INTERSPORT extends, improves and transforms with IBM System i5

Published on 29-Jan-2008

Validated on 01 Aug 2013

"The integrated database within IBM System i provides outstanding performance and flexibility to run SAP NetWeaver BW for our corporation. The virtualization technology of POWER5 combined with the integrated High Availability option of i5/OS is the best platform to run our SAP NetWeaver landscape with optimal TCO. " - Thomas Danner, Director of EDP and Communications, INTERSPORT

INTERSPORT International Corporation


Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Business Continuity, BA - Business Intelligence, Business Resiliency, Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, Information Infrastructure, Infrastructure Simplification, Server Consolidation, Virtualization

IBM Business Partner:
SAP, Fritz & Macziol


IIC-INTERSPORT International Corporation is the purchasing and management company of the INTERSPORT-Group. With its retail turnover of €8.37 billion and more than 4,900 associated retailers in 32 countries, INTERSPORT has the worldwide leading position in the sporting goods retail market. INTERSPORT Deutschland eG, part of the worldwide INTERSPORT International corporation, is the German co-operative for more than 1,500 sport outfitters in Germany.

Business need:
INTERSPORT wanted to extend and upgrade its SAP application landscape, and needed a new infrastructure that would provide the capacity for growth in its business intelligence environment as well as high availability to keep systems online 24x7. Further, the company wanted the new solution to be hosted and supported by an external provider.

IBM took part in a comprehensive benchmarking exercise to prove that the IBM System i570 with DB2 and DS8100 storage was the ideal platform for INTERSPORT's needs. Working with IBM Global Technology Services and IBM Business Partner Fritz & Macziol, the company implemented the new infrastructure and upgraded its SAP applications.

Performance and scalability of the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse environment have been considerably improved by IBM's high-performance POWER5+ technologies and IBM System i Capacity on Demand features. Twin DS8100 storage systems provide a fully redundant environment for disaster recovery.

Case Study

About this paper

This technical brief describes INTERSPORT’s SAP landscaping project, aiming to achieve multiple goals at the same time:

  • Upgrade and extend INTERSPORT’s productive SAP systems
  • Transform them into a highly available SAP NetWeaver landscape and
  • Improve performance for INTERSPORT’s SAP Business Warehouse environment

The brief gives a technical overview about how this was implemented in two steps based on a virtualized POWER5+ with i5/OS operating system and storage area network (SAN) server DS8100.

The project was supported by IBM e-Business technical sales for SAP sizing, architectural proposal and SAP NetWeaver BW benchmark support, and the IBM Premier Business Partner Fritz & Macziol for i5 and DS8100 system design and installation support.

Customer Objectives
  • Improve performance and increase both capacity and scalability for the SAP NetWeaver BW system
  • Implement a high availability concept for SAP ERP, for SAP CRM 5.0 and for SAP NetWeaver BW 7.0
  • Provide additional flexibility by extended virtualization options and capacity on-demand functions.

IBM Solution
  • Replace the existing i840 10-way server and the i820 2-way server by two System i570 8-way servers to provide sufficient capacity for the increased workload and for future growth
  • Set up and run a SAP NetWeaver BW benchmark with real customer data to prove the scalability of POWER5+ and the performance and flexibility of DB2 for i5/OS
  • Extend the LPAR concept based on improved effectiveness of IBM POWER5+ virtualization technologies
  • Introduce a high-availability solution based on Independent Auxiliary Storage (IASP) technology with Cross Site Mirroring (XSM) for i5/OS.

Customer Benefits
  • Greatly improved performance for all SAP application environments
  • Enhanced scalability for current and future SAP application rollout and migration to the latest SAP release levels
  • Highly available IT Infrastructure meeting INTERSPORT’s service level agreements
  • Full compliance with INTERSPORT’s TCO requirements.

Background, starting point and objectives

About the customer
IIC-INTERSPORT International Corporation is the purchasing and management company of the INTERSPORT-Group. With its retail turnover of €8.37 billion and more than 4,900 associated retailers in 32 countries, INTERSPORT has the worldwide leading position in the sporting goods retail market.

INTERSPORT Deutschland eG, part of the worldwide INTERSPORT International corporation, is the German co-operative for more than 1,500 sport outfitters in Germany.

