Enabling lightning-fast performance to lead enterprises to the cloud

Published on 21-Jan-2014

"IBM FlashSystem Enterprise Solution accelerates some SAP ERP processing jobs by up to 90 percent." - Luc Greefs, Director – Cloud Services, Cegeka


Computer Services

Deployment country:

Business Continuity, Cloud Computing, Cloud & Service Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, High Availability , Virtualization

IBM Business Partner:


Headquartered in Hasselt, Belgium and employing 2,100 people, Cegeka is a leading IT managed services provider, with a comprehensive portfolio including consulting, IT outsourcing and private cloud services. With subsidiaries in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Romania and Poland, Cegeka generated revenues of EUR 214.35 million in 2012.

Business need:
To broaden its cloud-services client base, Cegeka targeted enterprises with demanding SLA requirements. Could it meet data performance and scalability needs without costs spiraling out of control?

Cegeka cut response times for cloud-based SAP applications by 66 percent with a cost-efficient IBM® FlashSystem™ Enterprise Solution – meeting SLAs with minimal impact on operational costs.

Cegeka gained the capacity to support enterprise clients in the cloud, helping to meet corporate growth objectives, while continuing to attract and retain business from existing customers.

Case Study

How can IT managed service providers meet the performance needs of large enterprise customers without letting operational costs spiral out of control?

Cegeka in Belgium cut SAP ERP application response times for its clients by 66 percent with minimal impact on operational costs by implementing cost-efficient IBM FlashSystem 820 data storage solutions.

The result is that Cegeka strengthens its position in the enterprise client space, helping to meet its corporate growth objectives while continuing to attract and retain existing business.

Target enterprise clients to drive growth
Headquartered in Hasselt, Belgium and employing 2,100 people, Cegeka is a leading IT managed services provider, with a comprehensive portfolio including consulting, IT outsourcing and private cloud services. With subsidiaries in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Romania and Poland, Cegeka generated revenues of EUR 214.35 million in 2012.

Cegeka has created a strong value proposition with its own private cloud services platform – based on x86 servers and virtualized with VMware – which offers exceptional value for small, medium and enterprise businesses.

To broaden its enterprise client base, Cegeka wanted to ensure that it could meet the most demanding service-level agreements (SLAs).

Luc Greefs, Director – Cloud Services at Cegeka, says: “We entered into discussions with a large enterprise based in Belgium that wanted to use private cloud services to cut its operational costs. Like many of the most successful international businesses, the company uses a suite of SAP ERP applications to ensure unified, efficient processes across the enterprise. As a result, the company’s SLA requirements for the reliability, availability and responsiveness of its SAP applications were extremely high.”

Ramp up performance to meet strict SLAs
Koen Goossens, Lead Storage Architect – Cloud Services at Cegeka, says: “We calculated that we needed to accelerate certain SAP ERP processing jobs by 90 percent to meet the SLAs for our large enterprise client. To meet the new requirements, we wanted to augment our existing storage environment.”

To deliver the storage performance boost it needed to support an enterprise-scale SAP ERP environment and the associated Oracle databases, Cegeka evaluated solutions from a number of different vendors.

“Most of the high-end disk systems we considered required at least 42 rack units to deliver the storage performance we needed to meet the SLAs for the SAP ERP solutions,” says Goossens. “We realized that adding so many high-performance disk systems to our environment would raise our combined data center power, cooling and management costs.

“As part of our constant commitment to deliver the optimal balance of price and performance to our clients, we were looking for an innovative and cost-efficient way to boost our storage performance.”

Need for cost-effective storage performance
To deliver high levels of storage performance at a cost-effective price, Cegeka selected IBM FlashSystem 820. The system uses enterprise flash technology to increase application performance and response times in servers and storage systems from milliseconds to microseconds. This extreme performance also comes in a highly efficient form factor, with FlashSystem 820 offering a total storage capacity of 24 TB in just 1U of rackspace.

“To meet our needs around cost-efficiency and data center footprint, it quickly became clear that IBM FlashSystem storage was the answer,” says Goossens. “We designed a proof of concept based on our prospective client’s SAP ERP environment, and we were extremely impressed with the results.

