Vishay virtualizes its SAP ERP environment with IBM Power Systems

Published on 03-Apr-2009

Validated on 09 Dec 2013

"IBM Global Technology Services provided excellent project management. Many vendors offer server virtualization or storage management technologies, but they don’t always deliver on their promises. The IBM commitment to service makes all the difference." - Roland Davies, Senior Director of Business Application Innovation, Vishay



Deployment country:
United States

Enterprise Resource Planning, Virtualization

IBM Business Partner:


Vishay is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of discrete semiconductors and passive electronic components. Its products are used in virtually all types of electronic devices and equipment in the aerospace, automotive, computing, consumer, industrial, medical, military and telecommunications markets.

Business need:
As its existing Tru-64 hardware platform was being retired by the manufacturer, Vishay, a global electronic components manufacturer, wanted a strategic replacement that would offer long-term stability. With 24/7 operations in Europe, Israel, the Far East and the Americas, the team looked for a technology partner able to support migration to a new global server landscape and assist with the SAP application changes and upgrades.

Vishay implemented IBM Power Systems servers as a standardized platform, using both server and storage virtualization. The company deployed IBM PowerHA to provide failover and disaster protection, with IBM Tivoli to automate storage, backup and archive services. The Vishay team performed the migration utilizing the Advanced Technical Support (ATS) Migration Workshop Program from IBM.

Long-term development roadmap for IBM Power Systems assures Vishay of a stable environment that supports the company strategy; server virtualization allows maximum utilization of compute capacity, which avoids over-investment in hardware; storage virtualization simplifies management and reduces costs; standardized Power Systems landscape allows technical resources to be shared across global data centers, reducing expenses and cutting training needs.

Case Study

Vishay is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of discrete semiconductors and passive electronic components. Its products are used in virtually all types of electronic devices and equipment in the aerospace, automotive, computing, consumer, industrial, medical, military and telecommunications markets.

Headquartered in Malvern, PA, Vishay operates manufacturing plants in China and five other Asian countries, in Europe, in Israel, and in the Americas, with sales offices worldwide. Vishay has grown through innovations and strategic acquisitions, building a business with sales of $2.8 billion.

In 2004, the vendor of Vishay’s existing server platform chose to end development and support. With all the major business functions, such as order-to-cash, purchase-to-pay, financials and planning, supported by SAP applications running on this hardware platform, it was essential to find a strategic replacement for the end-of-life servers.

Choosing a new platform

Key migration issues concerned the long-term prospects for any new platform. The Vishay team was keen to move to a UNIX platform, and began to compare the major vendors’ offerings. The team concluded that the IBM Power Systems family running IBM AIX offered the greatest flexibility, lowest operational cost and best performance, with a clear roadmap for future development and continuity.

“We made several trips to see reference sites and vendors, and we were very excited by the possibilities offered by IBM virtualization technologies for both servers and storage systems,” says Mike Carey, Senior Director of Global Infrastructure. “We wanted to ensure that Vishay would be on a platform fully supported by SAP, which was essential for our business-critical applications.”

The team took the opportunity to revitalize its entire computing infrastructure, rationalize its systems, and introduce new failover and recovery solutions. The transformed landscape has given Vishay a leaner IT operation that is able to handle greater workload at lower costs, and offers greater ability to handle business change with flexible, adaptable computing resources.

High availability

All SAP applications at the headquarters site now run on IBM Power Systems servers in a primary data center, with a remote data center for backup, test and development. Using IBM PowerHA technology, the servers are clustered to provide continuous operations even if a specific physical machine suffers an outage.

“We had known for some time that unplanned downtime could have massive impact on the business. We would lose orders, be unable to respond to enquiries for availability, and fail to meet our ‘on-time’ delivery commitments,” comments Mike Carey. “Before the IBM solution, we used a third-party vendor to provide off-site restore from tape, a slow process that involved considerable downtime. IBM PowerHA gives us high-speed switch-over and re-access to the mirrored rapidly from one datacenter to another.” .

Vishay has deployed IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, which provides a flexible and comprehensive backup, archive and recovery solutions. Repetitive administration tasks are handled by Tivoli Storage Manager, which also provides backup and performance status reports to IT staff.

