Expanding fast, Asahi Kasei Group was looking for ways to streamline and optimize its back-office IT systems. How could it support growth without the cost and complexity of infrastructure refreshes? Asahi Kasei developed a scalable platform that transforms operational agility by migrating to IBM Power Systems.
Business volumes were outpacing Asahi Kasei Group’s ability to grow the IT infrastructure supporting its SAP HANA databases, and the company was faced with a costly replacement of x86-based systems.
Asahi Kasei chose to migrate to the IBM Power Systems platform, taking advantage of advanced virtualization to deliver lower total cost of ownership, reduced complexity and improved performance.
When Asahi Kasei Group first deployed SAP HANA in-memory database technology, the company had taken the ‘appliance’ route, with x86 architecture servers. Across the group, the company required five servers to run the SAP HANA databases, including production, quality management and development instances, and two test servers.
As the company grew, so did the server landscape, and the systems were becoming costly to manage—and less reliable as complexity grew. With transaction volumes rising, the Asahi Kasei IT team could see that an infrastructure refresh was inevitable. The x86 architecture did not permit the addition of compute power and memory to the existing servers, instead requiring an entirely new deployment of larger machines. The company also planned to upgrade its SAP HANA software version, and at the same time looked for reduced total costs of ownership and greater reliability, availability and security.
In addition, the team was keen to escape the cycle of hardware upgrades, and looked for a more gradual way to increase future capacity. Combined with commercial constraints on budget, Asahi Kasei set a high bar for the new infrastructure.
Mr. Shiotsuki, Corporate Systems Operation Department, Asahi Kasei, explains, “Prior to introducing SAP HANA we relied on overnight batch processing to enable business analysis. By using SAP HANA we could achieve almost real-time data for analysis. Additionally, since the processing speed was overwhelmingly fast, very soon we consumed more reports than originally planned. As the amount of data accumulated each year, we were able to sustain performance by deleting old data, but this approach had reached the limit.
“When we asked if we could add system memory to cope with the increase in data workload, I was surprised by the vendor’s response that I could not increase memory further, which presented a significant problem."
When the IT team first reviewed IBM Power Systems as an alternative to the x86 architecture for the SAP HANA database, it was concerned about the data migration risks posed by the change in platform architecture (in technical terms, from little-endian to big-endian). To reassure Asahi Kasei, IBM and IBM Business Partner AJS Inc. (link resides outside of ibm.com) demonstrated a data migration Proof of Concept (PoC), showing the ease of the process and that performance targets could be exceeded.
The total cost of ownership was calculated based on the PoC and the Asahi Kasei workload, showing the advantages of the IBM Power Systems platform. Asahi Kasei could remove the cost, complexity and workload of managing multiple physical servers by deploying its SAP HANA databases to a single IBM Power Systems E870C server. The server contains 20 POWER8® processor cores, with 1.4 TB of main memory.
Using IBM PowerVM® capabilities, Asahi Kasei can create multiple separate environments, known as LPARs, on the server. Each LPAR can run an isolated operating system supporting a virtual machine (VM)—for example, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications to run SAP HANA. Each LPAR can be configured with exactly the right share of available resources to optimize performance of its VM, including dynamic allocation of memory and compute capacity to manage ad-hoc and peak workloads. In addition, Asahi Kasei is now able to enjoy near-limitless scalability to manage future workload growth by taking advantage of Capacity on Demand capabilities.
Mr. Suzuki, Corporate IT Management at Asahi Kasei, explains why the company chose the IBM Power Systems platform: "IBM Power Systems offered the flexibility to add as much core and memory as and when needed without purchasing additional machines, and to provide complete business continuity even during an upgrade. The capabilities of the IBM Power Systems platform were exactly what we were looking for.”
He continues, “Even though the server is on-premises you can use it like a cloud, easily activating and flexing resources as the data workload increases and decreases. By sharing the production and development instances on the same server, there is no need for additional physical systems to manage these changes, offering great business flexibility."
With the IBM Power Systems server, Asahi Kasei gains a highly reliable SAP-certified infrastructure. Most importantly, the solution offers the flexibility to manage the ad-hoc and peak workloads that the company previously struggled to manage, and delivers very high solution reliability.
Using IBM PowerVM, Asahi Kasei can create virtual environments in multiple LPARs to run its production, test, and development services on a single managed system, helping to reduce administration workload and cost. The IBM Power Systems technologies help Asahi Kasei to maximize performance, ensure the greatest return on investment, and provide a long-term solution as the company grows.
Mr. Suzuki remarks, "Asahi Kasei has gained excellent flexibility and scalability, assisted by IBM and IBM Business Partner AJS. Adding new SAP HANA instances can be completed easily and quickly. The flexibility and availability of SAP HANA on IBM Power Systems has become a powerful way to promote the company's ambitious information strategy.”
Founded in 1931, the Asahi Kasei Group (link resides outside of ibm.com) in Japan is a diversified manufacturer centered on chemistry. The company operates in three business sectors: materials (fibers, chemicals, electronics); homes (construction materials); and healthcare (pharmaceuticals, medical devices, acute critical care). Headquartered in Tokyo, Asahi Kasei employs more than 33,000 people and is one of the largest chemicals companies in Japan.
To learn more about IBM Power Systems for SAP HANA, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit: ibm.com/power/sap-hana
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