Foodstuffs South Island cuts costs and boosts business performance

Published on 09-Aug-2012

Validated on 03 Feb 2014

"The combination of the IBM Systems solution for SAP NetWeaver BW and the compression and near-line storage capabilities of IBM DB2 are delivering hugely increased analytics performance." - Gordon McCoy, Business Systems Manager, Foodstuffs South Island

Customer:
Foodstuffs South Island

Industry:
Retail

Deployment country:
New Zealand

Solution:
BA - Business Intelligence, Enterprise Resource Planning, High Availability , Information Management Foundation, Small & Medium Business, Virtualization, Virtualization - Server

IBM Business Partner:
SAP

Overview

Foodstuffs South Island Limited is a 100 percent New Zealand-owned cooperative, formed in 1988 from the merger of two grocery cooperatives: Foodstuffs Christchurch Ltd. and Foodstuffs Otago/Southland Ltd. Foodstuffs South Island is headquartered in Christchurch and trades exclusively on the South Island of New Zealand. The group has a membership of 686, principally comprised supermarket chains, food warehouses, convenience and liquor stores, and members in the convenience grocery or foodservice industries.

Business need:
Foodstuffs South Island, a retail cooperative in New Zealand, provides sales and marketing information to hundreds of retailers to help them tune their business performance. With a production database of ten TB, the company was struggling to provide acceptable query performance, and daily backups had to be abandoned as they simply took too long.

Solution:
Foodstuffs South Island implemented a comprehensive solution at its datacenter in Christchurch, centred around the IBM® XIV® Storage System and IBM DB2® Near-Line Storage for SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse. IBM DB2 was selected as a database platform. SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator extends the capabilities of Foodstuffs South Island’s existing SAP NetWeaver BW application and is delivered pre-integrated and ready to run on an IBM BladeCenter® system. Finally, a new IBM Power® 750 Express server hosts several SAP applications.

Benefits:
Foodstuffs South Island was able to drastically shrink the size of its SAP NetWeaver BW database from ten TB down to two TB, an 80 percent saving. Using DB2 Near-Line Storage for SAP NetWeaver BW, the IT team has moved older company data onto less costly storage, at a saving of 266 percent. Query performance has improved by 276 percent. Database backup that formerly took an entire day now takes five hours, an improvement of 79 percent.

Case Study

Foodstuffs South Island Limited is a 100 percent New Zealand-owned cooperative, formed in 1988 from the merger of two grocery cooperatives: Foodstuffs Christchurch Ltd. and Foodstuffs Otago/Southland Ltd. Foodstuffs South Island is headquartered in Christchurch and trades exclusively on the South Island of New Zealand. The group has a membership of 686, principally comprised supermarket chains, food warehouses, convenience and liquor stores, and members in the convenience grocery or foodservice industries.

Exponential data growth

One of the main advantages of cooperative membership is Foodstuffs South Island’s ability to use collective sales data to generate accurate forecasts of demand. By collating and aggregating information from each member, the company can create a big-picture view of trading conditions, and adapt advance ordering, warehousing and distribution services accordingly. Individual members would be unable to fund or manage such predictive research, and the increased statistical accuracy available from pooled data gives Foodstuffs South Island the ability to improve business performance for all the members.

Foodstuffs South Island runs SAP ERP applications to manage its financial and operational processes, including order-to-cash and logistics. With a network including some 60 points of sale and 1,700 users of the company’s SAP systems, Foodstuffs South Island has considerable volumes of data to process. Transactions completed in its SAP applications are captured to a SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW) for analysis and reporting.

As new retailers joined the company, the quantity of data stored in the warehouse was increasing significantly. The group’s SAP NetWeaver BW database was growing by up to 500 GB a month, and had reached ten TB within five years.

As Gordon McCoy, Business Systems Manager at Foodstuffs South Island, states, “Most of the data that users needed to access was from the previous month or two, which wasn’t too much of an effort to obtain. However, it was incredibly difficult to access historical data going back several years that we had archived to tape or was held on older storage devices. The delays associated with the manual management of data storage could cause immense frustration among staff.”

The growth in the total volume of data had led to unreliable backup processes. “In the past, it would take us a whole day to back up the database,” notes Darren Rasmusen, Enterprise Systems Manager at Foodstuffs South Island. “It got to a point where we would only run the backup once a week at most, because of the time required for the backup to complete. On top of that, it was hard to prove that the system could recover from a major failure, as the restore would take too long to complete before impacting regular production systems.”

Comprehensive information solution

Foodstuffs South Island is a long-term user of IBM solutions, and was already utilizing a number of IBM hardware and software components to support its business processes. The company turned to IBM for assistance, implementing the IBM XIV Storage System solution and simultaneously migrating to the latest version of IBM DB2.

By migrating to the IBM XIV solution, Foodstuffs South Island has eliminated multiple independent storage devices, providing a single, consolidated location for all production and recent data. The company uses the automated provisioning tools included with the XIV to reduce the manual data management workload, controlled through the easy-to-learn IBM XIV user interface.

