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Industry: Manufacturing & Engineering
Location: Finland
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Orbis Oy


  • Reduced software support and licensing costs
  • Enabled rapid upgrade to latest version of SAP
  • Improved flexibility and speed of disaster recovery


By migrating its SAP ERP environment from Microsoft Windows to Xen virtual servers on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, Orbis Oy improved flexibility and performance while significantly reducing its total cost of ownership. The new environment runs on Dell blade servers in the Orbis data centre. The data centre is fully managed by Headstart, the SAP services company responsible for the upgrade of SAP. Headstart cooperated together with its sister company Centilane Oy regarding the operating system and database migration.


Orbis Oy provides intelligent quality control, testing and measuring systems as well as advanced instrument and component solutions for research and development, production, and after-sales needs of the telecommunication and electronics industries. Established in Finland in 1949, the company has subsidiaries in Sweden, Estonia, the US, China and India, employing about 200 people globally.

The Challenge

Orbis was using SAP ERP to manage practically every aspect of its business, from manufacturing control and budgeting through to sales and the supply chain. The software was hosted by an external specialist, and was running on Microsoft Windows with Oracle* database management software. As its global business grew, Orbis wanted to take advantage of newer ERP functionality, which necessitated a migration to the latest release, SAP ERP 6.0 version of the SAP software. The company also wanted to reduce the total cost of ownership for its SAP environment, which was running on multiple physical servers with associated high software licensing and support fees.

Orbis had engaged Headstart Oy to provide its SAP helpdesk support. In operating system tasks Headstart Oy fully utilises the expertise of its sister company Centilane Oy, a Novell® PartnerNet® Gold Partner. Pleased with the quality of service, and aware of Headstart’s and Centilane’s strong reputation for full hosting solutions, Orbis decided to include the company in its request for proposals for its new SAP environment.

“The savings that we achieved in software licensing and hosting fees will offset the total project costs within two years.”

SUSE Solution

Headstart and Centilane proposed a solution based on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server with built-in Xen virtualisation technology. By migrating from Windows/Oracle to Linux* and the MaxDB database from SAP, Headstart and Centilane were able to generate significant cost savings for Orbis in terms of SAP software licensing and support fees.

“Moving from Oracle to MaxDB reduced our database support costs from 11% of the total SAP licensing fee down to just 5%, which represents an annual saving of almost EUR 30.000,” said Jari Paasalo, Application Manager, Orbis Oy. “Equally, Headstart provides an excellent SAP management and maintenance service at a much more competitive price than our former supplier, so we have seen a major reduction in the total cost of ownership for our SAP solutions.”

Orbis invested in 3 new Dell blade servers, each with 2 quad-core Intel* Xeon* processors, to run the new virtualised SAP solutions. Centilane then migrated the existing environment, changing both the database and the operating system. The 1st two blades run the production SAP ERP and SAP BW environments respectively, and the 3rd runs 4 virtual servers hosting test and development environments. “We recommended SUSE Linux Enterprise Server because of the close relationship between SAP and SUSE, which ensures excellent support,” said Jukka-Pekka Kiilunen, Technology Director at Centilane. “Also the performance of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server with Xen is outstanding: the production blades are virtualised even though they only run a single virtual machine, because the I/O speed is actually better than running natively! SAP is highly I/O sensitive, so that’s a great advantage.”

Orbis purchased SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Priority Support for SAP Applications, which delivers maintenance and support in a single package, integrated through the SAP Solution Manager into the SAP global support backbone. This reduces support complexity and accelerates fixes by providing a single point of contact for co-ordinated support from SUSE and SAP, whether the issue lies in the operating system or the application layer.

The Results

By migrating its SAP ERP and BW solutions from Microsoft Windows and Oracle to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server with Xen virtualisation and MaxDB, Orbis has significantly reduced the total cost of ownership.

In addition, the ability to deploy virtual test environments without buying additional hardware enabled an extremely rapid and cost-effective SAP upgrade.

“We were very impressed by the speed of the SAP upgrade performed by Headstart” said Paasalo. “This meant that we could quickly get working with the new solution, and it also meant low migration cost and a rapid return on investment. In fact, the savings that we achieved in software licensing and hosting fees will offset the total project costs within roughly one-and-a-half years.” Using the built-in Xen virtualisation of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server also enables fast and easy failover to the third blade if either of the production blades for SAP suffers a hardware issue.

“Cost, reliability and availability of support are the key factors for our SAP environment—the specific choice of operating system was a decision we entrusted to Centilane,” said Paasalo. “Nevertheless, we can confidently say that SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is providing a stable, high-performance platform for SAP, with the added benefit of single-source support from SUSE and SAP.”