Regionalgas Euskirchen beats competitors to new business

Cutting IT operational costs by migrating to the IBM Flex System offering

Published on 25-Sep-2013

"We have dramatically cut response times for our core business applications. For example, it used to take 15 minutes to generate one particular report. With IBM Flex System, we can generate the same report in just a third of the time!" - Oliver Moritz, Head of IT, Regionalgas Euskirchen

Customer:
Regionalgas Euskirchen

Industry:
Energy & Utilities

Deployment country:
Germany

Solution:
Flex System, Flex System running hypervisor - VMware, Flex System x240, PureSystems, Enabling Business Flexibility, Energy Efficiency, Server Consolidation, Virtualization, Virtualization - Server

IBM Business Partner:
stepIT.net

Overview

Founded in 1949, Regionalgas Euskirchen GmbH & Co. KG supplies water and energy to around 60,000 private households, companies and public organizations based in the vicinity of Euskirchen, Germany.

Business need:
As intense competition drives prices down, utilities provider Regionalgas Euskirchen must reduce operational costs and offer even better value in order to retain existing customers and win new ones.

Solution:
The company decided to consolidate its HP servers onto the highly scalable IBM® Flex System™ platform, and upgrade its network capabilities with high-performance IBM technology.

Benefits:
Cuts server footprint by 66 percent, energy costs by 20 percent and avoiding USD 45,000 cost of air conditioning spend, helping the company offer great value to customers and stay ahead of competitors.

Case Study

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

Founded in 1949, Regionalgas Euskirchen GmbH & Co. KG supplies water and energy to around 60,000 private households, companies and public organizations based in the vicinity of Euskirchen, Germany.

Over the past few years, the German energy market has been liberalized, sparking intense competition among approximately 700 energy providers. Having lost its monopoly on the local energy market, Regionalgas Euskirchen found that its profit margins were being squeezed as competitors tried to undercut its prices. It began looking for ways to cut operational costs to help it offer even better prices to customers and beat competitors to new business.

At the same time, the company realized that it needed to find a more powerful IT platform to support future growth. Regionalgas Euskirchen had plans to acquire water and electricity utilities; this expansion would boost staffing levels by around 33 percent and increase demands on the company’s IT systems.

Unfortunately, the utility’s existing IT environment was unable to provide the performance and scalability required to support the demands of the growing business. Regionalgas Euskirchen engaged stepIT.net, an IBM Business Partner specializing in consultancy and managed services, to help it find a more scalable, cost-efficient platform for its business applications.

Benefits of virtualization
The company decided to consolidate its six racks, each containing six HP servers, onto just two IBM Flex System chassis, each one located in a separate data center to reduce the risk of an outage in the event of a disaster. The Flex System chassis are connected to IBM System x® 3650 M4 class servers, and IBM System Storage® TS3100 tape libraries in the company’s backup environment. Each IBM Flex System chassis contains six fully virtualized IBM FlexSystem x240 compute nodes, running a total of 110 VMware virtual servers.

Thorsten Bollig, Head of IT Infrastructure at Regionalgas Euskirchen, remarks, “By consolidating six full HP racks onto just two IBM Flex System machines, we reduced our server footprint by 66 percent and cut energy costs by 20 percent. Physical servers generate a lot of heat, and we realized that expanding our existing server infrastructure would have required an upgrade of the air conditioning system in our data centers. By choosing a highly virtualized solution based on IBM Flex System servers, we were able to avoid replacing the air conditioning, which saved around EUR35,000 [USD45,000].”

stepIT.net implemented the IBM solution and provided expert advice and support throughout the project, helping Regionalgas Euskirchen complete the project on time and on budget.

Powerful network infrastructure
Regionalgas Euskirchen also upgraded its data center network infrastructures by replacing HP switches with IBM Flex System Fabric EN4093 10Gb and FC5022 16Gb Scalable Switch solutions. Providing outstanding scalability, the switches enable the company to activate additional ports quickly and easily as demands on the network increase.

The company also renewed the network infrastructure that links its two data centers, replacing its existing HP switches with IBM System Networking RackSwitch™ G8124 switches, which provide 24 10Gb Ethernet ports for high performance.

Oliver Moritz, Head of IT at Regionalgas Euskirchen, comments, “By replacing our HP switches with more advanced IBM technology, we have been able to reduce the total number of switches by approximately 80 percent, making our networking infrastructure much easier to manage.”

Making better business decisions
The IBM solution provides excellent performance for Regionalgas Euskirchen’s business-critical applications, including its IBM Notes® and Domino® collaboration solutions. The company uses IBM Notes and Domino applications to manage every stage of its core business processes: collecting contact details when potential customers make inquiries, connecting the customer site to the company network, managing the delivery of energy, and processing payments.

Regionalgas Euskirchen also uses the IBM Notes and Domino solution to generate executive reports, equipping decision-makers with the information they need.

Oliver Moritz remarks, “We have dramatically cut response times for our core business applications. For example, it used to take 15 minutes to generate one particular report. With IBM Flex System, we can generate the same report in just a third of the time! Accelerating reporting processes makes staff more likely to conduct thorough analyses, and base their business decisions on accurate, up-to-the-minute data.”

Supporting the growing business
By selecting IBM Flex System solutions, Regionalgas Euskirchen can deploy further compute nodes or activate additional resources on the switches as demands on the systems increase.

Thorsten Bollig comments, “The IBM Flex System solution scales up to the meet the future demands of our business, and will be particularly important when we integrate the water utility into our operations.”

Future-proof investment
Regionalgas Euskirchen estimates that the cost of deploying the Flex System solution was around 10 percent lower than the main competing solution. In the long term, the company expects the virtualized solution to cut energy costs by 20 percent, reduce maintenance costs, and help postpone costly investments in new hardware. Cutting operational costs helps Regionalgas Euskirchen provide better value energy to its customers, and beat competitors to new business.

Oliver Moritz concludes, “We are very impressed by the scalability and reliability of the IBM offering. We are confident that the IBM solution will support the current and future demands of our business, and save us money at the same time!”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
Flex System, Flex System running hypervisor - VMware, Flex System x240, Storage, Storage: Tape & Optical Storage, Storage: TS3100 Tape Library, System Networking, System Networking: IBM RackSwitch G8124E, System x, System x: System x3650 M4

Software:
IBM Notes, IBM Domino

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013. IBM Deutschland GmbH. IBM-Allee 1. 71139 Ehningen. ibm.com/de. IBM Österreich. Obere Donaustrasse 95. 1020 Wien. ibm.com/at. IBM Schweiz. Vulkanstrasse 106. 8010 Zürich. ibm.com/ch. Produced in Germany. September 2013. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Domino, IBM Flex System, Notes, RackSwitch, System Storage and System x 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 IBM and stepIT.net are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor stepIT.net makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. 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.