Gruppo Averna solves challenges of American and Asian expansion

Turning success in Italy and Europe into worldwide opportunity across multiple time zones

Published on 16-Jul-2013

"The huge appeal of the IBM PureFlex System offering came from the fact that it is a fully integrated and unbelievably easy-to-use architecture, able to handle multiple operating systems such as IBM i and its integrated DB2 database within the same architecture. It is also one of the most technologically advanced products on the market." - Letterio Iachetta, IT Systems Administrator, Gruppo Averna

Gruppo Averna

Consumer Products

Deployment country:

Flex System Manager, Flex System p260, Flex System running OS - i, Flex System x240, PureFlex, PureFlex Enterprise, PureFlex System running OS - i, PureSystems, Storage: Storwize V7000, Business Continuity

IBM Business Partner:
Elmi Software Palermo, SAP


Founded in 1868, Gruppo Averna in Italy is a joint venture of three leading producers and distributors of liquors, wines and sweets (chocolate and nougat). Headquartered in Sicily, the group has offices in two other locations in the north-west of the country and employs approximately 250 people.

Business need:
To reach out to markets in the USA and Asia, Gruppo Averna knew that its SAP solutions would be needed 24/7 in new time zones. Without this capability, Averna could miss out on valuable new business.

Gruppo Averna chose to migrate to an integrated, easy-to-manage IBM® PureFlex™ System offering, able to offer continuous availability, greater system performance and reduced operational costs.

Enabled the company to expand into the US and Asia rapidly and efficiently. Application performance improved by up to 200 percent. Energy and cooling costs cut by 30 percent.

Case Study

If your business model works well nationally, how do you turn local success into global expansion? How do you handle the new challenges of scalability and 24/7 operations that had simply not concerned you before?

Liquor and sweets distributor Gruppo Averna knew that its comprehensive SAP solutions would now be needed to serve multiple new time zones. The company wanted confidence that it could rely on IT infrastructure that was capable of matching its ambitious business objectives.

Gruppo Averna chose to migrate to integrated, easy-to-manage IBM PureFlex System infrastructure, enabling high-performance SAP solutions ready for this 24/7 world. Along the way, SAP application performance has improved by up to 200 percent, data is secured, and Gruppo Averna has cut IT energy consumption by 30 percent.

Seeing the wider opportunity
Founded in 1868, Gruppo Averna in Italy is a joint venture of three leading producers and distributors of liquors, wines and sweets (chocolate and nougat). Headquartered in Sicily, the group has offices in two other locations in the north-west of the country and employs approximately 250 people.

A long-established key player in the Italian consumer goods industry, in the last few years Gruppo Averna has set its sights on international expansion.

Letterio Iachetta, IT Systems Administrator at Gruppo Averna, explains, “We were aware that keeping our business within Italian borders was not wise if we were really serious about increasing our sales – which is our main goal. After seeing great success in Germany and Austria, we started planning to expand to the North American and Asian markets, which presented fresh challenges.”

SAP solutions provide integrated operations
To support its core business operations, Gruppo Averna relies on an extensive range of SAP solutions. In production since 1999, the SAP environment is based on SAP ERP 5.0 and includes SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse, SAP Sales and Distribution, SAP Materials Management, SAP Production Planning, SAP Financials, SAP Quality Management and SAP Process Integration.

In addition to these SAP solutions, the company also uses a mission-critical order management application to monitor the submission, receipt and processing of product orders, for both large distributors such as supermarkets and smaller clients such as local shops or restaurants.

As it aged, the hardware infrastructure supporting the SAP application landscape was showing signs of increasing weakness, especially as Gruppo Averna expanded its operations. Letterio Iachetta points out, “The three companies within our group deploy different hardware platforms running different software applications. This started to be a big issue in terms of managing stock, product orders and sales, as we did not have a unified view of operations or a standardized process flow, and managing orders was excessively complex and time-consuming.

“In particular, when it came to the performance of our order management application we were starting to experience very slow response times – with the previous software we could view orders only hours after they had been submitted. Without rapid and unified visibility of orders, we were unable to confirm details to customers, or be able to commit to meeting requested delivery schedules, and we risked frustrated customers moving their business elsewhere.”

New markets bring new demands
The company knew that it needed to solve these issues if it was to have a chance of successfully breaking into new international markets. In particular, delivering exceptional service to clients in different time zones in the USA or Asia required a computing infrastructure that was well-placed to deal with a varied workload at all times of the day. For instance, hours that in Italy were considered off-peak might now become very busy, and the team needed to plan for a solution that would manage this new workload profile.

