Edwards achieves better SAP ERP service levels at half the cost with IBM Applications on Demand

Published on 06-Jan-2009

Validated on 18 Jul 2013

"IBM is providing a superb service, helping us ensure near-total availability in our SAP application environment, and improving performance while significantly reducing costs." - Alan Blockley, Programme Manager, Edwards Ltd.

Edwards Ltd.

Industrial Products

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, Optimizing IT, Service Management, Systems & Network Management

IBM Business Partner:


Edwards Ltd. is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of vacuum pump technologies for precision engineering, supplying a range of industries such as microelectronics and the emerging solar energy market. Based in the UK, the company employs around 3,600 people worldwide, and has facilities across Europe, the USA and the Asia Pacific region.

Business need:
Following its acquisition by CCMP Capital, Edwards needed to separate its core IT systems from those of its previous owner, Linde Group. With 16 SAP application instances running at the Linde Group data center, operational costs and focus were aligned with the needs of a much larger corporation; separation would give Edwards the opportunity to substantially improve availability, performance and cost.

Edwards chose IBM Global Technology Services – Applications on Demand to host its systems at the IBM Warwick data center in the UK. Edwards’ SAP applications now run under IBM AIX on IBM Power Systems servers, supported by IBM DB2 and a SAN based on IBM System Storage hardware.

Total cost of operation for the SAP application environment has been reduced by 50 per cent within the first five months. IBM provides 24x7x365 support using follow-the-sun services, and is consistently meeting 100 per cent of its service level agreements for performance, availability and response to service requests. High-performance IBM Power Systems hardware is delivering 50 to 75 per cent improvements in batch processing speeds.

Case Study

Edwards Ltd. is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of vacuum pump technologies for precision engineering, supplying a range of industries such as microelectronics and the emerging solar energy market. Based in the UK, the company employs around 3,600 people worldwide, and has facilities across Europe, the USA and the Asia Pacific region.

As a global business, Edwards relies on its core IT systems and requires 24x7x365 availability. For several years, its main systems – including a suite of ERP applications from SAP – were hosted at a data center owned by its parent company, the Linde Group. However, when Edwards was acquired by CCMP Capital in 2007, the company needed to extricate these systems from BOC and decide on a new strategy for its IT environment.

“The Linde Group is an industrial gas company, not a hosting services provider, so although the support we got from them was adequate, we saw the need to detach ourselves from them as an opportunity to improve IT performance, availability and service levels,” comments Alan Blockley, Programme Manager at Edwards Ltd.

“We considered taking the network and infrastructure management in-house, but this would have meant building a new tier-three data center and taking on more staff – which would have been an expensive option. There was a much better business case for finding an outsourcing partner that could host our SAP applications and other systems more effectively.”

Finding a partner

Edwards issued a Request for Information to 12 suppliers regarding the hosting of its SAP applications, and soon had a shortlist of four SAP-certified hosting partners, including IBM.

“We have our own ABAP and functional teams, so it was important to find a supplier that could handle everything from the low-level infrastructure up to and including the SAP Basis level, and that would also be flexible enough to work closely with our in-house teams for application management,” says Alan Blockley.

After an in-depth evaluation, Edwards had narrowed the field down to two suppliers: IBM Global Technology Services – Applications on Demand, and a smaller specialist hosting supplier.

Alan Blockley recalls: “At the start of the process, I thought we might decide to work with a tier-two partner because we thought it would be beneficial to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond – we felt that the large tier-one partners like IBM might not give us enough priority, and that they might be too expensive.

“When we actually saw what IBM had to offer, we were very impressed. The Applications on Demand offering breaks down SAP application hosting into a list of fixed-price components, and we soon realized that we could get tier-one support at a tier-two price point. As we got to know the IBM team, we quickly became convinced that they had the resources, expertise and dedication to offer the committed 24x7x365 service that our business needs.”

IBM Applications on Demand

The IBM Applications on Demand offering can provide comprehensive support for SAP environments from infrastructure up through operating system and SAP Basis management to ABAP and Functional support, according to the client’s requirements. Hosting is priced according to a simple system-sizing methodology based on number of SAPS required, and additional components such as disaster recovery, database administration and so on can be chosen from a ‘menu’ of services.

Since IBM can source the majority of the hardware and infrastructure internally, new hosted environments can be built and extended rapidly, and there is no need for up-front investment. IBM also draws on its global resources to provide 24x7x365 support using a follow-the-sun methodology, with dedicated teams in Europe, India and the USA working in eight hour shifts around the clock.

