A large railway company lays the track for new business opportunities

Published on 12-Apr-2013

"With IBM DB2 we can manage our complete SAP software environment with just two database administrators. The tight integration with SAP through the SAP DBA Cockpit is ideally suited to our needs." - Head of Service and Architecture Management

A large railway company

Travel & Transportation

Energy Efficiency, Enterprise Resource Planning, High Availability , Information Management Foundation, Server Consolidation, Storage Consolidation, Transforming Business, Virtualization, Virtualization - Server, Virtualization - Storage

IBM Business Partner:


This large European railway company transports millions of passengers and thousands of tons of cargo every year.

Business need:
A large European railway company has ambitious plans to expand operations. Winning new franchises and routes depends on service quality and cost-efficiency. Understanding asset, financial and operational details is critical to identifying cost-reduction opportunities, and with a large network the company struggled under the weight of data.

The company set out to standardize its information systems, removing layers of complexity, cutting administration and maintenance costs, and creating a centralized data store that can be interrogated and analyzed. The company chose to implement a comprehensive SAP ERP solution on IBM infrastructure. It installed an IBM Power Flex multisystem configuration for maximum flexibility and performance. The servers are connected to an IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller virtualization solution connected to two IBM System Storage DS8800 systems.

Reduced the total cost of ownership for SAP databases by 25 percent, helping the company to cut operational costs. Reduced application response times by 30 percent. Cut batch processing times by 30 percent. Reduced data backup times by 70 percent. Cut time taken for failover of production environment to backup systems by 97 percent, ensuring data security.

Case Study

This large European railway company transports millions of passengers and thousands of tons of cargo every year.

Staying ahead of the competition
This company has ambitious plans for growth, particularly as a provider of freight transport. As a result, it has invested heavily in the expansion of its infrastructure in recent years. The company also faces rising operational expenses and growing competition from other transport operators due to the increasing liberalization of European markets. To successfully expand its operations and market share, it must maximize savings and efficiencies wherever possible, without sacrificing service levels.

As the company pursued its strategy of expansion, it began to find it increasingly difficult to obtain a unified view of its operations. It had a highly fragmented application landscape, comprising more than 1,000 different information systems, and a disjointed collection of five different UNIX operating systems spread across a number of physical servers.

The lack of integration and transparency across its network made it challenging for the business to gain an accurate view of enterprise-wide cost structures and to streamline operations across all divisions. The company needed to standardize its applications on a common platform, and integrate its hardware infrastructure.

Reducing complexity with standardized SAP software
The company decided to replace its fragmented and highly customized application landscape with standard software solutions from SAP. Following the initial implementation of the core SAP® ERP applications, the company is leveraging its investment by replacing approximately 250 legacy applications without the need for additional investment in SAP software licenses. Consolidating to the integrated SAP solutions also reduces the complexity of the overall IT landscape substantially and saves licensing, operational and maintenance costs.

The company implemented SAP ERP applications, including modules for financials, controlling, sales and delivery, materials management, plant maintenance, production planning and control, and project management. It also implemented SAP Real Estate Management to support its complex property management business.

Additionally, the company now relies on SAP Human Capital Management for its staff and pension administration and billing. The human resource solution is a critical application for the company, which has thousands of current staff on its payroll and many former staff receiving pensions.

The entire corporate planning and consolidation of the company’s divisions is based on SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse. For analysis and business intelligence reporting, the company implemented SAP BusinessObjects™ software together with third-party solutions.

Approximately 25,000 users have access to the employee self-service portal, while a total of 2,500 users access the company’s main SAP ERP systems. To ensure compliance of access rights for all users in all different systems, it implemented SAP solutions for governance, risk, and compliance.

Consolidating to IBM Power Systems and virtualized storage
The company evaluated various alternatives and decided to migrate its UNIX systems to IBM Power Systems™ servers running the IBM AIX® operating system. As the SAP rollout progressed, it wanted to expand its IBM Power Systems environment to provide greater performance, capacity and flexibility. Working with an IBM Business Partner® and IBM, the company installed two IBM Power® 795 machines in an IBM Power Flex multisystem configuration. IBM Power Flex allows more flexible use of purchased processor and memory activations across a pool of IBM Power 795 servers. The servers in an IBM Power Flex environment are allowed to share large portions of their virtual processor and memory resources to provide capacity where it is most needed and to better support application availability during occasional planned system maintenance activity.

The IBM Power 795 servers are equipped with 64 IBM POWER7® cores in TurboCore mode to provide optimized performance for company workloads. The fully virtualized servers use Active Memory Sharing (AMS) in combination with Active Memory Expansion, POWER7 features that make best use of available memory resources. Active Memory Sharing enables dynamic optimization of physical memory resources between running logical partitions (LPARs) in real-time. AMS increases flexibility, improving overall memory utilization and as a result driving down system costs. Optimizing memory usage further, Active Memory Expansion compresses in-memory data, expanding the system’s effective memory capacity significantly. Used together, these innovative memory technologies allow more efficient use of physical memory resources to improve system performance and allocate capacities more flexibly to different workloads without interruptions or complex reconfigurations.

