Business challenge

How could municipal IT service provider gkd-el meet client demands to run increasingly advanced online services, without compromising on performance, availability or cost efficiency?


gkd-el provides cutting-edge SAP solutions using Linux and IBM Db2® for z/OS® on a single IBM z13s® server, enabling the company to maintain low operational costs and superb reliability.



number of SAP applications managed without increasing operating costs

53% cut

in electricity consumption despite twofold increase in Linux and database performance


complexity in the data center and minimizes administration costs

Business challenge story

High profile and high stakes

The importance of public-sector IT services is often underestimated, and successful operations are taken as a given in this environment. However, failure can bring entire cities grinding to a halt, leading to frustration among many citizens when the problem affects a range of municipal services. That’s why Gelsenkirchener Kommunale Datenzentrale Emscher-Lippe (gkd-el), which provides IT services for the entire municipality of Gelsenkirchen in Germany, views 24/7 availability as a top priority.

Dr. Peter Hauptmanns, CEO at gkd-el, explains: “Unlike in a private company, downtime for a public-sector organization is immediately visible to everyone. For example, citizens might be unable to register their new vehicles, or the library may not be able to lend books. The municipality could hardly continue to work and even schools and nurseries would be affected, so maintaining round-the-clock availability really is crucial.

“We need data to be accessible even in the event of a catastrophe. We regularly think through various possible scenarios and how we can best respond to them. For example, if there were a wide-ranging power outage, pumps would stop working, water levels would be rising, and the local authority would urgently need to implement contingency plans and probably evacuate citizens. In such a situation, our clients would need quick, reliable access to their SAP applications to see how many citizens lived in the evacuation zone and whether foreign-language interpreters would be needed to aid communication.”

As a large number of municipal processes are supported by state-of-the-art SAP solutions running on Linux, gkd-el needed to manage the various SAP applications efficiently, so that it could continue providing excellent value for money to customers at a time when municipal budgets are thinly stretched.

With the IBM z13s mainframe, we can keep our TCO low. The simplicity and reliability of the IBM Z platform continue to mean it is the right choice for us.

Dr. Peter Hauptmanns, CEO, gkd-el

Transformation story

Tried-and-tested platform

To take advantage of exceptional simplicity, availability and performance, gkd-el decided to purchase a new IBM z13s enterprise server. The cutting-edge server runs IBM Db2 for z/OS databases in combination with SAP application servers on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for z Systems (IBM Z). The mainframe server is connected to business-class IBM DS8884 storage devices, with regular backups made to an IBM TS3500 tape library. In total, gkd-el operates six separate SAP landscapes for its clients with 25 SAP instances, all running on the single IBM z13s enterprise server.

In the extremely unlikely event of a hardware outage, gkd-el has a disaster recovery contract with IBM, allowing it to fail over to one of IBM’s data centers and continue operating from that location.

Karl Große Vogelsang, Head of Data Center Operations at gkd-el elaborates: “Previously, we leased the infrastructure from IBM and handed it back at the end of the contract. For the new IBM z13s mainframe, we negotiated an excellent deal with IBM Global Financing which enabled us to purchase the hardware outright. This arrangement gives us additional flexibility and full control over the server and storage, allowing us achieve new levels of freedom and cost-efficiency.”

Jörg Kunze, Head of the IBM Z and SAP Basis Team at gkd-el, adds: “Our history with IBM reaches back over several decades; in fact, we have relied on the IBM Z platform and its predecessors since our inauguration as a municipal IT service provider back in the 1960s. Over more than 50 years, the platform has been continuously developed.

“Running traditional mainframe applications on z/OS side-by-side with SAP ERP on Linux on one IBM Z server has given us the operational flexibility on IBM Z to gradually modernize our clients' applications and embrace cutting-edge enterprise software, while still leveraging our extensive experience with the trusted and highly reliable IBM platform. This cost-efficient path for a digital transformation has enabled gkd-el to reinvent its business model, transitioning from a mainframe shop to an innovative, forward-looking SAP full-service provider.”