“We realized that IBM FlashSystem would deliver the storage performance we needed to meet our large client’s SLAs for SAP ERP application availability, reliability and responsiveness. Furthermore, the close strategic alliance between IBM and SAP ERP gave us confidence that both vendors’ solutions would be highly compatible.”

Ultra-dense, lightning-speed IBM FlashSystem
Working with IBM, Cegeka implemented one IBM FlashSystem 820 unit at its primary private cloud data center, and another unit at a secondary data center.

“The IBM FlashSystem 820 packs the performance of 42 rack units of high-end disk systems into a 97 percent smaller footprint – an outstanding performance-per-rack density,” says Greefs. “Because the FlashSystem is so compact, it was extremely fast and simple to deploy.”

Ensuring high availability
To ensure high availability for its large client’s mission-critical SAP ERP data on the IBM FlashSystem 820 platform, Cegeka integrated the storage solution with its existing IBM SAN Volume Controller software, an offering called the FlashSystem Enterprise Solution. Today, Cegeka uses the integrated solution to synchronously mirror SAP ERP application transactions between its data centers, guaranteeing that client data is always available.

Goossens comments: “We were already using IBM SAN Volume Controller to virtualize existing storage systems, so adding the FlashSystem into the existing stretched-cluster configuration couldn’t have been easier. We just plugged the IBM FlashSystem 820 unit into the SAN, and started managing it with IBM SAN Volume Controller.

“By integrating IBM SAN Volume Controller with the IBM FlashSystem 820, we have created a high-availability platform that meets the SLAs for our large client’s SAP ERP applications.”

Accelerating SAP ERP jobs by up to 90 percent
With IBM FlashSystem Enterprise Solution at the heart of its private cloud environment, Cegeka has achieved its objective of delivering the high levels of performance, reliability and availability needed to meet SAP ERP application SLAs for enterprise clients.

“IBM FlashSystem Enterprise Solution accelerates some SAP ERP processing jobs by up to 90 percent,” says Greefs. “In addition, the enhanced performance from IBM FlashSystem Enterprise Solution enables us to decrease SAP ERP application response times for end users by 66 percent.

“The performance boost for SAP ERP applications delivered by IBM FlashSystem Enterprise Solution was a crucial factor in winning this large private cloud client – opening up new markets to help accelerate our business growth.”

Keeping operational costs almost flat
Thanks to the strong cost-effectiveness of the IBM solution, Cegeka can win business from enterprise clients, with minimal impact on its operational expenditure – ensuring continuous delivery of cost-effective services to its existing client base.

Because the storage solution is virtualized, Cegeka can offer ultra-high storage performance tailored to individual client requirements. This enables small and medium clients to gain the benefits of flash performance without the need for costly up-front investment in hardware – a compelling proposition to win additional new business.

“Because IBM FlashSystem 820 uses 95 percent less power and dissipates heat 95 percent more effectively than a traditional single-frame high-end disk system, our operational costs have effectively remained flat,” says Greefs.

“IBM FlashSystem Enterprise Solution enables us to take on and serve the complex needs of large clients extremely cost effectively, and offer our smaller private cloud customers the same high-quality, cost-efficient service that they have come to expect.”

Greefs concludes: “IBM FlashSystem has enabled game-changing capabilities for our business, and we see even greater potential ahead. For example, we are currently refining a flash-based workload acceleration product for business analytics applications to enable lightning-fast insights for our clients.

“With IBM flash technology driving our private cloud platform, we have opened our offering to a previously untapped market of clients with demanding SLAs – helping us to continue to grow our business rapidly.”

For more information
To learn more about IBM FlashSystem Enterprise Solution, contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/systems/storage/flash/

Products and services used

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

Storage, Storage: IBM FlashSystem 820

SAN Volume Controller Real-time Compression Software

IBM-SAP Alliance

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2014. IBM Belgium/Luxembourg. Avenue du Bourget / Bourgetlaan 42. 1130 Brussels. Produced in Belgium. January 2014. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com and FlashSystem 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 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. The client is responsible for ensuring compliance with laws and regulations applicable to it. IBM does not provide legal advice or represent or warrant that its services or products will ensure that the client is in compliance with any law or regulation. Statements regarding IBM’s future direction and intent are subject to change or withdrawal without notice, and represent goals and objectives only. Actual available storage capacity may be reported for both uncompressed and compressed data and will vary and may be less than stated.