Clarks steps into IBM XIV and IBM Power 770 for SAP and more

Reduces storage management time by 75 percent and downtime to zero

Published on 28-Jan-2013

"We estimate that we now spend 75 percent less time managing our storage systems. We no longer need to spend time on storage planning, or maintain maps showing where the data is stored; XIV handles all the complexity for us." - Andrew Felton, Infrastructure Support Manager, Clarks

Customer:
Clarks

Industry:
Retail

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Solution:
Business Continuity, Business Resiliency, High Availability , Virtualization, Virtualization - Server

Overview

Founded in 1825, Clarks is a leading high-end global shoe retailer headquartered in the UK. With 600 stores and thousands of employees in the UK alone, and operating in over 35 countries worldwide, the company is rapidly expanding its global operations.

Business need:
Clarks International, a global, UK-based shoe retailer, needed a storage solution that would step up to the needs of rapid business growth.

Solution:
Clarks deployed a new storage-server platform of IBM® XIV® Storage System, later expanded with two additional IBM XIV Gen3 systems, with IBM Power® 770, for its mission-critical SAP and warehousing systems.

Benefits:
Cuts the company’s storage cost per terabyte significantly. Reduces storage management time by 75 percent while keeping performance consistent. Achieves reliability with zero downtime.

Case Study

Founded in 1825, Clarks is a leading high-end global shoe retailer headquartered in the UK. With 600 stores and thousands of employees in the UK alone, and operating in over 35 countries worldwide, the company is rapidly expanding its global operations.

The new growth translated to significant year-on-year increases in data volumes, especially with its key business systems such as SAP. The IT team forecasted that even greater capacity would be needed for upcoming projects. Clarks sought a change.

Andrew Felton, Infrastructure Support Manager at Clarks, comments, “We needed a highly reliable storage solution with much greater capacity. We also needed the new solution to offer excellent performance at a reasonable price. Finally, reliability and manageability were key concerns, since our SAP environment and other systems need to be constantly available. Except for a short maintenance window each weekend, these systems are either serving users or running important batch processes 24 hours a day.”

Getting the right, reliable fit

Clarks sought a storage system to augment its existing IBM tier one storage as well as replace older devices. The IBM XIV Storage System intrigued them with its promise of tier 1 performance at significantly reduced per terabyte costs than their existing tier 1 arrays.

Felton recalls, “Initially, we had some concerns about the XIV—especially as a platform for our SAP systems—because its architecture was very leading-edge. We were more concerned about getting a very reliable solution than an innovative one.” To assess the reliability of the new XIV machines, the company conducted a proof of concept [POC] on full-size non-production systems for several months, simulating batch and online performance.

Summarizes Felton: “Our POC results were very positive—we saw that even in the event of a disk failure, XIV was able to repair itself and maintain full availability without any performance problems. This gave us the confidence to run our SAP systems on XIV.”

Supporting business-critical systems with XIV and Power Systems

Clarks deployed two full IBM XIV systems, synchronously mirrored for business continuity using in-built replication software, at its two main data centers. The team migrated the data of its entire SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse environment and moved into full production, with highly satisfactory results.

“The XIV worked so well for our SAP NetWeaver environment that we decided to invest in two more IBM XIV systems,” explains Felton. The new XIV Gen3 systems serve Clarks' entire SAP landscape, so it is vital that these applications run on a highly available environment. The company’s other AIX applications, which include a warehouse management system from Manhattan Associates and a warehouse automation solution from KNAPP, are also supported by IBM XIV storage.

Meanwhile, the company is steadily virtualizing its Microsoft Windows servers using VMware, swapping the current direct-attached storage onto the company’s original XIV systems.

Building on its positive relationship with IBM, Clarks has also updated the server landscape serving its SAP systems to the latest IBM technology. Two IBM Power 770 servers now run the company’s SAP production systems, with a third added to the two existing IBM Power Systems™ servers to handle the non-production environments.

Saving thousands – easily

Felton assesses, “Compared with traditional tier-one storage solutions, the IBM XIV solution was very good value for money. We calculated that by using XIV we are saving thousands of pounds per terabyte of data.”

Felton continues, “The XIV system is also much easier to use than a traditional storage system; you don’t need to be an expert. We estimate that we now spend 75 percent less time managing our storage systems. We no longer need to spend time on storage planning, or maintain maps showing where the data is stored; XIV handles all the complexity for us.”

Most importantly, Clarks finds the IBM XIV systems highly reliable. Felton observes, “In over three years of using XIV storage, we have never had any problems that have caused downtime, loss of data, or any impact on the performance of our business systems.”

The Clarks team next plans to enhance its backup capability by integrating IBM XIV advanced snapshots with its existing IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager solution. Snapshots will serve to back up the SAP systems to disk on the XIV first, making a full copy of the data in seconds and with no impact on users. Next, the Tivoli software will run a backup to tape, for longer-term storage and as an extra layer of protection. In most cases, Clarks will be able to bring a system back online in minutes using the disk snapshot rather than hours from tape storage. The snapshot function will also facilitate cloning production databases for use in the development environment.
Felton concludes, “We are very happy with the IBM XIV solution. It offers us high performance at a very reasonable price, and is considerably easier to use and manage than our previous storage systems. Moreover, we are completely confident in our choice of XIV and Power 770 as a highly available platform for our key SAP systems: even on the rare occasion when we have experienced a disk failure, there has been no downtime, no data loss, and no impact on the business.”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
Power 770, Storage: XIV, Storage: XIV Gen3

Software:
AIX, PowerVM

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM Corporation Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America January 2013 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, AIX, Power, POWER7, PowerVM, Tivoli, 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 ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation 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.