Fragrance company fashions real-time insights on business and sales with SAP HANA

Published on 14-Nov-2012

"We chose the IBM Systems solution for SAP HANA because of the close collaboration between IBM and SAP, and because of the IBM team’s genuine interest in the project." - Manager of Business Intelligence, European fragrance and fashion company

Customer:
Fragrance company

Industry:
Consumer Products

Solution:
Technical Computing, BA - Business Intelligence, General Parallel File System (GPFS), High Availability , Information Integration, Small & Medium Business

IBM Business Partner:
SAP

Overview

This fragrance company owns a number of European fashion brands. SAP® software is the strategic application software in use at the company. It supports around 70 percent of the company’s business processes with outstanding transactional and reporting solutions. It provides the platform for supporting a common operating model worldwide with robust processes that can be tailored to the company’s exact needs. Best-of-breed applications are also deployed for specific business areas.

Business need:
A European fragrance and fashion company wanted to optimize its business intelligence and reporting performance, increasing flexibility and analytical capabilities. The company wanted to analyze its transaction data in order to obtain information from data available not only in the transactional system but also from other sources.

Solution:
The company implemented the IBM Systems solution for SAP HANA, and deployed two appliances based on IBM System x3690 X5 servers, powered by Intel Xeon E7-2870 processors.

Benefits:
The company uses SAP HANA to generate daily reports up to 500 times faster, as well as gain more analytical capabilities. Based on the new insight available from SAP HANA, the company is moving the reporting to a new stage, providing further drill down and analytical scope – potentially extending the capability to mobile devices. Advanced data compression features in SAP HANA and IBM Systems servers have reduced the data volumes held by SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse component from 1.4 TB to 150 GB, a reduction of around 90 percent.

Case Study

This fragrance company owns a number of European fashion brands. SAP® software is the strategic application software in use at the company. It supports around 70 percent of the company’s business processes with outstanding transactional and reporting solutions. It provides the platform for supporting a common operating model worldwide with robust processes that can be tailored to the company’s exact needs. Best-of-breed applications are also deployed for specific business areas.

The company wanted to analyze its transaction data in order to obtain information from data available not only in the transactional system but also from other sources. For that purpose, the company selected SAP NetWeaver® Business Warehouse (BW) and Oracle database. With the growth in business workload, system performance was not acceptable. It took too much time to run reports and execute queries despite the efforts made to optimize the current business intelligence platform.

The company’s Manager of Business Intelligence explains: “Every time we made a data query within our areas of interest –sales, financial results, inventory turns – the response times were excessively long. The severe delays in generating final reports prevented the business from using the BI platform effectively.”

Due to these performance issues, the level of use of analytics was much lower than optimal. The information model was perfectly well designed, with unique one-source data and all the information needed, but the performance stopped users from getting the maximum benefit from it.

“We were spending considerable amounts of time in adjusting the platform by creating more and more data aggregates to solve the business information needs, instead of thinking of new and possible added-value reporting capabilities” continues the Manager of Business Intelligence.

Boosting business intelligence with SAP HANA
To obtain faster and more added-value analytical capabilities, the company decided to implement the SAP HANA® database, the in-memory solution for immediate business analytics.

The Manager of Business Intelligence explains, “SAP HANA software has been implemented to solve performance challenges. The information requirements are well defined and properly deployed worldwide, but the sheer volume of data meant that reporting was very slow.

“In further deployment phases, we will rethink the analytical capabilities that SAP HANA can provide to the business, such as online and batch processing, and the incorporation of more internal and external data sources.

“We upload enormous volumes of data every night into SAP HANA, in order for us to have up-to-date and accurate information in the morning, so that we can perform analysis and create reports based on real-time insights.”

The SAP HANA solution is sold as an appliance, with the software and hardware offered as a package in a series of set sizes depending on the data volumes. The company selected the IBM Systems solution for SAP HANA, based on the IBM System x® 3690 X5 Workload Optimized Solution which includes 256 GB of memory and IBM eXFlash with solid-state drives (SSDs). The company also implemented a second system (based on an IBM x3950 server with 128 GB memory) at a remote site for test and development purposes.

“The outstanding support from IBM and superb IBM System x3690 X5 server have allowed us to maximize our investment in the SAP HANA software and fully integrate it with our existing IT infrastructure,” comments the Manager of Business Intelligence.

“We chose the IBM Systems solution for SAP HANA because of the close collaboration between IBM and SAP, and because of the IBM team’s genuine interest in the project. We felt that IBM really shared our ideas and was committed to meeting our technical and business requirements to the fullest.”

