Intas Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (Intas) is a leading vertically integrated global pharmaceutical formulation, development, manufacturing and marketing company. Medical professionals in 85 countries trust Intas to deliver high-quality drug therapies.
Aiming to mitigate supply chain risks and accelerate deliveries to global clients in a post-pandemic world, Intas Pharmaceuticals set out to accelerate its monthly financial closing processes. By deploying SAP Business Suite running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications on IBM® Power® servers, the company achieved its key goal: month-end data is now available 65% faster. Together with the acceleration of planning processes, the solution has helped the company shrink its order backlogs by 25% and maintain its ongoing 22% compound annual growth rate.
Mitigating post-pandemic supply chain risks
Intas is expanding rapidly with a 22% compound annual growth rate, but as its reach widens, so do the risks to its supply chain. Like many global pharmaceutical manufacturers, Intas experienced increased supply chain disruptions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. To mitigate those risks and deliver products to clients on time, maintaining optimal inventory levels became crucial, explains Nikunj Thaker, general manager information technology at Intas.
To achieve timely production and delivery, Intas depends on precise and prompt production planning processes built on month-end sales data from 48 global subsidiaries. For 11 years, these subsidiaries used a single instance of SAP ERP for many integrated business processes, but each entity had its own chart of accounts, making it difficult to consolidate sales data quickly. As a result, consolidating month-end sales data took between 10 and 15 days, leading to planning delays.
To improve its planning and reduce order backlogs, Intas aimed to accelerate its monthly financial closing process. Its first step was to reduce the time it takes to close its books at the end of each month.
“We selected SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications as our operating system because of the close strategic alliance between SUSE, IBM and SAP. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications offers excellent performance and reliability for SAP HANA workloads, giving us confidence in the platform’s ability to meet our long-term requirements.”
The journey to SUSE
To address the challenge and lay the foundation for an agile, data-driven supply chain, Intas decided to consolidate into a single global chart of accounts on SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA. By leveraging in-memory analytics from SAP HANA, the company targeted greater control and visibility of global inventory while streamlining the month-end closing process.
To deliver the performance, reliability and availability required to ensure always-on access, Intas opted to deploy its SAP landscape on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for SAP Applications, running on IBM Power servers.
“We selected SLES for SAP Applications as our operating system [OS] because of the close strategic alliance between SUSE, IBM and SAP,” explains Thaker. “SLES for SAP Applications offers excellent performance and reliability for SAP HANA workloads, giving us confidence in the platform’s ability to meet our long-term requirements.”
Fine-tuned for SAP excellence
Intas is taking full advantage of the SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) High Availability Extension technology included with SLES for SAP Applications to create a secure clustered SAP landscape with always-on data access. By seamlessly shifting production services to the disaster recovery node, the company can perform many routine maintenance tasks without interrupting business services.
“With SLE High Availability Extension, we have greatly reduced the downtime window required for bigger maintenance activities, such as SAP solution upgrades,” says Thaker. “In the past, a kernel upgrade involved eight hours of downtime, but today we can complete the work and restart production services in just three hours — 62% faster.”
By leveraging the saptune configuration tool in SLES for SAP Applications, Intas has also greatly accelerated OS deployment for new SAP workloads. Thaker confirms: “If we didn’t have saptune, then provisioning a new SAP service would require time-consuming OS configuration work. Thanks to the SUSE tool, we can perform all of the required process steps with a couple of clicks — cutting time to value for new SAP services.”
Intas engaged IBM Business Partner, Silver Touch, to implement the new solution, which is now hosted, managed and maintained by a third-party infrastructure service provider.
“Silver Touch has strong experience in managing SUSE and SAP workloads, and that knowledge shone through during implementation,” says Thaker. “Silver Touch helped us achieve a smooth launch and seamlessly transitioned our day-to-day platform operations to a third-party infrastructure specialist.”
Accelerating key business processes
Since adopting SAP Business Suite on SLES for SAP Applications, Intas has seen significant improvements across multiple business processes. In particular, the company has greatly accelerated month-end closing, delivering timely data access for production planning.
“In the past, combing through month-end data from 48 global subsidiaries was a painstaking process,” Thaker comments. “Each individual reporting job took up to eight hours to complete, after which our teams would manually consolidate the results. Today, we’ve cut that entire part of the workflow down to just one hour. In total, we’ve shrunk month-end closing from between 10 and 15 days to just five days, a reduction of up to 67%.”
Thaker continues: “Sending sales data to our planning teams faster has already allowed us to cut down our order backlog by 25%. And in the future, using the advanced supply chain capabilities of SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA will allow us to reduce delays and speed up deliveries even further.”
Resilient platform for future growth
Intas is now driving its business forward on a robust IT platform, giving the company confidence that its mission-critical SAP business services will be available 24/7. In addition, the company is reducing both the duration of planned downtime for maintenance and its overall infrastructure costs.
“In the five months since we went live, we haven’t experienced a single technical issue with the platform — SAP application performance for our end users has been flawless,” confirms Thaker. “With IBM FlashSystem storage and SAP HANA, we’ve been able to compress and deduplicate our SAP application database from 6TB to 780GB, which accelerates our data protection workloads and helps keep vital data safe.”
He adds: “We are extremely pleased with the performance, reliability and scalability of our SAP business systems running on IBM Power servers and SLES for SAP Applications.”
What’s next for Intas Pharmaceuticals?
Today, Intas has a resilient platform to support its fast-growing business and a smooth path for its future move to SAP S/4HANA®.
“With SAP Business Suite, we can access the rich, real-time analytics capabilities of SAP HANA without making changes to the third-party manufacturing and quality management systems that integrate with our ERP platform,” says Thaker. “The flexibility of our SUSE and IBM platform also streamlines our planned transition to SAP S/4HANA in the future.”