IT-Informatik boosts competitiveness, cuts operating costs by 50 percent

Published on 03-Jan-2013

"We have been using IBM technology for 20 years and we are highly satisfied with IBM PowerLinux and IBM Storwize V7000 solutions. The close collaboration between IBM and SAP proved to be excellent, and the new solution was implemented quickly and reliably." - Jochen Wöhrle, Head of Infrastructure at IT-Informatik GmbH

Customer:
IT-Informatik

Industry:
Computer Services

Deployment country:
Germany

Solution:
Energy Efficiency, Enterprise Resource Planning, Virtualization, Virtualization - Server, Virtualization - Storage

Overview

IT-Informatik, headquartered in Ulm, Germany, offers SAP consulting services and develops online shops and web-based business to business applications. In addition, the company provides hosting services, and its customers include many well-known German companies. The company has achieved recent growth and now has 200 employees and a new office in Hamburg; in 2011, the company achieved revenue of €14.5 million.

Business need:
To compete with larger companies, IT-Informatik focuses on service quality and application performance. How could it do this without breaking the bank?

Solution:
IT-Informatik chose a full virtualization strategy, based on IBM® PowerLinux™ servers with IBM PowerVM® virtualization and Live Partition Mobility, to manage its SAP hosting services.

Benefits:
The new solution slashes IT operational costs by more than 50 percent and enables IT-Informatik to set up new customer environments 80 percent faster. It has reduced time spent on storage administration by two hours per week, enabling business growth without the need for more IT staff.

Case Study

To read a German language version of the case study, click here.

IT-Informatik, headquartered in Ulm, Germany, offers SAP consulting services and develops online shops and web-based business to business applications. In addition, the company provides hosting services, and its customers include many well-known German companies. The company has achieved recent growth and now has 200 employees and a new office in Hamburg; in 2011, the company achieved revenue of €14.5 million.

IT-Informatik offers hosting services for a wide range of SAP applications, including SAP ERP for financials, controlling, materials management, production planning, human capital management and SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse. The company also runs SAP applications to manage its own business operations, and uses this hands-on experience to assist its customers.

Jochen Wöhrle, Head of Infrastructure at IT-Informatik GmbH, explains, “SAP hosting is an important part of our business. We take pride in offering excellent hosting services to our customers. At the same time, we need to minimize our operational costs to compete with large German hosting companies that have the advantage of economies of scale. To keep our operational costs low, we need to grow our operations without hiring extra IT staff; this means that we need IT solutions that require little administration and offer excellent performance for our customers.”

Scalable solution provides for business growth
To address these challenges, IT-Informatik chose a full virtualization strategy, based on IBM PowerLinux servers with IBM PowerVM virtualization and Live Partition Mobility, and on IBM Storwize® V7000 systems, to manage its SAP hosting services.

The first step was to migrate its own SAP applications to a virtualized environment, and then repeat the exercise for the customer solutions. The team implemented a POWER7® processor-based IBM PowerLinux 7R2 server with advanced IBM PowerVM virtualization technology, running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. Since SUSE Linux Enterprise Server requires very few patches, IT-Informatik saves approximately three days per year on server administration. This single server now runs 12 virtual machines hosting the company’s and the customers’ SAP solutions, supporting more than 1,000 users in total. The largest single SAP system has 250 users and a database size of 700 GB.

The IBM Power Systems™ servers feature Live Partition Mobility, which enables IT-Informatik to migrate entire partitions and hosted applications from one server to another whilst avoiding outages. This is particularly useful for rebalancing loads across systems quickly to ensure excellent performance for customers.

Jochen Wöhrle says, “We selected IBM PowerLinux for our mission-critical SAP systems, because this platform provides excellent reliability and outstanding cost-efficiency. We evaluated several solutions, including x86-processor based servers, but IBM PowerLinux offered the best stability and scalability.”

The implementation went smoothly, and creating each new virtual server, sized to meet the customer’s performance needs, is a standardized and robust process. The migration was completed without interrupting the business operations of IT-Informatik’s customers.

“Creating virtual servers enables IT-Informatik to allocate exactly the ‘right size’ server to each customer,” says Jochen Wöhrle. “If their business grows, we can increase the virtual server capacity on the fly, enabling IT-Informatik to offer a totally, and almost endlessly, scalable service to our customers.”

Virtualization brings further benefits, too: when customers ask for new SAP instances for test or development purposes, IT-Informatik uses IBM FlashCopy® technology to create system copies in just 15 minutes.

