Following significant growth in its SAP ERP environment, Vonpar decided to implement a new hardware landscape and migrate from Microsoft Windows to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, using Xen virtualization to simplify administration while reducing hardware and software licensing costs.
Established in 1945, Vonpar is one of Brazil's largest Coca-Cola franchises. Operating in the states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, the company employs 2,500 people to manufacture and distribute approximately 67 million liters of product to more than 60,000 customers each month. The company enjoys a 56.4 percent market share in its region, and generates annual revenues of 1.2 billion Reais (US$ 700 million).
To manage the manufacturing and distribution of Coca-Cola to thousands of businesses across southern Brazil, Vonpar relies on a suite of SAP ERP applications. When the company decided to introduce a number of new SAP modules, its computing requirements increased from 2,800 SAPS to 12,000. As a result, its existing Windows and Intel infrastructure was no longer able to deliver sufficient performance.
"We decided to go back to square one and redesign our IT architecture for SAP," said Alexandre Leite, IT Infrastructure Manager at Vonpar. "We chose three new servers based on AMD Opteron 8000-series technology, each of which could hold up to eight six-core processors. We also began evaluating alternatives to Microsoft Windows, because we wanted to avoid having to install so many security updates and patches all the time."
As a secondary objective, Vonpar was keen to reduce IT costs. The IT team saw virtualization as a good option, and decided to investigate the different technologies on the market.
"For some time, we had been convinced that business-critical IT systems such as our core ERP data bases ought to run in a Linux environment," said Leite. "We had been using Linux in a number of smaller systems and were impressed with its resilience, security and performance—so we were ready to take the next step and move our main applications onto a Linux platform. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server was our preferred option, because of the enterprise-class support from Novell, and the fact that Xen virtualization is built in to the operating system."
The Vonpar IT team migrated its SAP applications and data bases from Windows into eight virtualized SUSE Linux Enterprise Server environments on three of the new servers.
"The great advantage of using Xen virtualization is enhanced flexibility," said Leite. "If we decide to add new hardware or move to a different type of server, we can easily migrate the virtual environments, without worrying too much about drivers and compatibility. In most cases, we can also expand our virtual servers without incurring additional software licensing costs, so we can grow more cost-effectively."
Looking at Vonpar's entire infrastructure, the IT team now only needs to deal with 12 physical servers, instead of 18 separate machines.
"Even though we have expanded our SAP environment and introduced many new applications, we actually spend less time on hardware maintenance," said Leite. "We only have one member of the team working on full-time infrastructure support, which means that the rest of our IT staff can focus on adding value in other areas."
Vonpar is also using SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Priority Support for SAP applications, which gives the company a single source of support for both the operating system and the SAP applications themselves. In the event of a software-related problem, the company can quickly get access to the top experts at Novell and SAP via the SAP Solution Manager interface, and gain a swift resolution.
Migrating the SAP environment to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server has made a significant contribution to the performance, reliability and security of Vonpar's new IT infrastructure.
"SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is an excellent operating system in every respect," said Leite. "Compared to our previous Windows solution, the performance is outstanding, and there is much less need to worry about whether the system is protected against viruses and malicious attacks."
Looking at the total cost of ownership of the new solution, Vonpar's choice of Xen virtualization has proven its value.
"By allowing us to run numerous SAP application instances on each physical server, the Xen virtualization technology within SUSE Linux Enterprise Server has reduced our hardware costs by around 75 percent," said Leite. "We also need fewer licenses, which has reduced software costs by 20 percent too. With fewer physical servers, our electricity bills are approximately 12.5 percent lower than before."
With fewer servers to manage, Vonpar's IT team spends less time on hardware maintenance and administration.
"We haven't measured this precisely, but the perception in the department is that since migrating to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, we are spending 10 or 20 percent less time on basic administration work," said Leite. "The IT team is happy because they can now concentrate on more interesting and rewarding projects, and as a result, we estimate that productivity across the department has increased by around 30 percent."