HDS Andreas Kranabitl (l.), head of IT at the international commercial group at Spar and Horst Heftberger (r.), Managing Director at Hitachi Data System in Austria.
Andreas Kranabitl (l.), head of IT at the international commercial group at Spar and Horst Heftberger (r.), Managing Director at Hitachi Data System in Austria.
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E-3 Cover Story Jun 2014: Perfectly Combined ~ SAP-User and HDS

In Spar IT, Andreas Kranabitl is developing a visionary SAP Hana concept together with Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and Imtech as the trusted advisor.

Spar Austria has its own IT company for national shops as well as the neighbouring foreign subsidiaries. Spar Austria Information and Communication Services (ICS)is directed by CEO Andreas Kranabitl. ICS provides IT and communicationservices for Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Croatia. This year, Spar looks back at 60 successful years as an Austrian specialist in retail.

At the same time, the company is facing especially forward-thinking challenges, which it expects at the IT level, particularly in the form of big data. More than ever, the retail sector faces a rapidly increasing abundanceof data and at the same time is dependent on a short-term real-time analysisof the same data.

Therefore, IT CEO Kranabitl places his trust in the futureon the world’s largest SAP Hana solution in the retail sector. Inspired by thereal-time enterprise vision of SAP cofounder and supervisory board chairmanHasso Plattner, Kranabitl prepared a roadmap for real-time retail.

The infrastructure for the SAP Hana concept comes from HDS; the Unified Compute Platform is one of the key elements which enables companies to dealwith large quantities of data. An HDS converged scale-out solution guaranteesthe future security of the IT architecture at Spar.

At the moment, the solution deliversstorage capacities up to 150 TB. Kranabitl has a precise concept for his SAP Hana infrastructure: optimum scalability, straightforward architecture, speed, flexibility and finally short-term implementation.

The decision to work with HDS wasnot made by chance. Previously, CEO Kranabitl placed his trust in the expertise of Imtech ICT Austria, especially during the complex proposal and evaluation phase. This IT service provider is a longterm partner of Spar and one of the leading SAP Hana specialists in Europe.

Spar is not only one of the most successful companies in its industry, it also places a huge value onmaximum customer satisfaction and quality. In Spar IT, Andreas Kranabitl is developing a visionary SAP Hana concept together with Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and Imtech as the trusted advisor.

Already three years ago, Imtech took the stage together with Red Bull at the Sapphire Madrid event and presented theworld’s first SAP Business Warehouseon the SAP Hana database. Sincethen, Imtech has gathered experienceat numerous SAP Hana projects and isnow considered the leading SAP Hana trusted advisor. Thus, the selection of Hitachi Data Systems as the server and storage supplier is based on hard facts, a great deal of work and an ultimately perfect offer for Spar.

It was time for action: “Naturally SAP Hana was on the strategic radar of Spar IT,” said Kranabitl in an interview with E-3 editor-in-chief Peter Faerbinger. “In a strategy project in February 2013, the potential of SAP Hana became clear and we understood the opportunity to deliver optimum solutions for upcoming projects with SAP Hana. The planned expansion of the old SAP business warehousesystem was no longer an option at this stage for an innovation-driven company.”

Therefore, as a first step, thedecision was reached to work togetherwith Imtech to migrate the SAP businesswarehouse infrastructure on to HitachiData Systems servers and storagetechnology. The tailored solution wassuccessful along the entire line and willmake sure that the abundance of datawhich Spar possesses will be efficientlythat and used.

In this perfectly combined project plan,Imtech is the trusted advisor, but werethere criteria which clearly spoke for Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)?

“Hitachi Data Systems already put a convincing,sustainable and complete solutionon the table in its first offer,” praised IT CEO Kranabitl. “The entire packageheld up during every further evaluationand ultimately won over with itsconvincingness.”

In close collaborationwith Imtech, Hitachi Data Systems wasable to convince Spar IT of the performanceof the Unified Compute Platform (UCP) for SAP Hana. This convergedsolution fulfilled the SAP Hana performance requirements.

The technical challenges don’t differ greatly fromthe traditional SAP systems.

Naturally, there must be more memory availablein the servers. HDS is the only manufacturerthat consistently and continuouslyuses external enterprise storage.Besides fulfilling traditional data centreprocessing scenarios, such as backups,this high-end storage also guaranteesthe typical requirements, suchas performance, availability and scalabilityover several parallel operating SAP Hana systems. In one word, thissystem ensures consolidation! Trivialor complex? SAP has provided the parametersfor SAP Hana: Intel Xeon and Suse Linux. What added value can HDS bring to the table?

Horst Heftberger, General Managerat Hitachi Data Systems Austria, answers Peter Faerbinger’s question: “The Hitachi Unified Compute Platform architecturefor SAP Hana is very differentfrom the solutions provided by ourcompetitors.

What was mentioned asthe additional requirement for storagealso applies for servers. Furthermore,the solution’s architecture is based on established x86 technology and stilloffers the characteristics of the Unixworld. The keywords are hardware virtualisationand failover. Interruption-freefirmware updates are also possible. Ingeneral, maintenance processes, suchas updates and patches are achievedduring operation without having to resortto downtime.

