Business Challenge

With its business continuing to grow rapidly, Brazilian energy company Copel needed to ensure that it could provide exceptional service to an increasing number of commercial and residential customers.

Transformation

Copel upgraded to two IBM Power Systems E880C servers running the IBM AIX® operating system, supporting core business applications and its Oracle Database.

Results

USD 2 million

estimated saving by upgrading to new IBM Power Systems servers

49%

Oracle licenses freed up for use in other areas

43% reduction

in backup time helps ensure exceptional customer service

Business Challenge

Powering future growth

Companhia Paranaense de Energia (Copel) is responsible for providing electricity to more than 4.5 million customers in the Brazilian state of Paraná. As with any modern economy, this vibrant, thriving area would be severely impacted without electricity. As the service provider, loss of performance and availability for Copel’s core business systems could therefore have serious repercussions.

On top of the utility services, Copel also provides broadband internet services – another economically important amenity – to a fast-growing set of more than 200,000 subscribers. With the business projected to continue growing rapidly, the IT team recognized that the existing server infrastructure was no longer able to handle the increasing demands.

In IT parlance, “keeping the lights on” means making sure that existing systems continue to run optimally; for Copel, this phrase also has a more literal meaning. Knowing that performance issues would escalate as workload increased, the company needed to upgrade its servers to ensure a smooth supply of electricity and broadband to homes and businesses.

Vicente Sloboda, Technical Support Analyst at Copel, explains: “Our IT strategy at Copel involves a hardware refresh every five years, in line with warranty and support terms. This refresh was overdue, and the ongoing business expansion was beginning to cause performance problems.

“Our core applications, especially the billing system, are heavily dependent on Oracle Database, and we no longer had sufficient hardware resources to achieve the performance levels we needed. We estimate that our Oracle Database workload will grow by around 15 percent per year for the next five years, and our position was clearly not sustainable.”

We performed a comprehensive business-case analysis of the competing solution options, and we saw that remaining on IBM Power would save us USD 2 million in migration and hardware costs compared to next best-value competitor.

—Vicente Sloboda, Technical Support Analyst, Copel

Transformation

Lightbulb moment

The IT team at Copel kept an open mind and considered multiple possible solutions, including x86-based servers. The team concluded that upgrading its existing IBM Power Systems landscape offered most cost-effective option, and migrated its Oracle Database from two IBM Power® Systems 795 servers featuring 128 IBM POWER7® processor cores to two IBM Power Systems E880C servers equipped with 128 IBM POWER8® cores.

Working with IBM made the migration to the new IBM Power Systems hardware a fast and smooth transition, and Copel now benefits from ongoing technical support within its IBM Hardware Maintenance Agreement. IBM Business Partner ASSET IT provided support in the system design, negotiation and implementation.

Vicente Sloboda continues: “We performed a comprehensive business-case analysis of the competing solution options, and we saw that remaining on IBM Power would save us USD 2 million in migration and hardware costs compared to next best-value competitor. The POWER8 processor cores offer approximately 70 percent more performance than the previous technology, and we can run the same Oracle Database workload on fewer cores.

“We are highly satisfied with IBM’s technical support. In our industry, where service outages can literally be a matter of life and death, it is vital to keep core systems running reliably at all times. Whenever we have encountered any kind of issue, IBM has always been able to quickly and effectively resolve the challenge and mitigate the risk.”

Copel has used its IBM Power Systems 795 and IBM Power Systems E880C servers to implement a Power Enterprise Pool – a group of servers that can share Mobile Capacity on Demand processor resources and memory resources. Vicente Sloboda comments: “The Power Enterprise Pool configuration enables us to achieve greater flexibility from our investment in IBM Power Systems.”

IBM and Oracle have helped us create a secure foundation for ensuring the reliable provision of electricity to more than 4.5 million customers. The scalability of the solution means we can continue to expand our services in line with growing demand.

—Vicente Sloboda, Technical Support Analyst, Copel

Results

Brighter prospects

Since deploying its two new IBM Power Systems E880C servers, Copel has seen increased efficiency and performance across its core systems, helping the company offer exceptionally reliable services to its millions of customers.

“The IBM Power Systems servers have significantly improved the responsiveness of our Oracle Databases at peak times, during which up to 2,000 concurrent business users access the system,” says Vicente Sloboda. “Equally, backup operations which used to take up to 14 hours can now be done within 8 hours – a 43 percent reduction. This means that we can usually complete the backup overnight without risk of disrupting daytime operations.”

A key benefit of running Oracle Database on IBM Power Systems is reduced requirements for Oracle licenses.

Vicente Sloboda elaborates: “Oracle license fees are calculated based on the number of processor cores, so the fewer cores you use the lower your costs. Because each IBM POWER8 core is able to execute up to 70 percent more work than the previous processor cores, we can perform existing Oracle workload on fewer cores and free up 49 percent of our Oracle licenses for future deployment in other areas. With IBM Power Systems servers, we hope to manage the expected 15 percent year-on-year growth over the next five years without buying new Oracle licenses.”

With its new IBM Power Systems E880C servers in place and performing well, Copel can derive ongoing value from its previous investment in the IBM Power Systems 795 servers. Looking to the future, Copel is now comfortable that it has the right infrastructure in place to support the business on its growth journey.

“We are now using our IBM POWER7-based servers as a development environment,” says Vicente Sloboda. “These are still very powerful machines, and the longevity of IBM’s hardware should prove a valuable asset to our IT department for developing future applications to augment our existing core software.

“IBM and Oracle have helped us create a robust foundation for ensuring the reliable provision of electricity to more than 4.5 million customers,” concludes Vicente Sloboda. “Thanks to their combined technologies, we can maintain our position as a backbone of regional infrastructure, and the scalability of the solution means that we can continue to expand our services in line with growing demand.”

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About Copel

Copel, or Companhia Paranaense de Energia, is an electricity and telecommunications provider based in the state of Paraná, Brazil. Founded in 1954, Copel went public in 1994, and in 1997 it became the first company from the Brazilian electricity sector to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Employing over 8,500 people, Copel directly serves 4.5 million customers across 395 cities, including 3.5 million homes, 82,000 industrial plants, 382,000 commercial establishments and 360,000 rural properties.

Take the Next Step

To learn more about the IBM Power Systems, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/power

ASSET IT is an IBM Business Partner based in Brazil with over 20 years of experience in IT infrastructure projects. To learn more about ASSET IT, please visit: www.assetit.com.br

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