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Eveready powers mission-critical enterprise resource planning project with Red Hat Enterprise Linux
April 6, 2010
Customer: Eveready Industries India Limited
Converting a closely interwoven and complex distribution model into a unified solution to automate the company’s sales and distribution backbone
Sun Solaris to Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Eveready chose Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform, including built-in clustering technologies, as the base platform to implement its mission-critical Oracle E-Business Suite ERP solution
Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform, Oracle E-Business Suite 11i, Oracle DB with 800 GB
Intel Xeon processor-based servers including HP ProLiant and Dell
Simplified management and gained complete freedom to scale up using low-cost commodity hardware; significant TCO reduction by saving on unnecessary licensing fees, installing security patches, and reducing routine server hardening checks to a bare minimum. “Red Hat Enterprise Linux has greatly simplified management and given us complete freedom to scale up using low-cost commodity hardware with absolutely no compromise in performance or reliability. We have managed to achieve a significant TCO reduction by saving on unnecessary licensing fees that are associated with proprietary operating systems. The system is working so flawlessly that I feel that it’s impossible to go wrong with Red Hat.” Arup Choudhury, general manager, IT, Eveready Industries Ltd.
Eveready Industries India Ltd. (EIIL) is Indiaand#x2019;s leading manufacturer of dry cell batteries and flashlights, and the worldand#x2019;s third largest carbon-zinc battery manufacturer. The flagship of Williamson Magor Group, Eveready started its operation in 1905. The company holds the distinction of setting up the largest torch manufacturing facility of its kind in Southeast Asia. The first dry cell batteries sold by Eveready were imported from the US in a consignment valued at less than Rs 500 ($10). Today, Eveready has registered a turnover of close to Rs 1000 crore ($200 million), establishing a diverse product portfolio ranging from carbon zinc batteries, flashlights, and rechargeables, to packet tea, which sell under the Greendale brand. The company has established a power brand repertoire for itself, with its unforgettable and#x201c;Give Me Redand#x201d; media campaign. In 2009, Eveready acquired controlling stake in Uniross SA of France, which is a leading rechargeable battery manufacturer.
An important factor that has contributed to Eveready’s dominance in the market has been its investment in developing a formidable distribution network across the length and breadth of the country. Apart from a traditional urban distribution system comprising distributors, retail stockists, wholesalers, and retailers, it reaches out to the rural sector through a unique van distribution system that helps them reach more than two million shops all over India.
At Eveready, the legacy environment consisted of a sales and distribution module designed on Oracle and Java implemented at the sales branches. At the plants, a Materials Management System (MATMAN) was implemented based on Sybase and APT in 1992. A financial and payroll system was coded by the company’s own internal development team, again on Sybase and APT.
Sybase servers ran on Sun Solaris, while Oracle-Java app servers were hosted on Windows 2000 (earlier powered by Windows NT 4.0). Solaris was deployed on 10 application and database servers, while 14 branch offices and the head office’s internal LAN were configured on 25 Windows 2000 servers.
Understandably, the challenges associated with managing such a closely interwoven and complex distribution model were immense. A unified solution to automate the sales and distribution backbone became absolutely essential. Another cause of concern was the company’s diverse geographical presence, which created the need for establishing a zero time-lag service and support model. Moreover, the disparate nature of business applications and server environments made administration and maintenance an arduous task.
Arup Choudhury, general manager of IT at Eveready Industries Ltd., explains, “Using technology to manage 15 sales branches and nine manufacturing plants, plus an additional mobile distribution operation in rural sectors, is an extremely formidable task. Our legacy environment was disparate, built on a heterogeneous demand-based architecture. This created a need for establishing a single point of contact.”
Eveready began to analyze the possibility of selecting a robust, scalable architecture that could adapt to virtually any deployment scenario, be it running a highly mission-critical ERP solution on an Intel 64-bit platform, or powering mail servers and managing proxy servers. Dynamic growth created the need for immediate scalability of infrastructure, i.e. technology needed to scale both proportionally and rapidly. As the company’s Solaris servers were running on expensive RISC-based hardware, increasing computing power implied an added strain on annual IT budgets. A system that could support maximum users on inexpensive hardware became the need of the hour. Eveready began looking for a mature, stable platform to host its mission-critical ERP that could deliver enterprise-class performance without the high capital expenditure and platform lock-in involved with UNIX-RISC machines.
Having already experienced the benefits of using Red Hat Enterprise Linux on the mail-proxy end in 2002, Eveready was convinced that the solution was bankable enough to power its entire mission-critical ERP infrastructure.
The company decided to invest in an expensive, but necessary, ERP project, which could map the existing framework to a next practices model driven by new ideas being generated within the organization and being implemented to meet the business goals. To further this vision, Eveready chose to implement Oracle E-Business Suite 11i.5.9 on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Eveready has managed to set up an ERP powerhouse on basic, low-cost Intel-based serversRed Hat Enterprise Linux powers Oracle 11i on two Dell 4-CPU Xeon MP 2.7 GHz machines with 4 GB RAM each, attached to an EMC shared storage box. Over the last four years, as the data volume and number of users increased, the transaction load also increased gradually. This led Eveready to move to a newer version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. “In Eveready, we have a sales scenario, typical in FMCG, where most of the sale happens in the last three to four days of the month. In that period, the system handles as high as 25,000 invoices per day for all the warehouses,” explains Choudhury.