In failover or planned downtime conditions, production workload is moved to the secondary servers without affecting business users, and moves back when the primary servers are restored. IBM Tivoli Storage Manager automates backup, restore and archive services, with data replication handled by IBM FlashCopy, and combined with the PowerHA configuration, Vishay now has a complete disaster recovery service.

Rather than purchase fixed-capacity servers for each SAP application, Vishay has deployed virtual servers on each Power Systems machine. Using the IBM PowerVM virtualization layer, a portion of the total compute capacity of each physical server is allocated to individual virtualized logical partitions (LPAR) according to the workload requirements of each application.

Roland Davies, Senior Director of Business Application Innovation, remarks, “From the application point of view, we can move processor power to the most appropriate place. IBM PowerVM technology means we do not over-invest in server capacity; instead, we direct existing capacity in the most cost-effective manner, maximizing the value of our infrastructure.

“Virtualization gives us the ability to size the different servers exactly as we please, and creating new servers for new application requirements is quick and easy.”

Mike Carey adds, “This capability gives us what you might call on-demand server rightsizing, and in a world where we are being asked to do more with less, this is a great advantage.”

IBM as standard

Vishay chose IBM as its standard for all its global operations, replacing a mix of different platforms with IBM Power Systems servers across its US, Far East and European operations. IBM Global Technology Services provided technical specification and migration services, including onsite enterprise management to oversee both IBM and business partner teams, and ongoing post-implementation support.

Mike Carey comments, “The global consolidation to IBM Power Systems means that we are able to share central resources across the company. While Europe sleeps, engineers in the US can tackle maintenance tasks on systems they know and understand. The consolidated approach offers lower training requirements and shared knowledge that can be used across all our operations.

“With this type of approach, you soon learn which vendors are truly global, and which are not. IBM Global Technology Services was able to agree a single deal for our entire Power Systems infrastructure, regardless of the actual country of implementation, enormously simplifying the proposition and reducing the costs for Vishay.”

Optimizing storage

Around 3,000 users access some 1.7TB of data at Vishay. One of the biggest attractions in switching to integrated IBM systems was being able to rationalize and maximize data storage capacity, by deploying IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) software. Combined with the deployment of new IBM System Storage DS8000 solutions, Vishay now has integrated storage for all its SAP and other business applications.

SVC allows the storage capacity on multiple devices from different vendors to be pooled, and presented to applications as a single resource. Space on formerly isolated SAN and NAS devices can be integrated into the SVC environment, maximizing available capacity.

Mike Carey says, “IBM SAN Volume Controller was a huge advantage during the initial migration, as we were able to move data between devices without resorting to the expense and delay of tape copies.

“In the past, a major difficulty was in training people to use different storage subsystems, and in some cases the control panels were so complex we had to rely on vendor support. With SVC, engineers learn only one interface, and we can save time and costs by managing all our storage in-house.”

Working as a team

Vishay and IBM Global Technology Services worked closely as a team for the initial system migration and for ongoing development, and the commitment to mission by IBM has impressed the corporation.

Mike Carey remarks, “We needed significant assistance to complete the original migration on time, as we were very stretched in terms of personnel. The IBM Global Technology Services team was simply outstanding, meeting or exceeding our timelines and expectations.

“A typical technical example was a shop-floor application interface on a machine that was about to reach end of lease. We had no documentation and no in-house coding skill for that platform. Failure of the interface, which was at least 12 years old, could have really hurt us. IBM Global Technology Services simply brought in an expert who was able to recompile the interface for AIX. We were really impressed at the can-do attitude.”

Looking to the future

The next major steps will be to upgrade to SAP ERP 6.0 and the company is considering to engage with IBM to complete the next development phase.

Roland Davies concludes, “IBM Global Technology Services provided excellent project management – for example, we were able to cut the Singapore office over to the new SAP ERP environment over a single weekend, without any interruption. Many vendors offer server virtualization or storage management technologies, but they don’t always deliver on their promises. The IBM commitment to service makes all the difference.”

Products and services used

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

Power Systems, System p: Power 520, System p: Power 550, System p: System p5 560Q, System p: System p5 570

TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller, Tivoli Storage Manager, High Availability Cluster Multi-Processing (HACMP), FlashCopy

Operating system:

GTS Integrated Technology Services, IBM-SAP Alliance

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