Sealed Air builds a highly available, high-performance SAP software landscape with IBM DB2 pureScale

Published on 20-Nov-2013

"The IBM and SAP teams did an excellent job in training us on pureScale and the technologies that support it." - Barbara Snapp, Director, Infrastructure Solution Architect, Sealed Air Corporation

Sealed Air

Industrial Products

Deployment country:
United States

DB2 for Linux, UNIX and Windows family, Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, General Parallel File System (GPFS), High Availability , Information Management Foundation

IBM Business Partner:


Sealed Air operates in the food and non-food packaging sectors, as well as the cleaning, sanitation and hygiene sectors. A leader in research and innovation, its annual sales revenues have reached $7.6 billion, and its 26,000 employees work in 69 countries across four main regions: North America, Latin America, EMEA and Asia.

Business need:
Sealed Air operates globally across four main regions – North America, Latin America, EMEA and Asia. Thousands of users need to be able to log into its central SAP instance at all times of the day and night, so maintaining availability and high response speeds are critical requirements. The organization also runs a number of resource-intensive batch processes, especially at month-end, which makes it an even greater challenge to manage workload across the IT infrastructure.

The Sealed Air IT team introduced IBM DB2 9.7 on IBM AIX and activated the Self Tuning Memory Manager (STMM) feature, which actively monitors the memory used by different SAP workloads at different times of day, and adjusts buffer pools dynamically to deliver better performance. Next, the team implemented IBM DB2 pureScale Feature for Enterprise Server Edition, which provides database clustering technologies that increase availability, enable low-cost scale-out expansion, and simplify workload management.

Improves performance for online SAP transactions by up to 20 percent by isolating them from batch workloads. Provides superior high availability with near-instant failovers if a database member halts. Enables the infrastructure to scale out by adding cost-effective IBM Power 740 servers. Provides the ability to launch new SAP applications safely without affecting performance on existing workload. Reduces infrastructure costs, as high availability can be maintained without the need for duplicate hardware for disk mirroring.

Case Study

Sealed Air operates in the food and non-food packaging sectors, as well as the cleaning, sanitation and hygiene sectors. A leader in research and innovation, its annual sales revenues have reached $7.6 billion, and its 26,000 employees work in 69 countries across four main regions: North America, Latin America, EMEA and Asia.

Strategic SAP ERP platform
“More than ten years ago, Sealed Air decided that the best way to support such a large, international business was to standardize on a single SAP ERP platform across the whole organization,” explains Barbara Snapp, Director, Infrastructure Solution Architect at Sealed Air Corporation.

“Instead of each country or region managing its own SAP systems, we built a single central instance with a global template, global master data, and a unified development structure. “This approach has huge benefits in terms of consistency across the global organization, but it also creates certain challenges,” she adds.

“Since we have users in almost every global time zone, the SAP systems need to be available 24x7: if the system experiences planned or unplanned downtime, it potentially means that thousands of users cannot do their jobs. Equally, since there are certain periods each day when, for example, Europe, North America and Latin America are all online at the same time, the system can come under tremendous load – particularly around month-end when we also need to run large batch processes.”

The company needed to be able to provide high levels of performance and availability to support its global user-base, but it also wanted to run its IT infrastructure as cost-effectively as possible.

Meeting the challenge by moving to IBM AIX
“We decided to go ahead with the move to an IBM AIX® platform,” comments Barbara Snapp. “This meant migrating our SAP database to the Linux, Unix and Windows version of IBM DB2.

“We also decided to implement the IBM DB2 pureScale features, because this offered us the ability to split the database into separate clustered nodes, which gives the great advantage of enabling us to isolate different types of workload and prevent them from contending for resources at busy times.

“This meant that we could guarantee reliable performance levels for users in each region. It also helped with maintenance: if we needed to do reorganization or other database administration, we could do it on each region’s node while most of the users were offline, without affecting availability for the other regions. Equally, if one node crashed, we could immediately move all the users to another node that was less busy. For example, if North America failed during the US working day, we could move its users onto the Asia Pacific node, since most of our Asian users would not be in the office at that time.”

Boosting performance with DB2 9.7 and STMM
To compensate for the lack of Data Sharing, Sealed Air activated the Self Tuning Memory Manager (STMM) feature in DB2 9.7. This monitors the workload of all the database logical partitions (LPARs) within the company’s IBM Power Systems™ servers, and adjusts buffer pools dynamically to maximize performance.

