CEMEX is a Mexican multinational building materials company that manufactures and distributes cement, ready-mix concrete and aggregates in over 50 countries. It operates on four continents, with 66 cement plants, 2,000 ready-mix-concrete facilities, 400 quarries, 260 distribution centers and 80 marine terminals.
For any multinational company, delivering high performance throughout global locations is vital to supporting stable growth. CEMEX, one of the world’s largest building materials producers, wanted to ensure high performance and introduce new cloud-based digital capabilities through an ambitious transformation of its SAP ERP landscapes. The company is migrating its SAP systems to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for SAP Applications on a multi-cloud environment. With its cloud-based infrastructure delivering high performance throughout the world, CEMEX has laid the foundations for a new phase of sustainable growth.
CEMEX is one of the largest global building materials companies. To ensure employees throughout the world can make decisions and carry out business processes in a timely manner, the company operates a number of SAP ERP implementations to support activities in all of its locations.
CEMEX uses SAP applications, including SAP Enterprise Resource Planning Central Component (SAP ECC), for all back-office operations, including finance, logistics, procurement and human resources. With the data center hosting the company’s SAP systems located near CEMEX’s global headquarters in Mexico, employees in Asian offices often found SAP response times slow, delaying key business processes and decisions — and potentially hampering growth. Equally, the existing platform was seen as obsolescent and difficult to align with CEMEX’s digital transformation.
Juan Vazquez Bermudez, IT architect, CEMEX, says: “Our SAP applications are the foundation of everything we do, so it’s vital to deliver high performance for all users. To lay the groundwork for continued development and cement our position in the high-growth Asian market, we worked on a SAP evolution roadmap designed to deliver digital transformation.”
“The improved performance we are seeing as we transform our SAP solutions to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications on cloud will be vital as we continue to grow.”
To ensure high performance for its mission-critical SAP systems, CEMEX decided to migrate from Oracle Database to SAP HANA and from on-premises servers to SLES for SAP Applications on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.
The IT Operations and IT Architecture teams at CEMEX engaged experts from its major IT suppliers, including SUSE, SAP and Microsoft, to determine how to conduct the migration most efficiently. Working with these experts and other SAP customers, the joint team determined key components of the implementation, including the operating system for its SAP on cloud environment.
Vazquez Bermudez says: “We decided to implement SLES for SAP Applications on our new Microsoft Azure environment because it is the operating system that SAP itself recommends. SAP doesn’t make recommendations lightly, and we knew the reputation of SLES for SAP Applications as a high-performance solution.”
To ensure a smooth transition, CEMEX first conducted a proof of concept. It then migrated a relatively small SAP landscape with around 400-500 users to SLES for SAP Applications on Microsoft Azure.
SUSE consultants worked closely with CEMEX throughout this initial digital transformation, helping design the high availability/disaster recovery systems, making detailed recommendations on security, tuning and clustering, and verifying that the system was built according to best practices. The joint team also put in place cloud-based backups and data transfer engines, in readiness for further cloud migrations.
Martha Leal Tapia, IT operations, CEMEX, says: “Our work with the SUSE consultants was vital to the trial migration project. We were especially pleased with their clear and open collaboration with the Microsoft Azure team which helped us manage the migration efficiently.”
Since establishing its CEMEX SAP Cloud Foundation, ready for future SAP evolution, CEMEX has seen significant improvements in performance for 70% of applications and has already cut costs by decommissioning some infrastructure for SAP systems in Asia. New legal and finance solutions are now available to users, and the migrated SAP applications are now fully up to date with the latest features and fixes. CEMEX has also deployed two SAP HANA databases on the SUSE Linux Enterprise platform, connecting them to its existing SAP Business Suite systems globally to deliver faster business intelligence through Power BI.
Vazquez Bermudez says: “The improved performance we are seeing as we migrate our SAP solutions to SLES for SAP Applications on Azure will be vital as we continue to grow, helping us accelerate processes across the business.”
As CEMEX migrates more — and larger — SAP systems to SLES for SAP Applications on Azure, the reduction in system management overhead will free up skilled IT staff to focus on higher-value activities. Leal Tapia says: “As we move our on-premises SAP systems to SUSE Linux Enterprise on Azure, our responsibilities are more clearly defined than with on-premises infrastructure — we can focus on managing the performance of our SAP environment.”
With SLES for SAP Applications providing a stable, high-performance platform for the SAP HANA databases that underpin CEMEX’s growing SAP environment in the cloud, the company expects even greater benefits in the future.
Vazquez Bermudez says: “We are delighted with the results we have already achieved in our transformation project, and further benefits will accrue as we migrate the larger systems. Improving application performance drives faster business processes, agile decision-making and ultimately, customer satisfaction — helping reinforce our leading position and lay the groundwork for sustainable growth.”