SAP Solutions in a Private Cloud

Picture: K+S

The basis for Cloud Computing Services

K+S ranks among the world’s leading suppliers of standard and specialty fertilizers. With operations in Europe as well as North and South America, K+S is the world’s largest producer of salt in terms of production capacity.

The goals of the K+S Group are what drive its IT strategy. Close cooperation between the IT organization and business units results in IT solutions that support both integration of the units and expansion. The K+S Group now ranks among the world’s leading suppliers of standard and specialty fertilizers and is committed to a strategy of healthy, sustainable growth. Of course, the company’s IT resources also have to keep pace with this growth. And that applies especially to the area of SAP applications.

K+S IT-Services GmbH (formerly data process GmbH) is the K+S Group’s IT arm. Its IT architects formulated a set of principles to describe what they consider ideal SAP operation – permanent availability of services, consistently optimal performance and adequate capacity. In other words, they wanted all services to be available on all servers at all times. The project managers of K+S IT-Services GmbH accepted that challenge. They started out with the virtualization of the IT environment and then went on to create an internal cloud infrastructure by setting up virtual pools of resources.

Rapid availability of resources and improved economy

K+S IT-Services GmbH, the in-house IT service provider, bears considerable responsibility since it offers its services to Group companies worldwide. The Kassel-based IT team originally handled SAP applications for all worldwide locations of the K+S Group with a conventional IT infrastructure. However, this structure was less than ideal since the dynamic growth of the Group constantly required changes and modifications in the applications and the server systems. These could be accommodated only with considerable effort and took time, which meant additional cost and compromises in service quality. As a result, K+S IT-Services GmbH switched to FlexFrame for SAP – to be able to respond more rapidly to changes in business requirements, to reduce administrative expense and, not least of all, to achieve significant cost economies.

The decision to deploy a dynamic infrastructure was made after an in-depth analysis of possible solutions. The team, headed by CIO Dr. Ulrich Lamp, assessed the potential benefits of FlexFrame for SAP in the context of a series of tests that were carried out before the pilot project was launched and numerous SAP systems went into productive operation. Further milestones then followed – for example, the release change to ECC 6.0 under Linux and migration of all SAP systems to FlexFrame for SAP. Finally, the introduction of the Adaptive Computing Controller and integration of VMware into FlexFrame for SAP gave the customer an additional array of efficient tools that permit optimal use of computing resources.

The dynamic way to do business 

Agility is needed to compete in any marketplace. After all, growth and globalization call for dynamic business processes and the ability to realign operational structures whenever necessary. However, this sets other changes in motion, and these must be taken in a company’s IT landscape into account, which requires a stable platform. In the case of the K+S Group, the conventional SAP landscape was becoming increasingly complex. The administrative effort required to handle cluster technology, backups, desktops, mobile systems, and even the branch locations that had to be integrated into the Group-wide SAP IT infrastructure was enormous. Maintenance of high-availability operation to support the needs of users with this type of architecture ties up personnel resources and can devour a substantial share of a company’s overall IT budget. K+S IT-Services GmbH opted to address this situation through radical modernization and formulated four major requirements:

Implementation of a 2-site configuration for all productive systems

Internal definition of RTOs

High availability for all SAP systems

Lower operating costs

Long-term competitiveness with technology from FUJITSU

K+S’ IT decision-makers found the dynamic infrastructure solution they were looking for in FlexFrame for SAP. When they opted to deploy FlexFrame for SAP, cost economy and improved maintenance were not the only considerations they took into account. The agility required to respond to changes in business requirements was a factor that was equally important. Of course, they based their decision on in-depth analysis of solutions and tests. Today, all SAP systems – an impressive 120 in all – have been migrated to FlexFrame. A total of 40 SAP lines are running on 136 PRIMERGY blade and stand-alone servers. These servers are not mirrored over the data centers, but are both productive. Two FlexFrame control nodes, servers and storage are distributed over two physically separate locations.

This approach provides 100% protection against outages and avoids the cost of a standby environment. Recent integration of VMware into FlexFrame for SAP and the introduction of the Adaptive Computing Controller (ACC) also contribute to the quality of the centralized SAP environment. The SAP world of the K+S Group is now completely virtualized, and deployment of the ACC has significantly simplified administration of the SAP IT infrastructure. Some 5,000 users throughout the entire K+S group now benefit from an extremely stable platform and unlimited availability of SAP services.

First “private cloud” on the market

With its combination of FlexFrame for SAP and VMware ESX, K+S IT-Services GmbH created the first and only solution on the market to feature virtualization at both the hardware and application levels. And, as was to be expected, this extremely dynamic IT solution produced impressive results. For example, all SAP systems could easily be gradually migrated to FlexFrame for SAP. The administrators quickly became familiar with the dynamic IT infrastructure, which meant, for example, that several release changes could be handled within a short time frame without the slightest problem. To be the first to strike out in new direction and deploy new ideas is typical of the IT architects of K+S IT-Services GmbH. And success proved them right. System Engineer Data Center Marco Blüse, who is the spokesman for the FlexFrame for SAP panel within the Fujitsu Users Association, expressed his enthusiasm over the beneficial effects of the IT cloud:

“With Flexframe for  SAP and Primergy Blade Server technology from FUJITSU, we were able to pave the way for a high level of virtualization and create our own private cloud. We’re looking forward to the savings that will  result from the  reduction in complexity at the application level. Plus, we’re more agile than ever before since we can now align IT resources as a function operational requirement in next to no time at all.”

This new-found flexibility is paying off for the world’s leading supplier of standard and specialty fertilizers in the form of more effective everyday business processes. FlexFrame for SAP now makes it much easier to make the changes and modifications in applications that affect the underlying server systems.


About Fujitsu:

Fujitsu is the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT) company and offers a full range of technology products, solutions and services. As an SAP Global Partner, Fujitsu provides optimized infrastructures, services and consulting for SAP projects. Offerings such as FlexFrame™ for SAP®, Managed SAP IT Infrastructure and Fujitsu Power Appliance for SAP HANA increase flexibility and availability and reduce time and costs involved in the implementation and operation of SAP systems. In addition, Fujitsu was also a winner of the 2012 SAP Pinnacle Awards