Published on 26-Apr-2010
Validated on 01 Aug 2012
"Co-operation with IBM was very good, providing a high level of know-how and immediate access to the in-depth technical resources of both IBM and SAP. Based on our excellent experience of this smooth migration, completed within short timescales, MEVA would certainly choose IBM Global Business Services for future solutions." - Kurt Rentschler, Chief Information Officer, MEVA
MEVA Schalungs-Systeme (MEVA)
Construction / Architecture / Engineering
Business Intelligence, Business Resiliency, Customer Relationship Management, Enabling Business Flexibility, Enterprise Resource Planning, High Availability , Information Infrastructure, Optimizing IT, Linux, Optimizing IT
IBM Business Partner:
Based in Haiterbach, Germany, and still family-owned and managed, international construction company MEVA Schalungs-Systeme (MEVA) was founded in 1970. The company turns over almost €130 million (2008), and employs around 500 people (2008). MEVA specializes in concrete formworks, technology, engineering and services for a global marketplace, and has participated in flagship projects such as the Burj al Arab tower in Dubai.
International construction company MEVA wished to reach into new markets, particularly eastern Europe and India. To make this commercially possible, it was essential to control its operating and administrative expenses, especially important during a time of challenging market conditions. An ageing infrastructure, based on SAP R/3 and Informix running on HP servers, did not support multi-language functionalities, and it was not possible to share sales, cost and other information between offices.
MEVA worked with IBM Global Business Services to create a single, centralized solution based on SAP ERP applications. The software runs on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on IBM System x servers, supported by an IBM DB2 database. Advanced server virtualization using VMware ESX allows MEVA to run multiple solutions within a highly cost-effective IBM technology footprint.
Single, integrated platform for all MEVA operations allows all business operational data to be analyzed rapidly, helping management to identify cost savings, efficiencies and sales opportunities. Server virtualization ensures maximum exploitation of technology investments, with a flexible and highly resilient solution that offers low capital and operational costs. New data analysis and language capabilities are helping MEVA to plan its successful expansion into new markets.
Based in Haiterbach, Germany, and still family-owned and managed, international construction company MEVA Schalungs-Systeme (MEVA) was founded in 1970. The company now turns over almost €130 million (2008), and employs around 500 people (2008). MEVA specializes in concrete formworks, technology, engineering and services for a global marketplace, and has participated in flagship projects such as the Burj al Arab tower in Dubai.
With 40 worldwide locations, controlling operating and administrative expenses, particularly during a time of challenging market conditions, is a priority for MEVA. To enable plans for expansion into new markets, particularly Eastern Europe, mangers wanted to access valuable sales, cost and related information from all the business units.
Kurt Rentschler, Chief Information Officer, reports, “While the headquarters office relied on SAP software to manage the business, to meet specific language and character set requirements, many local sites ran their own business systems. Sharing group-wide information was not easy, and the headquarters infrastructure could not support multi-language systems.”
Within strict budgetary and capital expenditure limits, MEVA wanted to create an integrated business management solution that would allow it to operate as a single, highly efficient global enterprise.
The first step was to allow country operations to access and use the core business systems with menus, charts of accounts and data fields in their own languages. For example the eastern Europe operations require multiple accented characters. The Unicode character set was required to enable these extra capabilities, which MEVA’s existing version of SAP software did not support.
To meet the new Unicode requirements, MEVA chose to update to the latest version of SAP ERP, which would offer significantly advanced functionality. With long and successful experience of SAP software, MEVA managers knew that the introduction of a single, shared, multi-language version of core business applications would allow the company to control, analyze and act on company-wide data as never before.
MEVA also realized that the increased processor workload created by the introduction of Unicode and the new SAP applications was beyond the capacity of its existing systems, which were a combination of servers running HP-UX and an Informix database. The search began for a technology partner capable of designing and deploying a new, flexible and cost-efficient IT infrastructure, suitable both for its current business and able to serve its eastern European expansion program.
Based on detailed cost analysis, MEVA selected IBM Global Business Services from a shortlist of three competing offers. IBM advised on the complete infrastructure and software upgrade, including Combined Upgrade & Unicode Conversion for the database, working in close partnership with the MEVA technical team and with SAP. A combined team of IBM consultants and MEVA staff handled the technical migration and upgrade steps.
Kurt Rentschler comments, “While the offer prices from the vendors were very similar, we knew from past experience that IBM had the capacity and ability to give us what we needed, and made a positive selection for IBM Global Business Services.”
