Blanc und Fischer IT Services GmbH wanted to enable new, innovative business models across BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding. How could it accelerate the digital transformation of production facilities?
The company chose to optimize business operations by moving SAP Manufacturing Execution to SAP HANA® on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, IBM Power Systems, IBM FlashSystem® and IBM Spectrum® Virtualize.
50%fewer processor cores reduces investment and license costs
30%faster performance accelerates business workflows
Up to 30%fewer application instances needed after consolidation project is complete
Business challenge story
Tightening integration and reinventing business models
Millions of kitchen living spaces worldwide feature products from BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding companies: ARPA, the French specialist manufacturer of ovens, stovetops and hobs; BLANCO, focusing on water, sinks and taps; BLANCO Professional, with products for commercial kitchens and industrial suppliers; DEFENDI, the Italian gas component maker; and E.G.O., which supplies household appliance manufacturers.
Underpinning these companies, BLANC & FISCHER CORPORATE SERVICES, which includes Blanc und Fischer IT Services GmbH, provides IT and functional capabilities for the entire group.
Manfred Leistner, Director / Head of Technology at Blanc und Fischer IT Services GmbH, begins, “We want to provide customers with the full range of options via a single, easy-to-use e-commerce solution with a customizable product configurator. Enabling tighter integration across all group companies will facilitate new, advanced business models. To do that, we have to bring our businesses closer together. How could we take advantage of our strengths, and optimize products and processes across multiple business units?”
Performance and scalability
For many years, group companies of the BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding have relied on SAP solutions to boost operational efficiency. The group is currently working to implement next-generation business applications including SAP S/4HANA®, SAP® BW/4HANA® and SAP Manufacturing Execution, alongside its portfolio of existing SAP solutions.
In time, the aim is that all group companies will consolidate to the new SAP solutions, allowing the company to gain a unified view of operations. This critical step will help enable streamlined, integrated manufacturing processes that will support a new wave of innovation through collaboration and cross-fertilization.
“Modernizing core business applications is always a challenge,” remarks Manfred Leistner. “We selected IBM Power Systems with IBM Storage as the underlying infrastructure because we think it is the ideal platform for us to combine existing SAP workloads with new, cutting-edge solutions.”
Working with IBM and Red Hat consultants, the group deployed a high-availability configuration based on IBM Power System E980 servers connected to an IBM FlashSystem 9200 storage solution built with IBM Spectrum Virtualize. The advanced virtualization features of IBM PowerVM® allow the operation of different, isolated workloads on a single server without compromising on performance or security of mission-critical systems.
With IBM infrastructure, the team at Blanc und Fischer IT Services GmbH will be able to run the new SAP S/4HANA and SAP BW/4HANA applications alongside existing solutions such as SAP Global Trade Services, SAP Supplier Lifecycle Management, SAP Supplier Relationship Management, SAP Business Intelligence, and SAP ERP Human Capital Management—all on a single platform.
Manfred Leistner explains, “The flexibility we gain from IBM Power Systems and IBM Storage allows us to scale up when necessary without complex readjustments. We can flexibly assign resources where we need them and dynamically optimize resource allocations based on changing business demands.”
IBM Spectrum Virtualize ensures data consistency and maximum availability across two data center locations for improved business continuity. The group also relies on IBM Spectrum Protect for data protection and rapid recovery.
“The combination of IBM Spectrum Storage and IBM FlashSystem gives us a unified, cost-efficient, high-performance layer that manages storage and business continuity of our mission-critical workloads with Red Hat Enterprise Linux on our IBM Power Systems servers,” states Manfred Leistner.
Benefits of unity
To benefit from standardization across platforms, the group is moving all its SAP HANA instances to Red Hat Enterprise Linux for SAP Solutions (external link). “As soon as Red Hat Enterprise Linux was certified by SAP for the IBM Power Systems platform, we started running SAP HANA production systems on Red Hat Enterprise Linux for SAP Solutions,” remembers Manfred Leistner. “Thanks to close cooperation between different teams at IBM and Red Hat, we went into production operation with SAP HANA rapidly, and without delays.”
For Blanc und Fischer IT Services GmbH, being able to run Linux on IBM Power Systems is essential to keep attracting the brightest talent. “IT personnel, particularly younger employees, are very comfortable with Linux on IBM Power Systems, even if they have never used the platform before,” adds Manfred Leister. “It’s a major benefit for us that we can leverage deep knowledge of Red Hat Enterprise Linux across different server platforms, as it increases flexibility and accelerates troubleshooting.” Blanc und Fischer IT Services GmbH attaches great value to Red Hat’s open source mindset, and benefits from a large community of administrators and developers that are familiar with the solution.