Foodstuffs South Island chose IBM DB2 as its database platform, taking advantage of its integration with SAP systems to further reduce administration workload. Additionally, the company enabled the IBM DB2 Near-Line Storage (NLS) for SAP NetWeaver BW functionality, which automatically moves less-frequently accessed data into a separate near-line DB2 database. Moving data out of the production database helps ensure high query performance, while retaining a complete historical record for more extensive queries that involve the near-line data. Using DB2 NLS and Deep Compression functionality, Foodstuffs South Island has cut total production database storage required by more than 60 percent, a savings of eight TB.

“With the DB2 NLS interface for SAP NetWeaver BW, we can separate frequently accessed data from older, infrequently accessed files, while still keeping the data accessible online,” explains Gordon McCoy. “The NLS data is stored in a separate database, which is stored on less expensive hardware and can be managed separately. This makes it much easier and more cost-effective for us to manage older company data.”

Super-fast analytics and reporting

To improve the speed of analytics and reporting, Foodstuffs South Island deployed the IBM Systems solution for SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse Accelerator. This solution, delivered pre-integrated and ready to run on a dedicated IBM BladeCenter system, uses in-memory data compression and data indexing to accelerate access to company information for business analysts. Many reports can be offloaded to the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse Accelerator (SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator), which reduces the main system workload while delivering enhanced query performance.

The IBM Systems solution for SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator is based on the IBM BladeCenter, running the Linux operating system on standard Intel processor-based BladeCenter blade servers.

The cooperative deployed a new IBM Power 750 Express server, running IBM AIX®, as the platform for its core SAP ERP applications. Foodstuffs South Island also leveraged the IBM PowerVM® virtualization capability to create 30 virtual servers on the Power 750 server, sized for each SAP application to ensure that business service levels are always met.

“The IBM and SAP teams were incredibly supportive throughout the entire implementation process,” notes Gordon McCoy. “They were keen to work with us to ensure that we understood how to operate and manage the new systems, and quickly resolved the small issues that arose during the implementation.”

Smaller database, simpler management

Using IBM DB2 Near-Line Storage for SAP NetWeaver BW, the IT team has been able to move older company data that is requested infrequently onto less costly storage. As high availability, disaster recovery and database backup requirements are much lower for DB2 Near-Line Storage data, overall administration costs for the SAP NetWeaver BW solution can be reduced.

The reduced production database size in the SAP NetWeaver BW has improved the efficiency of the SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator, enhancing query performance results by 276 percent. With the IBM Systems solution for SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator, even complex queries can be answered in minutes rather than in hours. Moreover, moving older data to Near-Line Storage allows IT staff to reduce the size of the SAP Neatweaver BW fact table, which holds large volumes of transactional data. This helps to further improve system performance and results in more cost-efficient SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator usage.

With smaller production data volumes, Foodstuffs South Island has re-instated daily backups, and a full data backup can be completed within five hours, a 79 percent improvement. This reduces the company’s operational risk, and provides the added security of knowing that mission-critical data can be retrieved from backups in the event of a disaster.

The IBM XIV Storage System provides highly scalable storage for the fast-growing database environment, combining easy system management with low operational costs. Automated data management and optimization provided by the embedded tools in the XIV system software help to cut the administrative workload, releasing IT staff for productive application development tasks.

Gordon McCoy concludes, “The new IBM server and storage infrastructure provides optimal support for our SAP applications, and offers a highly reliable, high-performance platform for crucial business processes. Foodstuffs South Island has shrunk the SAP NetWeaver BW database considerably, reduced storage costs, and simplified storage management and maintenance. The result is lower operational costs, which we use to gain business competitive advantage.

“The combination of the IBM Systems solution for SAP NetWeaver BW and the compression and near-line storage capabilities of IBM DB2 are delivering hugely increased analytics performance. As a result, Foodstuffs South Island can offer better service to its members based on more detailed, comprehensive and rapid analysis of its data, helping all our customers and the end-consumers.”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
Power 750, Power Systems, Storage, Storage: XIV

Software:
AIX, PowerVM, DB2 for Linux, UNIX and Windows

Service:
IBM-SAP Alliance

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM New Zealand Limited PO Box 38993 The Majestic Centre 100 Willis Street Wellington Produced in New Zealand August 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, AIX, BladeCenter, DB2, Power, PowerVM, and XIV are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. A current list of other IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at: ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the United States, other countries, or both. References in this publication to IBM products, programs or services do not imply that IBM intends to make these available in all countries in which IBM operates. Any reference to an IBM product, program or service is not intended to imply that only IBM’s product, program or service may be used. Any functionally equivalent product, program or service may be used instead. All customer examples cited represent how some customers have used IBM products and the results they may have achieved. Actual environmental costs and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. IBM hardware products are manufactured from new parts, or new and used parts. In some cases, the hardware product may not be new and may have been previously installed. Regardless, IBM warranty terms apply. This publication is for general guidance only. Photographs may show design models.