This leading sensor manufacturer has grown rapidly – both organically and through acquisition. To enable a high-growth future, the company looked to transform its IT performance, efficiency and scalability.
The company upgraded its SAP business applications to the SAP HANA database, running on high-performance IBM Power Systems E870 servers in combination with fast, highly scalable IBM Storage solutions.
60%faster response times enable employees to work more productively
45%improvement in time taken to complete a key pricing calculation report
4xincrease in storage capacity supports more efficient operations
Business challenge story
Supporting IoT innovators
Digital technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) have transformed manufacturing processes, heralding the dawn of a fourth industrial revolution. These changes have hiked demand for the technologies that link physical processes to the digital management systems, including sensors, transducers, identification systems, connectivity solutions and machine vision.
To serve this fast-growing market, this leading sensor manufacturer offers cutting-edge industrial automation solutions, designed to transform production efficiency. The company was outgrowing its original systems and processes, and limited performance, efficiency and scalability threatened to restrict growth.
For many years the company had relied on SAP ERP applications for operational, business and financial management, and it was keen to preserve the embedded processes and workflows that had helped deliver success. However, as data volumes and transaction workload increased, users experienced slow system response times and IT efficiency was starting to decline.
How could the company lay the foundations for further success by improving system performance, enhancing capacity, and enabling future scalability?
Upgrading IT operations
To accelerate its business processes, the company chose to migrate its applications to the SAP HANA in-memory database, with the ultimate strategic aim of transitioning to SAP S/4HANA applications. To make this plan a reality, it selected IBM Systems, including IBM Power Systems and IBM Storage systems, to support its new SAP HANA deployment, and to provide the basis for the future SAP S/4HANA deployment.
A spokesperson comments, “We are clear that our strategic aim is to move to next-generation SAP S/4HANA applications. To enable the transformation, we looked at offerings from several vendors, including x86 architecture solutions, but quickly concluded that IBM Power Systems was the best fit. We have been running our SAP environment on IBM Power Systems for many years, building a high level of expertise. IBM Power Systems offered the lowest total cost of ownership of all the solutions we considered.”
Making migration smooth
A local IBM Business Partner implemented two IBM Power Systems E870 servers, which feature IBM POWER8® processors. The solution takes advantage of IBM PowerVM® virtualization micro-partitioning to run approximately 60 logical partitions (LPARs) in parallel across the two IBM Power Systems E870 servers. The largest LPARs support the new SAP HANA databases, running on the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications operating system.
Working with IBM and the IBM Business Partner, the company migrated its mission-critical SAP ERP, SAP Customer Relationship Management and SAP Human Capital Management applications to the SAP HANA database. Today, the system supports 2,500 concurrent users.
To take full advantage of the new platform, the team is working to deploy and test solutions specifically designed to run on the SAP HANA database, including SAP Extended Warehouse Management and SAP BW/4HANA.
The spokesperson recalls: “The migration went very smoothly, especially considering the size of the databases we were working with. We were able to migrate everything, including one large 1.7 TB database, to the new environment without any issues. We were very pleased by the work that our partners put in, which helped ensure that the migration went to plan.”
The company simultaneously upgraded its storage environment and deployed IBM FlashSystem® 900 and IBM Storwize® V5030 (now known as IBM FlashSystem 5030) storage systems. IBM Spectrum® Virtualize, a software-defined storage offering, virtualizes and consolidates the storage capacity, providing simplified management, consistent functionality and greater efficiency. The virtualized environment ensures rapid and reliable data delivery, and provides the capacity and scalability required to handle future operations.
The spokesperson comments: “Thanks to virtualization, our storage environment is easy to manage and very flexible. The powerful all-flash IBM FlashSystem devices provide great performance, helping us to give our business users quick access to the information and documents they need.”
Giving business operations a boost
With its SAP applications now running on the in-memory data platform SAP HANA on IBM Power Systems E870 servers and supported with IBM Storage systems, the company has seen a substantial increase in performance, and SAP application response times are now up to 60 percent faster.
The spokesperson comments: “One advanced pricing and controlling calculation that we wanted to run daily used to take more than 24 hours. The long runtime for the report meant that the material master data was ‘locked’ and couldn’t be changed, increasing the risk that incorrect prices and exchange rates remained in the system. Thanks to IBM Power Systems and SAP HANA, the pricing calculation report is now completed 45 percent faster than before, ensuring that employees have timely access to accurate pricing information.
“In general terms, SAP HANA and IBM Power Systems have delivered performance improvements across all business processes.
“For example, an important finance report that several departments rely on to support internal cost control and planning is always available more than 60 percent sooner, so that employees have all the information ready when they need it. Backups now run 10 percent faster as well.
“We renewed our commitment to the IBM Power Systems platform because we have always been satisfied with the availability and stability of our servers. IBM Power Systems has proven to be a remarkably reliable infrastructure solution over the years.”
The spokesperson continues: “IBM Power Systems is also a very low-maintenance, easy-to-manage platform, especially compared to x86 architecture solutions. When evaluating the marketplace, we realized that we would have to dedicate much more time and effort to patching an x86 server environment compared to IBM Power Systems.”
Crucially, the company has laid the groundwork for its upcoming move to SAP S/4HANA applications. The spokesperson concludes: “SAP applications running on the SAP HANA database, supported on IBM Power Systems, offers a highly reliable, high-performance solution for our critical business systems.
“To support internal digital transformation efforts such as integration of comprehensive IoT services into our offerings and enable real-time reporting, we have already started planning our move to the next-generation business suite, SAP S/4HANA. For this next step, IBM Power Systems provides us with the solid foundation we need to be ready for new business demands.”
About the sensor manufacturer
This world-leading manufacturer of sensor solutions offers sophisticated technology, cutting-edge electronics products, application-specific customer solutions and highly trained service staff.
Take the next step
To learn more about IBM Power Systems for SAP HANA, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit: ibm.com/power/saphana