In 2000 INTERSPORT made a strategic corporate decision for the SAP solution portfolio to replace its former legacy applications running on an AS/400 platform. A key objective was to implement a fully integrated IT solution environment , for which INTERSPORT chose SAP R/3 as its core business solution, and the highly integrated IBM System i family of servers as its IT platform. Having started with SAP R/3 (FI/CO) in June 2000, the SAP environment grew quickly and was complemented by SAP Retail and SAP BW in 2001 and SAP CRM in 2003.

Additional requirements prompt an SAP landscape rethink

In 2005 additional requirements caused INTERSPORT to think about how to extend the current SAP landscape on IBM System i servers:
  • SAP software needed to be extended and upgraded to the latest SAP release
  • SAP R/3 4.6C to SAP ECC 6.0
  • SAP CRM 3.1 to SAP CRM 5.0
  • SAP BW 3.5 to SAP NetWeaver BW 7.0

A high-availability solution was required to meet INTERSPORT’s service level requirements (10 minutes switchover time for planned outages, 2 hours switchover time for unplanned outages). Full data redundancy was to be achieved by installing a second DS8100 storage server.
The implementation was to be completed in two steps:
  • Step 1: New server for the rapidly growing SAP NetWeaver BW environment
  • Step 2: New server for SAP ERP and SAP CRM, installation of high availability solution.

Step 1: INTERSPORT SAP NetWeaver BW benchmark

In late 2005 INTERSPORT asked for a proposal to renew the hardware for the SAP BW (which would later become the SAP NetWeaver BI) environment. The current environment (a 4-way LPAR on the i840, 14GB memory and 500GB DASD) was no longer able to run the required workload with satisfactory performance.

The BW environment was growing significantly. Additional requirements needed to be fulfilled in the near future:
  • Release upgrade from SAP BW 3.5 to SAP NetWeaver BW 7.0
  • Additional capacity from 20 outfitters today up to 200 outfitters in the future
  • Significant improvement of the SAP BW query performance which was not satisfactory in the current hardware environment. The customer expected a significant improvement on the new hardware.

All outfitters were connected via Internet access. It was very hard to predict the precise future workload. Therefore it was very important for INTERSPORT to choose a scalable platform that could easily be upgraded according to customer needs.

INTERSPORT asked IBM for a proposal, and was also looking for a hosted solution offered by an external provider. Before making a final decision INTERSPORT wanted a 1:1 comparison of the two options, and demanded identical SAP NetWeaver BW benchmarks to be run by all competitors. Due to the fact that SAP NetWeaver BW workload behavior is very hard to predict INTERSPORT decided to run a benchmark with the real customer database (size: 500GB). Therefore SAP was asked to define benchmark criteria and specific tasks which all competitors had to fulfill within three weeks:
  • Runtime of specific reporting tasks
  • Runtime of workbooks with many queries
  • Runtime of data load jobs
  • NetWeaver BW administrative task

In order to match and win this challenge, IBM put together a joint team with experts from:
  • IBM e-Business technical sales for local SAP support
  • IBM Lab Rochester for SAP performance optimization
  • IBM Business Partner Fritz & Macziol for System i support.

The IBM System i benchmark hardware had the following technical specifications:

IBM i570
CPU: 6 x POWER5, 1.65 GHZ
SAPS (4.7): 8,707
DASD (internal): 24x70GB drives (for benchmark only)
OS i5/OS V5R3
Database: DB2 for i5/OS (V5R3)

The IBM System i environment was installed and run at the customer site.
The outcome (see tables) proved IBM System i570 to be the clear winner showing superior performance especially in the area of query execution and DB administration, which were of primary importance for INTERSPORT’s platform decision.

Reporting (multiple runs per query):
  • System i was the clear winner (see detailed results for current i840 and new i570)
  • First run: System i was predominant
  • OLAP processing was slightly better on other platforms (because of higher CPU clock rate. POWER5+ technology would compensate for this difference).

Workbooks with many queries:
  • System i was the clear winner (see detailed results for current i840 and new i570).

Data loads and administration tasks:
  • Runtime comparison ambiguous, no clear winner
  • Advantages for System i due to the more flexible DB administration of DB2 for i5/OS.

