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13 December 2010  
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Case Study

Marico deploys RHEL for SAP ERP

FMCG manufacturer reduced IT costs by 50 percent and increased performance by migrating mission-critical SA P applications to Red Hat Enterprise Linux. By Rajendra Chaudhary

Girish Rao,
"We didn't want any support level issues to arise due to co-existence of heterogeneous systems with both Windows and UNIX"

In 2001, Marico, the FMCG company, grabbed headlines of the every single enterprise IT media publication when it successfully deployed a massive SAP installation comprising of SAP ERP, mySAP SCM, the SAP Advanced Planning & Optimization (SAP APO) suite and mySAP Business Intelligence solution. What was even more astonishing was that the company had completed the task of deploying the project all at once in a big bang manner within a short span of nine months,

In the years to come, the initiative delivered on all counts helping the company streamline operations and lower its supply chain costs. It helped Marico improve forecasting and planning exercises and even laid the groundwork for other major developments, including technology-supported partnerships with major distributors and vendor-managed inventory (VMI).

However, by 2008, the ERP had begun showing signs of fatigue. Although it still supported Marico’s mission-critical operational needs, around late 2008, Girish Rao, Head-IT, Marico began contemplating an upgrade. “It was about time,” said Girish Rao. “We had been using the ERP for almost a decade and our business had grown tremendously between 2001 and 2008. We just wanted to make sure that our ERP was up-to-date with the latest, so that we could maintain our excellent operational standards. The upgrade to the latest version of the SAP would’ve ensured that for us.”

However, implementation of the new version of SAP meant that Marico would have to invest significantly in newer computing resources. The Intel Itanium 2-based hardware platform that the ERP ran on was about five years old. Using the same hardware to support the upgraded ERP would not have been the best thing to do for Marico, as it would have led to performance issues. Plus there was also a chance that some of the newer functionalities would not have run properly.

“Running the ERP on the old hardware platform would have defeated the whole purpose of the exercise and so we decided against it. We took a call that we would upgrade the hardware platform first, and then upgrade the ERP software,” said Rao.

Calculating the total cost of ownership of the project, Marico realized that it became enormously high with HP-UX based servers for both application, as well as database tier. It was a “No-Go”. Now, Marico had to look for an alternative solution that would keep the TCO well within control, but at the same time wouldn’t compromise on other parameters such as performance, reliability, and scalability of the solution.

It was then that the Marico IT team initiated the process of evaluating alternative operating platforms.

In search of a cost-effective combination of operating system and hardware platforms, Rao’s team came across the recently launched Intel Nehalem processor based servers running a Linux operating system on top. The Nehalem processor based-servers from HP were up to the mark when we weighed them on parameters like performance and scalability with that of HP’s servers based on the RISC architecture. Marico opted for the former as its hardware platform of choice for the SAP application tier.

The Marico’s team decided to implement a hybrid hardware infrastructure that would leave its Oracle databases on the original HP-UX platform and migrate its remaining systems, including SAP, to its Nehalem-based platform.

Now, all that Rao needed was an appropriate operating system for the Nehalem servers.

Rao ruled out Microsoft Windows since he didn’t want any support level issues to arise due to co-existence of heterogeneous systems with both Windows and UNIX. Instead, he evaluated two flavors of Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Novell SUSE Linux. Red Hat Enterprise Linux was an an ideal fit as it not only met the criteria of performance, reliability, scalability, and cost-effectiveness, but it also allowed Marico to take advantage of the collaborative support structure that exists for SAP implementations on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and avoid proprietary vendor lock-in.

Talking about the implementation at Marico, Satish Pai, Systems Administrator Manager, Marico said, “Implementation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux was one of the key milestones in our IT deployments as it was the first time Marico was implementing a Linux-based open source solution. We chose Red Hat because we felt that it was stable, secure, and had better support structure than SUSE Linux. Additionally, there were many success stories of SAP implementations on Red Hat Enterprise Linux all over the world, which encouraged us to select Red Hat,” he added.

As a result of SAP’s commitment to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system as a long-term strategic supported platform for SAP customers worldwide, Marico was assured that the end-user solution would have end-to-end support — from the hardware, through to the operating system and the business applications.

The migration of Marico’s mission-critical SAP applications to Red Hat Enterprise Linux was completed in one month, and has since exhibited exceptional stability—a strong testament to the Rao and his team at Marico.

“With Red Hat, we were able to extract tremendous value from our systems and applications. Red Hat freed us from vendor lock-in, and enabled our organization to choose commodity hardware platforms that delivered flexibility and high performance,” said Pai.

Red Hat solutions also allowed Marico to lower its IT costs by 50 percent, simplify its management, reduce systems maintenance, and increase scalability and performance with SAP Business Suite. “Red Hat solutions allow you to extract more from your systems to generate excellent performance at a very low cost. We estimate a reduction of at least 50 percent in the total cost of ownership due to the migration exercise,’ averred Pai.

A large portion of Marico’s cost savings resulted from the elimination of software licensing fees that are standard with proprietary vendors and the hardware cost due to the usage of RISC-based architecture.

“We make our IT decisions after thoroughly examining and understanding the potential impact on our business, performance requirements, and the net impact on our operating costs. In that sense, running SAP Business Suite applications on Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform delivers maximum value to our business enabling business growth,” said Girish Rao.

According to Rao, given the success he has enjoyed with RHEL, he is now planning to consider Red Hat Enterprise Linux for its database layer, which is currently running on HP-UX. Thoroughly impressed by the stability and the performance of the Red Hat system, Marico is also evaluating migrating other applications on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Overall, Red Hat provided Marico with enterprise-class solutions at an affordable price without any compromise on performance and scalability.

Project Snapshot

Company: Marico Ltd.

Industry: FMCG / Wellness & Beauty Solutions.

Business challenge: To design a reliable, stable, high-performance, scalable, and cost-effective SAP-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

Solution: Marico migrated its mission-critical SAP application tier from HP-UX to Red Hat Enterprise Linux and increased flexibility, scalability, and performance while reducing costs.

Software: Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform, SAP Business Suite (R3 and BW), Oracle 10 G DB (Approx. size 1 TB for R3), HP-UX for database

Hardware: HP Blade System C 7000 with BL 860 C (2 Nos. Total 4 CPUs) – For Database tier; HP BL 460 G6 servers (4 Nos. Total 8 CPUs) – For SAP application tier.

Migration path: HP-UX to Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform.

Benefits: Increased flexibility and choice by freeing the organization from vendor lock-in, decreased total cost of ownership (TCO) by 50 percent, simplified management, reduced systems maintenance, increased scalability and performance.




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