Founded in Switzerland in 1886, Hero Group is an international food and beverage conglomerate with a passion for naturally good food, with 16 brands and 4,300 employees worldwide.
In 2002, Hero Group decided to enter new markets as Hero Middle East & Africa (MEA). Now, Hero MEA operates from Egypt as a regional manufacturing and distribution hub.
Hero MEA acts as a regional distribution and manufacturing hub for Hero Group in the Middle East and Africa. With Hero Group’s recent decision to move all enterprise resource planning (ERP) functions to SAP ERP, Hero MEA needed a new operating system, and chose SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications. The SUSE solution provides higher performance and greater stability, as well as flexibility for future plans to move to SAP HANA and IBM Power Systems.
In its role as regional manufacturing and distribution hub, Hero MEA faces many logistical and business challenges. To promote greater harmony in business processes across its global network, Hero Group recently decided all its international subsidiaries would move from their existing ERP software to SAP ERP.
Khaled Elwan, system administration manager for Hero MEA, says: “As a global company, we decided that we would all use this standardized ERP environment. That was a big change, but it was up to us how exactly we wanted to implement the move to SAP.”
“Now we have SAP applications running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for all our departments. With everyone working from the same system, it becomes easier to make far-reaching business decisions.”
After considering multiple competing solutions, Hero MEA decided to adopt SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for SAP Applications.
“One of the reasons for selecting SLES was its compatibility with our VMware virtualization technology,” says Elwan. “Our infrastructure was already 100% virtual; we had around 100 virtual machines running on between 10 and 15 physical servers, all in a Windows environment. Ultimately, we wanted to transition to the SAP HANA database, which meant moving away from the Windows operating system.”
The company was also attracted to SLES for its ease of use and customizability. “We looked at the SAP user forums, as well as SUSE’s own success stories,” says Elwan. “We saw that most companies went with SLES, rather than Windows. Those companies who did choose Windows generally ran Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server, whereas we wanted to continue with Sybase and move to SAP HANA later; the SUSE operating system allowed us to run both those database platforms.”
Hero MEA has invested in two IBM Power Systems servers and plans to move its SAP applications to them within the next few months. “When we make the move, everything will still be virtualized,” says Elwan. “The transition should save us the administration costs of maintaining over 10 physical servers, as we do now. The fact that SLES is supported on both x86 and IBM Power architectures means we can make that move with very few changes to our SAP applications.”
Since deploying SAP ERP on SLES for SAP Applications, Hero MEA has experienced 100% uptime, maximizing the efficiency of its virtualized IT landscape.
“We have been using SLES for six months now,” says Elwan. “In all that time, we have never needed to restore or restart a server. It is much more reliable than our previous Windows solution, and SUSE’s patching regime is steadier and easier to manage, whereas the previous system needed constant updating. We estimate we have made a time saving of approximately 25%, mainly in administration and reporting.”
Deploying SLES has enabled Hero MEA to get more value out of its existing hardware investments. “The SUSE solution makes much more efficient use of our existing hardware,” says Elwan. “That means we can run more virtual machines while using the same amount of physical memory, which represents a great efficiency.”
The move to SLES for SAP Applications has gone hand in hand with the extension of a standardized ERP environment to the whole of Hero MEA. “Our previous ERP system was only used by three out of our four departments,” says Elwan. “Now we have SAP applications running on SLES for all our departments. With everyone working from the same system, it becomes easier to make far-reaching business decisions.”
SLES has given the company the flexibility to implement its future plans, including the move to SAP HANA and IBM Power Systems. Elwan concludes: “With SLES, we have the freedom to adopt whatever technology we feel is the best fit for our business, and we are confident that SUSE will continue to help us gain greater efficiencies in the future.”