Strong Winds from Open Source

With over four million installations worldwide, MySQL has quickly become the world’s most popular open source database. The open source model enables MySQL to perform high-quality development and to market its products at a fraction of the cost of proprietary software. The cost savings are passed directly to customers, contributing to very low TCO. SAP and MySQL have been working jointly on database technologies since 2003. As a result of this co-operation, an enhanced version of the open source database, SAP DB, was released at the end of last year under the name MaxDB by MySQL. MaxDB is an enterprise-grade, open source database that brings performance, reliability, and low cost to the most demanding database applications, including all SAP applications. Nearly 6,000 installations at SAP customers across the world are proof of MaxDB’s enterprise-grade capabilities.

Ready for growth with MaxDB

Enercon GmbH is the leading company in the wind-power market in Germany and has manufactured over 6,000 wind-energy power plants worldwide. The organization has grown rapidly over the last ten years, from a few hundred employees at the beginning of the 1990’s to about 5,500 in 2003. The company uses SAP R/3 to support all its key business activities, from material handling, financial controlling, and production planning to sales and distribution, project management, and maintenance.
In 2002 Enercon saw a need to increase its SAP user base from around 300 to over 700 users. Such growth naturally meant new performance demands on its SAP environment, which was running on Oracle 8.1 and Windows NT at the time. Upgrading the existing infrastructure to handle the new requirements would have demanded a significant investment in software and hardware, so Enercon began to look for a more cost-effective alternative.
At the end of 2002, the company chose MaxDB and Linux as the new platform for its SAP environment. The primary reasons for this choice included reduced database software costs, decreased downtimes, easier administration and training, and lower support costs.

Measurable cost savings

Breakdown of Database Software TCO
Breakdown of Database Software TCO

In general, license costs are only one component of the total cost of software. In a recent study, IDC found that licenses represent only 15 per cent of the total cost of deploying a database application. The hardware represents 17 per cent, staffing 21, and training 19 per cent. A full 28 per cent of the total cost of database deployment is attributed to system downtime. The open source databases MySQL and MaxDB deliver significantly lower TCO through savings in most of these areas.

On the license side, a study by Meta Group comparing database prices shows that MySQL can be at least 90 per cent less expensive than products from other vendors. Even with its enterprise-grade functionality, MaxDB is still 70 per cent less expensive than the competition.
As the case study shows, MaxDB also helped Enercon reduce its costs in others areas, such as downtime, administration, and support. As Enercon was evaluating MaxDB, it talked to two companies that were using MaxDB. Both reported that MaxDB was well-suited to SAP applications and easy to administer. Furthermore, Enercon’s management had grown skeptical of Microsoft’s pricing, which had significantly increased the cost of licenses the previous year, and technicians at Enercon’s IT department preferred Linux as the operating system. All these factors contributed to Enercon’s decision for Linux and MaxDB as the future platform for SAP R/3.

Less downtime and more administrative advantages

The transition to the new platform was handled during a six-month migration project that ended in the summer of 2003. Now, after the first half year, Enercon is very satisfied with its MaxDB platform.
In particular, downtime has been significantly reduced. Before the implementation, Enercon needed to take the system down two hours every week for backup and maintenance. Now, with MaxDB, the system has been running without a restart for six months. This is consistent with the findings of the magazine e-Week. When it stress-tested the top five databases, only two could run the extensive tests for nine hours without crashing, and MySQL was one of them.
Another benefit is the ease of administration. To support database administration, Enercon now has a graphical user interface, something it had previously lacked. Today, it can display the status of the database and check logs in one view. Test environments can be created much easier than ever before. It also feels that MaxDB provides simpler data structures. The ease of MaxDB’s administrative benefits has also been proven at SAP Hosting. This SAP business unit, which provides hosting services for SAP applications on all platforms, estimates that the administrative cost is lower for MaxDB by a factor of two to five times when compared with other databases.
The migration has led to a simplified infrastructure at Enercon. Before it implemented MaxDB, Enercon had a large infrastructure, with excess functionality for which it had no use. Now, despite doubling of the number of users, Enercon feels that its infrastructure is simplified and much more adequate for running its SAP environment.
Finally, ease of use and ease of learning offer additional benefits. Enercon estimates that with MaxDB it can now train a new administrator in one week. It previously took at least three weeks.

One-time and annual savings

Cost savings
Cost savings

Growing from 300 to 700 users on the previous platform would have cost Enercon significantly more than what it actually paid for switching to Linux and MaxDB. The realized one-time savings are nearly 146,000 Euro (see table).

Enercon at a glance
Enercon at a glance

In addition to the one-time savings achieved by deploying MaxDB, annual support costs also became substantially lower. “With MaxDB, we save one third of our hardware costs each year from lower database maintenance fees,” comments Ernst Loesing, IT Director at Enercon. “MaxDB is better optimized for SAP and much easier to learn.”
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Patrik Backman
Patrik Backman