SAP Retail Customer Saves Money by moving legacy Info Assets to Azure
Foodstuffs North Island (FSNI) is a $6 Billion Dollar Supermarket and Retail chain in New Zealand with 400 stores distributed across the North Island New Zealand.
A decommissioned SAP implementation ran ECC 6.0 and BW 7.0 on IBM AIX and DB2 running on p570 UNIX servers. In order to meet tax and legal compliance requirements while at the same time terminating a legacy end of life technologies and lowering costs FSNI migrated these Decommissioned SAP systems to Azure.
1. Business Problem & Technological Obsolescence
FSNI re-implemented a full SAP IS RETAIL solution in 2013 running on Windows 2012, SQL Server 2012 and Hyper-V and has successfully deployed this solution to some of the 400 stores. The remaining stores are interfaced to the new solution and are being progressively converted to a new POS solution and simultaneously migrated to the new SAP IS-RETAIL solution. The modern deployment leverage all the latest SAP applications for Retail including ECC 6.0, FNR, PMR, RC, PI, EP and POSDM.
The legacy SAP systems are no longer live, but must be kept available for legal, audit and taxation reasons. These legacy systems were expensive to maintain and did not align to global industry trends around consolidation onto commodity platforms
2. SAP Azure Platform – Pay Per Minute Infrastructure & Software Licenses
FSNI switched from DB2 to SQL Server during the migration to take advantage of features like database compression and better integration with cloud platforms. FSNI did not wish to buy full SQL Server licenses for a system that might be running for just a few hours per week.
The Azure platform offers customers the ability to rent virtual machines that come with a SQL Server database license included. As with most Azure services a VM with a rented copy of SQL Server is charged at one minute intervals.
In price sensitive industries such as Retail moving the cost base to a “Pay per Use” model is part of the way FSNI controls costs and remains competitive.
3. SAP OS/DB Migration Process
SAP provide free of charge tools that allow a customer to export a system from one OS and DB combination and import to another different OS and DB combination. The tools are well documented and simple to use. A licensed OS/DB Migration Consultant is permitted to migrate Production systems. Any SAP Basis consultant is permitted to perform an OS/DB migration on non-production systems.
FSNI engaged a local partner Syd Consulting to perform the SAP Migration and to setup the Azure resources required to support the SAP systems. Syd Consulting took approximately 4 days to export the AIX/DB2 system and then import and upload to Azure. Additional activities included setting up the Azure Site to Site VPN to allow seamless network connectivity between Foodstuffs and Azure.
4. Automating SAP on Azure – Scheduled Start Up and Shutdown
FSNI required an automated Start Up and Shutdown schedule to minimize the cost and maximize the benefits of the pay as you go Azure model. During the migration from AIX/DB2 to Azure and SQL Server SYD had the Azure VMs running 24 hours per day, but once the migration was completed this was switched to a schedule which allowed the business to access the system as required. Outside of core business hours the systems are automatically shut down and de-provisioned. When the Azure virtual machines are offline the cost of the VMs and the SQL Server database license drops to zero. Only the cost of storage is charged, a cost that is very inexpensive measured in cents per GB.
The users have seen no change in the operation of the system, they access it as they always have and the change has been transparent to users
5. Business Benefits
FSNI were able to lower fixed costs by shutting down high cost UNIX servers and stop paying for the associated hardware and software maintenance.
The legacy systems were migrated into the Azure Australia region. In order to ensure FSNI remained fully compliant with legal requirements a full compressed backup of the databases is held on an on premise server. This ensures that FSNI meets any requirement to physically hold the data within their own local jurisdiction.
FSNI also benefits from hosting resources in a world class data center with multiple layers of redundancy and security.
The requirement to maintain Decommissioned SAP systems is frequently a cost and resource burden for companies:
1. Obsolete HPUX, Sun Solaris and IBM AIX Servers have extremely expensive hardware and software support costs
2. Large UNIX systems often require 3 phase power, produce a lot of heat and consume a lot of data center space
3. Experienced UNIX systems administrators are becoming scarcer
4. Almost all organizations have standardized on commodity Intel platforms and/or Public Cloud and UNIX vendors are terminating investments into UNIX platforms
Most importantly FSNI has been able to switch costs to a pay-per-use model. “Moving the IT cost base to a pay-per-use rather than a ‘pay in full upfront regardless of use’ model is something FSNI will look to repeat in the future” states the customer.
6. Technical Details
Below is a summary of the technical details of the solution
Azure region = Australia East
VM sizes = A6 for database server and SAP application server
Database size on AIX/DB2 3.2TB was compressed to 1.2TB on SQL Server
The Migration took 4 days to complete
Local Redundant storage is used for the database and Geo Redundant for backups
Azure Site-2-Site VPN has been used to seamlessly link the Azure VNET to Foodstuffs network. This allows finance users to logon to these systems as if they were running locally.
The project followed the standard SAP migration methodology and the creation of the target server including the storage required was very straight forward. The most time consuming part was getting the networks integrated and all the firewall changes in place.