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Industry: .edu & .gov
Location: Netherlands
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Leiden University


  • Increased standardization of IT landscape, reducing costs
  • Reduced hardware costs by adopting open technology
  • Gained a stable, cost-efficient and flexible platform for SAP


Facing capacity and performance issues, and with concerns around internal skills, Leiden University migrated its SAP ERP systems from Solaris to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications. The new operating system offers greater openness and complete hardware independence, enabling the University to cut costs and further standardize its IT operations, boosting efficiency.


Established in 1575, Leiden University is the oldest in the Netherlands, and one of Europe’s foremost research institutions. It offers 46 undergraduate and 73 graduate programs of study across seven faculties, and has a total student population of over 23,000.

The Challenge

To keep its education and research programs running like clockwork, and to ensure the best possible use of funding, Leiden University relies on a suite of SAP applications. These help administrative and teaching staff to handle finance, human resources and funding and grants management.

The University had originally installed its SAP applications on the Solaris operating system, on proprietary Sun hardware. Over time, hardware support costs were rising, and diminishing internal experience of Solaris made the system difficult to support—creating a potential future risk to the organization.

Bertine Drejer, Manager Application Systems at Leiden University, comments: “Our SAP systems do not directly run our primary education and research activities, but they are vital in terms of guaranteeing administrative efficiency. Maintaining Solaris was becoming more and more difficult because we lacked dedicated staff, and we wanted to migrate to a platform that would reduce both our costs and our operational workload.”

“The open source and hardware independency aspects of Linux are attractive to us, and of course the freedom to modify the software fits with the University’s ethos.”

SUSE Solution

Leiden University’s motto is Praesidium Libertatis, bastion of liberty—so it is perhaps unsurprising to hear that the organization has embraced the open source Linux operating system to support more than 50 percent of its IT infrastructure.

Huub Nijs, Senior System Engineer / SAP Basis Consultant, Leiden University, said: “We were already using Linux for a wide range of requirements, from web servers and database servers to content management and identity management systems. It made sense to migrate SAP to Linux also, and choosing SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications gave us a fully certified—and therefore low risk—option.”

Working with SAP consultants to certify the migration and ensure on-going support, the University migrated its SAP development, QA and production environments to 64-bit SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, with 3TB of data in Oracle 11 databases. The SAP landscape is now fully virtualized, running on approximately 20 VMware virtual servers across four physical HP blade servers, with storage from NetApp and Dell.

“The open source and hardware independency aspects of Linux are attractive to us, and of course the freedom to modify the software fits with the University’s ethos,” said Drejer. “Moving to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server meant that we could choose pretty much any hardware, enabling us to make significant cost savings on acquisition and support.”

The close strategic alliance between SAP and SUSE gives Leiden University the reassurance that its new platform for SAP applications is backed by strong technical cooperation between the two vendors. The organization also benefits from integrated support through SAP Solution Manager, which enables faster and more responsive resolution of technical issues. And because SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications is specially customized and expertly tuned, it offers optimal performance while minimizing the workload for University IT staff.

The Results

Migrating its SAP solutions from Solaris to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications has given Leiden University a more open, scalable and cost-effective platform for a critically important set of university administration systems.

“Compared with Solaris, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is easier for us to maintain, update and monitor, in part because we use the same platform for about 80 percent of our Linux landscape,” said Nijs. “Standardization of operating systems means that we can focus our skills in a more efficient way.”

Now that the University has a fully virtualized SAP landscape on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on VMware, it enjoys greater flexibility and scalability. For example, the team can test new SAP functionality by rapidly cloning an existing environment, applying the relevant update, and testing it on the same hardware at no incremental cost. Equally, as the SAP landscape grows, Leiden University can easily create new virtual servers to manage the increased workload.