Today, Eveready has one testing and development server that runs Oracle 11i on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and two production servers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which are networked to an external storage area network (SAN) configured in a failover mode. “The Oracle database server is fully utilizing the 64-bit capabilities of Red Hat Enterprise Linux,” says Choudhury. Currently, there are 225 users using this system and the total database size is more than 800 GB with the data volume growing by 10 GB per month.
All services, including database, authentication, infrastructure, forms, and web services, have been distributed between the two nodes. With Red Hat’s clustering technology, these services get transparently transferred to the running node from the failed node with minimal delay, which is typically within a few seconds. Red Hat’s clustering provides an automatic failover solution from one node to the other. “We implemented the Red Hat clustering to ensure redundancy and 100 percent uptime,” says Choudhury.
Today Eveready has built a highly mission-critical resource system to automate all functionalities of its day-to-day business on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux platform. The approximate budget allocated for the ERP project was Rs 5.5 crore [$1.1 million], including hardware and networking costs. With stakes running high, Eveready wanted to ensure that the ERP initiative would achieve the desired ROI, making Red Hat Enterprise Linux and its integrated clustering an ideal solution to bank upon.
For Eveready, Red Hat Enterprise Linux delivered complete assurance and freedom to both modify and retain components of its existing IT infrastructure. Today at Eveready, Red Hat Enterprise Linux is being used across a wide variety of applications, ranging from powering the company’s mission-critical ERP system to running mail servers.
Says Choudhury, “Red Hat Enterprise Linux has greatly simplified management and given us complete freedom to scale up using low-cost commodity hardware, with absolutely no compromise in performance or reliability. Migration from our legacy environment was seamless, and all applications have been shifted to Oracle E-Business Suite on Enterprise Linux successfully.”
Looking back, Choudhury is glad that he tried Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Eveready’s tryst with Red Hat Enterprise Linux first began in 2002, when the company installed Sendmail on its mail server and Squid on its proxy server. With the number of mailboxes/users growing rapidly, the performance of the Sendmail server running Red Hat Enterprise Linux has remained intact at Eveready. The overall benefits leveraged by Red Hat on the mail server end made Choudhury conclude that Red Hat was the perfect choice for powering Eveready’s mission-critical ERP infrastructure. Probably one of its strongest benefits, Red Hat Enterprise Linux preserves hardware investments and guarantees the longevity of computing assetsso even if your organization expands, Red Hat Enterprise Linux can scale up without any challenges.
Switching from a 32-bit installation to 64-bit is as easy as a few mouse clicks on the Red Hat Network, at no additional charge. No expensive software upgrades necessary. Choudhury explains, “We have managed to achieve a significant TCO reduction by saving on unnecessary licensing fees that are associated with proprietary operating systems. Linux provides a very robust kernel, which is extremely difficult to crack. Installing security patches and conducting routine server hardening checks have been reduced to a bare minimum with Red Hat.”
“Red Hat Enterprise Linux is truly way ahead of the competition in providing a perfectly scalable roadmap for 64-bit computing, in an era where others like Microsoft haven’t managed to deliver a concrete enterprise-ready solution yet. Red Hat Enterprise Linux has already achieved significant benchmarks on Intel’s 64-bit computing platform, giving us total hardware independence and safeguarding our investments for future upgrades,” he added.
In addition to the superiority of Linux over proprietary operating systems, Eveready found Red Hat Enterprise Linux to be an ideal platform for Oracle deployments. The Oracle installation package consists of an exhaustive list of parameters which can be fine tuned for maximum performance on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. “The Red Hat engineering team worked on fine tuning several kernel and environment variables, which further leveraged performance,” adds Choudhury. In the last four years of operation, the system is running quite smoothly with the unplanned downtime almost zero. “With Red Hat, the manageability of the infrastructure is pretty easy. We never had to make huge investments in managing it,” says Choudhury. “In fact, in all these years we have only a single Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) who is managing the entire setup,” he adds.
“Red Hat has delivered true enterprise-class compatibility and support both onsite and remotely. Contrary to the belief that Linux support is difficult to source, we have received a bankable three-point support offering from all sides. Red Hat has established a strong presence in the east, and they provided us with timely implementation, training, and support. Additionally, the support obtained from other partners like Oracle and TCS on Red Hat was excellent. It’s almost impossible to go wrong with Red Hat, because there are so many certified software and hardware platforms,” reasons Choudhury.
In the future, Eveready is looking at fully utilizing the 64-bit capabilities of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. “Until now, only our Oracle Servers were using these capabilities, but in the coming months, we plan to move from Oracle 11i to Oracle 12, as Oracle 11i is not certified on 64-bit infrastructure, and implement it on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5,” explains Choudhury. Eveready is also evaluating virtualization as a long-term IT strategy. “In the future, as our infrastructure develops and expands, we will look at virtualization solutions. We will evaluate Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization as the most likely option due to the high-performance, low-cost technology and our longstanding relationship with Red Hat,” adds Choudhury.