How could KRZ-SWD bring its new HR and payroll app to a growing set of churches and charities, ensuring high performance, resilience and security without breaking the bank?
KRZ-SWD placed its new and existing workloads on a Java/Oracle/Linux stack, running first on an upgraded version of its previous IBM zBC12 machines, migrating to IBM z14 ZR1 once available.
Increasesperformance and capacity to support new applications and future changes
Boostssimplicity and flexibility by combining core processes on the same hardware
Cuts costsby reducing data center space and duplication of licensing costs
Business challenge story
Helping the helpers
To sustain their important work, charities and churches have to run as businesses. Employees must be paid, while human and financial resources should be carefully and transparently managed. Stiftung Kirchliches Rechenzentrum Südwestdeutschland (KRZ-SWD) is a specialist provider of applications and IT services to churches and the charity sector in Germany, allowing them to focus on their services to the community.
KRZ-SWD looks after the HR and payroll services for 500,000 employees of charities and churches – no small task. To ensure reliable, secure, high-performance services, the organization has long relied on the IBM Z® platform.
KRZ-SWD’s database platform was a thorn in its side – it was extremely expensive, and the version it was using was about to go out of support by the Independent software vendor (ISV) that provides the solution. The company saw an opportunity to future-proof the environment and reduce licensing costs by moving to a new platform.
In parallel, KRZ-SWD had decided to implement a more modern version of its payroll and HR application, working with its external ISV to rebuild the application based on Java and Linux. To ensure strong performance and scalability, KRZ-SWD needed a high-capacity server to support both the new application and its upgraded database environment.
Consolidating to IBM Z
After exploring options for running its new application on Linux on a distributed architecture composed of x86 servers, KRZ-SWD’s ISV – a company called GIP – realized that this approach would be considerably less reliable than a mainframe solution.
GIP together with KRZ-SWD took a recommendation from IBM to rebuild the application, now named KIDICAP NEO, on Java and Linux with Oracle database, following successful total cost of ownership (TCO) studies. This approach enabled it to continue to run the software stack on the IBM Z platform, but now with the added flexibility and cost-efficiency of Linux.
As part of its efforts to demonstrate the superiority of the mainframe, IBM worked with KRZ-SWD’s ISV to ensure a smooth migration and ongoing support for its software on the Z platform, including extensive testing and prototyping. Following positive results, the ISV and KRZ-SWD discussed the option of staying on the mainframe. A particular advantage here was the ability to execute more database workload per processor core, reducing the number of software licenses required on Z.
With the launch of the IBM z14 Model ZR1 on the horizon, KRZ-SWD prepared to host KIDICAP NEO on this new server. The z14 includes new high-performance processors, large memory, and synchronous input/output (I/O) to storage, delivering significant performance improvements and driving faster user response times. Its increased capacity also helps users manage more workloads at a lower cost.
KRZ-SWD signed up to the Early Support Program for the latest IBM z14 Model ZR1 as its future platform for both legacy workloads and the new application, to future-proof its services. As an interim step, so the app was not left in limbo, IBM upgraded the existing zBC12 machine at KRZ-SWD by adding two Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) engines and increasing the MIPS.
KRZ-SWD then deployed an IBM z14 model ZR1 server, with two central processors, and eight active IFL engines – plus a further eight IFLs ready for future activation as workload rises.
The company then moved its workloads to the z14, and began the process of migrating the legacy KIDICAP software to the new Linux-based version called KIDICAP NEO on the same server. This migration of the full legacy software stack to the new environment will be performed over the coming two years.
A solution to put your faith in
Running the new payroll and HR workload on the same hardware enables close integration with other systems. This means resources and backup arrangements can be shared, cutting license costs and keeping everything within the existing high-security Z environment.
KRZ-SWD has seen significant improvements in performance and capacity since replacing the zBC12 with the latest z14 hardware. The industry-standard 19-inch rack form factor for the new z14 ZR1 means that it fits perfectly with other infrastructure in the data center, which reduces long-term complexity and cost.
Roger Spannagel, IT Specialist at KRZ-SWD, remarked: “The new 19-inch rack format of the IBM z14 ZR1 will perfectly fit in our data center, aligned with x86 infrastructure server farms.”
The new server also offers features such as pervasive encryption, which could be of interest to KRZ-SWD in the future.
Frank Schütze, Head of the IT department at KRZ-SWD, elaborates: “The IBM z14 server provides us with the extended capacity and increased performance we need for running our new payroll Linux application based on Java technology and Oracle database. IBM Z platform is very cost-effective and delivers exceptional reliability, availability and serviceability (RAS) levels, helping us improve the quality of service we deliver to our clients.”
KRZ-SWD built a second data center several kilometers from the first to further strengthen its systems. The company deployed a second z14 model ZR1 to act as a failover target in the unlikely event of an incident involving the primary machine or site. Disk mirroring between the sites keeps data current and enables rapid restart with no loss of data in a disaster scenario.
By hosting all of its mission-critical workloads on IBM Z, KRZ-SWD will continue to benefit from the platform’s bullet-proof reliability and availability. The modern solution will allow it to adapt to any challenges the future holds, scaling as the business grows while maintaining its strong level of service.
This increased performance and flexibility ultimately allows KRZ-SWD to offer better IT support to its customers, so that church and charity employees can focus on their vital work, without needing to think about the infrastructure that underpins their payroll and HR systems.
Jochen Gamber, CEO of KRZ-SWD, concludes: “The IBM Early Support Program (ESP) provided KRZ-SWD with the opportunity to keep the lead on technology innovations, introducing the new server in our data center very early. We can demonstrate to our customers our capability to modernize and innovate in new technologies while providing them with a very modern and cost-effective infrastructure, a key competitive differentiator.”
Founded in 1972, Stiftung Kirchliches Rechenzentrum Südwestdeutschland (KRZ-SWD) is one of Germany’s leading IT service companies for the church and charity sectors. The company provides full IT solutions to social, church and public institutions, including electronic data processing for payroll, membership, HR and financial accounting.