Deutsche Bahn Provisions Faster and Delivers SAP Reports in Seconds Using AWS

DB Systel is an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner

Executive Summary

Deutsche Bahn (DB) in Germany migrates its SAP systems to the AWS Cloud—enabling server provisioning in minutes, report generation in seconds, and cost savings of 50−60 percent on third-party applications. DB is one of the largest railway transporter companies in Europe. Its 27 SAP systems run in more than 100 AWS environments, using Amazon EC2 and Amazon Elastic Block Store.

A Transportation Powerhouse in Europe

Germany-based Deutsche Bahn (DB) is one of the largest railway transport providers in Europe. It carries 7.3 million passengers in trains and buses across Germany each day and around 255 million tons of freight. DB also maintains more than 5,700 train stations and 33,000 kilometers of rail network. Its revenue in 2019 was €44.4 billion ($52.6 billion).

DB found innovating at pace a challenge because of its on-premises environment. Multiple infrastructure teams had to coordinate activities as part of any development process—adding weeks to project timelines. DB wanted to increase agility, so IT could respond faster to requests from the business.

Migrating SAP to the Cloud

The business began moving workloads from its data centers to the cloud. It chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) to accelerate speed of development and performance for critical systems such as SAP. DB’s IT services provider DB Systel, an Advanced Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN), led the migration of the company’s 27 SAP applications.

This included the largest SAP installation for maintenance in Europe, which has 8,000 users and manages 2.2 million maintenance assignments for 650,000 trains and buses a year.

During the migration process, DB Systel worked with AWS Partners, AWS Solutions Architects, and an AWS Technical Account Manager. Dominik Heller, senior project manager at DB Systel, says, “AWS gave us support on best practices, including insights on correctly sizing Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances for the SAP workloads.” DB Systel used Red Hat Ansible to automate Amazon EC2 provisioning. It created “cookbooks” at the beginning of each migration process that administrators could use if they needed to quickly spin up new versions of the environment.

More Than 100 AWS Environments Created

Migrations took place over the weekends to minimize disruption to DB operations. DB Systel successfully switched over the maintenance application—which included a 12 terabyte (TB) database—with less than 12 hours of downtime. In total, DB Systel built more than 100 environments on the AWS Cloud for the SAP migration, launched 366 Amazon EC2 instances, and employed Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) to provide high-performance block storage for 260 TB of data. To control the keys used to encrypt or digitally sign data, DB Systel employed AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) with AWS PrivateLink, simplifying the security of shared data.

Server Provisioning in Minutes

With SAP running on AWS, DB is gaining the agility the business set out to achieve. For example, a single DB Systel team can provision a virtual server, including computing power, storage, and networking in a matter of minutes. As a result, when the business has new requirements, administrators can respond immediately. Heller says, “If a new train model comes out, for example, we need to make that data available across multiple SAP environments for different DB business units. We can allocate the IT resources, so the model information is available to applications in minutes.”

Weekly Patching Instead of Every 3 Months

Using AWS, DB has enhanced the performance and security of its SAP systems. It uses AWS CodeCommit, a fully managed source control service, to automate deployments via continuous integration/continuous development pipelines with GitLab Runner. Plus, DB has AWS Cloud Development Kit, an open-source software development framework, and Ansible for infrastructure-as-code administration. “It’s enabled us to move from infrastructure patching every three months to every week—improving performance and security,” says Heller.

The company also uses AWS Lambda, a serverless compute service, for auto-tagging to ensure compliance around auditing reports. Heller explains, “Without auto-tagging, manually created compute instances could bypass the reports, risking compliance. Today, auditing is both faster and more consistent using AWS.” DB is currently looking to use Amazon Athena as part of a solution to manage and evaluate all logs. “It will help us analyze the performance of servers at speed and detect server malfunctions earlier,” says Heller.

Key Reports Available 10−20% Faster

The speed of performance is being felt across DB, with managers able to generate reports 10−20 percent faster, accessing insight in seconds rather than minutes. “It may sound like a small difference,” says Heller, “but when you need to make an important decision based on the latest information, that saving is precious.”

Cost Savings of 50−60% on Application Management Solutions

DB Systel has standardized the builds for many of its AWS environments, making the process more streamlined. In addition, it has reorganized IT administrators, creating a single team to meet all SAP needs. Compared to the past, the SAP team now is both smaller and more effective. Heller says, “Because many of the build processes have been automated, there is less risk of error and the team is around 35 percent more efficient when it comes to serving SAP requests.”

The migration to AWS is allowing DB to replace expensive application management systems. For instance, it no longer uses IBM Sterling Connect:Direct for secure point-to-point file transfers, replacing the system with services from the AWS Transfer Family, including Secure File Transfer Protocol, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), and AWS Command Line Interface. “Replacing our expensive application management systems with AWS services could deliver a 50−60 percent cost saving,” Heller adds.

Empowering Innovation

The IT team is now more focused on innovation. Thanks to the speed and relatively low cost of development on the AWS Cloud, DB Systel has the freedom to take advantage of its IT skills and try out new ideas. “There is a new type of dialogue between business units and IT,” says Heller. “We now have the tools to fail fast and reduce the time and money it takes to deliver improvements that will help DB realize its business plans.”

Deutsche Bahn

About Deutsche Bahn

Deutsche Bahn (DB) is one of the largest railway transport providers in Europe. It has more than 300,000 staff worldwide, 200,000 of whom support its mobility and logistics operations in Germany.

About DB Systel

Based in Frankfurt, DB Systel is driving digitalization across DB, which wholly owns DB Systel. It has approximately 5,000 personnel, who are employed across its three main locations: Frankfurt, Berlin, and Erfurt.

Published September 2020