As next steps, the Blanc und Fischer IT Services GmbH plans to implement DevOps processes across all data center operations, using the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform (external link) and Red Hat Satellite (external link) together with Red Hat Premium and IBM Platinum Business Partner SVA (external link). Beyond that, the IT team is already looking for ways to further streamline deployment, looking at containerized application delivery based on the Red Hat OpenShift (external link) enterprise-ready Kubernetes container platform. A strong proponent of both multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud strategies, the IT team is exploring cloud options to optimize costs and increase flexibility even further.
Agility and reduced costs
The system performance gained by moving its mission-critical SAP Manufacturing Execution application to SAP HANA has had an immediate positive impact on the company’s production lines. For example, even basic steps such as printing labels are faster, which contributes to overall efficiency.
“The technology transformation to SAP HANA and Red Hat Enterprise Linux will enable us to scale manufacturing management from just three plants in Germany and Canada to additional manufacturing sites worldwide over the coming months,” remarks Manfred Leistner. “What’s more, as a result of the migration, we achieved 30 percent faster response times while using 50 percent fewer processor cores. This translates into substantial cost savings, enabling us to standardize more of our production facilities.”
The IBM POWER9™ processor-based servers offer significant performance benefits: “For certain workloads, we need 25 percent fewer processor cores with IBM POWER9 technology,” confirms Manfred Leistner. “This reduction helps to cut investment and operating costs, and the improved resource efficiency enables us to be more flexible when setting up test and development systems, making the business more agile.”
Running the complete SAP S/4HANA landscape on IBM Power Systems has proven to be a winning strategy.
“Our experience with SAP S/4HANA on IBM Power Systems, IBM Storage and Red Hat Enterprise Linux has been very positive,” says Manfred Leistner. “The IBM infrastructure solution allows us to dynamically scale and reassign capacities based on demand in real time. This scaling capability supports our growth and helps us to keep up with new business requirements.”
When it comes to IT support, Blanc und Fischer IT Services GmbH has been impressed with the performance of the IBM and Red Hat teams. Manfred Leistner notes, “The Red Hat team has a real interest to learn about IBM Power Systems. It is a joy to work with people who want to learn, and really go above and beyond to resolve any glitches. It is very reassuring that we can always speak to a network of specialists with deep technical expertise at IBM and Red Hat.”
He continues, “We are on a transformation journey with IBM, SAP and Red Hat, and we are modernizing our business applications with SAP S/4HANA and SAP BW/4HANA on IBM Power Systems with IBM Storage and Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Automation. We currently run 70 SAP application instances. Our goal is to reduce the number of systems and instances by 30 percent. By merging separate systems and standardizing on a single application platform for all group companies, we can cut costs and enable much closer integration between group companies and different business units.”
Manfred Leistner concludes, “Tight integration of planning, manufacturing and business processes, as well as operational data, supports our digital reinvention efforts. With the SAP and IBM solutions in place, we can develop and launch new business models, ready for a more connected future in the kitchen, the factory, and beyond.”
Blanc und Fischer IT Services GmbH
Blanc und Fischer IT Services GmbH (external link) is the central IT service provider to the BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding (external link), which shapes kitchen living spaces worldwide. Multiple group companies are part of the Family Holding including E.G.O-Group, BLANCO-Group, BLANCO Professional-Group, ARPA and DEFENDI-Group. The companies employ about 8,300 people worldwide in 23 countries and at 56 locations. In 2019, the group recorded a turnover of around EUR1.2 billion.
- IBM Power Systems E980
- IBM Power Systems running Linux - Red Hat
- SAP BW/4HANA
- SAP Business Intelligence
- SAP ERP Human Capital Management (SAP ERP HCM)
- SAP Global Trade Services
- SAP S/4 HANA
- SAP Supplier Lifecycle Management
- SAP Supplier Relationship Management
- Software - PowerVM (not HPC, nor VA Linux)
- Spectrum Protect (inc CDM)
- Spectrum Virtualize
- Storage: IBM FlashSystem 9200
Take the next step
To learn more about the IBM SAP Alliance, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following websites: /sap, /it-infrastructure/power/sap-hana, /it-infrastructure/storage/sap-hana and redhat.com/sap
SVA is one of the leading system integrators in Germany, specializing in providing data center infrastructure and implementation services. To learn more, visit www.sva.de (external link)