Huawei’s SAP® Appliances deliver a tailor-made solution to support Hillarys Blinds’ migration to SAP HANA®.
Since its creation in 1971, Hillarys Blinds has grown to be the UK’s leading supplier of window coverings and carpets, with over 1,000 advisors nationwide processing more than 12,000 orders every week.
The company recognises the crucial part that a robust and effective IT system plays in making this happen and for many years has used SAP software to manage its business processes and the relationships with its customers.
Hillarys is a company that likes to embrace change and is not afraid to do things differently. For any organisation though, the increasing pace of technological development is always a challenge to keep up with and by the end of 2014 it was clear that a major review of its ICT strategy was necessary.
Julian Bond, Head of ICT explains: “SAP systems are at the core of our business operations but it had been nine years since we had last upgraded. After re-evaluating whether sticking with SAP was the right move, we needed to migrate to the next generation of Business Suite software.”
But this wasn’t just about upgrading the software. As SAP’s long-term strategy is to move all of its users to SAP HANA, its in-memory computing based platform, it also meant total replacement of the company’s hardware landscape and deciding whether this would remain ‘on premise’ or move to the Cloud.
The significant investment required and strategic shift in server technology dictated the need to compare SAP Certified hardware vendors beyond its existing, long-standing incumbent. Hillarys set about identifying a shortlist of hardware vendors with the necessary technology, experience and demonstrable support organisation.
Julian Bond continues: “We wanted a cost-effective solution from an IT partner we could trust, that would give us the dynamic performance needed for our ongoing use of SAP and provide the highest levels of support for our developing needs.”
Currently the market for SAP certified HANA appliances is made up of eleven vendors. From these, the company decided to benchmark Huawei and one other against the incumbent supplier. Although it had no previous experience of Huawei, it chose to include the vendor based on peer recommendation from successfully deploying similar solutions in western Europe.
Using a well-delivered ‘Proof of Concept’ demonstration with dedicated support from Huawei’s headquarters in China together and a strong local partner, Möbius Business Technologies, Huawei quickly came from the ‘back of the pack’ to build strong credibility and technical credentials with Hillarys.
Huawei worked closely with Möbius and Birchman, Hillarys’ SAP Partner, to develop a commercial and technical solution based on Huawei’s certified SAP HANA appliances which would provide the performance and return on investment Hillarys was looking for.
Huawei was also able to prove how it could provide the level of commitment and service that Hillarys was looking for, not only at the fulfilment stage but across the entire implementation process.
“The initial attraction of Huawei was its competitive pricing and compelling return-on-investment, but as investigation and evaluation proceeded, it was the performance and technical innovation of the Huawei solution that really stood out and helped us to decide to go with them,” continues Julian Bond.
The Huawei solution is made up of six SAP hardware appliances in total; a combination of RH5885H V3 and RH8100 servers, both featuring the world’s fastest PCIe solid state disks. All of the devices will run components of SAP Business Suite 4 HANA, in a traditional three-tier landscape.
The Huawei SAP appliances are designed to accelerate mission critical applications, analyse large amounts of data in real time and help build data warehouses effectively. They also provide a robust and flexible infrastructure foundation to support SAP developments.
Although Hillarys migration to SAP HANA won’t be fully completed until Christmas 2015, the value of the Huawei solution to its business is already becoming very clear.
“The SAP certified HANA appliances supplied by Huawei provide what is proving to be a robust and high-performing platform that supports the S4/HANA solution. The solution is key to Hillarys transformation to a digital business, particularly in removing systems complexity and streamlining business processes,” observes Julian Bond.
To date the project has gone well. The high degree of collaboration between the partners involved has meant that any issues are dealt with quickly, keeping the project on track and to budget.
Huawei has also been able to demonstrate its nimbleness and ability to react quickly by air-freighting in components as necessary and providing technical support on a 24/7 basis. With the system now in the testing phase, the whole implementation has more than exceeded Hillarys expectations.
Looking to the future, Huawei’s comprehensive support aims to give Hillarys complete peace of mind and it’s pro- active approach to research and development means that the platform will be developed in unison with Hillarys changing requirements.
Comments Julian Bond, “The way that the business partnership with Huawei has moved on so quickly from a standing start, convinces me that their approach to unlocking business value from technology investment is palpably different to what I’ve been used to. They are obviously not just a hardware manufacturer but really take the time to understand what we are trying to achieve.”
This growing relationship now provides the basis for a powerful ongoing strategic partnership. And with the construction of new office premises planned for 2017, Hillarys knows that in Huawei it has a partner it can trust to fulfil a whole range of infrastructure requirements that will arise as a result.
Julian Bond concludes, “This investment is not just a oneoff purchase, but marks a key change in the strategic partner supplying our enterprise computing hardware.
The combination of market-leading performance, intuitive UI and excellent value proved to be a proposition that couldn’t be ignored. Our subsequent experience of order fulfilment, technology transition, professional services and customer support has only reinforced this as a great move for Hillarys.”