructure team to focus on internal activities that require their IP. We can continue to focus on growth, knowing our essential services are in safe hands.’