Unipart Logistics, a supply chain service company that delivers parts for Jaguar cars, has been working with Computacenter to implement a new storage solution for the company's enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

With 10,000 employees worldwide and a turnover of £1 billion, Unipart offers supply chain services ranging from warehousing and fulfilment to engineering support and reverse logistics. Its customer base includes retail, consumer products, technology, automotive, aerospace and defence organisations.

One of the company's core business systems is its SAP ERP system, which supports supply chain services for a number of clients including Jaguar Cars. However, with an increasing global footprint, Jaguar became concerned that Unipart's ERP solution had a reliable and high capacity storage backend to cope with growing data volumes.

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

After consulting with its main outsourcer Computacenter, Unipart decided to replace its three-year-old EMC Symmetrix DMX800 storage area network (SAN) with a solution based on an IBM XiV storage array and Brocade SAN fabric. The system hosts 79 terabytes of data – enough to support all the data hosted in the company's SAP ERP system, as well as other warehouse management systems and VMware data.

Mountjoy said the IBM solution delivers enterprise class storage while simplifying management. “Analyst reviews indicated that it also offered the lowest total cost of ownership in the market,” he added.

The new storage environment has an intuitive management interface and uses automation to simplify management tasks, removing the need for dedicated storage experts to manage the system on a day-to-day basis. It has also cut power requirements by 50 percent and heat output by 33 percent, meaning that Unipart has to spend less on cooling.

Moreover, the storage array includes the ability to scale on a 'capacity on demand' basis, allowing Unipart to switch on and pay for additional capacity as and when required without major disruption. It 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.

Since completing the initial deployment in March 2011, Computacenter has added another half rack with 27 Terabytes of storage, to give Unipart the flexibility and scalability it needs for growth. It has also begun migrating the system from a 2Gb fabric onto an 8Gb fabric, so that Unipart can get the full bandwidth and performance of the backend solutions they're buying.

“They've been very pleased with the performance of that array,” said Bill McGloin, practice leader for storage and data optimisation at Computacenter. “The initial part of the project was to move the SAP environment onto that. We've also seen them start to move other applications onto that because the performance they're getting from it exceeded their requirements and they had additional capacity available to them.”

Mountjoy said that working with Computacenter enabled Unipart to mitigate the risks of the SAN deployment and avoid any disruption to customer services. Computacenter helped negotiate the best deal with the vendors and assisted with design, configuration and implementation of the solution.

The high levels of flexibility offered by the solution also means that the team has been able to deploy the new platform for individual divisions on a phased basis, without impacting other departments or business continuity.