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Improve Business Operations With SAP HANA

SAP HANA Data
Illustration by Chris Labrooy

Data, data everywhere, but what the heck to do with it? Well, with big data solutions such as SAP HANA—plenty.

The ERP provides libraries for predictive planning, text processing, and spatial and business analytics, giving information new, in-context life. The SAP HANA in-memory database, for example, allows users to run advanced analytics alongside near-real time high-speed transactions, providing accurate, up-to-date responses in fractions of a second.

Outstanding Customer Service

What does this mean for the average business? A great deal. For example, retailers such as the Künzelsau, Germany-headquartered Würth Group—a global leader in the assembly and distribution of fasteners and related tools—work in industries that combine high volumes, low margins and intense competition.

Würth Group, which traditionally relied on direct, face-to-face sales to its 3 million professional customers worldwide, knew it had to also transition to e-commerce and e-procurement. The ability to move at speed was key to providing a seamless retail environment, especially for customers who have become accustomed to web-based transactions.

To meet that need, the company supports an extensive SAP ERP application and database landscape, including a large SAP Business Warehouse application running on IBM Power Systems*. Knowing the company needed a further solution to meet its long-term goals, it also decided to deploy SAP HANA.

Its initial SAP HANA installation, however, ran on scale-out x86 processor-based clusters. Managing the cluster servers consumed a considerable amount of time and effort. Because this was somewhat antithetical to its desired speed and responsiveness objectives, the company chose instead to move its SAP HANA deployment to Power Systems in a scale-up configuration, running on SUSE Linux* Enterprise Server for SAP Applications.

Since completing this migration, the Würth Group is now more capable of rapidly responding to market conditions with its ERP system. The company also cut the number of SAP HANA servers by 86%, thereby reducing infrastructure complexity and decreasing update times to its solution stack, including SAP HANA software, by 43%. The company now has the flexibility and power to simultaneously reduce operating costs and increase profit margins, while also providing outstanding customer service.

Time to Insight

Another organization that has taken advantage of the power of both SAP HANA and Power Systems is Aryzta, a Zurich, Switzerland-based supplier of baked goods to global foodservice, retail and quick-service restaurant sectors.

And as with every business, it has obligations that are unique to its industry. For instance, consumers are paying closer attention to what goes in their foods, often checking on whether ingredients have been ethically and sustainably sourced or if they include specific ingredients they’d prefer to avoid. As a result, food manufacturers such as Aryzta are facing increased pressure to track, analyze and share information about products throughout the supply chain, from manufacturing to delivery.

To keep up with this, Aryzta explored several possible solutions and ultimately decided to deploy the SAP Business Warehouse powered by the SAP HANA application. This new infrastructure is hosted by Freudenberg IT (FIT). The servers are virtualized using IBM PowerVM*, which allows Aryzta to run multiple virtual machines (VMs) within a single server, as well as take advantage of server-to-server Live Partition Mobility to ensure uptime even during infrastructure maintenance windows.

The VMs are also configured to provide individual processor, memory, network and storage resources to increase system response in the most cost-efficient manner, while optimizing SAP HANA licensing. This has greatly accelerated Aryzta’s time to insight, including for ingredients tracking. Because of this, it can now deliver product details more swiftly and efficiently across its supply chain.

A Bold Decision

Speed is indeed one of the defining measures of SAP HANA, assisting organizations around the globe in making better, more informed decisions when decisions have to be made yesterday. The Singapore-based UOL Group—a real estate company operating shopping malls, offices and hotels—needed to collate and analyze data relating to its properties to improve company performance and better meet customers’ needs.

To further facilitate greater efficiency and productivity in data analysis, the company began looking for an updated technology solution, including both software and hardware. In terms of the former, UOL Group managed many operational functions—including finance, procurement and materials management—using its core SAP ERP applications.

To accelerate the critical analysis of its SAP data, the company decided to migrate its entire SAP ERP landscape to the SAP HANA database. And because it was simultaneously due for a hardware upgrade, it deployed three Power Systems servers, which are virtualized using PowerVM and run the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications OS.

This bold decision to move its entire SAP presence to SAP HANA on Power Systems resulted in significant database performance improvements for UOL Group, with reports running faster than ever previously experienced and with performance up by an average of 30%. At the same time, upgrading to new Power Systems servers has resulted in a consolidation of two racks to one, reducing its carbon footprint by 50% and energy consumption by roughly 65%.

Boosting SAP Performance

Notably, commercial operations aren’t the only operational types that can take advantage of the speed and planning and analytics properties of SAP HANA, although the end results may be similar. Take the Danish Ministry of Defence, the mission of which is to protect Denmark and its national interests.

Much planning and administration takes place behind the scenes to make sure military operations are completed on time. As part of that goal, the ministry heavily relies on a core set of SAP systems to make sure, for example, it can get vital supplies and equipment to troops when they need them.

All of its data—including everything from logistics and finance to HR—was stored in an SAP Business Warehouse. But to keep its back-end operations in top form, the ministry needed to boost performance of all of its SAP applications. To that end, it decided to move its SAP Business Warehouse application to the SAP HANA database, which would help it meet its reporting requirements.

In the past, reports would encroach on production time, leaving some people waiting on reports before they could begin their core duties. Now, thanks to the move to the SAP HANA database running on Power Systems, reports are ready for use four hours early, before people even show up for work. This move to SAP HANA also dramatically improved system response time by up to 50%.

Taming Data

Data isn’t a static portrait of the past anymore. It’s now much more dynamic, and the proper solutions can fuse “then,” “now” and “the future” into an energetic representation of transparent cross-organization operations.

So, although both the amount and frequency of data is growing, users don’t have to be intimidated by it. Tools such as SAP HANA can help users tame and gain additional insight from data—and with speed, thanks to the capability of Power Systems servers, to simplify and accelerate SAP HANA environments.

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at jjutsler@provide.net.



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