Lanx Turns to the Cloud to Back SAP Environment
Featured Solution: Cloud Strategy and Private Cloud
Lanx needed an IT infrastructure flexible, scalable and reliable enough to expand with the company’s rapid growth. In evaluating its IT resources, which included physical and virtual servers supporting SAP and Enterprise Reporting environments, Lanx discovered that its data center was running out of storage space, software needed upgrading, servers were nearing end of life, and that it lacked an effective disaster recovery plan. In addition, the servers were located in a non-optimal, on-premises, data center environment. The company was clearly at a technology refresh point and needed a new solution that could deliver the performance required to run its SAP, Business Objects, and RoamBI Mobile Analytics applications. Running on old hardware & software, it would be difficult for Lanx to expand; it would cost upwards of $80,000 in capex just to purchase new IT equipment, and more to get it up and running and then manage it.
In order to continue IT’s successful role in enabling business growth, Lanx quickly realized that a cloud solution would give the organization the agility and elasticity it sought, along with other ancillary benefits such as low total cost of ownership (TCO) and infrastructure support. Lanx also wanted to outsource select areas of SAP support, including Basis & Security, and wanted a trusted partner that could not only provide “follow the sun” support, but also take a lead role in migrating critical business applications to the cloud in rapid fashion. A swift move to the cloud would enable a shift from CapEx to OpEx for the company, giving it the flexibility and scalability it needed— without a significant CapEx outlay—in the event of expansion.
FINDING THE RIGHT PARTNERS
Lanx evaluated a range of Public and Private Hosting providers, from smaller local providers to some of the largest Fortune 100 global providers. To facilitate its first cloud migration, Lanx went through the RFP process with five groups (each consisting of a professional services company partnered with a cloud services provider). Freeborders, a San Francisco-based company that provides global consulting, technology and outsourcing services, introduced Virtustream’s xStream solution, which Lanx found extremely compelling and led to a follow-on discussion to elaborate on specifics around the technology and implementation. After a comprehensive assessment, Lanx chose the Freeborders/Virtustream duo, which offered the best combination of enterprise technology and proven SAP expertise. Using Virtustream’s enterprise-class cloud technology and Freeborders’ project management, cloud migration and application management services (AMS) expertise, Lanx could take advantage of consumption-based pricing and mission-critical application assurance.
The two teams worked together to move Lanx’s mission-critical, enterprise data and applications to a virtual multi-tenant cloud environment. Freeborders handled the overall project management and technical migration to the cloud along with application management services (AMS), while Virtustream delivered the cloud infrastructure. Lanx initially outlined a three- month implementation plan, but requested a more advanced deployment to help them meet other critical project deadlines by year end—reducing the project to just eight weeks.
|IT infrastructure & keeping pace with business growth||More complicated, punctuated growth involved with integrating infrastructures and adding capacity in chunks.||Scale smoothly and easily. The elastic nature of cloud computing helps ensure seamless growth, adding capacity when/where/and in the amounts needed. With Freeborders and Virtustream, Lanx has the flexibility to scale up, scale down, add future modules and—in the event of a merger or acquisition—integrate quickly.|
|IT staff & keeping pace with business growth||Dependency on in-house expertise requires future headcount to meet growth. Exposure due to limited Lanx IT resources, need for changing skills, and lack of relationship with strategic partner that knows our environment.||Top-tier resources and highly experienced Subject Matter Experts managing Lanx applications and infrastructure, allowing Lanx to scale infrastructure skills as needed and redirect internal IT headcount elsewhere.|
|Focus of IT: Less tactical, more strategic||More Lanx IT time focused on upgrading hardware, dealing with downtime, providing a secure IT environment, or figuring out how to handle unexpected events and outages.||More Lanx IT time focused on providing strategic business applications and less on maintaining infrastructure. Hosting provider responsible for continually downloading and installing software upgrades and security patches, so the system is always up-to-date. Moving to Virtustream’s cloud enabled a more robust, secure infrastructure for Lanx; xStream provides multi-tiered, logical and physical cloud security and threat monitoring in depth, including silicon-level authentication with Intel TxTTM support|
|Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity||Lanx had multiple points of failure associated with operating an on- premises datacenter, including server outages and/or disc failures, power outages, A/C outages, and catastrophic events -for which there were varying business continuity plans, all of which depended on Lanx IT staff & resources; however, if the datacenter went down, Lanx was down.||Lanx has a 99.999% application performance service level agreement (with guaranteed IOPS, CPU, and Memory) and disaster recover capabilities to a mirrored datacenter in a different state with 15 minute RPO & 1 hour RTO. Thanks to Virtustream’s multiple data centers with built-in replication; Implementing DR at the time of migration only resulted in minimal additional costs, but doing the same in a traditional hosting environment would have cost the company 2X more.|
|Predictable Costs||Unplanned CapEx expenses, making it difficult to predict and utilize economies of scale.||Easy to plan monthly fee, cost is a service, not an asset. Fixed costs for hosting and managed services – making it easier to budget. Reduced CapEx for projects. Possible to plan department level cost allocation for computer usage. Lanx is able to avoid costs associated|
|System Performance||Slower performance associated with operating on older hardware and software. Limited staff to tweak infrastructure to optimize SAP performance.||Upgrades to latest hardware & software. The migration included upgrading the OS from Windows 2003 R2 to Windows 2008 R2. The databases were upgraded from SQL Server 2005 to SQL Server 2008 R2, and the SAP Kernel, which had not been upgraded since the original go- live in January 2009, was upgraded to 7.2. patch-level 300. |
The Virtustream infrastructure, optimized for operating SAP in virtual environments, increased the overall speed of Lanx’s SAP transaction processing by 20-50%. Despite going-live at the end of the year, when Lanx system usage is 20% higher than average, system performance improved. These performance gains have resulted in greater productivity for the entire company. Virtustream and Freeborders also helped Lanx IT define and implement SLAs to clarify expectations and create a common understanding across the organization.
Despite the accelerated timeline, the project began moving ahead of schedule and Lanx decided to move its systems over to the cloud piece by piece, ahead of schedule —reporting systems seamlessly went live in a hosted environment at the 35-day mark and immediately exhibited faster, improved performance. SAP development and quality systems went live shortly thereafter. Lanx’s production environment was scheduled to go next, but the networking provider had fallen behind on installing a MPLS connection to Virtustream. To stay on schedule with the targeted go-live date, the team decided to proceed with the VPN connection. The company could switch to the primary connection once it was up and running later, but going live with the VPN allowed Lanx to meet its aggressive timeline with no impact to the business. Had the networking components been established earlier in the implementation process, time to deployment could have been achieved in as little as five weeks.