4-page Case Study
Posted: 6/9/2011
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Mitsui & Co.,LTD. Trading Firm Standardizes on IT System Running in Innovative Private Cloud

Mitsui & Co.,LTD. is a large Japanese trading company based in Tokyo. As part of its long-term business vision, the firm needed to ensure it had the right technology in place to help adapt to rapid market changes. Mitsui also sought to consolidate its existing IT infrastructure, which included separate IT environments at 14 business units. To meet these goals, Mitsui deployed a new core system called MIRAI, which is based on SAP ERP Central Component 6.0. The company runs the system in an innovative private cloud based on Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V virtualization technology. It also uses Microsoft SQL Server 2008 for the 1-terabyte database. Now, Mitsui has a centrally managed IT environment that is less taxing on IT staff. The flexible solution also reduces the company’s data storage needs for SQL Server back up by up to 86 percent, increases availability, and helps Mitsui prepare for the future.

Situation

Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, Mitsui & Co.,LTD. is a large and growing trading company. The organization’s 135-year history is one of challenge and creation. Dissolved after World War II, Mitsui returned to life in 1959 through the large-scale merger of several companies.

Since that time, Mitsui has adapted to a variety of global changes, including the declining trading company theory of the 1960s, the “wintertime trading company era” of the 1980s, and the structural reform of the 1990s. Mitsui has focused on its business and expanded globally.

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* By applying the Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V environment as an integrated foundation, we have increased the agility of Mitsui as a whole.  *

Yuji Mano
General Manager, Information Strategy Planning Dept. Corporate Planning & Strategy Div.
Mitsui & Co.,LTD.

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In 2009, as part of its long-term business vision, “Dynamic Evolution as a 21st Century Global Business Enabler,” Mitsui laid out benchmarks for the next decade for rapidly adapting to a market that is changing more than ever. Information Technology is at the heart of that vision. “Management strategy and information strategy are two sides of the same coin. IT is very significant to achieving this vision,” says Yuji Mano, General Manager, Information Strategy Planning Dept. of the Corporate Planning & Strategy Div., Mitsui & Co.,LTD. “In the past, it was the norm to build major systems completely from scratch and use them for 5 or 10 years. However, we are no longer living in those times. In our times, the market continues to change globally en masse. I think that, in order to efficiently support the strength of the people working on the front lines, IT also has to rapidly adapt to this dynamic change.”

One of the firm’s major strategies toward adapting to changes has been to review its relationships with its IT vendors. Recently, Mitsui presented a request for proposal (RFP) to several vendors, making it clear that all vendors needed to have a routine understanding of the Mitsui management and information strategies. Following the RFP, Mitsui narrowed down the list of IT system vendors and decided to work with them on a daily basis as partners. Additionally, in order to construct a new IT system that addresses market changes, the company’s Information Technology Subcommittee is engaged in research and development efforts to study new

Mitsui & Co.,LTD.
Mitsui & Co.,LTD.
technology from a user perspective.

As part of its IT vision, Mitsui also sought to consolidate its disparate IT infrastructure so it would be easier to manage the environment for the globally expanding firm. Mitsui currently has 14 business units, spanning the firm’s four main business fields: Mineral Resources and Energy, Global Marketing Networks, Consumer Services, and Infrastructure. The company is also pushing forward with business in cooperation with a variety of affiliates in Japan and abroad. However, there was a high degree of independence between regions, products, and affiliates, and IT networks and systems were all constructed and managed individually.

Of the newer technologies that Mitsui has explored, cloud services promises the greatest impact for the company. “When one mentions ‘cloud,’ the word ‘inexpensive’ comes to mind, but what is more important is that it dramatically changes how we do our jobs,” says Mano.

For example, Mitsui is engaged in global mergers and acquisitions, but some of the companies that Mitsui has purchased do not have their own internal IT systems. These companies need to quickly construct new systems before they start operating as part of Mitsui & Co.,LTD. “In cases like this, with cloud services, the required resources and systems can be allocated relatively easily,” says Mano. “Mitsui & Co.,LTD. includes new companies that are coming in and some that are leaving. With systems changing, the necessity and non-necessity of systems also changes drastically. Cloud services are extremely effective in constructing infrastructure for these conditions.”

