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With an expanding data center and frequent system outages, Baldor Electric migrated to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z to establish a more streamlined, highly available platform for its mission-critical SAP applications. The company consolidated its data center by 80 percent and reduced downtime costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Baldor Electric Company, located in Fort Smith, Arkansas, markets, designs and manufactures industrial electric motors, power transmission products, drives and generators. The company employs 8,000 people and sells to distributors and original equipment manufacturers in more than 70 countries. With revenues of $1.8 billion, Baldor has 28 manufacturing facilities in the US, UK and China and sales locations throughout the world.


Baldor Electric was rapidly adding new applications and servers to support new business opportunities, as well as the recent acquisition of its largest competitor. The company’s small IT staff was challenged to manage its growing data center and to keep pace with both its UNIX and Microsoft Windows environments.

Baldor’s centralized data center runs SAP Business Suite for all its mission-critical operations. Downtime was a serious issue as the company was experiencing 5-8 outages per year, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. To improve the stability and availability of its systems, Baldor wanted to standardize on a single Linux platform running on an IBM mainframe.


Baldor evaluated Red Hat Enterprise Linux, but ultimately selected SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z based on the strong Novell partnerships with IBM and SAP.

“We chose Linux over UNIX or Microsoft Windows because we wanted to standardize on an operating platform that would run on any kind of hardware,” said Mark Shackelford, vice president of Information Services at Baldor Electric. “We also needed a Linux provider with strong partnerships with IBM and SAP. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server reduces the complexity in our environment with a solid, stable platform that never goes down.”

Baldor runs SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on a single IBM System z mainframe with failover capabilities that have greatly increased uptime. Using z/VM for virtualization, the IT staff runs 50 virtual servers on its mainframe and has replaced more than 100 physical machines. The company has consolidated its 6,000-square-foot corporate data center to just 900 square feet.

“With a centralized data center for our global operations, we can’t afford a minute of downtime,” said Shackelford. “Running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z has reduced the complexity of our environment and gives us zero downtime. We have yet to experience any kind of production outage which saves us hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.”

More than 4,300 internal users and hundreds of customers use the company’s SAP portals and applications for manufacturing, sales, distribution, HR, financials, business warehousing and more.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z helps the company process more than one million transactions a day with an average response time of less than a second. As a large SAP user, Baldor also uses SUSE Linux Enterprise Server with Priority Support for SAP so it can funnel all support requests through Novell.

“SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Priority Support for SAP gives us a single point of contact for our support issues,” said Shackelford. “It’s clear that we made the right decision to move to a mainframe environment and we find that SAP runs much better on Linux than anything other platform.”

Moving to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z has greatly reduced IT administration costs as the company now has fewer servers and a single Linux skill set. A Linux platform also provides a standardized environment for integration as the company continues to grow through acquisitions.

“SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z gives us the flexibility to handle expansion, without having to add more headcount,” said Shackelford. “We can be responsive to our business with the ability to add a new virtual server in about 20 minutes.”


SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z gives Baldor high availability for its mission-critical SAP systems and has eliminated downtime costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Consolidating its data center with a mainframe not only reduced server complexity, but also reduced energy consumption by 80 percent for a greener IT environment.

Standardizing on Linux allows Baldor to grow rapidly, whether providing new applications to the business or integrating newly acquired companies, without the need for additional head count. The company estimates that SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z paid for itself in a matter of months and has helped reduce overall IT spend from 1.8 percent of sales to just 1 percent.

“Our goal is to deliver business value at a reduced cost–that is what is important to shareholders,” said Shackelford. “Without Novell, we would have to hire a lot more people to manage our growth. Instead, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server helps us do more with less.”

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