Published on 14-Sep-2010
Validated on 07 Jan 2014
"Over the lifetime of our new IBM Power 550 Express server, we will make considerable savings on hardware, software licensing and operational costs. At Noord-Beveland we estimate that we will achieve cost reductions of approximately 40 percent, and the other Gemeentes should be making similar savings." - Wilko Fokke, Gemeente Noord-Beveland
Enabling Business Flexibility, Enterprise Resource Planning, Infrastructure Simplification, Optimizing IT, Optimizing IT, Server Consolidation
IBM Business Partner:
The municipalities of Borsele, Goes, Kapelle, Noord-Beveland, Reimerswaal and Tholen in the Netherlands are situated on the westernmost peninsula of the province of Zeeland on the Dutch coast. Collectively, the municipalities employ some 1,200 people, serving around 110,000 citizens with education, health, policing and related social services. They are also responsible for local tax calculations and collections.
Enhance citizens’ online experience with faster response times and integrated operations between the participating municipalities, in accordance with Netherland’s nationwide “e-Government” initiative. Enable flexible addition of new services that can be rolled out to all municipalities on an as-requested basis. Split existing single SAP application environment into separate independent applications to increase stability and security.
Deployed SAP applications to a single IBM Power 550 server running the IBM i operating system. Implemented six independent SAP production central instances and a further two shared test and quality assurance development environments. Used specific IBM i virtualization functions such as i-Subsystems, to run a combined mix of legacy and SAP applications to exploit the available IT resources as efficiently as possible.
IBM Power 550 server enables increased system performance through better load balancing and advanced POWER6 processor technology. Multiple servers consolidated to a single Power Systems server, offering lower maintenance, administration and license fee costs. Independent SAP R/3 environments ensure that changes to one municipality’s instance will not affect the other instances. SAP application maintenance can be carried out concurrently on all municipalities, reducing administration costs.
About this paper
This paper describes a shared services implementation of SAP ERP applications on IBM Power Systems infrastructure running the IBM i operating system, hosted at a Dutch municipality (Gemeente Goes) and provided to five participating municipalities. The paper describes the background, reasons for selecting the shared services model, hardware and software landscape, and project achievements.
- Enhance citizens’ online experience with faster response times and integrated operations between the participating municipalities, in accordance with Netherland’s nationwide “e-Government” initiative
- Enable flexible addition of new services that can be rolled out to all municipalities on an as-requested basis
- Split existing single SAP application environment into separate independent applications to increase stability and security
- Introduce secure data backup for all six municipalities and enable a standard disaster recovery process
- Create independent test and quality assurance environments for all six municipalities
- Consolidate existing legacy environments to a single platform alongside SAP applications, to facilitate data sharing
- Cut infrastructure investment cycle by introducing a standardized and long-term hardware strategy
- Eliminate costly server sprawl by consolidating multiple application and file servers to a single platform
- Simplify administration by reducing server numbers and standardizing on a single operating system
- Enable a structure able to support future SAP NetWeaver and SAP ERP components
- Improve system performance to boost staff productivity
- Reduce ongoing operational and total costs of ownership.
- Deployed SAP applications to a single IBM Power 550 server running the IBM i operating system
- Implemented six independent SAP production central instances and a further two shared test and quality assurance development environments
- Used specific IBM i virtualization functions such as i-Subsystems, to run a combined mix of legacy and SAP applications to exploit the available IT resources as efficiently as possible.
- IBM Power 550 server enables increased system performance through better load balancing and advanced POWER6 processor technology
- Multiple servers consolidated to a single Power Systems server, offering lower maintenance, administration and license fee costs
- Independent SAP R/3 environments ensure that changes to one municipality’s instance will not affect the other instances
- SAP application maintenance can be carried out concurrently on all municipalities, reducing administration costs
- Independent test and quality environments guarantee that production activities are not affected by development issues, offering a more stable SAP service
- Reduced administration support due to consolidation of legacy, SAP application and SAP NetWeaver environments
- Shared backup, disaster recovery and continuity services have led to a 40 percent cost reduction in administration tasks.
