ELK Group builds for business expansion

Paving the way for corporate growth by increasing profit margins and productivity

Published on 01-Apr-2013

"We were impressed by the advanced IBM PowerVM virtualization technology of the IBM Power 740 Express servers, which gives us much-needed flexibility." - Christopher Ferkl, Head of IT, ELK Group

Customer:
ELK Group

Industry:
Construction / Architecture / Engineering

Deployment country:
Austria

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

IBM Business Partner:
EDV-Design Informationstechnologie

Overview

ELK Group is a market leader in the timber-frame construction industry. The group has more than 40 years of experience in designing efficient building structures and providing complete off-site manufactured constructions. Headquartered in Schrems, Austria, ELK Group has more than 40,000 customers, employs 1,386 people at six companies in five European countries and operates four production plants in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. In 2011, ELK Group assembled 1,465 prefabricated houses and achieved annual revenues of €208 million ($272 million).

Business need:
Construction group ELK wanted to further increase profitability and boost staff productivity to help realize ambitious corporate expansion targets.

Solution:
Working with IBM® Business Partner® EDV-Design, ELK Group implemented a new solution supporting round-the-clock operations, improving staff productivity and reducing IT operating costs.

Benefits:
Enables reliable business operations 24 hours a day. Supports flexible business growth. Improves staff efficiency by enabling faster access to corporate information.

Case Study

To read a German version of this case study, click here.

ELK Group is a market leader in the timber-frame construction industry. The group has more than 40 years of experience in designing efficient building structures and providing complete off-site manufactured constructions. Headquartered in Schrems, Austria, ELK Group has more than 40,000 customers, employs 1,386 people at six companies in five European countries and operates four production plants in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. In 2011, ELK Group assembled 1,465 prefabricated houses and achieved annual revenues of €208 million ($272 million).

Setting itself tough corporate expansion targets, ELK Group needed to cut costs and boost staff efficiency to make these aims a reality. The company reviewed its IT systems, looking for opportunities to help employees work more productively, and also to make cost savings.

ELK Group relies on a range of business applications to support its core business processes, including rs2.Financial Accounting from Ramsauer & Stürmer Software GmbH and custom-developed ERP solutions based on Oracle software. As data from its production sites is processed and stored in its central database, ELK Group needed to avoid downtime to minimize interruptions to its production lines and ensure it could continue to meet customer demands.

Improving flexibility and cutting costs

ELK Group engaged with its long-term IT service provider, IBM Business Partner EDV-Design Informationstechnologie GmbH, to improve productivity, flexibility and business continuity. To replace the outdated HP rx6600 servers supporting the company’s mission-critical database workloads, the ELK and EDV-Design Informationstechnologie team compared three different solutions: HP servers, Oracle Big Data Appliance and IBM Power Systems™ servers.

Christopher Ferkl, Head of IT at ELK Group, explains the reasons for replacing HP with IBM technology: “We were impressed by the advanced IBM PowerVM® virtualization technology of the IBM Power® 740 Express servers, which gives us much-needed flexibility. We expected the IBM solution to provide much better system availability, helping us minimize disruptions to business processes, from production to accounting, and it has delivered on this. The IBM PowerVM Live Partition Mobility feature allows us to eliminate scheduled downtime, so that we can ensure business continuity in round-the-clock system operations.”

To serve its 300 business users across three locations, ELK Group and EDV-Design Informationstechnologie installed two IBM Power 740 Express servers at its two data centers, running the IBM AIX® operating system for production systems and Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server for IBM POWER® supporting the company’s development environment. With IBM PowerVM virtualization, ELK Group can use its server capacity more efficiently. It can also quickly bring all its systems back online if a failure occurs in one of its data centers by activating additional POWER7® cores in the remaining center. This enables ELK Group to economically implement a reliable disaster-recovery and high-availability configuration.

“The reliability, availability and serviceability features of IBM Power Systems are a big advantage for us,” explains Christopher Ferkl. “We can expand memory and processing capacity without downtime. The IBM servers even perform predictive failure analysis on critical components, giving us time to replace failing components before they can cause unplanned outages or interrupt production processes.”

The group wanted to maximize use of resources in its data centers by running both servers simultaneously. “In the past, we had one production server and a cold standby server that was not used for normal operations,” says Christopher Ferkl. “The IBM solution allows us to operate both servers for production and development workloads, so we can exploit the full performance of the servers.”

Implementing IBM Power Systems servers enabled ELK Group to optimize its software licensing. Christopher Ferkl says, “The IBM Power Systems hardware provides excellent value for money. The IBM Power architecture fits our requirements very well and the unique system design enabled us to change to a different licensing model for our database servers. Because of the high performance density, deploying workload-optimized IBM POWER7 servers reduced our licensing costs for Oracle databases by 70 percent.”

Boosting productivity

The IBM solution boosts system performance dramatically and accelerates billing operations by 75 percent. “With IBM Power technology, we reduced the runtimes of some batch jobs from one hour to only 15 minutes,” explains Christopher Ferkl. “Faster data processing minimizes waiting times and enables staff to work more efficiently. Ultimately, this means that we can provide better customer service, because we have relevant information at hand much quicker and can spend more time on dealing with customer requests.”

Christopher Ferkl concludes, “Together with the trusted specialists from EDV-Design Informationstechnologie, we implemented a leading-edge IBM solution that provides the performance, reliability and flexibility we need to expand our business and provide round-the-clock services to our users.”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
Power 740 AIX Solution Edition, Power Systems running AIX 7

Software:
AIX, PowerVM

Operating system:
AIX

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM Deutschland GmbH 71137 Ehningen Deutschland ibm.com/de IBM Österreich Obere Donaustrasse 95 1020 Wien ibm.com/at IBM Schweiz Vulkanstrasse 106 8010 Zürich ibm.com/ch Produced in Austria March 2013 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, AIX, Power, POWER, POWER7, Power Systems and PowerVM 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: www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. IBM and EDV-Design Informationstechnologie are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor EDV-Design Informationstechnologie makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the United States, other countries, or both. UNIX is a registered trademark of The Open Group in the United States and other countries. 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.