For many years, Hitachi Data Systemshas been a recognised and renownedbrand in the SAP community. This perfect combination of an existing innovativeSAP customer, a complete infrastructure provider and a trusted advisoris exemplary: What is the role of Imtech in the Spar project?

“For a SAP Hana project, several competence areas are necessary,” explained Robert Poell, Imtech managing director.

He listed the following points in the discussion with editor-in-chief Farbinger: distinctive infrastructure expertise in the data centre field; in-depth SAP consulting expertise forthe migration to SAP Hana; comprehensive SAP Hana experience, because in-memory database, which are possibly distributed over several servers, demand completely different design approaches for infrastructure, operation and business continuity; and last but notleast, creativity to convert the multiplereal-time possibilities, which this newtechnology opens up into new, innovativeapproaches for the business andensure a competitive advantage.

“All of the competence areas mentioned above have been part of core competences at Imtech for years and are mirrored in the way they do business: infrastructure solutions, SAP consulting, managed services and logistics services,” explained Poell.

As a strategic Spar partner in the area of managed services and SAP consultingas well as the experience fromseveral successful SAP Hana projects,Imtech was asked by Spar to take on thefollowing roles in this project:

Support Spar ICS in the evaluation andselection of hardware; delivery, installationin the two Spar data centres andimplementation of the hardware withpayment in a 48-month OPEX model (operationalexpenditures); migration of theexisting business warehouse landscapes (one of the largest business warehouselandscapes in German-speaking Europe) to the new SAP Hana landscapes in a “SAP Hana managed by Imtech” 24/7 model with corresponding SLAs andcoupling of the ticketing systems.

The robust HDS enterprise solution thereforeoffers maximum performance, scalability and availability. The scale-out architecture allows SAP Hana to run permanently in business critical surroundings. Blade server technologiesand virtual storage platform (VSP) and Hitachi unified storage (HUS) enterprise storage systems ensure ahigh level of availability and gaplessoperation.

Furthermore, the use of the HDS NAS solution (HNAS) as part ofthe overall architecture makes a consolidated,high-performing global backupsolution possible without accessing ongoingoperation. Why did Spar decideto use HDS, which is not the only serverand service provider in the SAP Hana community?

Horst Heftberger: “The keyfactors were the mix of leading technology,competent employees, a strong partner,such as Imtech, and the servicingmodel as well as guaranteed compliancewith the service level agreements in thearea of recovery. Also critical to the decisionwas the completeness of the solutionfrom the outset and the transportedstability and security that went withthat.”

Andreas Kranabitl added to thisduring the discussion with E-3 magazine: “Nothing is more expensive than aninfrastructure that does not fulfill therequirements of the business. Those who shy away from investing in a futureorientedsystem will run into long-termbusiness operation problems. Naturally, costs were an essential component of the evaluation, and here as well we cameupon a positive business case.”

Hitachi UCP for SAP Hana supports the new generation of SAP in-memorycomputing with an integrated, high-performing infrastructure. For this, the blade server and storage systems arecombined with the network components, and Spar can access analysis results and current numbers faster than ever before. The strategic partnership between Hitachi Data Systems and Imtech with corresponding solutions turned out to be an ideal solution for Spar’s long-term realisation of its complex IT themes.

“Hitachi Data Systems has done a good job of addressing the right topics with us and realising a professional solution with a suitable service team,” stated Andreas Kranabitl. Imtech already implemented the SAP landscape at Spar and now offers optimum support for the company together with Hitachi Data Systems.

The challenges and the problems with which we were confronted at Spar could be traced back to the complex infrastructure and the support difficulties through three different providers,” explained Andreas Weigl, the Imtech project leader.“Together with Hitachi Data Systems and its Enterprise Converged Solution, we were able to create a future-oriented IT environment, which will meet the requirements of the Spar trading company.”

Furthermore, the long-term strategic partnership between Hitachi Data Systems and Imtech ICT Austria was also an important criterion for the decision. Rapid implementation, outstanding professionalism, an optimum-price-performance ratio and short decision-making paths ultimately qualified HDS and Imtech as ideal providers for the new converged solution for Spar.

“We offered the ideal solution for Spar as a trading company with Hitachi UCP for SAP Hana. With this, Spar not only introduces the innovation roadmap of SAP in the corporation, but also establishes early the technology platform for the retail business of tomorrow. In this way, Spar is best prepared for market changes and can respond efficiently,” says Horst Heftberger, General Manager at Hitachi Data Systems Austria while drawing a positive balance.

Spar should achieve a return on investment after 18 months at the latest with this solution.

Hitachi Data Systems and E-3 Magazine (German) Cover Story June 2014

About the author

Peter M. Färbinger, Editor-in-Chief

Peter M. Färbinger is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at E-3 Magazine, B4Bmedia.net AG, Munich, Germany. He can be reached at pmf@b4bmedia.net

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