Aribert Starnell, division manager in InfoServe's Production Computer Center, notes that InfoServe's comprehensive IT services “give companies in the Endress+Hauser Group a competitive edge.” He adds, “We help them reach their business objectives by offering business process analysis and support and by introducing customized business software.”
InfoServe has many years of experience and expertise in business processes, applications and solutions, and provides all modern data center services—including computer capacity, hosting applications, and all-in-one standard packages. It specializes in local and global networks, providing training and courses to help users get the most out of their information technology solutions.
Besides major System z data centers in Weil am Rhein and Freiburg, large business area locations operate non-mainframe servers and storage systems. Despite geographic dispersion, there isn’t much localization of applications, and the entire corporate IT ecosystem help desk is centralized in Germany.
BT and T-Systems are main worldwide network providers; even before InfoServe's formation, E+H installed its first mainframe in 1985 to run SAP R/2 ERP and now runs nearly all SAP components. Since SAP is fundamental to E+H operation, the vendor is a long-time strategic partner; E+H is one of the largest SAP customers in the world. Supporting strong growth in SAP development, InfoServe has deep international experience in SAP implementation, well-founded knowledge of SAP applications and business processes, certified SAP consultants with many years of practical experience, and uses SAP Project System's standardized phase model.
The SAP/E+H relationship provides active and direct collaboration based on R/3 and mySAP.com contracts. Rigorous certification as an SAP Customer Competence Center (CCC) demonstrates both competence in the SAP application landscape and the quality of processes used. InfoServe is an SAP service provider for more than 60 E+H companies worldwide, providing comprehensive functions such as:
- Technical support
- Business support
- Projects and implementations
- User training
- Information management
- Contract administration
- Coordination of development requests
- Internal marketing
- Support desk.
As an SAP mid-sized business partner and certified SAP Hosting Partner, E+H also provides services to customers outside the Endress+Hauser Group. For more than a decade, E+H SAP has run on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES), SUSE’s implementation of Linux on System z; E+H is one of the oldest, largest mainframe SLES implementations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). SLES was chosen to support running SAP on one system, combining database function with application servers and exploiting the hardware's traditional scalability, stability, performance, and disaster recovery. The accompanying sidebar (click here to view) offers further information about how InfoServe meets the various needs of its parent organization.
InfoServe employs about 140 application developers, 70 staffers supporting data center and networks, 36 people providing international support, 25 in management and administration, and 16 handling education. Astonishingly small for this large enterprise, System z staff includes just six specialists and one cross-trained individual.
To address continuing professional development, E+H partners with Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University in Lörrach and Stuttgart, training young people in business informatics, information technology, and applied informatics. E+H hires up to eight graduates yearly, offers internships, and helps students find topics for bachelor’s or master’s degree theses.
Employees also improve skills with continuing professional development; in-house and third-party training lets them keep pace with the evolving field of information technology. They can take computer-based training, customized to individual needs and schedules. Highly qualified trainers regularly offer courses in project management, leadership, and English language skills.
Starnell studied computer science at Technical University of Berlin, worked as database developer at Nixdorf Computer AG and Software AG, and has been with E+H since 1992. Initially an SAP administrator, he became a department manager, and since 2009 has been division manager responsible for z10 systems, including z/OS, z/VM, Linux for System z, DB2, and SAP.
E+H has relied for more than 25 years on System z and previous mainframe generations, so calling it merely "IT" or even "technology" doesn't reflect its strategic importance to the company's diverse product and services offerings; it provides foundational worldwide, strategic infrastructure. There’s no question—the issue never arises—of changing the central technology. It’s dramatically more cost-effective than alternatives, they couldn’t operate without it, and it lends itself to robust, predictable disaster planning and recovery.
Diverse SAP applications are why they have the mainframe; the mainframe lets SAP support their complex, growing operation. E+H is leveraging the benefits of IBM’s mainframe strategy and the mainframe’s immense scalability, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.