With its guiding principle, “Engineering progress — Enhancing lives,” REHAU Industries SE & Co develops innovative polymer-based products for advanced energy-efficient solutions, primarily for the construction, automotive and manufacturing industries. The polymer experts generate around 4 billion euros in sales each year, working to make plastic products lighter, more comfortable, safer and more efficient. For example, their lightweight, high-performance components for planes have reduced aviation emissions without compromising on stability and reliability. Founded more than 70 years ago, REHAU employs 20,000 employees in over 190 locations worldwide as an independent, family-owned business.
Looking to improve customer experiences and company operations, REHAU migrated to SAP HANA on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for real-time data analysis and decision making. Running atop Fujitsu PRIMEFLEX for SAP Landscapes, the solution improved global operations with always-on high availability.
Real-time data decision making
Constant reinvention plays an important role for REHAU’s long-term success. The company anticipates new trends across many markets and reacts to new requirements in an agile way. Innovation at REHAU always starts with the customer perspective. With experts in hardware, software and business model generation, the company is able to design solutions from prototype to production and bring new technologies to market quickly.
To accelerate innovation and support customers with their fast-evolving challenges, the company standardized and optimized its business processes with the help of SAP solutions. From ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software to robot-assisted process automation and transport management, the company now uses a wide range of SAP products for digital business transformation.
“SAP solutions are of absolute strategic importance to our company,” emphasizes David Kaiser, SAP manager at REHAU.
Central to improving operations and increasing customer satisfaction, REHAU knew they needed faster data analysis for better decision making in real time.
“We therefore also looked into the possibilities of SAP HANA at an early stage,” Kaiser continues. “The in-memory database offers us significant performance advantages, especially when processing the rapidly growing volumes of data for smart manufacturing. It enables us to make data-driven, real-time decisions much faster, allowing us to adapt production plans to changing customer requirements at short notice. This also strengthens our resilience to extraordinary situations, like the current pandemic, enabling us to better deal with disruptions in the supply chain.”
However, REHAU can only benefit from the added value of SAP HANA if all the required services and applications are reliably available around the clock. “We have to ensure true 24/7 year-round operation since our company is always producing somewhere in the world,” says Dieter Kochut, senior engineer at REHAU. “In addition, there are the many dependencies between the individual systems and the numerous user interfaces for customers and suppliers. For globally connected, just-in-time production, more and more data are shared between our manufacturing facilities. This places extremely high demand on IT availability.”
“In the last 12 months, we have achieved an availability of exactly 99.99878% for the SAP HANA environment with our platform and have thus been able to support our global business very reliably even in this challenging year. In terms of availability, we thus far exceed the service level agreements that an external service provider could assure us.”
Curating high availability with SUSE
When it came to operating SAP applications, REHAU relied on an integrated solution from Fujitsu. With Fujitsu PRIMEFLEX for SAP Landscapes, the company built a virtualized platform for its SAP environment with SUSE’s operating system in 2007. The solution enabled the IT organization to accelerate their infrastructure implementation, manage all components centrally, and flexibly provide server and storage resources for SAP applications as needed.
“Fujitsu had recommended SLES as our server operating system right from the start, and this combination has worked very well for us over the years,” reports Kochut.
SUSE’s operating system, specially adapted for running SAP applications, includes powerful features for SAP HANA high availability. With the integrated SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension, in-memory data can be replicated within the same data center or between two data centers, enabling automated failover and recovery in minutes. SUSE also supports permanent memory based on NVDIMM modules, significantly speeding up database recovery after a system reboot.
Describing SUSE’s value-add, Kochut explains, “SUSE provided us with a very stable and easy-to-use foundation for running our SAP environment. We were extremely satisfied with the support we received from SUSE and Fujitsu. We therefore quickly decided to rely on this combination for the implementation of SAP HANA, as well. Never change a winning team!”
With support from Fujitsu, REHAU built two separate PRIMEFLEX for SAP HANA environments for its different business units. This separation is intended to prevent changes to one environment from affecting the operation of the other environment. The entire infrastructure is based on pretested components certified by SAP. In total, REHAU’s SAP environments comprise more than 350 virtual machines running SLES for SAP Applications.
Greater agility, reliability and efficiency
Pleased with their increased agility to address customer needs and adapt to market shifts, Kaiser comments on SUSE’s reliability: “In the last 12 months, we have achieved an availability of exactly 99.99878% for the SAP HANA environment with our platform and have thus been able to support our global business very reliably even in this challenging year. In terms of availability, we thus far exceed the service level agreements that an external service provider could assure us.”
REHAU also repeatedly puts its operating model to the test in economic terms. The team regularly obtains quotes from cloud providers and compares them with the costs of their self-hosted solution. So far, the results are clear: “Our operating costs are significantly below the costs of the most favorable cloud offering. This does not even take into account the transition costs that would be incurred if we switched to the cloud,” says Kaiser.
“SUSE is a key factor in making our operations more efficient,” adds Kochut. “We can manage and operate the SAP HANA environment with a small team because we can always rely on the stability, performance and security of SLES for SAP Applications.”