KEB brings continuous manufacturing with SAP and IBM

Published on 27-Oct-2009

Validated on 18 Jul 2013

"Previously, we had three processors dedicated to SAP application workload, whereas with the new IBM Power Systems we require only two, and yet performance is actually better. The IBM servers are definitely among the best machines we have ever bought." - Bernhard Peuser, IT Project Manager, Karl E. Brinkmann GmbH

Customer:
KEB

Industry:
Industrial Products

Deployment country:
Germany

Solution:
Database Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, Optimizing IT, Virtualization

IBM Business Partner:
SAP, Rowicom

Overview

Family-owned business Karl E. Brinkmann GmbH (KEB) of Barntrup, northern Germany, specializes in motion control devices contained in almost all kinds of appliances and machines, from cars, dishwashers and pumps to cranes, lifts and huge wind turbines. With an international customer base and offices throughout Europe, China, Japan, Russia and the USA, KEB employs more than 1,200 people and generates revenues of over €170 million annually.

Business need:
KEB, a Germany-based specialist manufacturing group, wanted to grow internationally. An integrated, worldwide operation could take advantage of economies of scale, co-ordinated marketing and more efficient operations. Independent SAP applications at worldwide locations could not share data, and the lack of a single information source prevented the rapid and accurate analysis of performance. At the same time, KEB wanted to reduce downtime to ensure higher availability of business systems.

Solution:
Implemented a consolidated suite of SAP ERP applications for all locations as a single instance at the corporate headquarters, using the Unicode standard to allow shared access in local languages. To support the increased number of users and larger single database, KEB implemented new IBM Power Systems servers and a storage area network based on IBM System Storage DS8100 disk systems, combined with a unified disaster recovery plan.

Benefits:
With SAP applications, KEB management is able to analyze data from all its worldwide operations, identifying areas for improvements and cost-efficiencies. Plans can be optimized efficiently, allocating work based on cost, margin and environmental impact. Time to consolidate group financial information has fallen to a few hours. The single IBM DB2 database provides the opportunity to extract and report on business data, enabling plans for customer relationship and business intelligence solutions.

Case Study

[To see a German version of this story, click here.]

Family-owned business Karl E. Brinkmann GmbH (KEB) of Barntrup, northern Germany, specializes in motion control devices contained in almost all kinds of appliances and machines, from cars, dishwashers and pumps to cranes, lifts and huge wind turbines. With an international customer base and offices throughout Europe, China, Japan, Russia and the USA, KEB employs more than 1,200 people and generates revenues of over €170 million annually.

With the increasing globalization of business, it became clear to KEB that the company’s activities should be treated as a single enterprise. An integrated, worldwide operation could take advantage of economies of scale, co-ordinated marketing and more efficient manufacturing and sales operations. KEB’s operating divisions were running a proprietary ERP application as the shared, standard business management solution, but there were separate applications, notably for the Japanese and Chinese subsidiaries. It took time to collate and analyze data from these multiple systems, slowing the company’s response to rapidly changing market and legal conditions.

KEB had consolidated the European offices’ SAP Business Suite applications to IBM Power Systems servers in two data centers, with offsite data backup at a third location. Bernhard Peuser, IT Project Manager, Karl E. Brinkmann GmbH, comments, “As these machines used internal hard disks, switchover from one server to a second would have taken considerable time, leading to a production standstill. This prompted us to review our disaster recovery planning, which provided the ideal opportunity to review the worldwide IT infrastructure strategy.

“We wanted to integrate business data from international subsidiaries to accelerate our global business information processes, and protect the data in case of disaster. Our objective was to enable KEB to respond more rapidly to the global market, by offering greater insight into our worldwide operational data.”

Speaking the same language
The initial challenge was to introduce the Unicode standard to allow the Chinese and Japanese subsidiaries to use the central SAP application instances. Unicode functionality allows the local systems to display local languages – for example, the Japanese Kanji characters – while the central systems are able to provide analysis and reporting in the chosen core language – in this case, German.

To make this possible, KEB first needed to migrate to the SAP ERP 6.0 application, which supports the Unicode standard. Subsequently, data in each country could be migrated to the Unicode standard, to allow local operations to use the central SAP ERP applications in their own extended character sets.

Taking into account the additional functionality of the new SAP Business Suite applications, the processor workload generated by the Unicode character sets, and the increased number of users connecting worldwide, the KEB team set about selecting suitable infrastructure to meet its new demands.

Building up the right infrastructure
Although KEB had been using IBM servers for many years with very satisfactory results, the radically changed requirements dictated a thorough review of all major vendors’ offerings. The analysis included performance, total capacity, scalability and reliability data.

“We determined that staying with IBM Power Systems servers was the best option, as we could guarantee good performance from the SAP applications and valuable in-house know-how could be maintained,” says Bernhard Peuser. “Not least, a move to any other system would have meant a much more complicated migration process. IBM has a clear roadmap for its Power Systems platform as well as for the IBM i operating system, and stepping towards POWER6 processor-based systems was completely logical.”

KEB implemented its new SAP ERP applications on two IBM Power Systems servers running the IBM i operating system, with a Power 570 server with four POWER6 processors for production, and an i525 server with two POWER5+ processors for backup in the second data centre.

The production servers contain separate logical partitions (LPARs) for production, test and development, SAP Solution Manager and Lotus Domino. The backup servers contain LPARs for data recovery, legacy applications from international subsidiaries, and a second Lotus Domino server that acts as failover for the production system. Redundant layout not only for the servers, but also for SAN and LAN infrastructure, allows KEB to continuously operate all systems, even in case of disaster.

