Interface protects against data loss

Transforming data recovery for business-critical applications with IBM technology

Published on 17-Oct-2012

"As we make plans to expand our IBM and Oracle environments, we see the strong alliance between the two companies reflected in the exceptional performance of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne applications on the IBM platform. We believe we have built the ideal basis for future success with this solution." - Johan Wempe, ICT Systems Manager for Europe, Interface

Customer:
Interface

Industry:
Consumer Products

Deployment country:
Netherlands

Solution:
Business Resiliency, High Availability , Information Integration, Virtualization, Virtualization - Server, Virtualization - Storage

IBM Business Partner:
Tectrade , Van Helvoirt Automatisering , Oracle

Overview

Interface was founded in 1973 by Ray Anderson. The company is a global leader in the design and production of carpet tiles. Its products combine beauty and innovation with functionality and environmental credentials to help customers bring their design vision to life. The company employs approximately 3,500 people worldwide through three divisions – Interface Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Interface Europe is the European division of Interface and has manufacturing facilities in Craigavon, Northern Ireland and Scherpenzeel, Holland, as well as sales offices in most major cities.

Business need:
In the event of a disaster, Interface ran the risk of losing vital business data. This could cause the company to lose track of the products on its production line, potentially causing delays and affecting customer service.

Solution:
Deployed two IBM® Power® 740 Express servers running the IBM i operating system and two IBM Storwize® V7000 disk systems in a mirrored configuration, offering exceptionally high availability.

Benefits:
Minimizes data loss in the event of a disaster. Increases performance, with jobs running up to 20 times faster. Offers significant savings by reducing the administrative burden through easy manageability.

Case Study

Interface was founded in 1973 by Ray Anderson. The company is a global leader in the design and production of carpet tiles. Its products combine beauty and innovation with functionality and environmental credentials to help customers bring their design vision to life. The company employs approximately 3,500 people worldwide through three divisions – Interface Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific – and has its international headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

Interface Europe is the European modular flooring division of Interface and has manufacturing facilities in Craigavon, Northern Ireland and Scherpenzeel, Holland, as well as sales offices in most major cities. All of the IT needs of Interface Europe’s operations are met by facilities in the Netherlands.

Interface Europe has long relied on IBM Power Systems™ servers running the IBM i operating system to support its business-critical applications, which include a recent implementation of the Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Financial Management module. The company also has a number of IBM System x® 3550 and x3650 servers, virtualized using VMware software, which support its Microsoft Windows Server environment and other key applications.

Responding to users
The company’s European IT team conducted an employee survey to help identify user priorities in the event of a major event affecting IT systems. The results caused Interface to rethink its existing disaster recovery strategy.

Johan Wempe, ICT Systems Manager for Europe at Interface, explains: “We discovered that our employees cared first and foremost about data loss in the event of a hardware failure. Luckily, we have always experienced exceptional availability and reliability on the IBM Power Systems platform. However, with our existing disaster recovery strategy, we simply could not accurately predict how long it would take us to recover from a serious interruption to essential systems.”

Interface estimated that while restoring its systems only took 48 hours, it might take a week or more to recover from data loss between the last backup and the disaster. Moreover, the recovery period would involve hours of manual work for employees. Much of this effort would be spent on finding and recording the location of stock items in the manufacturing and distribution process. Losing track of stock items could have serious consequences for customer satisfaction, due to the risk of delays and errors in order fulfillment.

Transforming disaster recovery
Interface chose to build a backup server room to support a dual data center concept. Working with IBM Premier Business Partner Tectrade, the company replaced its existing IBM POWER5® processor-based servers with two IBM Power 740 Express servers, featuring latest-generation POWER7® processor technology. Two IBM Storwize V7000 disk systems were also deployed, each with four IBM Enterprise Solid-State Drives (SSDs). One Power 740 Express server and one Storwize V7000 system are located in each server room, and the servers and storage are mirrored across the two rooms, with continuous replication ensuring minimal data loss in the event of a disaster.

“The excellent performance and stability we have experienced with IBM i on Power Systems meant we were happy to commit to developing our custom-built ERP system on this platform,” says Wempe. “As a result, there was no real competition when it came to selecting the technology to support our new disaster recovery strategy.”

Wempe continues: “We knew we were in good hands when an Oracle expert from IBM helped us to size the storage for our essential Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne environment. With IBM and its extensive Business Partner network, we feel that there is always expertise on hand to ensure the best possible outcome.”

Simplifying user management
Deploying the Power 740 Express server environment has reduced Interface’s administrative burden by such a degree that the company no longer needs to employ a full-time manager for its Power Systems environment. Instead, Interface now uses third-party services to manage the system.

“Even though we were moving to a more sophisticated disaster recovery concept, we felt confident that the IBM solution would prove easy to manage – and we were right. Moving to the IBM Power 740 Express platform has yielded huge savings in terms of management time,” comments Wempe. “In place of a full-time, in-house systems manager for our IBM i on Power Systems environment we now purchase 12 hours of management time each month from an external company. This translates into major monetary savings for the company, helping the European IT division of Interface retain its reputation for keen efficiency.”

As a result of the project, Interface has succeeded in centralizing storage for its IBM Power Systems and System x environment, further simplifying user management. Wempe explains: “The inability to share storage among servers has long been a barrier to infrastructure simplification. Selecting the Storwize V7000 enables us to overcome barriers like this, offering an easy-to-use virtualized storage system with a single point of control.”

Boosting performance
Since deploying the IBM Power 740 servers and Storwize V7000 disk systems, Interface has seen dramatic improvements in performance. Combining leading-edge IBM POWER7 processor technology with the automatic migration of frequently accessed data to higher-performing SSDs within the Storwize system, Interface enjoys better response times for business-critical applications.

“Testing indicated that CPU-intensive jobs run five to ten times faster on the new solution,” says Wempe. “The results for disk-intensive jobs were even better: tests show that they run up to 20 times faster. This means our employees can get hold of vital information faster, helping to enhance productivity and efficiency.”

Preparing for the future
Both the IBM Power 740 platform and Storwize V7000 disk system provide Interface with modular, non-disruptive growth options, ensuring the company is ideally placed to capitalize on opportunities to expand. With plans to implement new Oracle JD Edwards modules in the future, the inter-operability between the IBM and Oracle technologies is a vital advantage to Interface.

Wempe concludes: “The IBM solution offers us greater resiliency in the face of disaster, helping us maintain excellent service to customers. As we make plans to expand our IBM and Oracle environments, we see the strong alliance between the two companies reflected in the exceptional performance of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne applications on the IBM platform. We believe we have built the ideal basis for future success with this solution.”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
Power 740 Express, Power Systems, Power Systems running i, Storage, Storage: Storwize V7000, System x, System x: System x running hypervisor - VMware, System x: System x running Windows

Software:
IBM i

Operating system:
IBM i

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM CorporationSystems and Technology GroupRoute 100Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America October 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Power, Power Systems, POWER5, POWER7, Storwize and System x 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 www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml 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. Oracle JD Edwards is not an IBM product or offering. Oracle JD Edwards is sold or licensed, as the case may be, to users under Oracle’s terms and conditions, which are provided with the product or offering. Availability, and any and all warranties, services and support for Oracle JD Edwards is the direct responsibility of, and is provided directly to users by, Oracle. Actual available storage capacity may be reported for both uncompressed and compressed data and will vary and may be less than stated.