In addition, the IBM Applications on Demand service is fully compliant with ITIL and Sarbanes-Oxley standards, and the resources at its disposal mean that it can deploy tools for monitoring and automation that would be beyond the budget of smaller hosting providers. For example, IBM not only uses a suite of IBM Tivoli monitoring and infrastructure management software, but also the enterprise-class Kintana Suite (now HP Project and Portfolio Management), which provides automated scripts that simplify management and reduce the risk of human error.

“IBM had the right resources to meet our needs, in terms of both technology and expertise – and the Applications on Demand offering made financial sense too,” says Anil Patel, IT Director at Edwards Ltd. “By choosing IBM, our maintenance and support costs have been reduced by 50 per cent within five months.”

Smooth and timely migration

IBM and Edwards worked together to move the company’s 16 SAP application instances – SAP R/3, SAP Customer Relationship Management, SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization and SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence, each with separate production, training, test and development environments – to the IBM data center at Warwick in the UK.

“As a global operation, the main challenge was to migrate all the SAP databases without affecting the productivity of our users,” explains Alan Blockley. “We had a 50-hour window over one weekend, and it was vital to get the new environment up and running before the users came in on the Monday morning.”

The Edwards team exported several hundred gigabytes of data from the BOC data center and loaded it onto portable hard drives, which were sent by courier to IBM Warwick. They also sent the data by FTP as insurance in case something went wrong. When the data arrived, the IBM team uploaded and imported it into DB2, performed post-processing and testing, and put the new environment online. The whole process took just 42 hours.

“The migration went without a hitch, thanks to the teamwork between IBM and Edwards and to the reliability of the DB2 database platform,” says Mike Donnelly, Development and Operations Manager at Edwards Ltd. “Another advantage of DB2 version 9 is that it enables us to perform backups without taking the system offline – there is no need to wait for the Saturday night maintenance slot.”

The SAP applications now run under IBM AIX on the IBM Power Systems p5-520 platform, while the DB2 databases run on larger IBM Power Systems p5-550 servers. A storage area network (SAN) based on IBM System Storage DS8000 hardware provides high-performance, highly scalable storage for the growing environment.

“With the new IBM Power Systems hardware, we are seeing a marked improvement in performance, particularly in batch processing,” says Alan Blockley. “Average run-times have been reduced by between 50 and 75 per cent, and some of our more complex batch jobs are astonishingly fast now. To take an extreme example, one job that used to take more than an hour is now complete in around ten seconds.”

Managing service requests with iSRVCE

One of the key tools made available to users of the Applications on Demand services is iSRVCE, a portal-based application that enables Edwards to manage change and service requests and communicate with the IBM team rapidly and effectively.

“Previously, when we wanted to make a change or report a problem, we called our service desk, and they would call our parent company’s service desk, and in the end something would get done,” says Alan Blockley. “With iSRVCE, we can raise an incident in seconds, and it is automatically relayed to the appropriate experts at IBM. We can measure how quickly IBM responds, so it is easy to manage the relationship using a service level agreement model.”

Edwards has set targets for response and resolution times for service requests, and IBM is consistently meeting or exceeding 100 per cent of its SLAs. For example, Edward expects Severity 1 Service Requests (the most urgent kind) to receive a response within 15 minutes; IBM’s current average response time is less than 50 seconds. The average resolution time for a Severity 1 Service Request is just 2.13 hours – less than half the target time of 5 hours.

“The response to a Severity 1 alert is outstanding,” says Alan Blockley. “IBM is able to deal with 95 per cent of issues before our users feel any effects, and much of the response is automated, so problems are fixed as soon as they occur. When a more difficult problem arises, IBM immediately calls us, and keeps dialing experts into the call until a solution is found. The service is superb.”

The combination of the highly reliable IBM hardware and software and the proactive monitoring of the environment has enabled Edwards to consistently achieve availability levels of more than 99.5 per cent.

“On average, we used to have unplanned outages roughly once a month,” says Alan Blockley. “Since we moved to IBM hosting, we have only had a single minor incident – and even that was resolved very rapidly.”

With the success of the IBM hosting solution, Edwards is also planning to move its SAP ERP Human Capital Management solution and Internet hosting into the IBM data center, and will work with IBM to upgrade to SAP ERP 6.0 before the end of the year.

Alan Blockley concludes: “IBM is providing a superb service, helping us ensure near-total availability in our SAP application environment, and improving performance while significantly reducing costs.”

Products and services used

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

Power Systems, Storage: DS8000, System p: System p5 550 Express - AIX 5L Edition, System p: System p5 570

Tivoli Storage Manager, DB2 9 for Linux, UNIX and Windows, Tivoli System Automation for Multiplatforms

Operating system:

GTS Strategic Outsourcing: AoD App. Services - Development, IBM-SAP Alliance

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