Published on 17-Jul-2008
Validated on 02 May 2012
"Our System i servers are extremely stable and reliable. Their total availability is almost 100 per cent, and the POWER6 processors deliver superb performance even under full load." - Jürgen Dauner, Dipl. Ing, IT Team Leader - SAP Basis and System Integration, Multivac GmbH & Co. KG
Multivac GmbH & Co. KG
Business Resiliency, Energy Efficiency, Enterprise Resource Planning, Infrastructure Simplification, Optimizing IT, Supply Chain Management
IBM Business Partner:
This paper describes an implementation of the SAP Business Suite on the IBM System i platform at Multivac GmbH & Co. KG, Germany. It details the initial decision criteria, the implementation concept, the project schedule and rollout, the current hardware and software landscape, future plans, and the business benefits achieved.
Replacement of Multivac’s legacy applications with an integrated ERP solution from SAP designed to assist the globalization process. Deployment of a high-availability infrastructure to ensure round-the-clock operation. From-scratch implementation of Unicode support for Multivac’s worldwide business operations. Safe transition from legacy applications to SAP software in multiple stages. Integration of the Lotus Notes & Domino office solution with the new SAP applications.
Two IBM System i servers with POWER processor technology, i5/OS operating system with integrated DB2 database, virtualization for workload flexibility, high availability landscape using native i5/OS functionalities including Independent Auxiliary Storage Pools (IASP) and Cross-Site Mirroring (XSM), System i and System x remote servers for IBM Lotus Notes & Domino, Lotus Notes & Domino integrated with SAP application environment.
Smooth transition from legacy applications to SAP software. Ability to leverage years of expertise in System i, i5/OS and DB2 technology. Excellent performance and capacity for the deployment of the SAP applications. Scalable growth path from 3 to 2x 12 processors, across different processor generations from POWER4 to POWER6. Highly reliable two-server backup infrastructure. Integration of SAP applications and Lotus software. Affordable investment cost and long-term TCO savings.
Background, starting point and objectives
Multivac, based in Wolfertschwenden, Germany, develops, produces and sells packaging machines (thermoformers, traysealers and chamber machines) for foods, medical and many other products. The company’s claim is that customers package everything better with Multivac machines.
Founded as a family business in 1961, Multivac today employs more than 2,600 staff in over 40 subsidiaries, and builds more than 1,400 industrial thermoformers and traysealers, as well as over 4,000 vacuum-chamber machines, each year – in some 100 countries on every continent.
Multivac’s operations cover everything from development and production of machines and parts to world-wide sales, local distribution and service.
Replacement of legacy applications by SAP software
In 2003, Multivac decided to replace its traditional legacy applications and to move to an integrated ERP solution that would cover every aspect of its business process management in a single application.
The final decision was to implement the SAP Business Suite, because it represents a fully integrated, proven, worldwide industry standard, and it turned out to be the best match for Multivac’s business requirements.
The implementation of a uniform ERP system for the entire Multivac Group would support the company’s internationalization and growth, and also harmonize global company processes. It would support customer-focused business processes and provide a consolidated, co-ordinated management reporting system for all decision levels.
Selecting the IT platform for SAP software
For many years, Multivac had been using the predecessors of the IBM System i platform (System/36, System/38, AS/400 and iSeries) to run legacy applications, and was very satisfied with the high reliability and ease of use.
The question remained: would the IBM System i platform be the correct choice for SAP applications, too? To come to a decision, an internal comparison between IBM System i and Microsoft Windows / Intel platforms was conducted by CIO Wilfried Grewe, to evaluate the technical and financial benefits.
The major decision criteria were:
- Stability and resilience
- High availability
- Scalability and flexibility
- Low administration effort
- Usage of in-house skills
The results indicated that the technical benefits of System i would clearly outweigh the higher initial cost:
- POWER processor technology offered superior SAP application performance and greater capacity than other processor platforms, as has been proven in multiple SAP software benchmarks
- The i5/OS operating system provides a truly integrated IT platform, addressing customer needs for cost-optimized
- i5/OS enables highly automated system management with autonomic storage administration and flexible adaptability to workload changes via dynamic logical partitioning (DLPAR), subsystems, and Capacity on Demand (CoD)
- Leading hardware virtualization functions in i5/OS enable very high utilization of available IT equipment, and require less hardware to run a given workload.
