Apple Vacations takes a holiday from complexity with IBM XIV and SAP ERP

Published on 12-Mar-2012

"The migration to XIV was incredibly easy. If a new volume was needed, we set it up on the XIV, pressed ‘refresh’, and it was immediately available to the system." - John Venezia, Chief Information Officer, Apple Vacations

Apple Vacations

Travel & Transportation

Deployment country:
United States

Enabling Business Flexibility, Energy Efficiency, High Availability , Small & Medium Business, Virtualization, Virtualization - Storage, Information Infrastructure, Optimizing IT

IBM Business Partner:


Apple Vacations specializes in vacations to Cancun, Punta Cana, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Panama, Hawaii, and other destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico. Founded in 1969 and an innovator from the start, it was one of the first holiday companies to bring all-inclusive vacations to the U.S. market, and one of the first to offer three- and four-night vacations to meet consumer demand for shorter, more frequent breaks.

Business need:
Apple Vacations, reaching the capacity and performance limits of its existing storage infrastructure, was seeking simple and cost-effective ways to flexibly handle long-term growth.

Deployed a virtualized multiworkload storage environment based on IBM XIV Storage System for all applications, including SAP ERP, running on IBM Power Systems™ and IBM System x servers.

Reduced administrative workload by 80 percent; reduced data management and storage costs by more than 80 percent; increased performance while cutting the footprint and energy costs in half.

Case Study

Apple Vacations specializes in vacations to Cancun, Punta Cana, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Panama, Hawaii, and other destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico. Founded in 1969 and an innovator from the start, it was one of the first holiday companies to bring all-inclusive vacations to the U.S. market, and one of the first to offer three- and four-night vacations to meet consumer demand for shorter, more frequent breaks.

Most Apple Vacations customers still book their vacations through a travel agent, but the company was experiencing a dramatic rise in transactions on its consumer website. This, and the fact that the company’s web channel also provides a booking service for its travel agents, was putting significant strain on its storage infrastructure.

John Venezia, Chief Information Officer, explains, "Apple Vacations wants to be the go-to company for vacations in the Caribbean, which means increasing our share of the market, and making our vacations more attractive and easier to book. Our largest storage array had reached the limits of its capacity and performance. By adopting the IBM XIV Storage System as our strategic platform for all data storage, we dramatically improved performance and gained practically unlimited headroom for growth. We also cut administration and storage costs by more than 80 percent, and reduced the physical footprint and energy costs for data storage by 50 percent."

Key objectives met
Apple Vacations deployed the IBM XIV Storage System to consolidate its multiworkload landscape on a single storage solution. The diverse applications using the XIV system include SAP ERP software for core business management, and a range of travel-specific applications alongside Lotus® Notes®, Lotus Domino® and Oracle database solutions. The company uses IBM Power Systems servers running IBM AIX® for the SAP applications, including SAP NetWeaver® Business Warehouse, and IBM System x® and other vendor servers running Microsoft Windows Server, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. IBM DB2® provides reliable, high-performance information management for the SAP landscape.

Apple Vacations chose IBM WebSphere products to build its web experience. The solution includes WebSphere Application Server to support applications and processing, WebSphere Virtual Enterprise for system automation and monitoring, and WebSphere eXtreme Scale for sheer performance and scalability.

Apple Vacations has used SAP ERP software to run its core business processes since 1998, during which time its SAP landscape has grown by a factor of six in terms of data and transaction workload. The current SAP solution generates around 5 TB of production data, including fast changing information on aircraft and hotel bookings that must also be shared at high speed with external partners such as airlines, hotel chains and car rental firms.

John Venezia, Chief Information Officer, comments, "XIV is an ideal platform for our mission-critical SAP ERP landscape, meeting all our key objectives around performance, availability, low costs of operation, ease of management, and long-term scalability. Its proven ability to work seamlessly across multiple operating systems was also an important decision factor."

He adds, "SAP software gives us the ability to automate the financial and logistics processing at the heart of our business. By running the SAP components as virtual servers on IBM AIX with IBM PowerVM® virtualization, we have an extremely compact, efficient and flexible platform for business management. The PowerVM virtualization is perfectly complemented by the virtualized storage on the XIV."

Sirius Computer Services, an IBM Business Partner, deployed the XIV solution, and helped Apple Vacations migrate existing data to the new XIV system in little more than a week. "The migration to XIV was incredibly easy using the built-in tool," says Venezia. "If a new volume was needed, we set it up on the XIV system, pressed ‘refresh’, and it was immediately available to the connected servers."

Shrinking costs, growing capacity
The XIV system has enabled Apple Vacations to replace a complex network of disparate SAN devices with a single, self-managing enterprise storage solution.

Says Venezia, "With the XIV storage system, everything is virtualized, and we no longer need to know or care where the data is actually stored on the array. We can simply manage the storage volumes, and the XIV system ensures both that access performance is optimized and that we are protected against data loss without requiring us to manage RAID levels. Implementing the XIV Storage System has enabled us to cut our data management workload by at least 80 percent: from 20 hours a week to less than four."

Bringing innovation to market faster
For its operating system and application upgrades, Apple Vacations uses the XIV snapshot functionality to create a near-instant copy of the system before applying the changes. "The XIV snapshots are phenomenal—they’ve transformed our quality assurance processes," says Venezia. "We can create a new quality assurance environment in just a few moments, ready for testing, which helps us bring new products and services to market more rapidly and at lower cost."

Since implementing XIV storage, Apple Vacations has experienced continuous uptime, even when linking new servers to the system or creating large new volumes. The massively parallelized XIV grid architecture offers consistent high performance at all times, even during peak business hours when multiple servers are reading and writing large amounts of data.

"We now rely entirely on XIV storage," says John Venezia. "The XIV system really simplifies the management overhead, with a powerful user interface that we can use to easily reassign, increase or decrease volumes on the fly. In combination with IBM PowerVM virtualization on our Power Systems servers, this gives us the flexibility we need to provide optimal support for our business-critical SAP ERP landscape."

Products and services used

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

Power 770, Storage: XIV

WebSphere eXtreme Scale, Tivoli Storage Manager, WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Virtual Enterprise, AIX, PowerVM, DB2 for Linux, UNIX and Windows

IBM-SAP Alliance

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America March 2012 IBM, the IBM logo,, AIX, Power Systems, PowerVM, and XIV are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at Microsoft, Windows and Windows NT are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the United States, other countries, or both. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. Actual available storage capacity may be reported for both uncompressed and compressed data and will vary and may be less than stated.