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Posted: 8/7/2013
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Incitec Pivot Limited Manufacturer Speeds SAP Performance and Helps Employees Make Better Decisions

Incitec Pivot Limited (IPL), which has major manufacturing and distribution operations in Australia, the Americas, Europe, and Asia, is a global leader in the production of industrial explosives and fertilisers for the mining and agricultural industries. Because the company wanted to upgrade its large SAP environment to gain better performance and standardize systems, it migrated to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 software. As a result, IPL employees can access data faster and make better decisions, and the company has reduced some batch processing jobs from 24 hours to 2. Also, the firm has a better disaster-recovery solution in place and can restore its systems faster than before.


Business Needs

Incitec Pivot Limited (IPL) manufactures and markets explosives and fertilisers to customers in many countries. The company’s explosives are used to extract minerals including iron ore, coal, and gold, and its fertilisers help increase the production of food and natural fibers.

IPL manages a large, 2,500-user SAP environment running on two databases, including SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) and modules for accounting, materials management, sales and distribution, logistics, and plant maintenance. “Our SAP environment is critical to our business,” says Boon Beh, Vice President of Information Technology, Americas at IPL. “We need to make sure that it’s performing well, so employees get the business data they need as fast as possible. We needed to upgrade to the latest SAP releases to support business requirements.”

IPL also sought to standardize the database software and hardware among all of its business units, including Dyno Nobel, a company that it acquired in 2008. Dyno Nobel had been running its SAP system on Microsoft SQL Server software. “Dyno Nobel was on SQL Server, which was actually showing great performance,” says Gary Eckman, IT Infrastructure Team Lead at IPL.

In late 2011, IPL decided to standardize the entire company on Intel commodity hardware, as well as Windows Server and SQL Server. “It seemed like the right time to upgrade IPL to SQL Server,” says Beh.

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* Because SQL Server 2008 R2 helps us process more data and access it faster, we can make better decisions and analysis about pricing considerations and where products should be shipped. *

Boon Beh
Vice President of Information Technology, Americas
Incitec Pivot Limited

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Solution

IPL engaged local technology partner BNW Consulting to assist in migrating the IPL and Dyno Nobel SAP environments to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise running on the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system.

In early 2012, BNW helped IPL complete the migration, in addition to upgrading its hardware to Dell PowerEdge R720 servers and moving IPL to a virtual server environment

Following standard SAP migration procedures and using SAP database migration tools, BNW completed the migration with no issues. “The migration process has matured over the years to a point where we can migrate any customer to SQL Server in a weekend,” says Warwick Chai, Principal and Founder of BNW Consulting. IPL also took advantage of database compression functionality in SQL Server 2008 R2 to reduce the size of its database.

Benefits

With its new, higher-performing SQL Server 2008 R2–based solution, IPL employees can access data faster and make better decisions, and the company has cut some processing jobs from 24 hours to 2. The company has also expanded its disaster-recovery capabilities and can restore systems 80 percent faster.

Helps Employees Access Data Faster and Make Better Decisions About Products

With SQL Server 2008 R2 powering its SAP system, IPL is seeing 50 percent faster database query times. “With SQL Server 2008 R2 and our new hardware, we’re seeing millisecond query response times, which is a huge win for our users,” says Beh. “That means our employees who need to get at data for analytical purposes can access it much faster than before.”

Because IPL workers can get to critical business data faster, the organization can make more-informed decisions about the business. “Because SQL Server 2008 R2 helps us process more data and access it faster, we can make better decisions and analysis about pricing considerations and where products should be shipped,” says Beh. “That ultimately means we can deliver our products to customers faster.”

Cuts Processing Jobs from 24 Hours to 2 and Eases Management

IPL has also benefited from reduced batch processing times, a direct result of the new solution’s improved performance. “Some batch processing jobs that could take 24 hours before can now be completed in about 2 hours, because of this SQL Server 2008 R2–based solution,” says Eckman. “That’s a big time savings, and it means we can direct our staff elsewhere to work on more important IT projects.”

Additionally, because the IT infrastructure is now streamlined across the entire IPL business, system management is greatly simplified. “By aligning all of our business units and standardizing on SQL Server 2008 R2, we have greatly streamlined maintenance,” says Eckman. “We’re down to just one environment to support our SAP system, instead of trying to manage different database software and hardware. Everything is unified, which makes my job easier and less time-consuming.”

Provides Stronger Business Continuity and Restores Systems Faster

Using database compression in SQL Server 2008 R2, IPL has been able to reduce backup volumes. “With the compression capabilities in SQL Server 2008 R2, we’ve been able to greatly reduce our backup database size,” says Beh. “That gave us the confidence to expand our disaster recovery across the globe. So instead of a regional disaster-recovery site for each SAP instance, we have now consolidated to one site in the United States. Our business continuity is much stronger as a result.”

IPL has also been able to lower the time it takes to restore its systems. “With our new hardware, better disaster recovery processes, and the database compression in SQL Server 2008 R2, we’ve been able to lower our service level agreement statistics,” says Beh. “Previously, it took 24 hours to restore our systems in a disaster- recovery test, but we can do it in less than 2 hours now. That’s another great example of how this solution was the right choice for our business.”

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



Organization Size: 5000 employees

Organization Profile

Incitec Pivot Limited makes and distributes industrial explosives and fertilisers. It is ranked the Number One supplier of industrial explosives and related products and services in North America and the Number One supplier of fertilisers in Australia.


Hardware
  • Dell PowerEdge 720 server computers

Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise

Vertical Industries
Life Sciences, Chemicals; Oil & Gas, Mining

Country/Region
Australia

Business Need
  • Business Productivity
  • Mission Critical

IT Issue
  • Integration with SAP
  • Data Migrations
  • High Availability

Languages
English

Partner(s)
BNW Consulting

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