City of Nuremberg is the second-largest Bavarian city and fourteenth largest municipality in Germany. With 500,000 inhabitants, Nuremberg is the economic, professional services, and cultural center of Northern Bavaria, and the center of the Nuremberg Metropolitan Region, which has approximately 2.5 million inhabitants. Since the 1970’s, the city has transformed into an innovative service center with rapid growth in engineering and economic consultancies, market research firms, facilities management service providers, and e-businesses. The many inventions that originated in this city include the first print shop (1469), the foundations for photography (1717), and the technology for Shanghai’s Transrapid high-speed train (2004). Nuremberg hosts Germany’s only inventors’ trade fair.
The city has run its financial department on Oracle hardware and software platforms since 2005. When the need to upgrade arose, the city’s choice was clear: to stay with Oracle. It needed to maintain high performance and availability for numerous specialty applications—ranging from motor vehicle licensing to resident registration—as well as SAP software that the city uses for internal management processes, all while staying within budget.
Like most municipalities today, Nuremberg has a limited budget and cannot afford to replace hardware often. While the city was satisfied with the existing, proven IT platform, based on Oracle Solaris, Oracle Solaris Cluster, and Oracle Database, it recognized a need to upgrade to the newest release of Oracle Solaris to introduce a SAP business warehouse on commodity hardware for the city’s finance department.
“We had to maintain the highest performance and availability of our SAP software suites and specialty applications after the upgrade,” said Dr. Martin Haller, system management director, City of Nuremberg. “Imagine a motor vehicle licensing system that does not respond or delayed financial transactions because of IT problems. A reliable IT infrastructure contributes to Nuremberg’s citizens’ satisfaction, and it helps to ensure our excellent position among Central Europe’s business locations.”
The city needed to extend its existing SAP deployments and establish a new SAP business warehouse dedicated to business intelligence. It required a system for development and quality control environment as well as a production environment. In choosing to deploy Oracle Solaris 11 and Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.0 on Oracle’s Sun hardware for x86, the city achieved multiple goals. It optimized its SAP operation, maintenance, and security with a single operating environment built on proven components already deployed in its infrastructure—such as Oracle Solaris, Oracle Solaris Cluster, Oracle Solaris features such as Volume Manager, and Oracle Database. It maintained high performance and availability of all applications. And it lowered expenses with cost-efficient commodity hardware and consolidation of the development and quality control environments on the same platforms, using Oracle Solaris Zone clusters.
The city also benefitted from numerous new Oracle Solaris 11 features, such as Oracle Solaris new lifecycle management framework, to further optimize installation, daily operation, support, and development.
The city leveraged Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.0’s advanced high availability capabilities, which ensure permanent monitoring and automated recovery for server, network, application, and storage, protecting both the development/quality assurance cluster and the production cluster. It made use of the new 4.0 version of the Oracle Solaris Cluster HA-SAP agent, implementing the latest SAP monitoring features, offering better management and higher reliability. In addition, a custom agent was developed in less than an hour to further extend protection of the application service.
To protect the city’s applications from service outages in case of localized failures, it deployed Oracle Solaris Cluster nodes in two geographically separate data centers to ensure business continuity and top performance during public business hours.
By leveraging new Oracle Solaris features, such as the automatic install function, and the simplified update mechanism based on the Oracle Solaris 11 Image Packaging System (IPS), the city was able to considerably reduce the time to update its software environment. The single patch nature of these update tasks significantly reduces complexity, leading to important cost savings in work hours and downtime.
With Oracle Solaris 11 Boot Environments and IPS, the city can quickly update both the Oracle Solaris Cluster and Oracle Solaris. Boot environments are automatically created by Oracle Solaris when the system administrator initiates a package update. Any new or updated packages added to the system are checked for dependencies on other software, and, if needed, the new software packages are also downloaded. When there is an available maintenance window, the system is quickly updated by simply booting the updated Oracle Solaris Boot Environment. Boot environments also allow the system administrator to roll back to the previous Oracle Solaris Boot Environment if there are any issues, thus minimizing risks.
The new deployment enabled the city to use simplified high availability models: failover zones and zone clusters. Zone clusters provide independent virtual clusters, which offer the same application aware recovery but add fault isolation and administrative isolation to the outage protection benefits. They can be configured automatically across a cluster. The city reduced system complexity and eased integration with SAP applications by creating isolated environments that are very easy to configure and monitor with Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.0.
“Our specialty and SAP applications are the city’s lifeline,” Dr. Haller said. “We cannot afford for the lifeline to go down, nor can we afford to hire more IT personnel. Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.0 helped us to resolve this dilemma. It supports two high availability models now, which deliver the proven, industry-leading solution availability but produce less administrative effort during operation. This also makes it easier for us to delegate administrative tasks.”
To contain costs, the city decided to run its SAP business warehouse using Oracle Solaris 11 with Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.0. Not only did the city contain its hardware costs, but the SAP business warehouse operates with mission-critical high availability on x86, commodity hardware with Oracle Solaris, namely Oracle’s Sun Fire X4270 M2 and Oracle’s Sun Server X2-4.
“We believe now, more than ever, that this is the best infrastructure for running SAP Business Suite and SAP business warehouse, especially with restricted public budgets,” Dr. Haller said.
The upgrade enabled the city to configure Oracle Solaris 11 for its numerous hardware and software platforms with minimal effort and customization, replacing Oracle Solaris configuration scripts partially with Oracle Solaris’ Service Management Facility (SMF) feature. SMF manages system and application services that improve system availability by ensuring that essential services run continuously—even in the event of hardware or software failures.
“Oracle Solaris Volume Manager is a very convenient tool to set up storage volumes and host-based mirroring. It makes it easier for us to manage large numbers of disks as well as the data stored on those disks, and it helps to increase storage capacity,” Dr. Haller said.
The city enhanced security by delegating individual Oracle Solaris Zone access to system administrators that manage that specific zone. This enables them to work in local zones while preventing mission-critical actions, such as starting or stopping processes, from affecting other zones.
“The SAP central instance and Oracle Database are located in different zone clusters,” Dr. Haller said. “With each cluster spread over two geographically separated data centers, the system stays available even in the case of a major disaster.”
The city worked with Oracle partner Computacenter on the upgrade. As some software components were not yet officially supported by Oracle during the early stages of the project, Computacenter implemented the solution in close cooperation with an Oracle pre-sales consultant and Oracle Solaris specialists. The City of Nuremberg successfully deployed its SAP systems on Oracle Solaris 11 and Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.0, with Oracle Solaris Zones support, within its projected budget and turnaround time.
“As a municipality with a limited budget, we are focused on sustainable investments, so we do not have to replace hardware every three or four years. That is why we have relied on Oracle hardware and software for so many years. We highly appreciate the Oracle solutions’ manageability, availability, low-maintenance, and sustainability,” said Dr. Martin Haller, system management director, City of Nuremberg.
Oracle Platinum Partner Computacenter AG & Co. oHG implemented the Oracle solution in close cooperation with an Oracle presales consultant and Oracle Solaris specialists.