The DB2 database is a truly integrated part of the i5/OS operating system, providing self-managing features which eliminate most of the usual effort required for database management. Multivac had not needed to dedicate staff to DB2 administration tasks for the legacy application, and intended to capitalize on the substantial cost savings of being able to run the SAP applications without a full-time database administrator. DB2 also comes free of charge with the i5/OS operating system, which saves customers the additional cost of a database license.
Seen over the entire length of the project, the total cost of operation on IBM System i would be lower than for Microsoft Windows / Intel-based platforms.
Based on these facts, Multivac selected the System i platform, and began the implementation in late 2003.
Multivac decided to realize an initial roll-out in two steps. Within three months, SAP R/3 financials and controlling applications were implemented, and were live in Germany and Austria. The roll-out of SAP logistics applications, which involved many more users, ran in parallel , and took just a year to be able to go live successfully at the turn of 2004.
From the very beginning, Multivac could see that the SAP applications were supporting and stabilizing its growth. Therefore the gradual extension of the initial implementation across all its major subsidiaries in Europe, Asia and the Americas was a logical consequence.
The plan was to keep things simple. The rollout concept called for the deployment of one worldwide integrated SAP system, consisting of a single SAP application instance with multiple accounting units, rather than multiple systems for multiple different parts of the enterprise. Two templates for accounting units are in place: one for subsidiaries with manufacturing operations, and one for those without.
Operating intercontinentally across several time zones and languages, Multivac had a strict requirement for round-the-clock (24x7) availability, as well as for worldwide multi-language support.
Furthermore, Multivac was familiar with and had excellent experience of the Office Collaboration solution based on IBM Lotus Domino, which had to be integrated and interfaced with the SAP applications.
Multivac began its SAP software implementation and rollout in early 2004, based on SAP R/3 Version 4.6c. Following the successful launch of the logistic modules in Austria and Germany with about 400 users in late 2004, the rollout was extended in 2005 to additional SAP R/3 applications and users in some of the European subsidiaries.
Just five months later, Multivac Export AG in Switzerland completed a successful roll-out, and both The Netherlands and Belgium followed within 2005. The rollout was extended in 2006 to additional SAP R/3 applications, and users in Scandinavia, the Baltic States, the UK, and the Americas.
Early on in the project, Multivac decided to introduce SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence. Unicode was a must from the very beginning, and a highly available disaster recovery (DR) infrastructure was put in place.
Today, in 2008, 16 of Multivac’s worldwide SAP application rollouts have been completed, supporting almost 1,000 users. These rollouts were managed and supported by eight members of the company’s IT division. The initial program was successfully implemented and executed according to plan, and business expectations were fully met.
The ongoing rollout will now be continued for the remaining locations. Based on their excellent skills and preparation, the Multivac IT department, led by CIO Wilfried Grewe, is handling all of the roll-outs internally.
Mr Jürgen Dauner, IT Team Leader - SAP Basis and System Integration, realized a stable and reliable system environment. This subdivision also includes Identity Management, Collaboration (using Lotus Notes), Business Process and Lean Management Support, and all Middleware.
Business solution landscape, software and hardware
Multivac’s strategic business solutions comprises a landscape of SAP and Lotus Domino applications:
- IBM Lotus® Domino™ Domino release 8.01 FP2 EN
- Lotus Sametime, Lotus SAP connector
- Lotus® Domino™ cluster solution
- SAP R/3 version 4.7, Unicode
- Applications: FI / CO / MM / PP / SD / CS / PS / HR / QM (one production system, one development system, multiple test/QA systems)
- SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence version 3.5 (one production system, one development system)
- More than 1,000 SAP users.
IT hardware infrastructure:
Multivac’s IT infrastructure includes a landscape of System i and SAP and Lotus Domino applications. For Lotus Domino:
- 38 IBM Windows/Intel servers and System i servers in major remote locations. Altogether, more than 140 servers worldwide, administrated centrally by the Infrastructure subdivision (5 people)
- One Sametime server 6.5.1 (7.5.1, upgrade planned)
- One Blackberry server with BES 4.1.
- One System i server, running the central Domino email server in a logical partition on i5/OS
Multivac’s SAP applications are running on two IBM System i 570 servers with i570 12-core, 240GB memory, 4TB internal DASD. Both servers are running i5/OS operating systems with an integrated DB2 for i5/OS database.
VLANs, VMware, SAN, storage and backup management systems (using IBM Tivoli software) are in use, and virtualization is a major part of Multivac’s strategy.
