Al Futtaim revamps SAP infrastructure

Al Futtaim Group, the largest private trading company in the UAE, has revamped and upgraded its SAP R/3 implementation, on the IBM platform, to address the group's expanding business requirements.

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  December 22, 2003

Al Futtaim Group, the largest private trading company in the UAE, has revamped and upgraded its SAP R/3 (version 4.7) implementation on the IBM platform, to address growth of the group's expanding business requirements and implement new business applications.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP), which forms a critical part of Al Futtaim's business infrastructure, turned to IBM, which is providing Al Futtaim its eServer pSeries, enterprise storage servers, tape libraries and Tivoli backup software. The turnkey infrastructure implementation was done by Gulf Business Machines (GBM) -IBM's Middle East partner.

"In addition to dramatically increasing our business functionality in line with our growth, the solution will also lower the total cost of ownership and it will form the first step in enhancing our SAP infrastructure to support advanced business applications," said Ronald Franckaert, CIO, Al Futtaim Group. With more than 10,000 employees, Al Futtaim is one of the region's largest diversified groups.

The new system includes business intelligence and customer relationship management (CRM) applications, to leverage the group's knowledge base of customers and suppliers.

"GBM was clearly the vendor of choice, having demonstrated a clear understanding of our requirements and offering a low-risk end-to-end solution with minimum migration risks. Completing the offering of hardware, software and implementation services is a local and single point of support for all solution components," adds Franckaert.

With the implementation of the scaleable solution, more than 1,800 employees who are SAP users are connected from over 160 locations across the UAE. This has been achieved using a large IBM-based Wide Area Network (WAN). The infrastructure includes production and disaster recovery data centres, which are connected via leased lines.

The production data centre and disaster recovery site features a database cluster made up of IBM eServer pSeries with enterprise storage servers and application servers, with storage software from Tivoli, an IBM company.

Each of the sites has a high-speed Cisco switched network based on 6509 switches and the two data centres are connected using high-speed 7200 Cisco WAN routers. According to IBM, the entire infrastructure is designed to be highly available with no single point of failure. In case of a site outage the infrastructure will be switched over to run from the disaster recovery site.

"GBM is proud to be involved in an ongoing relationship with the Al Futtaim Group. We have been able to provide Al Futtaim with a robust and solid infrastructure for the SAP environment with an excellent availability track record over the last five years," says Ashok Bhola, general manager of United Computer and Management Consultancy, GBM's operation arm in Dubai.

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