GEWOFAG enhances customer service flexibility, cuts costs

Server and storage virtualization optimizes SAP application performance

Published on 20-Sep-2012

"The migration from Oracle databases to IBM DB2 was easy. It was managed professionally and completed without any issues. We are a new user of IBM DB2, but we already see in the integrated self-management functions a big advantage of this database platform." - Dr. Matthias Meinecke, Head of SAP Basis, GEWOFAG IT-Servicegesellschaft mbH

Customer:
GEWOFAG

Industry:
Professional Services

Deployment country:
Germany

Solution:
IGF, IGF: IT Financing - IBM HW, IGF: IT Financing - IBM Services and Project Financing, IGF: IT Financing - IBM SW, BA - Business Intelligence, Enterprise Resource Planning, Information Management Foundation, Server Consolidation, Small & Medium Business, Virtualization

IBM Business Partner:
FRITZ & MACZIOL, SAP

Overview

GEWOFAG is one of Munich’s largest real estate management companies, which owns 32,000 apartments and manages 5,000 others across the city, providing homes to 75,000 people. The company has been building and renting homes for more than 80 years. Today, approximately 700 employees manage total assets worth about 1.4 billion Euros.

Business need:
Margins in the real-estate sector are under huge pressure. Building company and property management company GEWOFAG identified customer service as a key business differentiator, where it could deliver outstanding value and operate more efficiently than competitors.

Solution:
Working with IBM and IBM® Business Partner FRITZ & MACZIOL, GEWOFAG implemented SAP Customer Relationship Management software and consolidated 12 physical servers to just two IBM Power® 770 servers. The new solution runs in a fully virtualized environment, taking advantage of IBM PowerVM® server virtualization and IBM System Storage® SAN Volume Controller storage virtualization technology.

Benefits:
Reduces database size of main SAP ERP system by 53 percent, offering direct savings in storage maintenance and capacity purchase. Reduces the number of physical servers by more than 80 percent, cutting administration and reducing energy and cooling costs. Accelerates batch jobs from 10 hours to only 10 minutes, a gain of 98 percent, enabling systems to return to production more rapidly.

Case Study

GEWOFAG is one of Munich’s largest real estate management companies, which owns 32,000 apartments and manages 5,000 others across the city, providing homes to 75,000 people. The company has been building and renting homes for more than 80 years. Today, approximately 700 employees manage total assets worth about 1.4 billion Euros.

GEWOFAG identified customer service as a key business differentiator, and looked for solutions to enhance its service flexibility and capabilities, and to increase customer service efficiency.

Adding a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to the IT landscape at GEWOFAG would have required an investment in new hardware. As the company’s IT infrastructure approached the end of its life cycle, GEWOFAG considered migrating its SAP environment to a more flexible and modern platform to consolidate physical servers, and to improve storage utilization by deploying storage virtualization technology.

The ultimate aim was to reduce operational and investment costs, and simultaneously improve service quality and capabilities.

Choosing a flexible solution
In the past, GEWOFAG ran its comprehensive SAP system landscapes on Oracle SPARC servers with the Oracle Solaris operating system and Oracle databases. As virtualization was not used for production systems, GEWOFAG operated 12 physical servers for its SAP systems alone. In addition to various different server models, GEWOFAG operated diverse storage systems. GEWOFAG sought to increase the energy efficiency and flexibility of its systems by consolidating to fewer servers and fewer storage devices. At the same time, saving energy in the data centers was a key driver, as this would help the company meet its environmental commitments.

GEWOFAG turned to IBM Business Partner FRITZ & MACZIOL to explore state-of-the-art solutions to replace its aged IT infrastructure. The company asked for a scalable and flexible solution that would enable GEWOFAG to set up new and additional systems quickly, helping the company to meet changing workload more rapidly and cost-effectively.

“We have been working together with FRITZ & MACZIOL for many years,” says Dr. Matthias Meinecke, Head of SAP Basis, GEWOFAG IT-Servicegesellschaft GmbH. “They had a perfect understanding of our business requirements and suggested the IBM solution to us. The advanced virtualization technology offered by IBM Power Systems™ servers and IBM SAN Volume Controller convinced us that this provided the best platform for our SAP applications and related storage needs. IBM presented an integrated offering, and was able to deliver a complete solution including the hardware, software and services from a single source.”

Comprehensive virtualization
Working with IBM Global Technology Services and FRITZ & MACZIOL, GEWOFAG consolidated 12 physical Oracle SPARC and other servers to just two IBM Power 770 servers. The new IT infrastructure is a fully virtualized environment, taking advantage of IBM PowerVM with IBM Virtual I/O Server for resource virtualization on the IBM Power 770 servers. The SAP systems run on the IBM AIX operating system, with IBM DB2 databases.

For optimized capacity usage, GEWOFAG runs SAP production systems on both IBM Power 770 servers. The two symmetric data centers are the foundation for an efficient disaster recovery solution and enable the company to implement an automated high availability configuration when needed.