The System i infrastructure
Multivac makes full use of native i5/OS functions for hardware virtualization and high availability, namely:
- Dynamic LPAR for flexible workload balancing
- IASPs for redundant data storage
- XSM for real-time remote data mirroring between the IASPs
These features provide a number of valuable benefits:
- Dynamic Logical Partitioning: Logical partitioning (LPAR) technology enables a single IBM System i server to act as multiple virtual servers (with up to 256 LPARs) handling the work of multiple separate physical servers.
- LPARs offer System i customers both the power and flexibility to define and operate multiple separate workload environments on a single System i server. It even allows multiple independent operating system environments (i5/OS, AIX and Linux) to run simultaneously, allowing multiple SAP applications and other solutions to run in parallel on a single System i.
- Dynamic LPARs also enable System i to act as a consolidation server, to unify different business applications, a mix of production and test environments, and integrated clusters. Based on its excellent sharing of available hardware resources, it also achieves extremely high utilization levels.
System i dynamic LPAR technology is ideal for SAP customers who want to run different kinds of applications or workloads (SAP and non-SAP) on a single System i server. It can adapt flexibly to changing workload situations “on the fly” during operation. It allows the hardware resources (CPU and memory) of a System i server to be dynamically allocated and re-allocated in a self-adaptive way between partitions without interruption. Software licenses can be managed across the different partitions.
Multivac is using the dynamic LPAR concept to operate all their core applications (SAP and non-SAP) on just two physical servers – one for production and one for backup.
The deployment takes the “shared LPAR” approach, where a number of LPARs share a given hardware environment of CPU and memory. Instead of a fixed assignment of CPU and memory resources, each “shared” LPAR is assigned a floating min/max entitlement and a priority rating. As long as sufficient hardware resources are available, all LPARs re ceive their maximum entitlement. In case of a shortage of resources, CPU and memory are automatically re-assigned, increased or reduced according to set priorities and minimum entitlements.
Multivac’s backup strategy is also based on LPAR technology. To ensure quick switchover from the production server (System A) to the backup server ( System B), an idling SAP R/3 backup system runs on the backup server in permanent stand-by mode, using only one CPU resource. In case the production server becomes unavailable, the non-production applications on the backup server are minimized or stopped, and CPU and memory resources are allocated to the SAP R/3 backup system for emergency operation mode.
Multivac has an IBM Enterprise Storage Server attached to the backup server to store the data for experimental QA and test systems, such as for a pilot install of SAP ERP 6.0, which is planned for go-live in early 2009.
LPAR concept for the planned POWER6 server landscape
The critical business applications, SAP R/3 Enterprise and Lotus Domino, are distributed across the two servers, to enable a mutual cross-wise backup option. The SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence (BI) and SAP ERP Human Capital Management (HCM) systems are not business-critical for Multivac and do not require a backup setup.
The high availability concept has been extended over time to include all the critical components of the company’s IT landscape. Regular role-swap switchover of the production and backup servers are performed monthly, for scheduled maintenance, as well as for regular practice and emergency drills.
High availability and disaster recovery
Complex environments require the highest possible protection against outages and failures.
Multivac has long appreciated the legendary native reliability of the IBM System i platform, which is based on the specific concept of integration. System i hardware, operating system and the built-in DB2 database form one single piece of integrated IT infrastructure, optimized to run largely as a self-managing system, based on very high levels of native reliability. The IBM System i platform also offers advanced high-availability solutions, offering near-100% system uptime.
Multivac has chosen to implement a high-availability solution based on the IASP and XSM functionalities built into i5/OS.
These features provide duplicate protection against server outages via redundant server and Direct Access Storage Device (DASD) hardware. Duplicate dedicated IASP disk towers connected to two separate System i servers in two separate locations are kept in permanent synchronization via the XSM function, performing permanent remote disk mirroring. To further increase overall system availability to nearly 100%, the IASP disk towers can be switched from a failing System i server to a backup server, so that productive operation can be resumed from the point of failure.
Clustering with switchable DASD and IASP
IASPs and switched disk clusters provide the ability to access data on a set of disk units from a second system. When the primary (production) system currently using an IASP experiences an outage, a secondary (backup) server can take over, improving availability in the face of planned and unplanned outages. Operations can continue even when an isolated controller or disk unit fails. Data availability is improved with IASPs or switched disk clustering. If a cluster suffers an outage, users can be switched to an alternate node in the cluster on another System i server. Integrated file system (IFS) data and operating system library objects residing in an IASP can be switched to another System i5 server without requiring an IPL. This enables one System i to take over data and an I/O controller in a disk tower from another System i.
