Nihon Matai consolidates SAP applications from 20 to six servers, cuts costs by 30 percent

Published on 04-Oct-2011

Validated on 07 Jan 2014

"IBM technology helps us ensure that we have reliable solutions fully capable of meeting our objectives." - Hiroyuki Hanyu, IT Planning Manager, Nihon Matai

Customer:
Nihon Matai

Industry:
Industrial Products

Deployment country:
Japan

Solution:
IT/infrastructure, Information Infrastructure, Infrastructure Simplification, Optimizing IT, Virtualization, Virtualization - Server

IBM Business Partner:
SAP

Overview

Founded in 1947 selling simple jute bags, Nihon Matai Co Ltd has grown to become an all-round manufacturer producing bags, packaging and containers for medical products, food items and chemical products. In 2009, the company became a member of the Rengo Group and is striving to develop new demand and create new markets.

Business need:
Nihon Matai was running a wide range of SAP applications to manage every aspect of its business. With the original hardware at end-of-life and the SAP software maintenance due to expire, Nihon Matai wished to find a strategic solution to its IT infrastructure challenges, suitable for implementing the latest versions of SAP software.

Solution:
The existing SAP solutions were running on 20 physical servers. By adopting virtualization, Nihon Matai aimed to improve operational efficiency and enable greater business flexibility. Using Microsoft Hyper-V™ virtualization on IBM System x3550 M2 servers to run multiple instances of Windows Server 2008 R2, it was possible to consolidate the entire former infrastructure to just six physical systems.

Benefits:
Improved operational efficiency and achieved a 30 percent reduction in running costs by introducing server virtualization and high-performance unified storage. Production machine data can now be copied to the test environment 96 percent faster and run in multiple parallel scenarios, greatly increasing the development team’s efficiency. The number of racks required was reduced from three to one, which reduced both capital and operating costs for the data center.

Case Study

Founded in 1947 selling simple jute bags, Nihon Matai Co Ltd has grown to become an all-round manufacturer producing bags, packaging and containers for medical products, food items and chemical products. In 2009, the company became a member of the Rengo Group and is striving to develop new demand and create new markets.

Nihon Matai introduced its first SAP applications in 2006, covering financial accounting, management accounting, sales administration, inventory and purchasing management, process production, data warehousing and select components of strategic enterprise management (SEM).

With the original hardware at end-of-life and the SAP software maintenance agreement due to expire, Nihon Matai wished to find a strategic solution for its IT infrastructure needs, suitable for implementing the latest versions of SAP software. Mr. Hiroyuki Hanyu, IT Planning Manager in the Business Planning Department, comments: "Our employees were fully familiar with the existing infrastructure, but as the storage maintenance and other agreements were coming to an end, it became inevitable that the system would be updated.

"Although we thought about extending the maintenance period, we had issues with the management workload and potential business risk, so we decided to update the storage systems and the processors for the entire SAP environment. The objectives were to optimize the landscape, reduce complexity, increase flexibility and cut costs."

Virtualization success on IBM System x3550 M2
Nihon Matai chose to replace its existing estate of 20 servers with six IBM System x3550 M2 servers powered by Intel Xeon processors.

To achieve the consolidation, Nihon Matai implemented Microsoft Hyper-V to allow multiple virtual instances of Microsoft Windows Server to run on a single physical machine.

The IBM System x3550 M2 offers exceptional energy smart performance in a dense 1U mechanical package delivering leadership virtualization and powerful systems management.

Offering industry-leading performance per watt computing, highly compact memory designs with 16 DDR3 RDIMM slots, and powered by up to two quad or dual-core Intel Xeon Series 5500 processors, the IBM System x3550 M2 consolidates workloads and performs more work in a shorter period of time.

The Intel® Xeon® processor 5500 series, based on the latest generation Intel® microarchitecture, provide key features such as extended lifecycle support along with options for thermally constrained applications while maintaining compatibility with enterprise platform configurations. The 5500 series processors automatically regulate power consumption and intelligently adjust server performance according to your application needs, maximizing both energy efficiency and performance.

Hiroyuki Hanyu says, "In terms of the total cost for the monthly data center and hardware and software maintenance, Nihon Matai has achieved around 30 percent reduction in costs.”

The trigger for the landscape refresh was in fact the ending of storage maintenance contracts. The company took the opportunity to review its information management strategy, and chose to virtualize its data storage, too.

