4-page Case Study
Posted: 1/8/2014
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Quanta Computer Quanta Computer Boosts Performance of Its SAP ERP System with In-Memory Technology

As a global leader in high-tech deliverables, Quanta Computer generates more than half a terabyte of new data each month. To help manage its exponential growth, protect investments including a storage area network (SAN), and maintain high availability and fast performance, Quanta upgraded its SAP infrastructure, with more than 25 terabytes of data, to the Microsoft platform and Intel-based hardware. The 64-bit solution uses built-in features including data and Unicode compression in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2. With its new solution, Quanta can compress data by up to 90 percent, use its existing SAN, cut costs, boost performance, deliver response times of less than 400 milliseconds, and deliver high availability and security. The successful use of SQL Server 2008 R2 at Quanta and other companies has also prompted SAP to enable compression in its default software settings.

Situation

Quanta Computer is the world’s largest manufacturer of laptops, with an annual revenue of TWD1.06 trillion (US$37 billion). In 2011, it ranked ninth on the list of the “World’s Most Admired Computing Companies” by Fortune magazine.

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* SQL Server 2012 in combination with Fusion-io products has allowed Quanta to achieve ‘in-memory’ performance on a commodity Intel server platform at a reasonable cost. *

T. J. Fang
Chief Information Officer
Quanta Computer

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The company manages an international logistics network that includes more than 70,000 employees. These workers collaborate to design, develop, and manufacture high-value products and devices for brands such as ACER, Apple, Cisco, Compaq, Amazon, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Sony, and Toshiba.

Managing such a large global operation requires an enterprise-grade IT infrastructure. To meet this challenge, Quanta depends on the Microsoft platform to support its mission-critical applications. For example, the company uses Microsoft SQL Server software and the Windows Server operating system to support its SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and PTC Windchill product lifecycle management software.

Solution

Quanta relied on Microsoft products and services to help it complete three significant IT projects.

9:1 Project

In 2007, Quanta began consolidating its three largest SAP instances into a single instance with one SAP client. The project involved upgrading the existing SAP R/3 4.6C system to SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) 6.0 on 64-bit Windows and SQL Server. The solution, which went live in July 2008, supported more than 8 million SAP dialog steps per day with an average total response time of half a second.

By the end of 2008, exponential corporate growth was adding more than half a terabyte of new data to the SAP database eachmonth. “Our transaction volume and business requirements mean we have to keep a lot of data online rather than archived,” says T. J. Fang, Chief Information Officer at Quanta Computer. “Our SAP database growth rate meant we had only a matter of months until our storage area network would need to be upgraded or replaced. We needed to find a new solution.”

In early 2009, Quanta worked with the SQL Server Customer Advisory Team and Microsoft Services Premier Support to implement SQL Server 2008 R2 page compression. Upgrading to SQL 2008 R2 required only four hours of scheduled downtime. In addition, engineers were able to compress database tables while the SAP system was online—without visibly slowing system performance.


Intel Upgrade Project

In April 2011, ongoing corporate growth pushed the SAP database to more than 10 terabytes of compressed data—about 25 terabytes of uncompressed data.


Because the new servers provide more RAM, engineers were able to increase the SQL Server data cache. The company then maximized its usage of the larger cache by continuing to use the data compression capabilities in SQL Server 2008 R2.Quanta plans to use database mirroring in SQL Server 2008 R2 to support a real-time replica of the SAP database at a different site in Taiwan or abroad. To protect the replicated system from application-level corruption, engineers will continue to use log shipping to store a copy of all changes made to the production system over the past 24 hours.

Fusion-io “In-Memory” Effect Upgrade

In August 2013, business requirements for real-time reporting and improved query performance had also increased. The existing storage area network had also reached end of life. “Multiple database vendors were now offering ‘in-memory’ solutions,’” said Lee. Quanta sought a solution that would deliver excellent performance and provide true enterprise-grade technologies for high availability and disaster recovery. The solution would also need to be simple to install and manage, offer excellent support, and achieve all of these requirements at a reasonable cost.

Quanta chose to take advantage of SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn, as well as technologies such as Fusion ioMemory and other solid state drive (SSD) type of solutions that offer much better performance than its previous large Fibre Channel Enterprise storage area network. AlwaysOn is used to provide high availability in case of a hardware failure on a server or disk. It does not depend on shared disk storage and is well-suited to solutions based on Fusion-io products.

Benefits

By upgrading its mission-critical SAP infrastructure to SQL Server 2012 Enterprise, AlwaysOn and Fusion-io products, Quanta took advantage of an “in-memory” solution to boost performance, achieved subsecond response times, and provided high availability and security.

Gains In-Memory Performance

Quanta gained significant performance improvements after retiring its storage area network and moving all database storage to Fusion ioMemory products directly connected to the server system board. The ultra-fast flash memory reduced disk read and write times from 10 milliseconds to 200 microseconds. With SQL Server 2012 compression, Fusion-io, and a very large amount of RAM, Quanta was able to eliminate physical I/O (input/output) latencies and achieve in-memory performance.

There are some differences between ‘in-memory’ implementations between database vendors such as latched and latchless models, however Quanta is most concerned with performance and ease of use. “SQL Server 2012 meets or exceeds all these requirements. SQL Server has enterprise high availability and disaster recovery as well as backup and check database features. It does not require expensive appliances and it can be virtualized. And the solution provides these capabilities in the standard product that we can use today.”


Compresses Data by up to 90 Percent and Protects Investments

By taking advantage of the built-in data compression capabilities in SQL Server 2012, Quanta reduced the size of its SAP database by 15 terabytes.

