IT services company UMB believes that time is one of the most valuable resources, and the way to ‘create time’ is to deploy bold, innovative technologies. To enable its vision, UMB wanted to offer customers high-performance capabilities that would accelerate digitalization, speed up analytics, and support advanced industrial automation and Industry 4.0 initiatives.
With a growing number of its clients adopting the SAP HANA database and the next-generation SAP S/4HANA business application, UMB was looking to streamline its operations and deliver services as cost-efficiently, reliably and sustainably as possible.
Mathias Lang, Head of SAP at UMB AG, says: “As an IT service provider, SAP HANA is definitely a growth area for us. To make the most of this business opportunity, we needed to expand our UMB Cloud solution with the fastest and most-advanced technology to run these demanding workloads reliably, which would help us to sharpen our competitive edge in the Swiss market. For example, for one customer, we needed to be ready to process two million transactions per day to ensure the uninterrupted operation of its complex and tightly integrated production facilities.”
While UMB has clients in a broad range of sectors, the company focuses its growth efforts on the life sciences sector in particular. “Switzerland is a leading location for life sciences, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology companies,” confirms Mathias Lang. “For these businesses, stability is paramount to support highly sensitive production processes. As regulated businesses, they often require highly defined and closely controlled processes, something that we can offer with our UMB Cloud solution.”
Running mission-critical SAP HANA databases on IBM Power enables rapid restarts.
Running IBM Power servers is less expensive over a five-year period.
To deliver stable SAP HANA databases and SAP S/4HANA business applications for its customers, UMB has been using IBM® Power® and SUSE Linux Enterprise Sever for SAP Applications for many years, as central building-block of its UMB Cloud offering. To enable the capacity to onboard new customers, UMB has already deployed six IBM Power E1050 servers with IBM Power10 processors and is planning to install a further six IBM Power S1024 servers.
“IBM Power has proven to be an outstanding, highly resilient platform for SAP HANA,” notes Mathias Lang. “With the latest IBM Power10 systems, we now run nine IBM Power servers for our UMB Cloud. Using IBM PowerVM®, our IBM Power hybrid cloud environment of 19 servers runs a total of 60 logical partitions. The 13 new IBM Power10 servers will support our largest and fastest-growing customers.”
Aiming to further streamline its data center operations, UMB is working with IBM and IBM Expert Care Services to increase the level of automation and standardization for SAP HANA on IBM Power. Together, the team has deployed an additional IBM Power L1022 server, and is evaluating both IBM PowerVC and the Red Hat Ansible IT Automation Platform to speed up repetitive setup processes.
“Using IBM PowerVC and Ansible, we can formalize successful best practices and create templates that save us time,” says Mathias Lang. “With these tools we will be able to deploy new systems much more quickly, and deliver highly standardized SAP HANA environments that make it easier for us to ensure we can deliver the best possible customer service.”
With its customers asking for higher availability and fewer maintenance windows, UMB is planning to move more of its SAP application servers to IBM Power. “By consolidating SAP application servers on IBM Power, we can minimize administration and maintenance costs while boosting availability for our customers,” says Mathias Lang.
As a next step in modernizing and optimizing its hybrid cloud solution, UMB is currently evaluating the adoption of IBM FlashSystem® storage solutions, optimized for IBM Power servers.
Thanks to the reliability and performance of IBM Power10, UMB can deliver SAP as a Service more efficiently and securely than ever before. “It’s much easier for us to run large SAP HANA databases on IBM Power, leading to higher productivity,” says Mathias Lang. “We ran an extensive total cost of ownership analysis and found that IBM Power servers were 25 percent less expensive to run over a five-year period than alternatives.”
Time and again, UMB and its customers benefit from the advanced reliability, availability, and security features of the IBM Power platform. “Just recently, for example, we replaced a memory module without any impact on our customer’s business processes,” confirms Mathias Lang. “We and our customers have become completely familiar with this level of stability, where built-in redundancy minimizes the risk of outages and maximizes business continuity.”
The additional capacity of the IBM Power E1050 servers will enable UMB to consolidate all its SAP HANA workloads to the IBM Power architecture, streamlining systems management and improving customer service. “When we onboard new customers, they are always very happy with the improved performance and granular scalability we can offer,” says Mathias Lang. “Using IBM Power we can easily vertically scale SAP HANA and SAP S/4HANA systems to 3 TB and way beyond, with a single instance. On other architectures, we would need to set up clusters, which would increase complexity and costs substantially. On IBM Power, we can scale systems without having to restart, which makes a huge difference for customers whose business operations include tightly integrated and time-sensitive processes.”
UMB also takes advantage of IBM Power Micro-Partitioning® technology, which enables system scaling at much smaller increments than on other architectures. “With IBM Power Micro-Partitioning, we can align system sizes much better with actual business needs,” explains Mathias Lang. “We can increase or decrease system sizes quickly by steps of just 0.05 processing units ─ a tiny fraction of a physical core. And because the performance of IBM Power processor cores is much better than that of other architectures, by assigning fewer cores to certain workloads, we can also reduce licensing costs for our customers.”
The higher performance of IBM Power and its optimization for SAP HANA workload significantly reduces maintenance windows for customers. “Restarting an SAP HANA database could take 45 minutes on some architectures,” says Mathias Lang. “On IBM Power with an improved configuration, it now only takes about 16 minutes – an improvement of over 60% that makes a real difference for some of our customers. And we continue to apply IBM and SAP best practices to further accelerate system maintenance in the future.”
Now that UMB is part of the international energy and infrastructure company BKW Group, sustainability has become even more important. “Consolidating many systems on just a few IBM Power servers also optimizes the energy efficiency in our data center,” says Mathias Lang. ‟This is increasingly important to our clients, who often have their own sustainability targets too. With IBM Power, we can effectively contribute to lowering the carbon footprint for our customers.“
Keeping control of core business information is essential for some customers with a strong focus on research and development. By running its customers’ mission-critical workloads in Switzerland, UMB can strengthen data protection and ease compliance with Swiss data privacy regulations.
Mathias Lang concludes: “The high performance and stability of SAP HANA running on our latest IBM Power10 servers confirms why it is widely known as a stable and reliable platform. IBM Power stands out with its high level of security, requiring fewer patches and providing an effective protection against cyberattacks. With our UMB Cloud based on IBM Power servers, we provide a unique offering in Switzerland: customers can run their most critical and largest SAP systems in our UMB Cloud and focus on their core business. The UMB cloud service supported by IBM Power servers truly creates time for our customers, helping them innovate and grow.”
UMB is an IBM Platinum Business Partner based in Switzerland. Employing 850 people across 18 offices, UMB specializes in business consulting, cloud, IT architecture, digital transformation, modern work, data science and infrastructure. Five times in a row, UMB has been recognized by the Great Place to Work Institute as the best employer in Switzerland and was named Europe’s best employer in 2022.
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