IBM Systems solution for SAP HANA
The IBM System x 3690 X5 Workload Optimized server is equipped with two powerful and reliable Intel® Xeon® E7-2870 processors with ten cores each. These top-of-the-line processors deliver performance designed to handle data-demanding workloads with improved scalability and increased memory and I/O capacity.

The Intel processors deliver performance that is ideal for SAP HANA and offer improved scalability along with increased memory and I/O capacity, which is critical for SAP HANA. Advanced reliability and security features work to maintain data integrity, accelerate encrypted transactions and maximize the availability of applications powered by SAP HANA.

In addition to the Intel Xeon E7 processors, the x3950 X5 Workload Optimized Solution for SAP HANA includes enterprise-class reliability and availability features to provide maximum up-time for applications powered by SAP HANA and IBM eXFlash. IBM eXFlash helps optimize I/O performance for software such as SAP HANA by integrating SSDs in the server. If business needs increase, the IBM offering provides a pay-as-you-go approach that simplifies the process of scaling up. This attractive feature preserves the initial server investment by adding capacity to the original configuration through the addition of server nodes.

The unique, highly scalable IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS™) is deployed on all IBM systems for SAP HANA, enabling high-performance SSD and disk access and the capability to implement high-availability solutions using GPFS replication and a seamless cluster extension.

No storage area network (SAN) is required and the database capacity can be expanded by adding nodes.

SAP has certified the integration of the IBM Systems solution for SAP HANA. It can have up to 16 IBM System x3950 X5 nodes, delivering a total of 8 TB of capacity, and larger clusters can be submitted for integration certification on request.

Business and IT efficiency
As a continuing user of the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW) component, the company runs selected business intelligence infocubes based on data coming from both the relational database and directly from SAP HANA. This approach enables the company to allocate workload to the most appropriate software and reduce the complexity of the work environment for SAP NetWeaver BW. Ultimately, the company’s IT team expects to transfer the entire business intelligence workload down to the SAP HANA platform, for reasons of performance. Advanced data compression technology included in SAP HANA means that the original database size of 1.4 TB was cut to around 150 GB when stored in SAP HANA, a reduction of around 90 percent. This reduces the need for expensive high-speed disk storage, cuts data backup times and lowers total data storage costs.

Data for analysis using SAP HANA is extracted from a broad range of SAP software, including sales demand, materials management, quality management and business planning and consolidation functionality. Data can also be extracted from the SAP Extended Warehouse Management application, the SAP ERP® Human Capital Management solution and the SAP Customer Relationship Management. Other vendor solutions, for supply chain, replenishment, product lifecycle management and logistics, also contribute data to SAP HANA, enabling the company to gain an end-to-end view of operations at any moment.

Better reporting for improved decision making
The innovative capabilities offered by the IBM Systems solution for SAP HANA have helped the company to produce daily reports up to 500 times faster than before, and cut the elapsed time for data uploading by nearly 30 percent. The company continues to run SAP NetWeaver BW alongside the SAP HANA platform, making it simple to compare performance by launching the same query in both software landscapes. The final landscape will only use SAP NetWeaver BW on the SAP HANA database.

The company’s manager of Business Intelligence comments, “Our results show that some report execution tasks are up to 500 times faster. For example a report generated by SAP BusinessObjects™ Web Intelligence® software that took seven minutes in SAP NetWeaver BW was executed by SAP HANA in four seconds. We have seen query navigation execution run up to 100 times faster, database access up to 180 times faster, and OLAP calculations up to 20 times faster.”

With the IBM Systems solution for SAP HANA, the company is able to integrate external data sources in just 100 seconds. As a result, vital non-SAP-based data is now included in analyses of key business processes, allowing management to make smarter decisions based on fuller information delivered in real time.

The Manager of Business Intelligence concludes, “The quality of the data obtained is excellent, and SAP HANA allows us to develop advanced analytics tools. We can now do analytics on the fly and produce faultless and complex reports. We are able, through a step-by-step view of processes, to drill down to specific data points and obtain new insights into our product trends, sales and financial results. We can do all of this on a daily basis and in considerably less time than it used to take. This enables us to be more responsive and competitive than ever before.”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
System x, System x: System x3690 X5

Software:
General Parallel File System, General Parallel File System for Linux on xSeries

Operating system:
Linux

Service:
GTS Integrated Technology Services, IBM-SAP Alliance

Legal Information

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