Brenntag Performs Successful Digital Integration Hub Proof of Concept

As the global leader in chemical and ingredients distribution, Brenntag leverages data whenever possible. With this data, Brenntag can make the best possible business decisions and enable partners and customers to interact directly and intelligently with Brenntag’s systems. However, the increasing demand for new innovative processes and applications, along with a historically grown IT landscape, limited these capabilities. To overcome the current limitation, Brenntag performed a proof of concept for an innovative digital integration hub based on SAP HANA Cloud as a cornerstone of their ambitious infrastructure modernization.

185,000+ business customers
640+ locations in 77 countries
12.8 billion euros in annual revenues

The idea was to implement SAP HANA Cloud acting as a harmonized gateway for different ERP systems, as well as the newly implemented S/4HANA, towards Brenntag’s customer portal, “Brenntag Connect.” SAP HANA Cloud, a fully managed cloud-native database platform, brings together Brenntag’s data solutions with speed and consistency. This should make future rollouts a quick and agile process. All this would help Brenntag’s customers interact with Brenntag digitally, expanding existing relationships and enabling new ones.

SAP HANA Cloud gave us the power to better connect with our customers and suppliers. Thanks to the flexible storage options, we can offer improved interaction capabilities to deliver outstanding services.

Dr. Tobias Carstensen, Director Application Management EMEA

Defining the Data Integration Problem

Thousands of businesses around the world rely on Brenntag for the safe and efficient distribution of their chemicals. This reach brings in large amounts of data globally from customers, suppliers, and ecosystem partners.

With the current infrastructure setup Brenntag faces operational limitations, scalability and security issues, and functional limitations due to a scattered integration architecture. The backend included SAP and non-SAP systems, with a mix of cloud and on-premise solutions.

As time went on, this complex setup became a challenge. This mix of systems and processes, which differed on a country by country basis, proved too inflexible for their needs.

Some of the challenges from this setup included:

  • No single integration layer for all the different regions and systems made any rollouts a time-consuming and labor-intensive process
  • A lack of harmonized data structures resulted in high efforts for integration and application implementation
  • Operational limitations like monitoring and logging as well limited IT resources made scaling capacity both difficult and expensive

Brenntag realized that a revamped IT landscape was the key to getting the full business value for their customers and partners. Together with the planned implementation of S/4 HANA and with support of the IT architecture team SAP, the concept of a future-proofed data integration infrastructure was developed. To turn that goal into a reality, Brenntag performed a proof of concept for this new digital integration hub based on SAP HANA Cloud.

Here’s how SAP HANA Cloud provided the solutions to these challenges.

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Creating the Single Access Data Layer

Reducing the complexity to interact with Brenntag’s existing system landscape is critical to their digital transformation. SAP HANA Cloud should act as a central integration layer and access point for all data sources including SAP systems, such as SAP ERP Central Component (ECC), SAP S/4 HANA, and non-SAP systems. Both cloud and on-premise systems would be connected to SAP HANA Cloud using native HANA cloud integration tools, such as smart data integration (SDI) or smart data access (SDA).

The single access integration layer and simplified data landscape provided by SAP HANA Cloud was successfully deployed and simplified Brenntag’s data integration landscape. The proof of concept demonstrated that two infrastructure layers can be eliminated. The replication and virtualization capabilities, which can be used flexibly depending on data types (master data, transactional data, data in transition), helps manage amounts of data by controlling costs and serving business needs. Now, Brenntag could accelerate the implementation of digital processes to interact efficiently with their customers.

SAP HANA Cloud’s Intelligent Data Management Capabilities

SAP HANA Cloud provides Brenntag with the data-centric architecture needed to improve its integration challenges. The data management capabilities handle a large variety of sources by being able to replicate or virtualize data. When persisting data, SAP HANA Cloud provides built-in data temperature management capabilities to provide improved processes to interact with customers, suppliers, and ecosystem partners.

The built-in data lake and native storage extension offer low-cost storage. Once stored, SAP HANA Cloud would enable Brenntag to assign specific data for application-specific use.

Increasing Agility

The proof of concept showed that the roll-out of the solution to new backends can be done more efficiently and it would be easier to deploy new features and functionalities. The harmonized data architecture offers operational simplicity. All this cuts down the time needed for integration and application implementation.

The proof of concept has demonstrated that SAP HANA Cloud would give us the future-proofed data integration architecture we need. It is key for us to have a harmonized integration architecture and data structure to be ready for any future developments.

Dr. Tobias Carstensen, Director Application Management EMEA

About Brenntag

Brenntag is the global market leader in chemical and ingredients distribution. They connect suppliers and customers in value-adding partnerships. Their almost 17,500 employees provide tailor-made application, marketing and supply chain solutions. Technical and formulation support, market, industry and regulatory expertise as well as advanced digital tools are just some examples of their services that are aiming to create an excellent customer experience. Their full-line portfolio comprises specialty and industrial chemicals and ingredients of a world-class supplier base.

Building on its long-standing experience, unmatched global reach and local excellence, Brenntag works closely alongside its partners to make their business more successful. They are committed to contribute towards greater sustainability in their own business and the industries they serve, and to achieve sustainable profitable growth. Headquartered in Essen (Germany) and with regional headquarters in Philadelphia, Houston and Singapore, Brenntag operates a unique global network with more than 640 locations in 77 countries. The company generated sales of EUR 12.8 billion (USD 14.4 billion) in 2019. Brenntag shares are traded at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (BNR).

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