Around 500 concurrent users access the SAP applications, which include SAP ERP for financials, controlling, customer service, materials management, product lifecycle management, production planning, quality management, sales and distribution, and warehouse management; and SAP ERP Human Capital Management.

KEB uses IBM Tivoli Storage Manager to back up its servers and infrastructure, using an IBM System Storage 3584 Tape Library with six IBM Enterprise tape drives. The tape library is used for both IBM i Backup Recovery Media Services and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager backups.

“Tivoli Storage Manager currently manages backups for all our Intel servers, helping us move important data to tape quickly and effectively by using incremental backup technologies,” comments Bernhard Peuser. “This means we don’t have to do a total copy of all the data each day – instead, just the new and edited files need to be copied, which saves time and reduces traffic on the network.”

At some point the Tivoli Storage Manager application will be migrated to a new LPAR on the i525 servers, which will be upgraded to become POWER6 processor-based systems. Moving the Tivoli application to an i525 system will allow KEB to eliminate another standalone server, reducing complexity and helping to drive down operational costs.

Email, calendaring, messaging and collaboration services are provided by Lotus Domino for all the KEB subsidiaries. The scalability of the IBM Power Systems servers allows KEB to continue to consolidate applications in new LPARs, comfortable that new processors can be added as the workload grows.

Storing precious business data
The previous application servers contained internal disk drives, and a significant architecture change has been the introduction of a storage area network (SAN), based on two IBM System Storage DS8100 disk arrays, each offering 5TB capacity. KEB plans to consolidate its existing two Sun-based SAN servers onto the DS8100 systems.

“Sourcing out storage to the SAN has the advantage that booting for switchovers can be achieved much faster compared to using internal disks,” says Bernhard Peuser. “I estimate that the boot process when recovering our full system to the backup server only takes 20 minutes. IBM offers round-the-clock support for its systems, which guarantees availability 24/7, absolutely essential for our international business using the single, centralized applications.”

To support the worldwide SAP applications, KEB selected IBM DB2. The production database, on the first partition of the System i server, is around 650GB; the test and development database is around 900GB; and the SAP Solution Manager dataset is 150GB. An additional Lotus Domino server database is 450GB.

Bernhard Peuser comments, “It was only logical to go for DB2, as this is integrated within the IBM i operating system. We are very pleased with the ease of administration. There is no need to employ dedicated database administrators, and our IT staff can manage the database as part of their day-to-day business.”

A current deployment of IBM Content Manager onDemand, capturing digital images and indexing of physical documents, is driving considerable database growth of around 40 percent annually. Content Manager onDemand will enable rapid electronic access to documents, worldwide, reducing reliance on expensive physical storage and security. KEB plans to implement the powerful DB2 Deep Compression features to reduce total storage requirements and avoid the purchase of additional capacity on the DS8100 systems.

Implementing without interruption
To complete the implementation, IBM technicians installed the new IBM Power Systems servers and the DS8100 systems. Logical configuration of the SAN and servers was completed by KEB and Rowicom. The SAP applications were updated and Unicode implemented on the existing servers, and subsequently migrated to the new Power Systems servers. KEB retained the previous servers during this phase, which allowed operations to continue until a single cutover point.

“IBM provided all the technical support and Rowicom delivered the services we needed, and we were very pleased with the ability to continue in production almost without interruption,” says Bernhard Peuser. “The detailed work with IBM on designing and sizing the system, based on the existing workload, really paid off.

“Previously, we had three processors dedicated to SAP application workload, whereas with the new IBM Power Systems we require only two, and yet performance is actually better.”

Bringing home business benefits
The consolidated SAP application landscape at KEB, supported by high-performance IBM Power Systems servers and DS8100-based SAN, has positioned the company for international growth. The integrated SAP applications have eliminated difficulties of information exchange and language between the KEB worldwide operations, and the single shared DB2 database is enabling such projects as the digitization of unstructured data through IBM Content Manager onDemand.

With the SAP applications in place, KEB management is able to analyze manufacturing, sales and service data from all its worldwide operations, identifying areas for quality improvements and cost-efficiencies. Sales and production plans can be optimized efficiently, allocating work based on cost, margin and even environmental impact. Group financial information consolidation has fallen from several days to a few hours. The single, shared IBM DB2 database provides the opportunity to extract and report on business data, enabling plans for new customer relationship and business intelligence solutions.

The company plans to implement SAP Customer Relationship Management, followed by SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse. On the infrastructure side, KEB is enhancing its disaster recovery solutions with IBM PowerHA for System i, to improve system resilience in the case of disaster, and allow production applications to be moved between servers without interruption.

“The integrated IBM solution is reliable and easy to administer,” says Bernhard Peuser, “We are now free to direct valuable manpower to concentrate on business issues, such as advanced analysis and reporting, and on advanced services to support sales and operational teams.

“With the dual data systems and SAN, being able to test and customize systems before actually implementing them helps KEB maintain stable operations, and our application landscape is always up to date, ready to meet business requirements. We are totally satisfied with the implementation services from IBM and with the performance of the new SAP and IBM solution.”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
Power Systems, Storage: DS8100

Software:
Lotus Domino, Tivoli Storage Manager, Lotus Notes, IBM i, DB2 for i5/OS, Content Manager

Operating system:
IBM i

Service:
IBM-SAP Alliance

Legal Information

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