As detailed in Table 1 (On page 5) reductions include cutting the size of the SAP ACCTIT table from 211 GB to 26 GB—and compressing the SAP COSP table from 462 GB to 89 GB.

Cuts Costs and Increases Performance

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* Our mission-critical SAP system supports core financials, logistics, and supply chain operations for employees worldwide. By running it on the Microsoft platform, we can achieve the high levels of availability and security that we require.  *

T. J. Fang
Information Officer
Quanta Computer

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With its new solution that includes industry-standard, Intel-based hardware, Quanta can implement a single affordable, high-performance data platform. “Major vendors have commoditized operating systems and databases in terms of features and capabilities,” explains Fang. “By using the Microsoft platform and Intel processors to support our mission-critical architecture, we can meet or exceed performance requirements of internal business users and customers at a much lower cost than solutions built with competitive technologies.”

For example, the Intel processors in the HP DL980 G7 servers use the Nehalem EX and Westmere microarchitectures that deliver the same or better performance than competitive systems at a fraction of the cost. “Quanta started running SAP R/3 3.1 on Windows Server and SQL Server more than 12 years ago, when the Intel platform was limited to 32-bit technologies,” says Fang. “However, today there is no difference in performance or reliability between UNIX hardware and systems like the HP DL980.”

Delivers Subsecond Response Times

Quanta realizes additional performance gains by using the compression capabilities in SQL Server 2012. One reason for the accelerated speeds is that the smaller, compressed data sets reduce disk I/O. In addition, page compression stores a repeating value only once per page (and uses a pointer to indicate where that value is), which also minimizes processing requirements. Fang adds, “Because data compression in SQL Server 2012 reduces page size, it enables us to have more data in the cache. As a result, we have improved the overall performance of our systems.”

Data compression accelerates performance in other ways as well. “With SQL Server background, while users continue to access the information,” says Fang. “There is only a minor, virtually undetectable, performance hit from compressing tables online.”

Elaborating on the solution’s speed, Lee says, “Our end users have seen a large improvement in batch job performance since we implemented SQL Server 2012. In fact, our average dialog response time is below 400 milliseconds even during peak processing times at the end of each month.”

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* By using the Microsoft platform and Intel processors to support our mission-critical architecture, we can meet or exceed performance requirements of internal business users and customers at a much lower cost than solutions built with competitive technologies.  *

T. J. Fang
Chief Information Officer
Quanta Computer

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Provides HIgh Availability and Security

By taking advantage of built-in solution capabilities, Quanta facilitates high levels of availability. For example, Quanta uses failover clustering in Windows Server 2012 and data compression in SQL Server 2012 to facilitate round-the-clock data access. “Quanta Computer operates assembly factories 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” explains Fang. “Planned or unplanned system downtime is not acceptable to our business users or our customers. Our mission-critical SAP system supports core financials, logistics, and supply chain operations for employees worldwide. By running it on the Microsoft platform, we can achieve the high levels of availability and security that we require.”

To eliminate any requirement to restart the SAP system at regular intervals, Quanta engineers reduced the update requirements of Windows Server to the same level as a UNIX platform. They accomplished this by taking steps such as removing the Windows Internet Explorer browser from the database and SAP application servers. “Windows Server 2012 is a very secure operating system and installs only the bare minimum functionality by default,” says Lee. “However, by removing Internet Explorer and running the Windows Security Configuration Wizard, we harden the security of our servers.”

Commenting on the evolution of availability and security in the Microsoft platform, Lee says, “Older versions of Windows Server required frequent software updates, but this is no longer a requirement.” Database security has also been a nonissue for Quanta over the years. He adds, “SQL Server very rarely has any security updates, and many years can pass without one.” In fact, data from the National Institute of Standards and Technology shows that for the past 10 years, Microsoft SQL Server is the most secure database platform with the least number of vulnerabilities.

Simplifies IT for Other SAP Customers

Quanta is just one of hundreds of SAP customers that have significantly increased performance and reduced costs by implementing SQL Server 2012 and its built-in features such as data compression. As a result, SAP has modified its applications’ default settings to support 100 percent page compression of tables and indexes for all new installations, upgrades, or migrations to SQL Server 2012 databases. Although SAP software can run on numerous data platforms, SQL Server is the first database for which SAP selected to compress data by default.


Microsoft Server Product Portfolio

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

For more information about Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and SAP go to:
www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/en/us/solutions-technologies/sap.aspx

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 Quanta Computer products and services, call (886) 33272345 or visit the website at: www.quanta.com.tw/Quanta/english/Default.aspx

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



Organization Size: 70000 employees

Organization Profile
Established in 1988, Quanta Computer is the world’s largest original design manufacturer of laptops. The Taiwan-based, Fortune Global 500 company has more than 30,000 employees.

Business Situation
Quanta needed a high-performance in-memory solution for an SAP ERP OLTP system that would accelerate business processes at a reasonable cost.

Solution

The company upgraded its 64-bit SAP infrastructure to Microsoft SQL Server 2012, Windows Server 2012, and Intel-based HP servers.


Benefits

  • Compresses data by up to 90 percent and protects investments
  • Cuts costs and increases performance
  • Facilitates subsecond response times
  • Provides high availability and security
  • Simplifies IT for other SAP customers


Hardware
  • HP DL980 G7 server computer with 1 terabyte of RAM
  • 5x Fusion ioDrive2 3.0TB
  • Intel Xeon X7560 processors

Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Microsoft Services Premier Support

Vertical Industries
High Tech & Electronics

Country/Region
Taiwan

Business Need
  • Mission Critical
  • Business Productivity

IT Issue
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • Integration with SAP

Languages
English

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