Jochen Wöhrle explains, “With IBM FlashCopy we can create independent system copies in isolated sandbox environments. This enables us to easily provide customers with additional systems so that they can test new features in a real-world environment without affecting the production system.”

Flexible data storage to meet customer needs
Because customer data volumes can vary widely depending on their SAP transaction levels and use of SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse, IT-Informatik expended considerable effort managing customers’ data. IT-Informatik realized that managing multiple independent storage devices resulted in complexity and cost, with isolated blocks of unused storage that could not be utilized.

To reduce costs and optimize its data storage landscape, IT-Informatik upgraded its storage architecture and implemented two IBM Storwize® V7000 virtualized storage systems, with 20 TB and 40 TB total capacity, based in twin data centers. IT-Informatik synchronizes the data between the IBM Storwize V7000 systems using IBM Metro Mirror technology, which ensures data security and continuous operations even in the event of failure at one of the locations. The IBM Storwize V7000 devices include a mix of solid-state and standard disk drives, offering high performance data delivery as well as reliable storage.

“IBM Storwize V7000 was the natural choice for our virtualized hosting environment. This storage solution provides the performance and flexibility we need to offer high-quality SAP hosting to our customers,” explains Jochen Wöhrle. “Furthermore, by implementing IBM Easy Tier® with solid state drives, we boosted storage performance. This technology permanently monitors usage patterns in real-time and automatically moves the most frequently accessed data to the very fast solid state drives to improve storage performance.”

IT-Informatik integrated its existing IBM System Storage® DS4700 array into the new storage environment, managed through the V7000 system. The company is able to re-utilize storage capacity on the DS4700 as part of an integrated storage pool through a single central control center, reducing complexity and optimizing storage efficiency.

To manage data backup and archiving, IT-Informatik deployed IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager software and IBM System Storage TS3310 and IBM System Storage TS3200 tape libraries. To reduce the total data volumes, IT-Informatik deployed an IBM System Storage TS7620 ProtecTIER® Deduplication Appliance to optimize capacity usage of its tape libraries.

Jochen Wöhrle elaborates, “For backups, there is simply no viable alternative to IBM Tivoli Storage Manager. IBM Tivoli Storage Manager supports backups for all our applications and server environments, which include IBM System x® servers running Linux and Windows and IBM Power Systems servers running AIX® and IBM i. Combining the data protection capabilities of IBM Tivoli Storage Manager with IBM ProtecTIER technology enables us to streamline our backup and recovery processes and increase capacity utilization, cutting the time and cost of tape management.

“IBM Storwize V7000 enables us to streamline storage administration, too. Automated mirroring between our two locations ensures business continuity for customers in an event of failure, and virtualized storage management enables us to use existing storage systems more efficiently, allowing us to postpone costly investments in storage infrastructure.”

Providing excellent customer service
IT-Informatik estimates that the new solution has more than halved the company’s operational costs. Leveraging POWER7 processors, IT-Informatik reduced the number of processors by 50 percent, saving space in the data center and cutting energy costs by 26 percent.

“By migrating to IBM PowerLinux servers, we reduced our leasing costs by more than 50 percent. This saving helps us to compete against larger German hosting providers,” explains Jochen Wöhrle. “IBM PowerLinux is a stable and scalable solution, offering great performance and enabling us to grow capacity for new customers. Since IBM Power servers require very little maintenance, we save time on server administration. This enables us to increase our customer base without hiring additional IT staff or compromising on service quality.”

With the virtualized solution, IT-Informatik can rapidly provide environments for new customers, enabling the business to grow quickly and easily. Jochen Wöhrle says, “The new IBM technology enables us to set up environments for new customers 80 percent faster. This time saving helps us to offer excellent customer service.”

Virtualized storage saves the IT team around two hours per week, total storage capacity utilization has grown from 45 percent to 75 percent, and many previously manual storage management tasks are now automated, with consequent IT staff time and cost savings.

Jochen Wöhrle concludes, “We have been using IBM technology for 20 years and we are highly satisfied with IBM PowerLinux and IBM Storwize V7000 solutions. The close collaboration between IBM and SAP proved to be excellent, and the new solution was implemented quickly and reliably – in fact, our customers did not even notice the switch. We are an IT services provider using the solutions we sell – I think that shows our confidence in the IBM and SAP solution.”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
Power 520 Express, Power 730 Express, PowerLinux 7R2, Storage, Storage: Storwize V7000, Storage: TS3200 Tape Library, Storage: TS3310 Tape Library, System x

Software:
AIX, FlashCopy, PowerVM, Tivoli Storage Manager, Linux

Operating system:
AIX

Service:
IBM-SAP Alliance

Legal Information

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