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Eisenwerk Brühl GmbH

By migrating its central file server to Novell Open Enterprise Server running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, Eisenwerk Brühl gained capacity and performance at low incremental cost.

About Eisenwerk Brühl GmbH

With 1,380 employees and annual revenues of about €300 million, Eisenwerk Brühl GmbH is the leading supplier of cast-iron cylinder blocks and cylinder heads to the automotive industry in Europe and beyond. The company combines more than 80 years of experience with the latest technologies to deliver high-quality engine parts to major manufacturers globally.

Challenge

Automotive manufacturers typically operate according to the just-in-time principle, and expect their supply chain partners to deliver the right quantity of components at precisely the right time in the manufacturing cycle. As margins in manufacturing are tight, suppliers like Eisenwerk Brühl try to keep their own inventory to a minimum, matching output to their customers' delivery schedules—day or night.

With three full work shifts every 24 hours, Eisenwerk Brühl has extremely low tolerance for IT system downtime. Even a small break in availability could mean failure to deliver parts to a customer on time, with significant downstream consequences and reputational damage. To ensure that it can always provide the highest standards of service to its demanding customer-base, Eisenwerk Brühl has made considerable investments in strengthening and protecting its IT systems.

Even outside the core manufacturing and logistics management systems, demands for availability and reliability are high. When its existing file server could no longer deliver the necessary capacity and performance, Eisenwerk Brühl needed to migrate rapidly and reliably to a new platform.

Novell Solution

Eisenwerk Brühl chose to migrate to Novell Open Enterprise Server running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server with built-in Xen virtualisation technology. By opting for a solution based on server virtualisation, the company was able to continue running an older operating system not compatible with its new Dell PowerEdge server.

"It was important to achieve a rapid migration with low risk and minimal disruption to normal business operations," said Christian Reinecke, IT Manager, Eisenwerk Brühl GmbH. "Selecting Novell Open Enterprise Server allowed us to re-use our existing Novell eDirectory™ system with no reconfiguration, helping us to complete the migration quickly and at low cost."

Faced with the challenge of migrating a business-critical system within a limited window of opportunity, Eisenwerk Brühl turned to CONET Solutions GmbH for assistance. CONET analysed the existing environment, then planned and executed the migration, including the creation of the new virtualised server environment. The migration of the 400GB file server took 56 hours, and required just five hours of planned downtime—ensuring minimal disruption to business activity.

"The meticulous planning and execution carried out by CONET Solutions GmbH was a key success factor in our migration to Novell Open Enterprise Server," said Reinecke. "CONET precisely tailored the solution to our requirements, and the project staff completed the migration inside the expected timeframe—an excellent result."

As part of the migration, CONET set up the new file server to have the same network identity as the server it replaced. This saved time and effort by eliminating the need to revise the configuration, ensuring that the existing user terminals could continue to connect to the shared drives.

The migration to Novell Open Enterprise Server has enabled Eisenwerk Brühl to increase the capacity and performance of its existing shared data storage facilities while opening up new possibilities for the future on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

"Our decision to move to Linux was based on the expectation that it would offer better performance, reliability and availability than a comparable solution from Microsoft," said Reinecke. "This has certainly been reflected in our experience: in the first 100 days of operation on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, we have had no downtime—planned or unplanned."

Results

The move to Novell Open Enterprise Server running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server has given Eisenwerk Brühl a stable, flexible, high-performance platform for shared file storage.

"We have seen significant improvements in file serving performance with Novell Open Enterprise Server, and there are no longer any capacity issues on the network," said Reinecke. "In general terms, better file server performance translates into improved productivity for staff, who are no longer frustrated by delays in accessing shared data."

The adoption of Xen virtualisation made it possible for Eisenwerk Brühl to support a legacy system on the latest-generation server hardware. The ability to divorce the operating system from the physical hardware in this manner will also make it faster and easier to add new servers in the future.

"Xen virtualisation on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server has improved our flexibility and speed of response to new business requirements without adding to the cost of the solution," said Reinecke. "This solution represented the fastest and most cost-effective migration path open to us, and the results have been highly satisfactory."

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