Nihon Matai selected the IBM System Storage® N3600 unified storage solution. The N3600 uses iSCSI, which offers excellent price-performance for connections between servers and storage.
Load distribution using multiple connections per session (MCS) allows bandwidth to be secured that is equivalent to Fibre Channel and provides a high level of redundancy, at very much lower costs.

The N3600 is designed to help enterprises to consolidate fragmented application-based storage and unstructured data into one unified, easily managed and expandable platform. It offers intelligent management software, data protection capabilities, advanced connectivity and onboard remote management from a single, easily configured, system.

Using the N3600 Snapshot function, Nihon Matai completes its daily backup of SAP production and SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse data in a couple of seconds. Snapshot takes a disk-to-disk copy of data, which is then backed up to tape separately – about one month’s data, or some 40 generations, of data can be stored on the disk.

In the past some backups to tape might fail, owing to tape faults. Because the data is stored on disk as an intermediate step, if the tape transfer fails, the process can be restarted without impacting production, ensuring that the fault can be remedied and that the tape transfer completes successfully.

Nihon Matai also uses SnapMirror, which duplicates data by synchronizing between controllers on the different servers. The data is stored on LTO4 tapes in an IBM System Storage TS3100 tape library, connected to the backup server.

More flexible data storage
The existing SAP IT landscape could only support one test environment, principally owing to restricted storage capacity, and it was not possible to carry out multiple projects simultaneously. In fact, the time taken to copy and process production data meant that Nihon Matai did not take regular, recent data for testing, which weakened the validity of the results.

With the previous SAP system, production machine data was copied to the test environment using the client copy method, a process that took about three days. On one of those days, SAP operations would have to be suspended, which meant that copying would always be scheduled over the weekend to minimize business interruption. The copying issue was solved by duplicating the production database for each volume using the N3600 high-speed copy function.

Using this process, it became possible to prepare a test environment with the latest production machine data in about three hours even during business hours on weekdays, an improvement of around 96 percent.

In addition to the quality assurance environment, the new IT infrastructure on IBM x3550 M2 servers provides three SAP instances as a full test environment, with independent access to current data stored on the N3600. Using the N3600, Nihon Matai is able to run multiple test scenarios in parallel, greatly increasing the development team’s efficiency. Currently, four test SAP instances are operating in parallel.

Improved system monitoring
Nihon Matai has introduced SAP Solution Manager to its system management landscape.

The previous monitoring tool was unable to monitor internal information from the SAP system, and could not check how much the data volumes had increased. Not all the monitored items were appropriate for Nihon Matai’s purposes, and multiple alerts were issued for minor errors, with the result that technical personnel might easily overlook a notification of a serious error.

SAP Solution Manager has been optimized by tailoring it to Nihon Matai’s SAP solution, so that unnecessary alerts are controlled and only serious errors are notified. As a result, the company has successfully reduced the workload on the technical personnel.

Hiroyuki Hanyu comments, "SAP Solution Manager monitors internal SAP system information, and the robust reporting function allows visualization of data easily, which helps us with our system planning.

"Even better, this tool is included as standard with the SAP system, so we can use it without incurring extra costs. When a problem occurs in a monitored system, the administrator is notified by email.

"With the previous system, the notified content often did not make it possible to determine what the initial action should be. With SAP Solution Manager, the email alerts include a predefined initial action, and the person in charge is able to take the necessary steps without hesitation.

“We are still estimating the TCO, but I believe that the number of man-hours put in by operation personnel on unnecessary alerts and tape trouble has certainly been reduced."

Making technological advances
By introducing server virtualization and high-performance unified storage, the company was able to both improve operation efficiency and reduce running costs.

The company, however, is making additional technological advances. Hiroyuki Hanyu concludes, "With respect to a large-scale, company-wide infrastructure such as SAP, we think that achieving stable operations is our prime objective. Across a long period of time, various challenges arise, such as the end of a hardware lease, expiration of maintenance agreements, upgrades to the SAP applications and migration to the cloud environment.

“To fulfill our responsibility as a manufacturer, we respond to changes in society and provide excellent products that always satisfy customers. We will continue to optimize systems and strive for business and technological innovation.”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
Storage, Storage: N3600, Storage: TS3100 Tape Library, System x: System x3550 M2

Service:
IBM-SAP Alliance

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