Nakilat takes aim at the Cloud

Hamad Suwaid, IT manager at Qatar Gas Transport Company (Nakilat), discusses the company’s adoption of SAP Hana and its move to the cloud

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Nakilat takes aim at the Cloud Hamad Rashid Suwaid IT manager at Qatar Gas Transport Company (Nakilat).
By  Alexander Sophoclis Pieri Published  May 8, 2017

Managing one of the largest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) fleets and maritime energy transportations operations in the world, the Qatar Gas Transport Company (Nakilat) has for more than a decade overseen the State of Qatar’s LNG supply chain.

In addition to its fleet, which comprises of 63 LNG vessels and four large Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) carriers, the company operates repair and construction facilities at the Erhama Bin Jaber Al Jalahma Shipyard in Ras Laffan Industrial City.

While these are handled by its strategic joint ventures, Nakilat-Keppel Offshore & Marine (N-KOM) and Nakilat Damen Shipyards Qatar (NDSQ), the company also provides shipping agency services for all of Qatar’s ports via the Nakilat Agency Company (NAC).

Lastly, the company’s Nakilat SvitzerWijsmuller (NSW) joint venture provides towage and other marine support services for vessels in Qatari waters.

The adoption of advanced technologies has long been a core part of the company’s mantra, and an essential component to its daily operations. Until recently, Nakilat’s IT infrastructure operated on multiple servers with six storage devices spread across its three main lines of business.

With a desire for change and the need to ensure the firm became more agile and flexible, the decision was taken to move Nakilat to the cloud and the way to do it was through SAP SE’s technology.

“We were one of the first companies in Qatar to adopt SAP HANA, as well as cloud-based technologies. So we have SAP HANA on premise, which is a database in memory, and we also have SAP HANA on cloud. That allows us to act in a single environment, giving us a more flexible position with more efficiency in the private cloud operation,” comments Hamad Rashid Suwaid, information technology manager at Qatar Gas Transport Company (Nakilat).

“For those that don’t know about SAP HANA, the technology itself has shifted anything transactions, from legacy databases to database in memory and this is complete shift. You no longer need long table and indexing.

“Now all your data is saved in the memory, which gives you ten times faster response. This is a very good and very big advantage for the company, because we take in a large volume of data.”

The project’s conception dates back to the fourth quarter of 2014, when Nakilat begun a study to analyse the feasibility of a private cloud implementation.

As part of its evaluation process, the company conducted an analysis of operational expenditure (OPEX), and then secured management buy-in to fund the project based on a thorough OPEX reduction and Return on Investment (ROI) analysis. The study concluded that SAP HANA was the ideal platform suited to meet needs of the company.

Utilising cloud-based technology and delivering a flexible and cost-efficient SAP private cloud operation, SAP’s offering had the potential to evolve Nakilat’s IT processes and infrastructure into a more responsive and agile operation.

“Nakilat considered various other vendors. Upon assessment and evaluation, Nakilat opted for SAP due the key comprehensiveness and completeness of the SAP Solution,” comments Suwaid on the selection on SAP by his company.

Nakilat’s study also identified three verticals and deliverables that were crucial to the project’s success. These consisted of a necessary revamp of hardware, both servers and storage, an upgrade of SAP ECC 6.0 to EHP7, as well as migration to SAP in-memory database.

Following an extensive evaluation process that explored offerings from numerous vendors, Nakilat chose Fujitsu to serve as their implementation partner.

Over a period of eight months, the Japanese systems integrator deployed SAP HANA through Fujitsu Integrated System PRIMEFLEX, in combination with Fujitsu Flex Frame Orchestrator for SAP, which served as the foundation for the private cloud.

Since the deployment, Nakilat has enjoyed numerous operational benefits, which include a substantial 50% decrease in annual IT spend, a reduction in the amount of time needed to generate critical business reports, as well as an overhaul of its management and maintenance processes.

While Nakilat is certainly enjoying the fruits of its labour, the project’s implementation did have its fair share of challenges that the Qatari maritime company had to overcome.

“There were several notable challenges faced by the team. Amongst the challenges include insufficient hardware resources to run upgrades, having two separate domains (QGTC.COM.QA & NKOM.COM.QA), which could not work together in one private cloud and incompatible servers (OpenText Archive Server version 9.7.1 vs. FFO & SLES 12),” explains Suwaid.

“Nevertheless, we managed to overcome these obstacles by performing the homogenous migration from IA64/HP-UX/ORACLE to x86/SUSE Linix/Oracle. Afterwards, we performed the migration to SAP HANA and upgrade to EHP7 on the new hardware.

“We then consolidated and unified our domains. The latest version of OT Archive Sever 10.5 was installed for compatibility. We performed the archive migration to the new server and reconfigure ECC to fetch the archives from new OT server,” he concludes.

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