Power8 Upgrade Yields Processing Dividends for Growing SAP Shop
October 21, 2015 Alex Woodie
One of the great things about the IBM i platform is how it grows and adapts to the companies that use it. Businesses can start with a small Power Systems server, and as the scale of their operations grows over the course of years, they can expand their IBM i processing footprints in a relatively easy manner. This pattern has played out time and time again, and the latest to use it is the German distributor HANSA-FLEX.
Based in Bremen, Germany, HANSA-FLEX is one of Europe’s top distributors of hydraulic parts. The $450 million company maintains a catalog of 95,000 hydraulic parts, such as pumps, fittings, clamps, and hose mounts that are critical across a number of industries. HANSA-FLEX strives to ensure delivery of those parts within 24 hours of a customer order through its FLEXXPRESS fleet of delivery vehicles dispatched from 393 branches in 36 countries.
This business model has been successful for HANSA-FLEX, and as a result it’s been expanding in recent years. However, with that growth has come challenges for the IT department tasked with maintaining the SAP applications that automate its business processes.
“Over seven years of business growth, our production database has tripled in size to almost 9 TB, and performance was beginning to suffer,” HANSA-FLEX head of IT Jürgen Kaemena says in an IBM case study. “To minimize disruption and improve and maintain high levels of customer service, we had to create a more flexible environment that would support our growth.”
The company decided to upgrade the hardware underlying its SAP environment, which consisted of SAP ERP, Human Capital Management, Global Trade Services, Business Warehouse, Process Orchestration, Process Integration, and NetWeaver MDM applications. The company decided to deploy two IBM Power System S824 servers running IBM i 7.2 to run the applications, and a combination of FlashSystem 840, Storwize V7000, and IBM SAN96B-5 for the storage layer.
“Our previous server landscape, which was based on larger, monolithic servers, needed regular upgrades, which could lead to downtime,” said Thomas Becker, team manager SAP basis and infrastructure at the distributor. “Now we have a more flexible, modular configuration, where we can expand capacity as needed with minimal impact on our 12 production systems.”
The combination of the powerful Power8-based servers along with the virtualized storage infrastructure has had a big impact on the performance of HANSA-FLEX’s production applications.
According to Becker, response times improved by 56 percent, background tasks improved 55 percent, and database processing jumped by 70 percent. Meanwhile, an enhancement to the IBM i Java environment “speeds up all our SAP applications noticeably from the point of view of the end users,” he says.
“With help from BLUE STEC, we completed the upgrade to IBM i 7.2 on the IBM Power 8 system without issues,” Kaemena said. “Our SAP applications have been running very reliably since the upgrade and performance has improved significantly.”