“STMM is a valuable feature, and has made a significant contribution to helping us smooth out workload peaks and maintain high performance for users,” remarks Barbara Snapp. “As our SAP environment continued to grow, however, we were concerned that the impact of large monthly batch processes would start to affect response times.”

Learning about DB2 pureScale
“When IBM and SAP announced that DB2 pureScale® was certified for use with SAP ERP, we were delighted and volunteered for the pilot program,” explains Barbara Snapp.

Designed for organizations that run online transaction processing (OLTP) applications on distributed systems, IBM DB2 pureScale offers clustering technology that helps deliver high availability and exceptional scalability transparent to applications. DB2 pureScale is available as an option on IBM DB2 for Linux, Unix and Windows. Working with DB2 experts from IBM and SAP, Sealed Air deployed IBM DB2 pureScale for SAP ERP Central Component 6.0 in a six-node configuration across three IBM Power® 740 servers with IBM POWER7® processors. Today, the company continues to use the STMM feature of IBM DB2 to optimize the performance of the pureScale instances.

“The IBM and SAP teams did an excellent job in training us on pureScale and the technologies that support it, such as InfiniBand and GPFS™,” says Barbara Snapp. “It was also wonderful that the pureScale settings have been built into the SAP DBA Cockpit, so they can be controlled within SAP, just like all the other DB2 features. Finally, we found that the failover tests were easy to manage.”

Limitless expandability at a low operational cost
DB2 pureScale uses the principle of clustered database architecture and allies it with the cost-efficiency of the IBM Power Systems server platform. The great advantage is that database nodes can be clustered not just within a single machine, but across multiple physical servers. As a result, if a workload is growing rapidly, the infrastructure can be extended to meet the increased demand in a cost-effective manner. Instead of ‘scaling up’ by purchasing a more powerful (and expensive) server, migrating the data and retiring the old machine, Sealed Air can ‘scale out’ by adding another mid-range Power Systems server and set up a new node within the cluster.

Stable way to add new SAP applications
A further advantage of pureScale is that the ability to assign specific application servers to specific database nodes makes it easier to introduce new workloads without affecting performance or availability for existing environments.

“Often when you launch a new SAP application, you are not completely certain how many people will be using it at any given time,” explains Barbara Snapp. “It’s hard to plan for that workload. With pureScale, you can put the new application servers on a separate node, and monitor the workload they generate. After a few weeks, you will have a workload profile for the new application, enabling you to make better decisions about operating system and database configurations.

Optimizing performance through segregating workload
Similarly, the ability to segregate applications between different database nodes helps to separate different types of workload and optimize performance.

“When you’re trying to boost online transaction speeds for users, one of the best ways to do it is to minimize physical I/O by ensuring that there are large local and global database buffer pools in memory for the application,” comments Barbara Snapp.

“However, if you have batch processes running on the same database at the same time, they tend to consume most of the available memory, so the online performance suffers. With pureScale, we can ensure that the batch workload and online workload are done on separate database nodes, so we can maintain steady response times for online users.”

Equally, pureScale enables all backup processes to be handled by a single node, which means that only two of the LPARs – the ODBC and batch nodes – will execute the database backups, reducing performance impact on the OLTP database nodes.

Faster failovers and easier availability
From an availability standpoint, pureScale enables faster failovers from one node to another, enabling near-seamless operation even in the event of a major failure on one server. This can be achieved without the duplicate hardware and duplicate copies of data.

“The three main factors in managing our SAP environment are performance, availability and total cost of ownership – and DB2 pureScale seems to us to be the best solution from every angle,” concludes Barbara Snapp.

“We can maintain 24/7 availability with less effort, and keep both online and batch performance stable by optimizing the way SAP utilizes database resources. Equally, the ability to scale out rather than scale up will allow us practically unlimited expansion using cost-effective mid-range hardware.

“As we introduce new business workloads and applications such as SAP Master Data Governance, the value of pureScale to our business will increase even further.”

Products and services used

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

Power 740 AIX Solution Edition

General Parallel File System, AIX, DB2 for Linux, UNIX and Windows, DB2 pureScale Feature for Enterprise Server Edition, DB2 for Linux, UNIX and Windows for SAP Applications

Operating system:

IBM-SAP Alliance

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