IBM powers the pipeline for ARC Resources Ltd.

Taking performance and availability to the next level with IBM Power Systems and IBM XIV

Published on 12-Apr-2012

Validated on 21 Mar 2014

"IBM has given us high-quality solutions with the availability and reliability we need." - Mike Capon, supervisor of network services, ARC Resources Ltd.

Customer:
ARC Resources Ltd.

Industry:
Energy & Utilities

Deployment country:
Canada

Solution:
Solutions for Smart Business, Automation, Business Continuity, Business Resiliency, Business Service Management , High Availability , Optimizing IT, Service Management, Virtualization - Storage

IBM Business Partner:
Raven Bay Services

Overview

ARC Resources Ltd. is one of Canada’s leading conventional oil and gas companies. Based in Calgary, Alberta, the company has experienced significant growth since it was originally established in 1996.

Business need:
ARC Resources needed a new, parallelized infrastructure solution that would provide substantial performance improvement for the company’s Oracle environment and enable full-capacity failover.

Solution:
ARC implemented three IBM Power® 770 servers and two IBM XIV® Storage Systems to ensure they could deliver IT services faster as well as achieve their strict quality policy of zero downtime.

Benefits:
The solution reduced Oracle refresh times from four hours to 15 minutes, cut month-end financial processing times by more than half and enabled ad hoc reports to run 90 percent faster.

Case Study

ARC Resources Ltd. is one of Canada’s leading conventional oil and gas companies. Based in Calgary, Alberta, the company has experienced significant growth since it was originally established in 1996. When the company needed a new, parallelized server and storage infrastructure to support its demanding Oracle environment while accommodating this growth, there was no question as to which technology provider the company would choose.

“We had built a great solution with IBM in 2007, so we just wanted to take it to the next level—to introduce more automation and be able to provide more rapid response to the business units,” says Mike Capon, supervisor of network services for ARC. “We were very happy with the Power server-based solution we had from IBM previously, and we intended to continue with IBM.”

Working closely with IBM Premier Business Partner Raven Bay Services, ARC implemented IBM Power 770 servers and IBM XIV Storage Systems. The new systems support business-critical Oracle applications in the company’s key business units including production accounting, financial accounting, operational volume reporting and land management.

Building on a successful history of IBM availability and reliability

Back in 2007, ARC was using a solution that had reached end of life and was no longer meeting performance expectations. At that time, ARC reviewed several potential solutions and ultimately decided to go with IBM Power Systems™ running IBM AIX®.

“IBM has given us high-quality solutions with the availability and reliability we need,” Capon states. “We haven’t had a single issue with it since implementing the original solution in 2007. I don’t think we’ve had any downtime at all.”

With the goal of continuing to enjoy a highly available, reliable hardware solution—as well as delivering new capabilities—Capon and his team worked with Raven Bay to design a new parallelized server and storage infrastructure for ARC. The new systems include two IBM Power 770 servers for ARC’s production environments, one Power 770 server for the company’s disaster recovery site, and two XIV Storage Systems with 41 TB of storage capacity each.

Speeding toward critical business benefits

The new solution combining Power 770 servers and XIV storage has dramatically improved performance in ARC’s Oracle environment, speeding processing and reporting, and leading to numerous business benefits. Automation in the new solution significantly speeds up tasks that used to be done using slower, manual processes. For example, instead of refreshing Oracle software environments by manually restoring from tape storage, the XIV Storage Systems automate the refresh process, reducing it from four hours to just 15 minutes, which dramatically improves service delivery.

“In addition to making IT more responsive to the needs of the business units overall, automation has had a tremendous impact on the performance of the system itself,” says Capon. “Month-end processing in our financial accounting system has gone from 4.5 hours to less than two hours.”

The financial reporting data that ARC publishes is critical to the company’s decision making, and the same automation that speeds end-of-month financial processing has a beneficial effect on report generation as well. Capon says that the two are related.

“When you have the financial month-end processing job creeping up over four hours, there are certain situations where the job completes outside the regular business hours. If there are any errors in the report or the job fails, the job will have to be reprocessed the following day, which is a significant delay.”

On a daily basis, multiple people run a variety of operational volume reports, and reporting time in this area has also been positively impacted by the performance improvements that the new infrastructure enables. Reports that were running at 12 minutes now take just over a minute, which adds up to a significant decrease given the number and frequency of reports that are run.

Using PowerVM virtualization to improve disaster recovery

While having a solution that can respond rapidly to business units is important to Capon’s team, the most critical aspect is being able to stay up and running at all times.

“Probably the number one priority for the new infrastructure design was that it be very resilient,” says Capon. “We weren’t willing to accept any downtime.”

This “no-tolerance” policy on downtime makes effective disaster recovery crucial. To that end, ARC and Raven Bay created a highly-virtualized disaster recovery environment with IBM PowerVM®, providing logical partitions (LPARs) that enable multiple instances of the operating system and associated applications.

The disaster recovery site that is part of the ARC server and storage infrastructure is subject to frequent testing to measure its effectiveness. The storage area network (SAN) is mirrored remotely in real time, with multiple snapshots and flash copies to ensure the ability to restore production environments.

The flexibility to expand easily to meet changing needs

In addition to designing the new infrastructure to deliver services faster and to support the zero-downtime standard, ARC and Raven Bay designed it for flexibility, making it easy to implement new technology as needed to keep pace with data growth and other variables without having to re-architect or re-engineer the basic infrastructure.

Referring to the company’s new business intelligence data warehouse, Capon notes that “in our old system, adding the overhead of having another system pulling all this data could have presented a challenge. But we were able to easily add that on to this environment with minimal impact.”

Capon is confident that, despite rapid growth, the new IBM solution will see them through another four years. “Even though we’re growing, by keeping up with the technology, we’re able to continually maintain that baseline of performance and quality.”

About Raven Bay Services

IBM Premier Business Partner Raven Bay Services was founded in 1996 to help clients more effectively store, protect and manage their data. Based in Calgary, Alberta, the Raven Bay team provides a collaborative approach to the technology implementation life cycle, from designing new solutions to optimizing existing implementations. Services include assessment, design, project management, resourcing, implementation and configuration, and knowledge transfer.

For more information

Contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/systems/power and ibm.com/systems/storage/disk/xiv

For more information about IBM Premier Business Partner Raven Bay Services, visit: www.ravenbay.com

For more information about ARC Resources, visit: www.arcresources.com

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
Power 770, Storage: XIV

Software:
AIX, PowerVM Express (VIOS)

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, New York 10589 U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America April 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, AIX, Power, Power Systems, and XIV are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml IBM and Raven Bay Services are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Raven Bay Services makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The performance data and client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. The client is responsible for ensuring compliance with laws and regulations applicable to it. IBM does not provide legal advice or represent or warrant that its services or products will ensure that the client is in compliance with any law or regulation. Actual available storage capacity may be reported for both uncompressed and compressed data and will vary and may be less than stated.