By taking advantage of automated optimized resource allocation and IBM AIX workload partitions (WPARs), the company was able to eliminate about 140 standalone UNIX-based systems. WPARs are created directly in the IBM AIX environment and virtualize the operating system within an LPAR, which enable the configuration of separate application environments in just one LPAR. The different workload partitions share the same operating system, enabling the available resources to be used very efficiently. By using workload partitions alongside logical partitions, the company is able to reduce administration overhead and speed up system deployment times. It runs more than 80 logical partitions on the IBM servers, with over 20 set up as IBM PowerHA® clusters for high availability and reliability.

The company’s Head of Service and Architecture Management says: “The innovative IBM Power Flex solution provides additional workload balancing features. For planned maintenance, we can run all systems on just one IBM Power 795 server, making use of Flex Capacity Upgrade on Demand options. Together with IBM PowerHA and Live Partition Mobility, this allows for hardware upgrades without any downtime.”

The company implemented two separate VMware clusters for its non-SAP applications, and a small number of SAP systems. Each cluster consists of three nodes: one is based on three IBM System x3850 X5 servers and the other on three IBM System x3690 X5 servers. These IBM System x® servers are workload-optimized systems featuring improved performance density and an energy-smart design for minimized energy requirements and enhanced performance per watt.

All servers are supported by a fully virtualized IBM System Storage® SAN Volume Controller storage solution, connected to two IBM System Storage DS8800 devices. In total more than 1,200 logical disks are managed at each data center. For improved reliability, the IBM SAN Volume Controller is set up in a stretched cluster configuration spanning the two data centers. The company also relies on IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager and an IBM System Storage Tape Library to back up important SAP application data.

Maximizing efficiency with IBM DB2
The company selected IBM DB2 for Linux, UNIX and Windows as the single database platform for its SAP software. It enabled the IBM DB2 autonomic features, such as self-tuning memory management, automatic maintenance and health monitoring, to achieve the best performance and a high level of automation.

The company’s Head of Service and Architecture Management comments: “With IBM DB2 we can manage our complete SAP software environment with just two database administrators. The tight integration with SAP through the SAP DBA Cockpit is ideally suited to our needs.”

The new system infrastructure enabled the company to set up its IBM DB2 databases in a fully virtualized configuration, providing improved flexibility and more targeted resource allocation and workload balancing.

The most critical SAP databases make use of the IBM DB2 High Availability Disaster Recovery (HADR) feature for improved reliability and maximum availability. Advanced compression features also contribute to the success of IBM DB2 for SAP applications.

Boosting performance and reducing costs
Running SAP and non-SAP applications on efficient IBM Power Systems servers has delivered substantial cost savings, significantly reducing hardware and software maintenance costs.

The workload-optimized IBM Power Flex solution provides exceptional performance, reliability and scalability. Additionally the solution has reduced floor space requirements by 150 square meters and allowed the company to replace 300 internal hard disk drives with a central virtualized and highly flexible SAN solution. The storage consolidation process reduced the administration workload substantially and improved the overall manageability and efficiency of the IT infrastructure, the company was able to reduce the number of existing server networking interfaces by 85 percent and the number of Fibre Channel adapters by 80 percent, resulting in 50 percent fewer switch ports used.

“The upgrade to the latest IBM POWER7 systems has saved us money,” says the Head of Service and Architecture Management. “We reduced the number of physical servers from 70 to two, a reduction of 98 percent, and with shared processor pools we cut database licenses down by more than 60 percent from 250 to just 85, resulting in huge cost savings.”

Rolling out a standardized backup solution with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager across all SAP systems improved risk management, providing a robust and reliable disaster recovery configuration.

Migrating SAP systems from Oracle Database to IBM DB2 resulted in reduced licensing costs and administration workload, cutting the total cost of ownership by 25 percent.

With DB2, application response times were also reduced by 30 percent and the time required to process the payroll was cut by 50 percent.

Database backup times were improved by 70 percent and the time taken to fail the production environment over to the backup systems was cut by 97 percent.

“Based on our very positive experience with IBM DB2 for our SAP applications, improving staff productivity and business continuity, we also migrated our SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse deployment from Microsoft SQL Server to IBM DB2,” continues the Head of Service and Architecture Management.

Standardization continues
Following its standardization strategy, the company has embarked on a project to replace its core systems with SAP Transportation Management and is also working on implementing SAP Extended Warehouse Management to optimize its logistics centers. The company also plans to replace more legacy applications with SAP Customer Relationship Management features.

The Head of Service and Architecture Management concludes: “With the new SAP software supported by high-performance IBM systems, we have obtained a robust platform that will support us as we pursue our strategy of expansion.”

Products and services used

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

Power 795, Power Systems running AIX 7, Storage, Storage: DS8800, System x, System x: System x3690 X5, System x: System x3850 X5

PowerHA for AIX, PowerHA, PowerVM, AIX, Tivoli Storage Manager, DB2 for Linux, UNIX and Windows, System Storage SAN Volume Controller

Operating system:

IBM-SAP Alliance

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