With these factors in mind, in 2009 Mitsui set out to find a new cloud-based solution to support its long-term IT vision.

Solution

In late 2010, Mitsui introduced MIRAI, a new solution that updated the company’s previous IT systems. MIRAI includes SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) 6.0 and SAP NetWeaver BW 7.0 running in a private cloud built with Hyper-V virtualization technology in the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system with Service Pack 1. This solution offers high availability through the use of failover clustering and the Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Live Migration feature. Mitsui uses Microsoft SQL Server 2008 data management software for the database and manages the system using Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008.

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* By using a cluster configuration and applying the Windows Server 2008 R2 Live Migration feature, we are able to realize the flexible operation required for a cloud services environment.  *

Haruhiko Kuroda
Deputy General Manager, Information Technology Promotion DIV
Mitsui & Co.,LTD.

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Mitsui had been developing a private cloud infrastructure based on Hyper-V since the launch of Windows Server 2008 R2 in October 2009. The company has also evaluated and successfully tested the Windows Azure cloud services operating system, giving it high marks for usefulness.

Yuji Mano, General Manager, Information Strategy Planning Dept. Corporate Planning & Strategy Div.
Yuji Mano, General Manager,
Information Strategy Planning Dept.
Corporate Planning & Strategy Div.
Prior to configuring MIRAI, Mitsui conducted extensive testing based on policies established by the Information Technology Subcommittee. At the beginning of testing, some on-site personnel were uneasy about migrating SAP systems to Hyper-V. They also were unsure if the company’s 1-terabyte database could be supported by SQL Server 2008. “Our concerns were removed through testing,” says Haruhiko Kuroda, Deputy General Manager, IT Promotion Div., Mitsui & Co.,LTD,. The company runs all SAP AP servers on Hyper-V, but the database server for the production environment remains on a physical server. This is because the database server requests 16,000 SAPS (SAP Application Performance Standard) and found that needs 8 cores, while Hyper-V current versions support up to 4 cores only. But, “When Hyper-V support 8-core , our environment will be shifted to the virtual server” Kuroda says.

The construction of the private cloud and new core system is only the beginning of the system that Mitsui hopes to ultimately have in place. “At Mitsui, the Information Technology Subcommittee is assembling a system foundation architecture to support applications as‘Mitsui IT Landscape’, but the construction of the private cloud and the SAP version are just one step in this process,” says Kuroda. “The fact that it was possible to set up virtual environments quickly in response to needs contributed greatly to our ability to proceed with the MIRAI project as scheduled.”

Mitsui has appointed Mitsui Knowledge Industry Co. as a core technology partner in supporting the new solution.

Benefits

The MIRAI solution helps Mitsui standardize management of its IT environment, which eases the overall burden on IT staff. The solution also provides flexibility and compresses the company’s database backup size by 86 percent. Additionally, MIRAI boosts system availability and gives Mitsui a solid IT infrastructure on which to build for future business growth.

“By applying the Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V environment as an integrated foundation, we have increased the agility of Mitsui as a whole,” says Mano.

Standardizes System Management

With its new MIRAI solution, Mitsui has standardized its previously disparate IT infrastructure throughout the organization. “MIRAI was constructed not just with virtualization technology but also with a private cloud foundation using Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V, making it possible to use it across the whole organization,” says Kuroda. “Because we were able to standardize environments that previously differed by system, our operation as a whole is more efficient.”

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* SQL Server 2008 backup compression has made it possible for us to greatly reduce our required storage capacity even more than we originally estimated, surpassing our expectations.  *

Haruhiko Kuroda
Deputy General Manager, Information Technology Promotion DIV.
Mitsui & Co.,LTD.

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In addition, System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 provides comprehensive and efficient management of the Hyper-V cloud environment. “There is a clear road map for System Center products here, and we are grateful that it is easy to draw up plans for the future,” Kuroda says. “There are also plans to use System Center Operations Manager, System Center Configuration Manager, and Microsoft Opalis software. These products will help make management processes more efficient and automated, and improve operations.”

In addition, system construction is less costly than when physical servers had to be purchased and operated by each region.

