Futaba Europe GmbH enables next-phase growth with SAP and IBM

Published on 06-Jul-2011

Validated on 01 Oct 2013

"The IBM solution provides a reliable IT foundation to help Futaba grow further in future. The IBM BladeCenter offers maximum performance with minimal footprint, and we have been able to consolidate all our business servers and applications to just one hardware instance." - Masao Hasegawa, Managing Director, Futaba Europe

Customer:
Futaba

Industry:
Industrial Products

Deployment country:
Germany

Solution:
Enterprise Resource Planning, Optimizing IT, Optimizing IT

IBM Business Partner:
Fritz & Macziol Software & Computervertrieb GmbH, SAP

Overview

Futaba Corporation of Japan is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of vacuum fluorescent displays (VFDs) and radio control systems, found in cars, audio and video equipment, point-of-sales terminals, measurement equipment – even in doors, cranes, elevators and conveyors. Futaba owns manufacturing facilities in Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, China and United States, and employs about 6,000 people worldwide. Futaba Europe GmbH, located in Willich near Düsseldorf, Germany, was founded in 1979 and sells Futaba products throughout the entire EMEA region.

Business need:
Futaba wanted to introduce new SAP applications to improve business management, and cut operational and infrastructure costs.

Solution:
Futaba consolidated to IBM BladeCenter technology based on IBM BladeCenter S. An IBM JS12 POWER processor-based blade supports SAP applications running on the IBM i operating system, and HS22 blades powered by Intel Xeon processors support Microsoft Windows operating systems.

Benefits:
SAP ERP application performance has increased by about 30 percent. Server maintenance and administration costs have been cut, while energy consumption has been reduced by 40 percent. Four older servers from different manufacturers have been retired, and system complexity has been reduced.

Case Study

Futaba Corporation of Japan is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of vacuum fluorescent displays (VFDs) and radio control systems, found in cars, audio and video equipment, point-of-sales terminals, measurement equipment – even in doors, cranes, elevators and conveyors.

Futaba owns manufacturing facilities in Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, China and United States, and employs about 6,000 people worldwide. Futaba Europe GmbH, located in Willich near Düsseldorf, Germany, was founded in 1979 and sells Futaba products throughout the entire EMEA region.

Enterprise-wide SAP applications
Futaba Europe GmbH is a long-term user of SAP applications in the IBM i operating system environment. The SAP applications combine financial accounting, materials management, and sales and distribution into a single enterprise-wide solution, and the IBM System i platform provides performance, scalability and reliability. The integrated “DB2 for i” database is embedded in the IBM i operating system, at no extra charge, which substantially reduces the software costs.

Masao Hasegawa, Managing Director of Futaba Europe, explains, “It is clear that we will continue to rely on System i from IBM in future. Our experience shows that it provides a reliable basis for our business processes.

“In order to stay agile in this market and to be able to react to changes and economic growth, we decided to upgrade our enterprise system to SAP ERP 6.0 – the more so as the maintenance contract for the existing SAP system would end in 2013. The rise in general business transaction volumes combined with the new workload generated by the additional functionality of the SAP solutions presented an opportunity to review our IT landscape, and we looked for the best strategic platform to support our planned growth.”

Achieve more with less
Masao Hasegawa wanted to continue the drive to centralize and consolidate applications and data, including non-SAP general office software, as well as web, mail, file, and application servers running Microsoft Windows. The objectives were also to cut maintenance costs and reduce energy consumption while guaranteeing a maximum of reliability for the production systems.

IBM Business Partner Fritz & Macziol listened to the business requirements, and proposed consolidating the entire landscape to IBM BladeCenter technology, deploying IBM JS12 POWER processor-based blades to support the IBM i operating system and IBM HS22 Intel processor-based blades to support the Microsoft Windows operating systems.

“After Futaba explained their requirements, we quickly proposed a solution based on the very compact IBM BladeCenter technology. This allows Futaba to run their business applications based on IBM i and also their Microsoft Windows servers on one platform,” says Peter Althapp, Head of Competence Center SAP on IBM i at Fritz & Macziol. “The IBM BladeCenter platform is the best option to consolidate different physical servers and architectures, it helps to achieve cost reduction and energy consumption targets while offering quite a lot of flexibility, including the option to run systems in virtual environments.”

Futaba implemented an IBM BladeCenter S chassis with one JS12 and four HS22 blade servers, enabling Futaba to contain its critical SAP and line-of-business applications in the same core infrastructure. With consultants from Fritz & Macziol, Futaba set up and implemented the IBM BladeCenter within three days, upgraded the IBM i operating system and migrated the SAP applications from the former servers, and established and tested the new user connections with only eight hours downtime of production systems.

Subsequently, Futaba and Fritz & Macziol upgraded to SAP ERP with ECC 6.0 components, starting with the test environment, and concluding with production systems.

Consolidate multiple systems to one BladeCenter
Futaba Europe now operates its complete SAP infrastructure including test, quality management and production systems in the IBM BladeCenter on one physical hardware instance.

The BladeCenter supports web, mail, file, and application services based on the Microsoft Windows environment, running on four Intel processor-based HS22 blade servers. The HS22 blades replace four older servers from four different manufacturers, helping Futaba to reduce maintenance and support costs, and reducing energy consumption by around 50 percent. Futaba Europe’s entire server infrastructure now can be housed in a single server rack.

Masao Hasegawa continues: “The BladeCenter offered the opportunity to consolidate all our business applications within a small physical footprint, yet with increased performance and substantially reduced costs. SAP ERP 6.0 poses high IT infrastructure requirements, due in part to the extended functionality to support various business processes. The IBM BladeCenter JS12 blade server with 32GB main memory is more than capable of handling the workload.”

Following the same consolidation principle, Futaba also deployed an IBM System Storage DS3200 as an integrated Storage Area Network (SAN), with a total capacity of 11 TB. This storage solution provides a very high degree of flexibility – specifically meeting the storage and backup needs of Futaba’s Windows environment, which was an important requirement. Now they can use the storage capacity more efficient and hereby respond more quickly to changed storage demands of their business applications without the need to touch any hardware. The new IT landscape also includes centralized backup for the SAP applications and all Windows servers to IBM System Storage TS2240 and IBM System Storage TS2340 tape systems, improving business resilience and data security.

Greater performance for better business
Based on initial results, the performance of SAP ERP on the JS22 blade is significantly faster than the previous version of the SAP applications on the older systems.

“Our 14 users in financial accounting and sales controlling, for example, benefit directly from the increased performance,” says Masao Hasegawa. “Response times have improved by about 30 percent and sales and distribution transactions are processed more quickly now.”

“We now have a substantially more powerful IT infrastructure – with a lower leasing rate for the whole system. With the consolidation of the servers and applications to one hardware instance we have reduced both energy and maintenance costs. In the past maintenance costs arose for different server landscapes, now we can perform planned maintenance works together with IBM on a central system, and administration of business applications is much easier and more cost-effective.”

Masao Hasegawa concludes “The IBM solution provides a reliable IT foundation to help Futaba grow further in future. The IBM BladeCenter offers maximum of performance with minimal footprint, and we have been able to consolidate all our business servers and applications to just one hardware instance. The physical consolidation greatly eases maintenance and administration, and reduces energy costs. At the same time this solution enables our executives with up-to-the moment, accurate data to manage the business better, so we can sell products more successfully.”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
BladeCenter HS22, BladeCenter JS12 Express, BladeCenter S Chassis, Storage: DS3200, Storage: TS2240 Tape Drive, Storage: TS2340 Tape Drive

Software:
IBM i, DB2 for i5/OS

Service:
IBM-SAP Alliance

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