Based on these results the customer decided to stay on IBM System i and bought an i570 8-way server with POWER5+ technology and 6 activated CPUs, as System i was predominant during the benchmarks. The main reasons for the decision were:
  • Superior query performance
  • Database flexibility of DB2/400 for administration tasks
  • Easy growth option via Capacity-on-Demand, by activating additional CPUs.

Step 2: Implementation of high availability solution
In 2007 INTERSPORT started to implement the new environment for SAP Retail and CRM. A second i570 system and a second DS8100 were installed to run the increased workload and to establish a high availability solution with redundant hardware, using IBM System i cluster technology. The two i570 servers offer sufficient capacity for the current workload plus ‘spare processors’ with extra capacity for future growth. These spare processors can be easily activated without interruption using the Capacity-on-Demand function.

For the high-availability solution, the IBM Independent Auxiliary Storage Pool (IASP) technology with Cross Site Mirroring (XSM) was selected. IASP enables a division of a total disk storage on the system into logical groups:
  • One part (system ASP) needs to be assigned to the local server
  • The other part (IASP) can be switched from one system to another system, for example from the production system to the backup system.

To become fully redundant, XSM permanently synchronizes a copy of the IASP on a separate backup server, providing double protection through duplicating the IASP device:
  • One copy on the production system for end-user updates
  • The other copy on the backup system, not available for production work at that time.
IBM cluster technology monitors both the production and the backup server and provides automated procedures for planned or unplanned switchover from production to backup or reverse.

For SAP solutions the SAP database schema, the SAP kernel library and the /sapmnt file system are recommended to be placed into the IASP, which will typically require some 20-30% of the available disks to be in the local system ASP and the major part (around 70-80%) in the IASP.

INTERSPORT decided to establish two high-availability clusters with cross-over connections between both i570 servers:
  • SAP Retail and SAP CRM are running together under one
    i5/OS and in one common IASP, mirrored to the SAP NetWeaver BW production machine
  • The IASP for SAP NetWeaver BW is mirrored to the SAP Retail and CRM machine
  • POWER5+ LPAR technology allows to take advantage of resource optimization for CPU and memory.

New system design

The required SAP capacity has been distributed over two i570 servers, which both are split into three logical partitions (LPARs).
The SAP Retail and CRM server (8-way on-demand, 6 CPUs activated, 96GB RAM, around 10,650 SAPS):
  • LPAR for SAP Retail and CRM production, 1.3TB data
  • Backup partition for SAP NetWeaver BI, 1.4TB data
  • DEV/QA systems for SAP Retail and CRM, 1.3TB data.

The SAP NetWeaver BW server (8-way on-demand, 7 CPUs activated, 114GB RAM, around 12,400 SAPS):
  • LPAR for SAP NetWeaver BW production, 1.4TB data
  • Backup partition for Retail/CRM, 1.3TB data
  • DEV/QA systems for SAP NetWeaver BI, 1.4TB data.

To achieve these goals, the following steps were required:
  • Upgrade from the current i5/OS release V5R3 to i5/OS V5R4
  • Codepage conversion for SAP Retail from SAP 4.6C EBCDIC version to ASCII codepage
  • SAP release upgrade to the latest SAP software SAP ERP ECC 6.0 and CRM 5.0
  • Move of the production databases (SAP Retail, CRM and SAP NetWeaver BI) into the IASP
  • Define cluster environments for SAP ECC/CRM and SAP and enable the Cross Site Mirroring.

Project accomplishments

All initial goals were achieved and even partly exceeded:
  • SAP NetWeaver BW performance has been significantly improved, even more than shown in the benchmark results (because of the powerful POWER5+ technology)
  • SAP NetWeaver BW scalability can be guaranteed because of the flexible virtualization technology and the Capacity-on-Demand concept of POWER5+ machines
  • All SAP solution environments are running on the latest SAP release level
  • All SAP production systems are running in the new high-availability environment using IASP with Cross Site Mirroring
  • Disaster recovery concept was implemented with full data redundancy (second DS8100).

Products and services used

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

Storage: DS8100, System i: System i5 570

DB2 for i5/OS

Operating system:

IBM-SAP Alliance

Legal Information

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