Eases Burden on IT Staff

The organization’s previous, disparate IT infrastructure placed a huge burden on operational units and affiliates.

Haruhiko Kuroda, Deputy General Manager,Information Technology Promotion DIV.
Haruhiko Kuroda,
Deputy General Manager,
Information Technology Promotion DIV.
For instance, each IT office had to procure its own servers and manage its own operations. Now, with a standardized IT infrastructure, regional Mitsui IT employees do not need to spend as much time on server management and other tasks. “The greatest advantage of constructing our current system is that we were able to release individual operational units from burdens related to system foundations,” says Mano. “Also, because our affiliates are using cloud resources, there is no reason for operational units and affiliates to worry about the overall infrastructure, and personnel no longer have to be allocated to server management.”

Also, the new solution is helping Mitsui IT staff respond faster to employee needs. “With this project, we have a new IT foundation that helps IT staff speedily respond to individual demands, while eliminating the on-site burden,” Mano says. For example, Mitsui IT employees will be able to respond better to requests for new applications. “Our employees are becoming more conscious of IT as an important tool in realizing their own strategies, and they feel they can more easily accomplish what they need to,” says Mano. “That is extremely significant for us as company.”

Offers Flexibility, Reduces Storage Needs

Using System Center Virtual Machine Manager, Mitsui has more flexibility in terms of infrastructure management. “By using a cluster configuration and applying the Windows Server 2008 R2 Live Migration feature, we are able to realize the flexible operation required for a cloud services environment,” says Kuroda. “With Hyper-V, it is easy to set up virtual servers and use them for other applications. As a result, we can move forward with projects very efficiently.”

Mitsui is also taking advantage of SQL Server 2008 backup compression functionality, which is reducing the company’s database backup size by up to 86 percent. “SQL Server 2008 backup compression has made it possible for us to greatly reduce our required storage capacity even more than we originally estimated, surpassing our expectations,” Kuroda says.

Improves System Availability

With SQL Server 2008, Mitsui has also been able to improve system availability. “By using SQL Server 2008 database mirroring, we can increase resistance to system breakdowns,” says Kuroda. “In addition, this makes it possible for us to carry out regular maintenance without stopping the entire system, which increases availability.”

Mitsui is also using the log shipping feature in SQL Server 2008, which makes it possible for the company to quickly create disaster recovery sites if needed.

Provides Foundation for Growth

The current solution gives Mitsui a solid foundation on which to build. Mitsui is planning to move to a hybrid cloud solution that combines private and public cloud infrastructures. The firm is testing the Windows Azure environment. “With Windows Azure, when executing applications, we can increase or reduce virtual environments according to our needs,” says Kuroda.

Mitsui also plans to implement Microsoft Lync 2010 and Lync Server 2010 to improve employee communications. “Because we do business on a global scale, being able to freely select from communications tools such as the phone, email, instant messaging, and web conferencing will be a major advantage,” says Kuroda. “By introducing Microsoft Lync, we will be able to better communicate globally.”

Microsoft Server Product Portfolio

For more information about the Microsoft server product portfolio, go to:
www.microsoft.com/servers

For More Information

For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
www.microsoft.com

For more information about Mitsui products and services, visit the Web site at:
www.mitsui.com

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 6100 employees

Organization Profile

Mitsui & Co.,LTD is a growing Japanese global trading company, doing business with a range of trading partners throughout the world. The firm has more than 6,100 employees.


Business Situation

Mitsui wanted to implement a new IT infrastructure to better adapt to market changes. Mitsui also sought to consolidate its disparate IT environment.


Solution

Mitsui deployed Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V virtualization technology, Microsoft SQL Server 2008, and SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) 6.0.


Benefits

  • Standardizes system management
  • Eases burden on IT staff
  • Offers flexibility, reduces storage needs
  • Improves system availability
  • Provides foundation for growth


Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1
  • Hyper-V Dynamic Memory

Vertical Industries
Logistics

Country/Region
Japan

Business Need
  • Mission Critical
  • Business Critical

IT Issue
  • Data Warehousing
  • Cloud Services
  • Virtualization
  • High Availability

Languages
English

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