Dr. Peter Hauptmanns confirms: “The IBM Z platform enables us to deliver new offerings with attractive conditions, better addressing our clients’ evolving needs. Alongside focusing on SAP application hosting, we have also built up a strong SAP consulting and implementation team. This new business unit helps us to work even closer with our clients and add value by further streamlining their digital processes. By becoming a real one-stop shop for municipal SAP applications, we actively drive and support our clients’ modernization strategies, and underline our capabilities as competent data center and SAP partner.”

Karl Große Vogelsang remarks: “Before every renewal, we evaluate the options on the market. We know that if we decided to move away from the IBM Z platform, complexity would inevitably increase. For example, we would probably need several physical servers running different workloads to replace our mainframe. Such a dramatic expansion of our footprint would send administration workload as well as energy and cooling costs soaring. The IBM Z server remains an excellent option to run our clients’ SAP applications, because it offers outstanding performance and availability. Furthermore, IBM Z help us minimize administration costs compared to other platforms, so we can maintain a large environment with a remarkably small team.”

Because we run everything on an IBM Z mainframe server, including SAP applications on Linux, we can easily take on additional workload and scale up as needed without an increase in complexity.

Karl Große Vogelsang, Head of Data Center Operations, gkd-el

Results story

Driving stellar service

The IBM Z platform helps gkd-el maintain low operational costs, as Karl Große Vogelsang explains: “With a very small team we manage the entire IBM z13s mainframe and its platform-specific tools. I cannot imagine running such a large SAP environment so smoothly and with so few people on another platform than IBM Z. Our administration team can be confident in the mainframe’s stability at all times.”

Using the IBM Z platform also helps gkd-el deliver excellent performance to its clients. The company needs to run only a single SAP application server to provide access to its 2,000 users, with up to 800 of them working on the SAP applications in parallel. Jörg Kunze adds: “You do not want to delay processes for citizens, companies or clerks, because of complex calculations of communal taxes, for example. The configurable processor units in the new IBM z13s specialize in parallel processing of workloads for many thousands of users, combined with outstanding I/O performance.”

Thanks to stellar availability and rapid performance, gkd-el has achieved a top spot in a recent ranking of municipal IT service providers. Karl Große Vogelsang believes that stable fees are another important consideration for clients: “In the last few years, we have won several new clients, doubling the number of SAP systems we host. Other providers often acquire new servers and storage devices as their client base grows, which can cause fees to jump. Because we run everything on an IBM Z mainframe server, including SAP applications on Linux, we can easily take on additional workload and scale up as needed without an increase in complexity.”

The ultra-efficient IBM infrastructure helps gkd-el maintain low energy consumption and reduced cooling costs. The IBM DS8884 storage solution offers superb availability and consumes 3kW less than the previous system, an impressive saving of 53 percent. The new IBM z13s enterprise server, uses 10 percent less energy, despite offering around twice the performance.

Dr. Peter Hauptmanns concludes: “We always have to evaluate which platform meets our requirements best. This analysis includes complexity as well as administration effort, energy consumption and cooling cost. With the IBM z13s mainframe, we can keep our TCO low. The simplicity and reliability of the IBM Z platform confirm time after time that it is the right choice for us. IBM Z enables us to provide fast, efficient, first-class service for clerks to let them get on with their tasks without interruption, to the benefit of citizens. For many years now, we see again and again that the decision for IBM Z was and is the right one for us.”

Over more than 50 years, the IBM Z platform has been continuously developed.

Jörg Kunze, Head of the IBM Z and SAP Basis Team, gkd-el

gkd-el logo


gkd-el is an IT service provider that manages the entire IT infrastructure for the municipal government of Gelsenkirchen, a city in Germany. Additionally, the company provides services to the city of Herne, many other public-sector clients in the region. gkd-el focuses on delivering municipal applications supported by SAP software, modern online services and geographic information systems, and employs approximately 90 people.

Solution Components

  • DB2 for Linux, UNIX and Windows
  • DB2 for z/OS
  • Db2 for Z
  • IBM Z Operating System (26)
  • IBM Z: IBM Z running z/OS
  • IBM Z: IBM Z running z/VM
  • IGF
  • IGF: IT Financing - IBM Hardware
  • SAP ERP Human Capital Management (SAP ERP HCM)
  • SAP Solution Manager
  • Storage: IBM DS8880
  • Storage: TS3500 Tape Library

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