Gruppo API consolidated numerous distributed servers running SAP and other business-critical systems to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z running on an IBM z10 Enterprise Class mainframe. The solution provides an open, flexible and highly resilient platform that delivers significant cost savings in hardware, software licensing, server management, maintenance and energy.
In preparation for anticipated growth in its business, API wanted to move to an open computing environment that would offer it greater flexibility in its choice of applications. Simultaneously, the company aimed to address the issues of reliability, cost, efficiency, scalability, disaster recovery and ease of management.
A long-term user of IBM mainframes for core processing, API had more recently built up a distributed environment with numerous servers—a mixture of Intel-architecture machines running Linux and proprietary hardware running UNIX. This disparate set of resources was becoming increasingly difficult and costly to manage and expand, particularly in comparison with API’s compact and efficient mainframe platform.
Adding new servers to the distributed environment required the reconfiguration of network and storage resources—and API was spending additional budget on redundant servers to ensure high availability and protection against disaster. Nevertheless, concerns remained about the overall reliability of the distributed environment—and its growing footprint was pushing up software licensing and energy costs in an unsustainable manner.
“We wanted to achieve an open environment because this would enable a much wider choice of solutions and vendors,” said Gaetano Scebba, CTO, Gruppo API. “We felt that expanding our use of Linux was the best way to accomplish this.”
API was running core business applications, with a DB2 database, on IBM System z, with its SAP application servers running on UNIX in the distributed environment alongside IBM Lotus Domino for corporate e-mail and Tivoli solutions for access and identity management The company decided to upgrade to a new IBM System z10, and to consolidate the distributed environment to the same physical system as Linux virtual servers.
“The landscape was difficult to manage, and we also had concerns around reliability and scalability. Consolidating to Linux on System z meant that we could simplify our infrastructure and take advantage of the high reliability of the mainframe. We chose SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z in part for the high quality of support available from SUSE, and in part because it was highly recommended by IBM, the market-leader,” said Scebba.
The new z10 will use two Central Processors running z/OS, a zIIP engine to accelerate data processing, and seven Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) engines running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
The Linux production environments run natively on the mainframe, while the test and development environments run as virtual guests on z/VM. The entire migration project took seven months to complete, and delivered immediate results: for example, moving SAP NetWeaver BW to Linux on the z10 cut processing time by 35%, and attaching a new IBM System Storage DS8300 to the mainframe reduced data access time by 20%.
API continues to run a number of distributed servers, supporting Microsoft Windows and non-critical Linux environments (also SUSE Linux Enterprise Server), all of which are virtualised using VMware vSphere.
Consolidating the bulk of its distributed servers to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z has given API a compact, efficient and resilient infrastructure. Server virtualisation has reduced the need to purchase, install and manage dozens of separate physical servers throughout their full lifecycle, reducing floor occupancy in the API data centre by 15%.
“As well as gaining a more compact infrastructure, we have reduced energy consumption by 35%, representing a significant saving in operational costs,” said Scebba. “We will also make savings in software licensing, because the power of the z10 enables us to do more work with a smaller number of processors than in our distributed environment.”
With all mission-critical software running on the z10, API has a single point of control over backup and recovery, simplifying and strengthening its disaster recovery procedures. The new infrastructure also meets API’s goals of greater flexibility and ease of management, while SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z provides a stable and open platform for business applications.
“The high performance of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server makes it an effective alternative to UNIX for our SAP application servers and data warehousing solutions (currently SAP BW with IBM InfoSphere Warehouse),” said Scebba. “For mission-critical applications, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z is an excellent platform, combining openness and stability.”
At a Glance
Major Italian oil company, operating throughout the full downstream cycle and in the generation of electrical energy
- Consolidated numerous physical and virtual machines to a single IBM z10 mainframe
- Gained open, flexible platform for new applications
- Reduced costs for hardware, software and maintenance
Gruppo API is one of the leading players operating in the full downstream oil cycle in Italy. Gruppo API comprises a number of separate companies, providing integrated operations from the production of crude oil through to refining and then to the distribution of oil derivatives in more than 4,100 service stations across Italy. API is also active in energy, producing more than two billion kWh of electricity annually.