Sometimes called geographic mirroring, Cross-Site Mirroring (XSM) allows mirroring of data on disks at sites separated by a significant geographic distance. This technology can be used to extend the functionality of a device cluster resource group (CRG) beyond the limits of physical component connection.
Geographic mirroring provides the ability to replicate changes made to the production copy of an independent disk pool to a mirror copy of that independent disk pool. As data is written to the production copy of an independent disk pool, the operating system mirrors that data to a second system. This process keeps multiple identical copies of the data. Through the device CRG, should a failover or switchover occur, the backup node can seamlessly take on the role of the primary node. The server or servers that act as backups are defined in the recovery domain. The backup nodes can be at the same or a different physical location as the primary.
Easy capacity increase
As of January 2008, Multivac upgraded their two i570 servers to the latest POWER6 processor technology using the latest 4.7GHz processors. The overall hardware capacity was greatly increased in terms of CPU, memory and internal disk capacity. An external IBM storage server was implemented to provide additional disk space, and to increase the overall level of application availability.
The new System i landscape offers multiple benefits:
- Substantial improvement of performance and response times due to the new and faster POWER6 processors
- Higher workload throughput
- Better protection against system outages, and higher level of application availability.
- Sufficient spare capacity for deployment of additional SAP applications, as well as for increase in user numbers and workload
- Worry-free management of the entire IT infrastructure. The complete solution landscape including SAP R/3 and Lotus applications, i5/OS and DB2, is managed by just two system administrators, with no need for a dedicated DB administrator.
Global office collaboration with Lotus Notes and Domino
Multivac’s solution of choice for their entire company-wide office collaboration is IBM Lotus Domino. A single Lotus network domain connects Multivac’s 1,800 office users and provides support for company-wide email, time and calendar management and business travel.
Multiple project-based Lotus Notes applications have been developed in-house. One central System i server handles the worldwide email traffic. A total of 40 local Domino servers on both System i and Windows / Intel servers with local data storage provide on-site office support in Multivac’s major locations.
The Lotus Domino infrastructure includes :
- Lotus Notes Domino Release 8.01 FP2 EN, running in an LPAR environment on i5/OS V5R4
- A Lotus Sametime Server 6.5.1,and a Blackberry Server with BES 4.1., both implemented in Microsoft Windows environments on separate IBM System x servers.
The worldwide Lotus Notes domain serves 1,800 Notes users, including 250 Lotus Sametime instant messaging users and 300 mobile (Blackberry) email users, accessing numerous customer-written Lotus Notes applications. These include a wide range of employee self-service (ESS) applications, such as:
- Travel management (travel planning and approval, expense claims, etc)
- Time, calendar and meeting management
- Company-wide telephone and email directory
- Instant messaging via Lotus Sametime.
There are also individual project-based applications, such as:
- Worldwide mobile communication with ‘Blackberry’ clients for two-way email traffic, date & time management, access to employee directory
- Remote IT monitoring and management via forwarding of critical messages from SAP applications and the System i environment via SAP Connect and Domino Mail to mobile Blackberry clients, informing IT staff of system status and out-of-line situations.
Central email management is performed via a central domain mail hub and SMTP server. The system also supports a data interface between the SAP applications and Lotus Notes, using both a Java interface and Lotus Domino Web Access.
To ensure high availability for their business-critical Lotus Domino environment, Multivac decided to use the IBM® Lotus® Domino™ cluster solution, implemented on System i hardware in two different LPARs for maximum availability and work load balancing.
Multivac’s initial expectations of System i as an SAP application platform were completely met.
- During the four-year project, the System i servers have ‘kept their promises,’ and delivered excellent performance, reliability and cost savings that have fully justified the decision for the platform:
- Smooth transition from legacy applications to SAP software
- Excellent performance and capacity for SAP and Lotus Domino applications
- Consolidation and integration of SAP applications and Lotus office collaboration application (email, mobile devices and others)
- Scalable growth path: From 3 POWER4 CPUs to 2x 12 POWER6 cores, and beyond
- Highly reliable two-server backup infrastructure, with cross-wise mutual backup for disaster recovery
- Total availability near 100 per cent (less than two hours downtime per year)
- Extreme CPU utilization of almost 100 per cent through efficient hardware virtualization
- Worry-free system management through autonomic computing features in i5/OS and self-managing DB2 for i5/OS
- Affordable investment cost, and System i “ease of use” characteristics allow long-term savings in total costs of operation (TCO).
Products and services used
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