After reviewing its existing hardware environment, the company determined that a comprehensive infrastructure renewal was required, and turned to IBM to propose an IT landscape able to respond to the new challenges.

“We have been using IBM software products in the IBM i operating system environment for a long time now, and were absolutely confident when we decided to engage IBM and its Business Partner Elmi Software Palermo to lead this project,” says Letterio Iachetta.

Choosing the IBM PureFlex System strategy
The company chose to consolidate all of its SAP applications – previously running on an outdated environment – to an IBM PureFlex System Enterprise solution. For the first time, Gruppo Averna will have the ability to handle multiple operating systems within a single architecture.

The solution is configured with IBM Flex System™ p260 compute nodes based on IBM POWER® architecture, running the IBM i operating system and its integrated IBM DB2® database, with IBM PowerVM® virtualization technology and the IBM Storwize® V7000 storage system. The IBM PureFlex solution also contains IBM Flex System x240 nodes, based on Intel Xeon E5-2600 product family processors, which will run Gruppo Averna’s extensive IBM Lotus Notes® and related business productivity solutions on a virtualized landscape.

This new architecture – replicated at a second data center for disaster recovery – enables Gruppo Averna to guarantee seamless business continuity, as an emergency site can be built up very quickly to keep operations running even if a major failure occurs.

The IBM PureFlex System is a pre-configured, pre-integrated offering which enables Gruppo Averna to support its complete SAP landscape in a highly flexible, resilient and efficient way. Combining compute, storage, networking, virtualization and management into a single infrastructure solution, the IBM PureFlex offering provides enhanced simplicity, cost-effectiveness and workload optimization – all central concerns for Gruppo Averna, whose three constituent companies had been struggling with separate and inefficient hardware systems.

“The huge appeal of the IBM PureFlex System offering came from the fact that it is a fully integrated and unbelievably easy-to-use architecture, able to handle multiple operating systems such as IBM i and its integrated DB2 database within the same architecture. It is also one of the most technologically advanced products on the market,” remarks Letterio Iachetta. “Deploying this solution to support the optimal functioning of our mission-critical SAP applications is really simple and gives us great peace of mind because we know that our business is in safe hands.”

As the international expansion gathers pace, managing the company’s growing store of data creates additional challenges for Gruppo Averna. Enhanced information management is provided by the integrated data storage within the IBM PureFlex architecture with the IBM Storwize V7000 storage system. The IBM Storwize V7000 also plays a key role in delivering advanced virtualization functionalities for Gruppo Averna’s disaster recovery center. By enabling the company to rapidly set up new virtual machines, the solution helps to ensure total business continuity and eliminate interruptions in service delivery even in the event of a system failure.

The entire solution is centrally managed by the IBM Flex System Manager™ node, which provides a single point of control for the whole IBM PureFlex System environment. The Flex System Manager node features smart provisioning – for the dynamic allocation of resources – and simplified process management – which helps Gruppo Averna to automate repetitive tasks and focus on higher value projects, such as further business expansion.

Meeting the demands of the 24/7 world
With the IBM PureFlex System solution in place, Gruppo Averna is now well-placed to support the varied and ever-increasing demands generated from its new foreign markets.

Letterio Iachetta explains, “Processing product orders coming from clients in different time zones – the main new challenge for us – is now a cinch. We have been able to develop an application within our SAP suite that enables us to communicate directly with our external warehouse. By running SAP applications on PureFlex, we benefit from huge performance advantages. For instance, the overall SAP application performance has increased up to 200 percent, enabling real-time data provision on stocks, goods and warehouse management. Which, in business terms, means more-timely product delivery and higher customer satisfaction, regardless of the country they are in.”

By leveraging this new application based on SAP and running on PureFlex, Gruppo Averna has immediate, accurate and reliable information on orders coming from different countries and can process them in near real-time.

The PureFlex System is also helping Gruppo Averna to keep a tight rein on operating expenses – a key advantage as the company looks to build its business. The exceptional cost-efficiency of the new integrated and virtualized environment has allowed Gruppo Averna to cut energy and cooling costs by 30 percent, while the PureFlex solution offers more than 50 percent more total compute capacity.

Letterio Iachetta concludes, “Considering we have only just implemented the complete solution, we could not be happier with the initial outcomes – already measured by striking performance results. We are expecting further huge improvements in the near future – and are confident that the IBM and SAP joint expertise will help us to boost product sales in the new and demanding markets we have started to look at.”

Products and services used

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

Flex System p260, Flex System running hypervisor - PowerVM, Flex System running OS - i, Flex System x240, PureFlex Enterprise, PureFlex System running OS - i, Storage, Storage: Storwize V7000


Operating system:

IBM-SAP Alliance

Legal Information

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