Energen powers up for greater flexibility

Virtualizing Linux servers to enterprise IBM Power Systems

Published on 07-Jun-2013

"With less hardware to manage our IT team benefit from a reduced administrative burden, freeing up several man-hours every month that can be used for more strategic tasks." - Keith Jinright, Data Center Manager, Energen Corporation

Customer:
Energen

Industry:
Energy & Utilities

Deployment country:
United States

Solution:
Enabling Business Flexibility, Energy Efficiency, Enterprise Resource Planning, Server Consolidation, Virtualization, Virtualization - Server

IBM Business Partner:
SAP

Overview

Energen Corporation is a growing oil and gas exploration and production company complemented by a single-state natural gas utility, and is among the Top 20 US independent oil and gas producers on the basis of its reserves in the country. Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, the majority of the company’s reserves are located in the Permian and San Juan basins.

Business need:
Energen Corporation is a growing oil and gas exploration and production company complemented by a single-state natural gas utility, and is among the Top 20 US independent oil and gas producers on the basis of its reserves in the country. Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, the majority of the company’s reserves are located in the Permian and San Juan basins.

Solution:
Energen migrated its Linux workloads to IBM® Power® 770 and 740 servers, moving towards a single platform for all systems, supported by IBM XIV® Gen3 and Storwize® V7000 storage.

Benefits:
Cuts the time taken to set up new Linux servers by 99 percent, accelerating the provisioning of new services, and reduces management time by several man-hours per month.

Case Study

Energen Corporation is a growing oil and gas exploration and production company complemented by a single-state natural gas utility, and is among the Top 20 US independent oil and gas producers on the basis of its reserves in the country. Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, the majority of the company’s reserves are located in the Permian and San Juan basins.

Simplifying for success
Companies are always looking for ways to simplify and streamline IT, as this often yields benefits in terms of easier management and greater flexibility. Energen’s IT team saw an opportunity to achieve this by utilizing virtualization technologies across the business.

Keith Jinright, Data Center Manager at Energen, explains: “For a while now, our technology strategy has focused on virtualization. Initially, the main drivers behind this approach were reducing energy and floorspace requirements, but we have since also seen the positive consequences it can have for the manageability and efficiency of systems.”

Moving towards standardization
Energen relies on two IBM Power 770 servers running the IBM AIX® operating system to support the production environments for its principal business systems, including SAP, Oracle, UniData and NetBackup applications, and a single IBM Power 740 machine for disaster recovery. Previously, the company also operated a number of dedicated servers to run Red Hat Enterprise Linux workloads, such as its Sendmail, BIND, Apache HTTP Server, SAP Web Dispatcher, and file transfer software.

Karl Swelling, Unix Systems Engineer comments: “Within Energen, the same team manages both our AIX and Linux-based systems, so it made sense for us to run both operating systems on the same hypervisor and hardware platform. By migrating our Linux workloads to our IBM Power Systems™ servers, we realized that could significantly cut down on IT complexity, moving towards a single enterprise platform for all systems.”

The company now runs almost all of its Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based applications within logical partitions (LPARs) set up on both its production Power 770 servers and on its backup IBM Power 740 server.

“Before, we did not have a disaster recovery [DR] landscape for our Linux-based applications,” says Jinright. “Now that we have migrated them to the enterprise Power Systems platform, we have the luxury of slotting the Linux environment into our existing DR strategy.”

Extending virtualization
Energen’s virtualization strategy encompasses its storage infrastructure as well, with the company relying on IBM System Storage® SAN Volume Controller to manage a virtualized storage pool. The company’s primary storage is a 13-module IBM XIV Storage System Gen3 with 2 TB drives, offering 134 TB in usable capacity. An IBM Storwize V7000 system is used mainly for sandbox systems and to store backup data.

Jinright comments: “Using IBM SAN Volume Controller, we were able to migrate all data from our legacy storage system to the IBM XIV Gen3 in just a day and a half—with no downtime, a key benefit as our systems are required 24/7.”

Boosting flexibility
Rather than expending a significant amount of time and effort in procuring and setting up dedicated servers for Linux workloads, Energen can now simply create a new Linux system on its Power Systems landscape and provision the necessary storage with no downtime. Thanks to this increased flexibility, the company’s IT team can adopt a more agile approach to IT and accelerate delivery of new services to users.

Larry Cordor, Unix Systems Engineer, describes: “We had not built a new Linux server in several years, largely because it took so long, with a four-week lead time on procuring the necessary hardware and software plus set-up times. It was also difficult to justify the cost of installing a new server for some of the smaller services that we need to run.

“Since moving our Linux systems to Power Systems, we can build a Linux LPAR and provision the associated storage in under an hour—an improvement of more than 99 percent. This gives us the flexibility to innovate and roll out new services to users more easily and quickly.”

Multi-purpose tool
The consolidated Linux landscape now runs in a virtual environment alongside Energen’s business-critical applications on the enterprise Power Systems servers. The company’s key business application is SAP ERP, which runs across 80 of the company’s 120 LPARs.

Ron Payne, Director of Infrastructure Services says: “Migrating to IBM Power Systems for our SAP software environment has given Energen a more compact and efficient infrastructure that combines significantly lower capital and operational costs with better performance and flexibility.”

Clamping down on costs
Energen is already seeing the positive impact of simplifying its infrastructure through virtualization on management time and IT costs.

Keith Jinright summarizes: “Consolidating Linux workloads to our Power Systems platform supported by virtualized IBM storage systems helps us cut energy and floorspace costs, and allows us to make full use of unused capacity. With less hardware to manage, our IT staff benefits from a reduced administrative burden, freeing up several man-hours every month that can be used for more strategic tasks. So, our users have access to new services faster, and our IT team can focus their time on more productive work—a win-win outcome for Energen.”

He concludes: “It is testament to the inherent flexibility of the Power Systems servers that they can accommodate Linux-based servers alongside our business-critical IBM AIX environment with no impact on performance. IBM technologies such as SAN Volume Controller support our move towards 100 percent virtualization across all platforms, helping us run the business systems more efficiently and effectively.”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
Power 740 Express, Power 770, Power Systems running Linux - Red Hat, Storage, Storage: Storwize V7000, Storage: XIV, Storage: XIV Gen3

Software:
AIX, Linux, System Storage SAN Volume Controller

Service:
IBM-SAP Alliance

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM Corporation Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America May 2013 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, AIX, Power, Power Systems, System Storage, Storwize, 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 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. Actual available storage capacity may be reported for both uncompressed and compressed data and will vary and may be less than stated. POC03130-USEN-00