MÜNCHENER VEREIN Implements FlexFrame for SAP

MÜNCHENER VEREIN headquartered in Munich (Photo: MÜNCHENER VEREIN)

Well aware of the importance of efficiency in its area, MV’s IT department actively supports the group’s 800 office employees, 500 field service employees, and around 5,600 other sales partners. As an internal service provider, the department provides specific IT products and services to all of MV’s areas, providing the impetus to improve every business process.

MÜNCHENER VEREIN Versicherungsgruppe
and its three companies – Krankenversicherung a.G., Lebensversicherung a.G., and Allgemeine Versicherungs-AG – cover the entire spectrum of pension schemes and financial services for companies and private individuals. Founded in 1922 as the insurance company of the Bavarian trade association, MV maintains its traditional ties with craftspeople and small to midsize enterprises.

To provide high-quality services, MV has been implementing the industry solution SAP for Insurance in increments since 1998. The group has been officially certified as an SAP Customer Competence Center (SAP CCC) since 2001.

However, Thomas Wolf – project leader and SAP CCC director at MV – and his team can’t rest on their laurels: Every three years, SAP verifies that the group’s technical competence still meets the high standards demanded by SAP. “These checks assure our users of our ongoing commitment to providing them with a high standard of quality,” Wolf says.

The need to ensure these high standards was also a major reason why Wolf and his team decided on FlexFrame for SAP.

New SAP service, new demands on infrastructure

Thomas Wolf, project leader and SAP CCC director at MV (Photo: MÜNCHENER VEREIN)

Following an incremental implementation, MV began using the SAP Incentive and Commission Management for Insurance application to calculate commissions ten years ago. This potent tool placed new performance demands on the group’s server environment.

However, these demands were not the only challenge the group’s IT managers faced. They also needed to migrate MV’s existing SAP environment to the latest release of SAP ERP to set the stage for yet another project: Implementing SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW).

MV decided to go for an all-new server environment. The group’s managers knew that simply expanding their current infrastructure of Windows servers would further increase the environment’s complexity and ultimately fall short of future requirements. The new infrastructure was to be not only highly effective and available – simple administration and the ability to balance load among the servers were also priorities for MV.

Paradigm shift with FlexFrame 4.2A for SAP

The IT experts at MV settled on the SAP-certified infrastructure solution FlexFrame for SAP from Fujitsu Technology Solutions. This represented a paradigm shift for the group – away from strict associations between server resources and applications to a dynamic IT landscape.

The new solution virtualizes SAP software, middleware, and the corresponding operating system and database. It deposits them in a central storage system in the form of images and service directories and allocates them to servers as needed. This enables MV to start and end any service on any server on the FlexFrame network, as well as move services between the individual systems.

Meanwhile, a management software ensures the high availability of MV’s business-critical applications. It recognizes, for example, when a new server is added, restarts SAP instances, and transfers services when errors occur.

Primergy Servers in use

At MV, FlexFrame ControlNode software runs on two clustered Primergy RX300 S3 rack servers housed in separate data-center rooms for security reasons. MV also uses the Primergy RX300 series for its application and database servers – three of each per location.

Male controlling PRIMERGY Server with Pocket LOOX (Photo: Fujitsu Technology Solutions)

Two NetApp filers connected to the server systems through an IP network serve as MV’s central storage system, thus providing backup redundancy for the group’s business-critical applications. Should a server fail at one location, a replacement system automatically springs into action; in the event of an entire location’s failure, the second location can keep MV’s operations running.

“FlexFrame for SAP has helped us achieve significant performance increases – including a roughly three-fold improvement in SAP commissions and around 40 percent in SAP NetWeaver BW – but that’s not all,” reports Wolf. “Even more importantly, our applications now have the high level of availability we need; after all, an insurance company can’t have services like commissions calculation fail.”

Smooth transition to new IT infrastructure

With the help of Fujitsu Technology Solutions, MV quickly implemented the new infrastructure solution to facilitate the seamless implementation of SAP NetWeaver BW in MV’s capital investment product area directly thereafter.

MV needed a total of just four months for the project, including go-live. The data warehouse application was ready on time, and the roughly 110 users have had virtually no problems working with the solution since the first day it went live.

“Similar projects take around a year,” says Wolf.

A special challenge the company faced was that the SAP products had to be linked to other applications tailored to MV’s needs, which had to be integrated into the new solution as well.

Interfaces and future outlook

MV also spent time safeguarding important external interfaces that deliver data on capital investment and controlling to organizations such as Bloomberg. This information always has to be up-to-date. “From the very beginning, FlexFrame for SAP was well attuned to adjacent systems,” Wolf says.

With its new solution, MV is ready for the future. It will be able to expand the system as required without the need for major reconfiguration or costly tests.

As director of the group’s SAP CCC, Thomas Wolf will appreciate not having to consider a new infrastructure solution for MV’s SAP environment anytime soon: With its seamless scalability, FlexFrame for SAP is able to support up to several thousand users.