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Issue of May 2006 

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Server consolidation

Consolidating growth

Competitive pressures forced Goodlass Nerolac Paints (GNPL) to adopt enterprise software and centralise its IT infrastructure

Jason Gonsalves

The competitive situation brought in by globalisation led Jason Gonsalves, Vice-president, IT & Costing, GNPL to consolidate the organisation’s distributed applications. “IT was identified as one of the key vehicles to bring about the change to deal with global competition. Technology had matured sufficiently by 2000 to consider a centralised environment and a process-based approach,” says Gonsalves.

Today, GNPL is a leading player operating in two segments—decorative and industrial paints. In the industrial segment it is the market leader with over 45 percent marketshare. Clubbing the industrial and decorative paint segments together, it is the second largest player in the paint industry with a marketshare of approximately 20 percent. The organisation operates out of five factories and 65 depots spread across India.

Order from Chaos

GNPL decided to move from a legacy decentralised mode of working to a SAP ERP system. At the same time, it deployed data warehousing from SAS

GNPL decided to get its infrastructure in shape in 2000. At that time, the organisation ran a legacy application built around Cobol and Unix. This was a decentralised IT set-up with applications spread across 65 locations and 65 servers. Five of its factories had five different servers, and the head office had its own servers. “All these necessitated a backbone and that’s where the servers came. The key point was not to change servers, but respond to business needs. However, the platform was the same throughout the organisation,” explains Gonsalves.

GNPL decided to move on from the legacy decentralised mode of working to a SAP ERP system. At the same time, it deployed data warehousing from SAS. Because the company had a Unix-Cobol platform throughout the organisation, the idea of a centralised architecture was easy to sell. The projects were started together in early 2000, and they went live by November that year.

The Supporting Backbone

The server farm was set up in 2000 on the SAP R/3 platform. Seven Sun servers were used for this infrastructure. A clustered database with a backup solution from Sun was deployed. However, due to the high data growth (14 to 16 GB per month) generated by SAP R/3, GNPL went in a data archiving system using an Intel server from Wipro.

A supply chain solution using SAP Advanced Planner and Optimiser (APO) was next in line in 2003. This called for augmentation of the server architecture. For this, GNPL added four more servers from Sun. “When we carried out server sizing, we had values as high as 40 GB of RAM. Today it is being used in a server which has 48 GB of RAM,” Gonsalves adds.

GNPL switched from SAS data warehousing to SAP Business Intelligence Warehouse (BIW) in 2003. This required three more Sun servers, which has resulted in the creation of a farm of more than 15 RISC servers. GNPL has also implemented a SAN solution. The database of all three applications is now attached to one single SAN box from EMC.

Serving the Future

GNPL also decided to consolidate the servers in 2006. Says Gonsalves, “We worked jointly with Sun and Wipro for consolidating the servers. We have now worked out a solution where we have consolidated the three layers (Applications, QA and Production) of R/3, BIW and APO as also APO LC on to seven servers.” The solution is now under implementation at GNP.

With updates from Priya Jain

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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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