Background, starting point and objectives
The municipalities of Borsele, Goes, Kapelle, Noord-Beveland, Reimerswaal and Tholen in the Netherlands are situated on the westernmost peninsula of the province of Zeeland on the Dutch coast. Near Middelburg, the provincial capital, the area has traditionally been an agricultural area, and in recent years has grown rapidly to become one of the most economically active regions. Collectively, the municipalities employ some 1200 people, serving around 110,000 citizens with education, health, policing and related social services. They are also responsible for local tax calculations and collections.
Technical background and history
Originally, each Gemeente (the Dutch equivalent of ‘municipality’) ran its own IT services. Three of the municipalities were running SAP ERP solutions on the Microsoft Windows operating system, and three were running in-house legacy applications based on Unix or Linux operating systems.
Administration and maintenance at the six IT centers was relatively expensive, with server acquisition, configuration and deployment for each Gemeente supported by relatively few taxpayers. Opportunities to share expertise between the municipalities were limited, too, as the SAP configurations at each municipality were very different.
Limited budgets and manpower meant that certain best-practice methodologies, such as isolating development and test environments from the production applications, were not always followed. Additionally, infrastructure features, such as data backup, archiving and disaster recovery, were generally missing from the individual systems.
The first step towards resolving some of these issues was to move to a shared services model, and through gentle agreement, Gemeente Goes became the central IT service provider. This approach has helped to reduce costs and to introduce new services that might otherwise have been out of reach for any individual Gemeente.
The Gemeente Goes SAP landscape was first deployed as a multi-tenanted or multi-client system. One SAP application instance supported all the clients, running a common database. The advantage of this approach was that the Gemeente Goes team had only one system and database to manage, and it was easy to add new applications on a shared basis.
A significant disadvantage of the multi-client arrangement, however, was that any system error affected all the municipalities. If the system had to be rolled back owing to a fault generated by one Gemeente, the roll-back affected the other five municipalities’ data, too. Additionally, deploying changes, upgrades and applications carried extra risk if an implementation change took longer than planned or impacted dependent applications.
As a further challenge, there is some degree of pressure to accelerate the introduction of e-Government services in the Netherlands. For example, if people move from one Gemeente to another, the e-Government initiative aims to enable on-line registration for services, ideally without asking residents to re-enter data already held by their existing municipality.
The increased workload generated by new e-Government initiatives, plus the weaknesses of the multi-client arrangements, led Gemeente Goes to reconsider both its SAP application configuration and the supporting hardware and software landscape.
Gemeente Goes set out its technical objectives for the project, including new standards for data management, application stability and future application deployment. At the heart of the process would be an enhanced user experience for staff and citizens, with improved performance and new services.
The fundamental step was to split the existing single SAP application environment into separate independent application instances for each Gemeente. This would increase stability and security by making each municipality independent of the others, while continuing to benefit from the shared IT services model. If any individual instance halted, the other SAP instances would continue to run. If an error required a roll-back, it could be completed without affecting the other municipalities.
With separate production, test and development instances, Gemeente Goes planned to introduce standardized data management processes, covering backup, archiving and disaster recovery. The data management aspect of the infrastructure project was particularly important, as the shared model allowed the deployment of enterprise-class services that the individual municipalities could not otherwise afford.
As part of the infrastructure objective, Gemeente Goes wanted to introduce a platform that could host both SAP applications and legacy applications. The objectives here were to simplify data integration between the two application sets, and to ensure that the legacy applications were included in the systematic backup, archiving and disaster recovery plans. This was an essential step, as the legacy applications were in some cases the data sources for the SAP applications.
