To deliver on time to clients around the world, Intas Pharmaceuticals Ltd. relies on month-end sales data from 48 global subsidiaries for production planning. However, manual financial closing processes meant it often took weeks to share the necessary insights with manufacturing teams—increasing the risk of delays.
To lay the foundations for an agile, data-driven supply chain, Intas moved to SAP® Business Suite powered by SAP HANA® running on IBM® Power® servers with SUSE Linux® Enterprise Server for SAP Applications (link resides outside of ibm.com). The new platform delivers month-end data 67% faster, enabling the company to accelerate planning, shrink order backlogs by 25% and mitigate the risk of supply chain disruption.
Medical professionals in 85 countries trust Intas to deliver high-quality drug therapies. The company is expanding rapidly, with a 22% compound annual growth rate—but as its reach widens, so do its supply chain risks.
Nikunj Thaker, General Manager Information Technology at Intas, explains: “Like many global pharmaceutical manufacturers, we’ve experienced increased supply chain disruption in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. To mitigate those risks and deliver to our clients on time, it’s crucial to maintain optimal inventory levels.”
For production planning, Intas depends on timely access to sales data. For 11 years, all 48 Intas subsidiaries relied on a single instance of SAP ERP to manage this information. Although many business processes across the subsidiaries were integrated, each entity had its own chart of accounts, and consolidating month-end sales data took between 10 and 15 days, leading to planning delays.
Thaker confirms: “If we could accelerate planning, we knew we could reduce order backlogs and deliver to global clients faster going forward. First, it was essential to cut the lead time for closing our books at the end of each month.”
Enables 67% faster month-end closing
Contributes to 25% reduction in order backlog
To solve the challenge, Intas decided to move to a single global chart of accounts on SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA. By applying in-memory analytics from SAP HANA, the company targeted greater control and visibility of global inventory while reducing the time and effort involved in the month-end closing process.
“We saw that deploying SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA was the fastest way to enhance our financial accounting and supply chain capabilities,” says Thaker. “With SAP Business Suite, we can access the rich, real-time analytics capabilities of SAP HANA without making changes to the third-party manufacturing and quality management systems that integrate with our ERP platform. In addition, moving to SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA now will streamline our planned transition to SAP S/4HANA in the future.”
To deliver the performance, reliability and availability to help ensure always-on access to the new SAP solutions, Intas selected a robust infrastructure based on IBM Power servers and IBM FlashSystem® storage.
“When we evaluated the IBM solution against x86 and public cloud alternatives, we found that no other vendor offered the same level of performance, availability and cost-efficiency as IBM,” recallsThaker. “With IBM Power, we can gain the same performance as equivalent x86 platforms with fewer servers, which allows us to optimize our software licensing spend.”
The new infrastructure comprises two IBM Power H922 servers connected to all-flash IBM FlashSystem 5030 storage, replicated to a disaster recovery site configured with a further two IBM Power H922 servers connected to a hybrid IBM FlashSystem 5030H storage array. The company uses IBM Spectrum® Protect software to create backups of its production environment automatically, helping it to safeguard mission-critical data.
To help ensure maximum performance and reliability for its mission-critical SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA solutions, the company selected SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for SAP Applications.
“We selected SLES for SAP Applications as our operating system [OS] because of the close strategic alliance between SUSE, IBM and SAP,” Thaker explains. “SLES for SAP Applications offers excellent performance and reliability for SAP HANA workloads, which gives us confidence that the platform will satisfy our long-term requirements.”
To support always-on data access, Intas has configured the new SAP environment as a high-availability cluster using the SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension technology included with SLES for SAP Applications. By seamlessly shifting production services to the disaster recovery node, the company can perform many routine maintenance tasks without interrupting business services.
Thaker adds: “With SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension, we have greatly reduced the downtime window required for bigger maintenance activities, such as SAP solution upgrades. In the past, a kernel upgrade involved eight hours of downtime, but today we can complete the work and restart production services in just three hours—63% faster.”
Using the saptune configuration tool in SLES for SAP Applications, Intas can also greatly accelerate OS deployment for new SAP workloads. Thaker confirms: “If we didn’t have saptune, then provisioning a new SAP service would require time-consuming OS configuration work. Thanks to the SUSE tool, we can perform all the required process steps with a couple of clicks—cutting time to value for new SAP services.”
Intas engaged IBM Business Partner Silver Touch Technologies Ltd. to implement the new solution, which is now hosted, managed and maintained by a third-party infrastructure service provider. By selecting a private cloud solution based on IBM Power and IBM FlashSystem, the company gains the flexibility and agility of a hyperscaler for a significantly lower operational cost than a public cloud platform.
“We selected IBM Business Partner Silver Touch because we have worked with them on previous infrastructure projects, and we’ve always had excellent experiences with their team,” says Thaker. “As well as being a certified IBM Business Partner, Silver Touch has strong experience in managing SUSE and SAP workloads, and that knowledge shone through during the implementation. Silver Touch helped us achieve a smooth go live, and seamlessly transition the day-to-day operation of the platform to a third-party infrastructure specialist.”
Since moving to SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA on IBM Power servers, Intas has begun to unlock measurable improvements across multiple business processes. In particular, the company has greatly accelerated month-end closing, delivering timely data access for production planning.
“In the past, combing through month-end data from 48 global subsidiaries was a painstaking process,” Thaker comments. “Each individual reporting job took up to eight hours to complete, after which our teams would manually consolidate the results—but today, we’ve cut that entire part of the workflow down to just one hour. In total, we’ve shrunk month-end closing to just five days, a reduction of approximately 67%.”
Thaker continues: “Sending sales data to our planning teams faster has already allowed us to cut down our order backlog by 25%. And in the future, using the advanced supply chain capabilities of SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA will allow us to reduce delays and speed up deliveries further still.”
Intas is driving its business on a robust IT platform, giving the company peace of mind that mission-critical SAP business services are running on an infrastructure that is designed for high availability. In addition, the company is reducing both the duration of planned downtime for maintenance and its overall infrastructure costs.
“In the five months we’ve been live with IBM Power, we haven’t experienced a single technical issue with the platform—SAP application performance for our end users has been flawless,” confirms Thaker. “The combination of IBM FlashSystem storage and data compression and deduplication with SAP HANA has also had a very positive impact. We’ve reduced our SAP application database from 6 TB to 780 GB, which accelerates our data protection workloads and helps keep vital data safe.”
Today, Intas has a resilient platform to support its fast-growing business, and a smooth path for its future move to SAP S/4HANA®.
“We are extremely pleased with the performance, reliability and scalability of our SAP business systems running on IBM Power servers and SLES for SAP Applications,” concludes Thaker. “Our engagement with IBM and Silver Touch was a great experience from beginning to end, and we look forward to working with both organizations on future infrastructure projects.”
Intas (link resides outside of ibm.com) is a leading, vertically integrated global pharmaceutical formulation development, manufacturing and marketing company. Present in 85 countries worldwide, the company has a robust sales, marketing and distribution infrastructure in North America, Europe, Central and Latin America, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa.
Established in 1995, IBM Business Partner Silver Touch (link resides outside of ibm.com) is an IT solutions provider that focuses on the adoption of emerging technologies and digital transformation. The company specializes in robotic process automation (RPA), AI, cognitive and other technologies. Silver Touch has offices in India, the UK and the US serves more than 2,000 clients around the world.
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