Working with IBM, MEVA chose to deploy a fully virtualized environment, with the SAP and many other applications running on virtual servers on just two IBM System x3650 servers. These very powerful, compact rack-mounted servers feature quad-core Intel Xeon Processor X5470 and 32GB memory, running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
On this foundation, IBM deployed VMware ESX to create four virtual servers on each x3650, providing a total of eight environments that give MEVA the ability to configure the servers to suit the application workload independently of the underlying hardware.
Kurt Rentschler says, “The virtualized approach maximizes our flexibility – if the applications change, the virtual servers can be reconfigured – and exploits the x3650 servers with the greatest possible workload shared dynamically between processors.”
Benefits of DB2
The existing Informix database was no longer a supported product for the latest SAP applications, and MEVA needed to select a new database platform, capable of scaling to meet the demands of global operations at commercially realistic license fees. IBM Global Business Services recommended IBM DB2, which is optimized for SAP applications. Low license fees, easy administration and close integration with SAP applications make DB2 an excellent choice for a cost-conscious and expanding company such as MEVA.
Having selected the SAP application components and IBM DB2, MEVA and IBM Global Business Services consultants performed a Combined Upgrade & Unicode Conversion to port the company’s data onto the new platform and introduce Unicode compatibility.
Easy and fast migration
The Unicode conversion for both the SAP applications and existing customer programs was planned and tested within a virtual server environment, completed within a week. Migrations from the existing SAP R/3 4.6C software to the SAP Business Suite applications were handled by the internal MEVA IT team. This included the conversion of existing data to the Unicode standard prior to loading into DB2. The Combined Upgrade & Unicode Conversion process turned out to be reliable, rapid and straightforward.
Peter Geist, IT Administrator, comments, “Both migrations were easier and faster than expected. The automated Unicode conversion tools did a good job and very little user interaction was needed, only a check-mark here and there in the selection dialogs. The tools recommended by IBM showed exactly where changes needed to be made, and there were only 3,500 words that required manual correction.”
IBM Global Business Services handled the Informix to DB2 migration, converting all 200GB of production data and configuring the connections to the SAP landscape. Over the course of a three month project, from initial contracts to go-live, total system downtime was 48 hours.
The principal SAP ERP applications run on one x3650 in four virtual servers, while the second x3650 supports IBM DB2, SAP Solution Manager, SAP Business Process Connector and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server update, also running in four virtual servers. As well as being stored on the x3650 servers, data is mirrored to a storage area network (SAN). Should either server suffer an outage, the missing virtual servers can be recreated on the remaining server and reconnected to the data stored on the SAN, providing a highly effective and low-cost disaster recovery solution.
Reliable, resilient systems
The use of virtualization on the IBM x3650 servers is delivering immediate practical benefits to MEVA. The SAP applications require just two processor cores and 8GB main memory, with the remaining cores and memory available for other in-house applications or disaster recovery purposes. The IBM x3650 servers are more than capable of hosting the SAP and other line of business applications, helping MEVA to avoid over-investing in hardware at a time of considerable financial constraint.
IBM Global Business Services advised on every aspect of the project, from business strategy through the migration process, right down to server virtualization, sizing and location of the data centers. The IBM service brought experience and in-depth resources as a perfect complement to the highly capable technical team at MEVA.
Peter Geist says, “The use of VMware ESX on the x3650 has improved performance and reliability, particularly when compared to our previous system. During the implementation phase, we tested it once, successfully, and very soon found it had to prove itself three times in real situations.
“On IBM’s advice, the two servers are in different locations at the headquarters site. On two separate occasions, one data center was hit by lightning and was knocked out – and both times the System x servers really demonstrated their reliability. The system remained stable and the failed server was brought back to work without any losses to the main service.
“The only time the system genuinely suffered an outage was when an excavating machine cut the main power supply to the whole industrial park. Even then no data loss occurred and the system went back on-line without problems. Incidentally, the time for a machine reboot is about three to five minutes, with local and mirrored data copies for security, offering very fast return to full production.”
Virtualization also reduced maintenance time, with the added benefits of lower energy and hardware costs.
Kurt Rentschler concludes, “Co-operation with IBM was very good, providing a high level of know-how and immediate access to the in-depth technical resources of both IBM and SAP. Based on our excellent experience of this smooth migration, completed within short timescales, MEVA would certainly choose IBM Global Business Services for future solutions.”
Based on the Unicode standard and the shared SAP applications running on the powerful, flexible x3650 foundation, MEVA is now able to share data more easily throughout the group. From India to Eastern Europe, MEVA is confident it now has the capacity to build business opportunities rapidly and cost-effectively.
Products and services used
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