Consolidation to a single, standard platform was clearly the name of the game, as this would reduce system administration effort. The objective was to settle on a long-term strategy, with a solution capable of growing to meet the increased workloads of e-Government without requiring constant hardware refreshes and migration from one server to another. Server consolidation would also mean fewer physical boxes to maintain, unified operating system and application versions, and lower training requirements.
For new e-Government services, staff and citizens would expect at least the same and preferably faster response times, with integrated operations between municipalities. For example, it would seem reasonable to expect that the need to re-enter personal details when moving house would be replaced with an option to migrate relevant data from one municipality to another. The selected server platform would need to have the capacity and scalability to support this type of application development, as well as other future SAP NetWeaver components.
Gemeente Goes selected an IBM Power Server 550 model server running the IBM i operating system to run all six SAP production systems in a virtualized subsystem environment within a single LPAR, supported by the built-in IBM DB2 database. Housed in Goes, the server contains four POWER6 processors, 128GB main memory, and 3TB of internal storage. Development and test environments are hosted on a second IBM Power 550 server with two POWER6 processors and 96GB main memory, situated in Borsele, and this slightly smaller server acts as failover.
The first step was to migrate any existing SAP applications not already included in the multi-client landscape from their source Windows, Unix and Linux systems to the SAP instance hosted on the Power 550 running the IBM i operating system.
Secondly, the multi-client SAP configuration was split out into independent SAP instances for each municipality. This step required complete new SAP deployments and configuration, followed by import of the relevant client data sets.
The result was a total of six independent virtualized SAP application instances, accommodated in six different subsystems within one logical partition (LPAR), each with its corresponding SAP NetWeaver environment, hosted on the primary 550 server with a shared instance of IBM DB2. Internal disk storage is configured using RAID, and the Power 550 server also contains three LTO tape drives for automated daily backup.
One option for Gemeente Goes in the future will be to use IBM iCluster to replicate data to the secondary server. iCluster is the IBM i combined high availability and disaster recovery solution based on logical replication. iCluster is based upon IBM i journaling technology and is optimized for near-real time replication and geographic dispersion. For Gemeente Goes, iCluster would replicate the complete data sets to a second Power 550 server at a remote site.
The shared SAP application landscape has achieved all of the project objectives, and enabled some addition features only available in the IBM i and IBM Power environment.
The advanced POWER6 processor technology offers increased system performance through better load balancing. For a given SAPS workload, fewer processor cores are required, which in turn leads to lower software license fees and reduced investment costs. The IBM i operating system is able to run the processors at very high utilization rates of around 90 percent while offering stable operations and very fast system response times, cutting the need to invest in additional compute capacity until it is genuinely required.
By consolidating multiple servers to a single Power Systems server, Gemeente Goes has cut its maintenance, administration and operating system license fee costs. Technical skills development can now all be focused on a single platform and application environment, which themselves cut complexity and cost.
Two municipalities had been running SAP NetWeaver on Intel processor-based systems using Linux and Windows operating systems. Within the project, these environments were migrated to the IBM i operating system on the Power platform. Four SAP NetWeaver systems were created for the remaining municipalities.
The independent SAP environments ensure that changes to one municipality’s instance will not affect the other instances, and the separate test and quality environments ensure that production activities are not affected by development issues, offering a more stable service.
The Power 550 enables a growth path of up to eight POWER processor cores and 256GB main memory, offering a long-term doubling in capacity that cuts on server investment needs, and eliminates the cost, risk and interruption of migrating from one server to another. Increases in processor capacity can be completed without requiring any changes to the applications, making the predicted increase in e-Government workload easy to manage.
Finally, the consolidated server landscape offers considerable energy savings. A Power 550 server with eight POWER6 processors consumes approximately 1500W, compared with approximately triple that amount for the previous independent servers. At present, with four POWER6 processors, Gemeente Goes is making considerable energy savings, which fits not only with the letter of e-Government directives, but also the spirit.
Products and services used
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