Friday 28th Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

New scalable storage platform for Unipart

Unipart Logistics hired with Computacenter to select, source, configure and implement  a new storage environment to increase reliability with a lower total cost of ownership, which could also scale in line with its business growth plans.

With an increasing global footprint, particularly for Jaguar, the also had to ensure a high capacity storage backend to cope with growing data volumes, whilst adhering to lean principles.

Duncan Mountjoy, contracts and investments manager, said: “Every automotive part ordered for Jaguar, regardless of whether it is made in China, the US or the UK, is fulfilled via our SAP ERP system. From sourcing and storing parts through to processing and dispatching, the entire process depends upon the availability of the system and its underlying infrastructure.”

The company’s existing SAN (storage area network) was more than three years old, which was leading to escalating support costs. This was because the manufacturer’s warranty had expired, and the firm was also seeing  performance degradation as the legacy technology aged.

“Although we had not experienced any downtime, we did not want to take any risks due to the criticality of the company’s ERP environment,” said Mountjoy.

Unipart Logistics and Computacenter selected a solution based on an IBM XiV storage array and Brocade SAN fabric.  This delivers enterprise class storage, ensuring its SAP ERP system and storage backend are highly available, while simplifying management. They also reckoned it offered the lowest total cost of ownership in the market.

The installation team was able to deploy the new platform for individual divisions on a phased basis without impacting other departments or business continuity. The deployment was completed in March 2011.

The IBM XiV solution supports all the data hosted in the company’s SAP ERP system, plus other warehouse management systems and VMware data. It integrates with Unipart Logistics’ Jaguar disaster recovery system to safeguard availability.

The new storage environment uses automation to simplify management tasks – removing the need for dedicated storage experts to manage the system on a day-to-day basis.

The system has smarter failover, so in the event of any one disc becoming faulty in the storage array, the system will automatically copy data to a functional one.

The storage array has cut power requirements by 50 per cent, and heat output by 33 per cent, cutting cooling costs.

It also provides greater transparency to enable finance teams to cross-charge data storage to different business divisions. The ability to scale on a “capacity on demand” basis allows Unipart to “switch on” and pay for additional capacity as and when required.

The easy-to-use interfaces and inbuilt automation has removed the need for heavily skilled technical specialists for day-to-day storage management. It also helps reduce costs and emissions.

The system is now underpinned by a scalable and reliable storage environment that will enable Unipart Logistics to achieve more with less resource.