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Global manufacturing firm moves SAP enterprise system to Linux

Cliff Saran
The Linux operating system reached a landmark last week when a global manufacturer moved its SAP enterprise software system onto a Linux-based mainframe.

Endress+Hauser, a global manufacturer of process control equipment, has moved its Unix-based SAP R/3 system onto a mainframe running Linux software that runs the company's main business operations.

The migration is one of the first examples of a large company moving a core IT system onto Linux. Although Linux has been gaining in popularity as a Microsoft alternative, few companies have deployed Linux for enterprise-class applications.

Endress+Hauser started running its SAP R/3 ERP system on SuSE Linux, which has been rolled out across all production facilities to 3,500 users. The ERP system is supported by 19 partitions on an IBM zSeries 990 mainframe. The partitions use IBM's z/VM server virtualisation technology to divide the processing workload of the application across 19 virtual servers. To achieve this, the SAP application uses 36 zSeries processors running on two z990 mainframes.

Jan Olaf, manager of marketing sales at Endress+Hauser, said, "We have migrated to Linux because of the performance [benefits]. It is faster and easier to maintain."

He said Linux was also cost effective. "We are growing fast and have to manage all new SAP systems with the same IT staff. We have increased the number of applications and locations from 1,500 SAP users to 3,500, without increasing IT staff."

Olaf added that the benefit of the migration to Linux has been faster back-up and recovery. He estimated the system could now recover IT systems disrupted in the event of a disaster 10% to 20% more quickly than under the previous Unix operating system.

The migration to Linux took a team of two IT staff a year to complete and involved moving 19 production applications and 61 test, quality and development systems.

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