Modern IT for Even Greater Health and Well-being
The ELIXIA Health & Wellness Group has installed a new and more powerful database solution for club administration in order to handle business operations more quickly and efficiently. ELIXIA provides their members at 53 clubs with an individualized and holistic range of products for vitality and well-being: health-oriented workouts, dynamic group classes, the latest trends from the field of sport and wellness, saunas, steam baths, massages, tanning beds and sports pools as well as medical and nutritional counseling. However, the large customer demand pushed the existing IT system for club administration to its limits.
The company's previous solution was based on the S3 system from Systeam, which controlled a total of 29 club facilities in two countries. This solution was powered by SQL Anywhere and ran on a Windows 2000 Advanced Server with 8 GB RAM and a RAID system with five disks in RAID 5. The size of the database was approx. 17 GB and was growing at a rapid rate of approx. 1 GB a month. All told, approx. 350 clients had simultaneous read and write access to the database.
"The problem was the speed of the application and the utilization of the server. Check-in at our clubs took up to ten minutes during peak periods," said Christian Herzberg, group manager of IT, who is also responsible for all IT concerns at ELIXIA in Germany, France and Austria. "Simply inputting new contracts completely blocked the server for several minutes and business operations at our clubs very often came to a standstill. Even control of the tanning beds, which also accesses the database, went down several times a day."
Need for a New Solution
Herzberg summed up the functional requirements, "We had to increase the performance of the database solution. The Windows 2000/2003 solution with a 17 GB database was no longer making the grade. We needed a solution that would afford us the rapid growth expected over the coming years." The next step was getting ELIXIA, Systeam and Sybase iAnywhere together to find a suitable solution for this growing database.
After several unsatisfactory tests using Windows, the choice was ultimately made for the 64-bit Linux version of SQL Anywhere and an HP Itanium server with four Intel processors and 32 GB RAM. The platforms based on the Intel® Itanium® 2 processor were developed especially for extremely demanding and critical 64-bit utilizations. The development team felt that these platforms offer the best performance and scalability as well as the best RAS (reliability, availability, serviceability).
"For three years Sybase iAnywhere was a reliable partner in the Windows environment. As a result, it was natural to continue to build on the company's technology. Collaboration was above average at all times and there was always a competent contact person available at iAnywhere. This support was a contributing factor in deploying the application in such a short period of time. The product itself stands out due to its stability and lower demand for resources," explained Herzberg regarding the decision to choose SQL Anywhere.
M-Quick Installation and Adaptation
Installation of SQL Anywhere was complete in just three days. During the initial phase, a variety of adjustments were made by ELIXIA IT in order to optimize overall performance of the Linux system.
S3 from Systeam is based on SQL Anywhere and reflects everything from administering clients to logging the purchase of beverages. The software includes customer check-in and check-out features with a contact-less card system and utilizes contract data to debit membership fees as well as to control individual access. The system also records and allocates every sale at the clubs.
Quicker and More Effective
ELIXIA is very satisfied with the deployment based on iAnywhere technology. Herzberg comments, "The system is running very well on the database side—it's stable, reliable and has good response times. As a result, we can handle business operations quickly and efficiently. Our club members no longer have to wait at cash registers for check-in and check-out. Visitor check-in times have dropped by 80 percent to less than two seconds. We now have more relaxed customers and this naturally dovetails with our notion of wellness."
Thanks to quicker data throughput, ELIXIA is now able to run current reports on frequency of use and user behavior at the studios directly on the live system. "In the past, these evaluations were only possible using a separate evaluation database that was updated daily at the most," says Herzberg. "The evaluations also allow us to plan personnel use more promptly and compile data about the individual use of services by customers for invoicing more quickly. In addition, preparation of the monthly financial statements has been reduced enormously, from seven to two days, enabling us to make more efficient use of personnel at the central office as a result. Even inputting new contracts is smoother now."