The new storage solution is based on an IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller stretched cluster with nodes in both data centers and an additional quorum disk with independent energy supply for improved data security and reliability. To optimize its storage architecture, GEWOFAG decided to implement two IBM Storwize® V7000 storage systems. The company added fast solid state drives (SSDs) to the configuration and enabled the IBM System Storage Easy Tier® feature provided by the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller for automatic storage optimization.

“Deploying the new storage solution accelerated batch jobs by 98 percent,” says Matthias Meinecke. “Tasks that ran for ten hours before now complete in ten minutes.”

The new server and storage systems were seamlessly integrated into the existing IT environment at GEWOFAG. The systems are set up to notify the IBM support team automatically in case any component fails, which ensures that failures are noticed and fixed quickly, enabling operations to continue without interruption.

Existing IBM System x® servers running a VMware environment with applications such as SAP NetWeaver TREX were also connected to the virtualized storage solution. Microsoft Windows and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server systems were migrated to the new IBM SAN Volume Controller storage solution using the VMware Storage vMotion feature.

Best practices with IBM
After the new system infrastructure had been installed, IBM Global Technology Services applied standardized best practices based on the SAP standard procedure for heterogeneous system copies to migrate the SAP systems to IBM DB2 and converted them to Unicode in the same stage.

With professional project planning and integrated risk management, the team minimized the interruption and workload for the IT team at GEWOFAG. To complete the migration of the biggest SAP databases of up to 700 GB within the given migration window, IBM Global Technology Services used optimized migration methods to parallelize import and export operations, reducing the migration time by more than 50 percent. Using this approach, it was possible to migrate the largest systems with a size of up to 700 GB in about 30 hours.

Integrated solution
GEWOFAG has been using SAP ERP applications for more than ten years, and has developed a sophisticated, standardized template for managing core business processes. The company relies on IBM technology to support the reliable and smooth operation of its core business processes.

For fast and efficient payment processing, GEWOFAG implemented SAP Bank Communication Management. The company also relies on SAP ERP Human Capital Management and implemented the SAP Flexible Real Estate Management application to support and optimize its property and rental management processes. The solution is fully integrated with the company’s financial accounting system, providing a quick overview and fast access to the data. To model planning options and generate consolidated financial and management reports, GEWOFAG implemented SAP Strategic Enterprise Management, an application based on SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse. This solution integrates data from SAP and non-SAP systems into a single analytical reporting environment, enabling advanced corporate performance management with customized scorecards. The connection of operational and strategic plans together with scorecards and integrated risk management features make this solution an essential tool for GEWOFAG, and provides a comprehensive management cockpit.

Extending its SAP application environment, GEWOFAG implemented SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) to increase the efficiency in its six distributed customer service centers. When the rollout of the CRM solution is completed, the service centers will benefit from a modern CRM application that enables staff to handle customer requests more flexibly and answer questions more quickly.

In total GEWOFAG operates 17 SAP systems, of which six are production systems. The company provides its SAP applications to more than 460 users, with approximately 300 users using the SAP applications concurrently.

Improving operations with virtualization
The new IT infrastructure from IBM provides sophisticated server and storage virtualization technology, offering GEWOFAG a new level of flexibility. By consolidating 12 physical servers to just two physical IBM Power 770 servers, the company reduced its hardware footprint by more than 80 percent and achieved substantial savings in energy consumption. Further, automatic storage optimization provided by the IBM Easy Tier feature on its IBM SAN Volume Controller, GEWOFAG has considerably boosted its storage performance.

Using IBM DB2 for Linux, UNIX and Windows version 9.7, GEWOFAG has taken advantage of the software’s highly efficient row and index compression, reducing its main SAP ERP system database by 53 percent. Not only does this improve overall system performance, it also gives more headroom for the company’s storage systems, increasing flexibility and avoiding investment in additional storage.

Additionally, IBM DB2’s fully automated self-tuning and management features, and close integration with the SAP environment with the SAP DBA Cockpit, provide for easy and efficient system administration and optimized performance.

“The migration from Oracle databases to IBM DB2 was easy. It was managed professionally and completed without any issues. We are a new user of IBM DB2, but we already see in the integrated self-management functions a big advantage of this database platform,” says Matthias Meinecke. “The advanced automation and optimization capabilities of IBM DB2 are a very useful and highly appreciated feature.”

Aside from the technical solution, IBM Global Financing offered GEWOFAG the opportunity to pay for the solution in two installments, aligned with the solution implementation.

Successful business enhancement
GEWOFAG is very satisfied with the collaboration between its internal IT team, IBM Global Technology Services and IBM Business Partner FRITZ & MACZIOL. Regular performance reviews with IBM Global Technology Services specialists ensure that the solution is continuously improved and optimized to deliver the best possible performance as the business requirements evolve.

The project team is already planning its next steps. The flexibility provided by the the new solution allows GEWOFAG to add new SAP solutions such as SAP NetWeaver Process Integration or SAP NetWeaver Portal quickly, without the need to buy and install additional hardware. The solution’s scalable infrastructure will make it simple for the IT team to implement new applications, such as IBM Tivoli® FlashCopy® Manager, or enable the advanced POWER7® feature Active Memory Expansion to handle increasing workloads.

Legal Information

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