More than 20,000 staff use State Forests’ ERP system to manage everything from logging to conservation, but an increasingly unreliable IT infrastructure threatened to bring operations to a halt.
State Forests, as the result of a public tender, worked with IBM Systems Lab Services to replace its existing x86 server platform with IBM Power Systems E880 servers to support its critical ERP solution.
Zerounplanned downtime ensures that infrastructure runs smoothly day in, day out
Significantincrease in application performance, increasing employee productivity
40%reduction in licensing costs over five-year period, slashing total cost of ownership
Business challenge story
Tackling the root of the problem
Dense forest covers 9.1 million hectares of land in Poland, almost 30 percent of its territory, and includes some of the last remaining areas of ancient woodland that once stretched right across Europe. State Forests (Lasy Państwowe) is the government organization tasked with managing more than 7.5 million hectares of the country’s forested terrain. Its mission is to safeguard Poland’s forests through sustainable management and conservation.
State Forests has relied on IBM® Informix® database technology to support its core ERP system for more than 20 years. The custom-built application, fittingly named LAS (Polish for ‘forest’), is used by around 20,000 employees every day.
Piotr Smiatacz, IT Director at State Forests, begins: “Staff use the LAS application to manage logging, timber distribution, reforestation, game breeding, conservation programs and more. LAS is at the very heart of our operations, so we need it to perform reliably – day in, day out.”
However, State Forests found that the underlying infrastructure was becoming increasingly unreliable as time went by.
Tomasz Grudziński, Infrastructure Team Manager at State Forests, says: “Our existing x86 server platform was nearing end of life and performance had slowed quite considerably. Servers would often crash at peak times, leaving employees unable to use the LAS application.”
To improve application availability and performance, State Forests wanted to replace its aging server platform with a more powerful alternative.
Branching out to IBM Power Systems
As the result of a public procurement procedure, State Forests selected IBM® Power Systems™ as its new technology platform.
Piotr Smiatacz recalls: “We evaluated offerings from nine different vendors, including several x86 architecture solutions, and IBM Power Systems came out on top in terms of price-performance. What’s more, moving to Power Systems promised to reduce Informix licensing costs by 40 percent over five years, significantly lowering total cost of ownership. We were also very impressed by the compute power, scalability and reliability of the platform.”
Supported by IBM Systems Lab Services, State Forests implemented one IBM Power Systems E880 server, featuring 116 POWER8® processor cores, at its primary data center and a second E880 server with 32 POWER8 cores at its DR site. State Forests also deployed two IBM FlashSystem® 900 devices, improving storage performance and simplifying management.
Thanks to IBM Power Systems Capacity on Demand (CoD) features, State Forests can activate dormant processor and memory resources as required. The Power Systems E880 servers also feature Power Enterprise Pool technology, which enables State Forests to share the CoD resources between the two systems, helping to ensure continuous application availability in the event of a failure at one site.
Tomasz Grudziński comments: “Capacity on Demand and Power Enterprise Pool are just two examples of the technical superiority of IBM Power Systems. It’s reassuring to know that we can increase compute power to meet future growth in demand without having to deploy new physical machines.”
Next, State Forests and the IBM Systems Lab Services team migrated more than 400 Informix databases running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux to the new platform – making it the largest Linux on Power Systems installation in Poland.
Piotr Smiatacz notes: “We’re happy with the support we received from all the parties involved. We signed the contract with Cloudware Poland as the result of the procurement process, and IBM Systems Lab Services worked as the subcontractor throughout the installation and migration. Pro-Holding is responsible for maintenance and support services, but we keep in close contact with the IBM team as well.”
Turning over a new leaf
Since making the move to IBM Power Systems, State Forests has seen system availability, reliability and performance soar – ensuring that its core business application is always available during the working day.
“Previously, we would have to deal with regular server failures and outages that took the LAS application offline and left employees unable to access the information they need to do their jobs,” says Tomasz Grudziński. “Since replacing our x86 server platform with IBM Power Systems we have not experienced any unplanned infrastructure downtime whatsoever.”
Piotr Smiatacz adds: “We’ve had great feedback from staff, as the user experience has improved immensely. With LAS always available and performing well, employees can work much more productively. There is also less pressure on the IT team, who are no longer rushed off their feet troubleshooting issues.”
While ramping up availability and performance, State Forests has significantly lowered its total cost of ownership.
“Maintenance costs are lower, licensing costs are lower and energy costs are lower,” says Piotr Smiatacz. “We look set to save 40 percent on Informix licensing costs over the next five years, and improved energy efficiency means that our electricity bills will be lower too. The IBM Power Systems platform delivers much better value for money, which is particularly important for us as we don’t receive any public funding. It means that we can invest the savings into our services. The impressive energy efficiency of the solution also fits well with our green computing initiative.”
With IBM Power Systems, State Forests has laid the ideal foundation to support operations now and in the future.
Tomasz Grudziński concludes: “The ability to dynamically adjust compute and memory resources means that we will be able to take whatever comes in our stride to keep our business application running reliably.”
About State Forests Poland
State Forests (Lasy Państwowe) is the government organization responsible for managing Poland’s state-owned forests on behalf of the Polish State Treasury. It oversees around 7.5 million hectares of forested terrain – about 25 percent of Poland’s territory. The organization supports conservation efforts, sustainable timber production and tourism. Headquartered in Warsaw, State Forests employs more than 26,000 people.
Take the next step
To learn more about IBM Power Systems, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/power
Cloudware Poland is a systems integrator based in Warsaw. Its team of consultants works with clients across a range of industries in both the public and private sector. To learn more about products and services from Cloudware Poland, visit: www.cloudware.pl/en
Pro-Holding is a leading IT services provider with extensive experience of IBM Informix, headquartered in Kraków, Poland. For more information, please visit: www.proholding.com.pl