Cofares protects market share while cutting costs

Pharmaceuticals distributor solves peak workload challenges to provide excellent service

Published on 14-Nov-2013

"Supported by the IBM XIV Storage System, Cofares is now able to respond 20 percent more rapidly and reliably to our customers’ demands, even during the intense morning and evening peaks. This has led to an improvement in our customer retention rate." - Cristóbal Delgado, Operations Manager, Cofares

Customer:
Cofares

Industry:
Wholesale Distribution & Services

Deployment country:
Spain

Solution:
Customer Relationship Management, Data Warehouse, Enabling Business Flexibility, Energy Efficiency, Enterprise Resource Planning, High Availability , Storage Consolidation

IBM Business Partner:
ICS

Overview

Founded in 1944, Sociedad Cooperativa Farmacéutica Española (Cofares) specializes in the distribution of medicines and healthcare products. Cofares works with more than 9,000 partners, serving 4,500 pharmacies throughout Spain.

Business need:
Cofares distributes to the pharmaceuticals trade, facing huge peak demand twice daily. Existing data storage systems could not cope, leading to low customer satisfaction and risking lost business.

Solution:
Cofares teamed with IBM® Global Technology Services® and IBM Business Partner ICS to consolidate its existing storage environment to just two IBM XIV® Storage System solutions.

Benefits:
Helps Cofares maintain a 23-percent share of the Spanish pharmaceuticals market. Cuts the time needed to respond to client requests by 20 percent. Reduces energy and maintenance costs by one third.

Case Study

To read a Spanish version of this case study, click here

Founded in 1944, Sociedad Cooperativa Farmacéutica Española (Cofares) specializes in the distribution of medicines and healthcare products. Cofares works with more than 9,000 partners, serving 4,500 pharmacies throughout Spain.

Keeping pace with demand
As shrinking margins fuel increasingly fierce competition in the pharmaceutical industry, Cofares works continuously to maintain its leading edge. Maintaining impeccable service levels and responding faster to growing demand for products is vital.

In the pharmaceuticals distribution trade, demand soars in the early afternoon and during late evening, when pharmacies send their re-stock requests to suppliers. These two peaks can cause immense difficulties, and any delay in fulfilling orders and responding to enquiries results in poor customer satisfaction, which could lead to pharmacies switching to other distributors.

Cristóbal Delgado, Operations Manager at Cofares, explains, “Today, both internal and external customers demand the same excellent level of service, whatever the time and however busy we are. What would these customers do if they were requesting a specific service, and this was delayed or processed in the wrong way? Firstly, they would complain. Secondly, they would probably look for a different technology partner.

“With thousands of customers and around 40,000 daily requests, we collect and handle enormous amounts of data each day, especially at peak times. Failing to meet our customers’ expectations represents a significant business risk.”

Eliminating bottlenecks
The existing business systems at Cofares – based on a suite of SAP applications including the SAP ERP financial module, SAP Customer Relationship Management and SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse – were struggling to provide robust and reliable support during peak times. The underlying storage infrastructure was not scalable and flexible enough to process transactions sufficiently quickly to deliver the accurate online data required to drive business actions. The Cofares team rapidly identified its data storage systems as a critical bottleneck.

The company’s primary objective was to deploy a highly reliable, scalable and flexible solution that could easily store and manage the large volumes of critical information – 55 TB – and queries that grow by 10 percent each month. Cofares teamed up with IBM Business Partner ICS to evaluate possible solutions, and selected the IBM XIV Storage System.

Cristóbal Delgado reports, “We chose IBM because of its well-established alliance with SAP, making us confident that the IBM technology would best support our business-critical SAP environment. We also trusted IBM’s expertise and support, and were confident that IBM would be the ideal partner to support us on this project.”

Straightforward migration
A team from IBM Global Technology Services worked in close collaboration with ICS and the Cofares IT department to successfully implement the IBM XIV Storage Systems within the pre-established time and budget. The XIV systems are connected to IBM Power Systems™ servers running IBM AIX® and Linux operating systems and both IBM DB2® and Oracle databases.

Taking advantage of the built-in XIV easy migration capability, which enables production to be maintained while data transfer is in progress with only a brief period of downtime, Cofares was able to benefit from non-disruptive data migration. By minimizing the impact of the migration in this way, Cofares was able to ensure that vital SAP applications were brought back online rapidly, allowing the business to continue operations as usual, as described by Cristóbal Delgado: “Another factor in our choice of XIV was the ability to migrate data without any impact on service to customers.”

Featuring a massively parallel grid architecture, the IBM XIV Storage System ensures uniform allocation of system resources at all times, enabling the company to manage data more efficiently and effectively than ever before. Integrated solid-state drives deliver the consistently high performance that the company needs to get the most out of its applications – with no hotspots and no need for manual tuning.

Reaping the benefits of scalability
The grid architecture of the IBM XIV Storage System provides Cofares with cost-effective linear scale growth performance which is ready for future storage requirements.

Thanks to the IBM solution, Cofares has achieved its two main business goals – providing better customer service and staying ahead in a highly competitive industry. With IBM XIV in place, Cofares can process thousands of client queries simultaneously, ensuring rapid and error-free service delivery even when demand for medical products is at its peak.

Cristóbal Delgado explains, “Supported by the IBM XIV Storage System, Cofares is now able to respond 20 percent more rapidly and reliably to our customers’ demands, even during the intense morning and evening peaks. This has led to an improvement in our customer retention rate.”

Improved response times and best-of-breed order processing applications help Cofares maintain its share of 23 percent of the Spanish pharmaceuticals market, turning the company into one of the leading and most trusted institutions in the industry. The company has also seen impressive cost savings as a result of the project, with energy consumption and maintenance costs cut by one third compared to the previous technology.

Cristóbal Delgado concludes, “Considering all the business, technical and economic benefits that we have seen after the implementation of the IBM solution, we are extremely satisfied – both with the unmatched expertise of IBM and the high quality of the IBM XIV Storage System.”

For more information
To learn more about IBM solutions, contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/xiv

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
Power 730 Express, Power 750, Power 795, Power Systems running AIX Standard Edition, Power Systems running Linux - Red Hat, Storage, Storage: XIV

Software:
AIX, DB2 for AIX

Operating system:
AIX, Linux

Service:
IBM-SAP Alliance

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013. IBM España S.A.. Santa Hortensia 26-28. 28002 Madrid. Produced in Spain. November 2013. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, AIX, DB2, Global Technology Services, Power, Power Systems 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: www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. 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. 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.