This past year, EMC set out to tackle the question, “Can customers confidently run virtualized SAP HANA on a Vblock in Production, even in a Hybrid Cloud setting?” The answer was a resounding “Yes!”
SAP customers are typically cautious and conservative, since SAP is a truly mission critical application where business users would like to have “guarantees” in the areas of performance, stability, and scalability.
Many people reason that a bare metal, dedicated SAP HANA appliance is the way to go – where the hardware vendor working with SAP can more or less guarantee the performance and stability of that certified appliance. While that’s true to a point, the problem is in its scalability. A physical appliance really does not scale very well, unfortunately. You will need to take downtime to add more compute and storage capacity to an appliance if you need more capability.
Thanks to VMware, an EMC Vblock can be reconfigured on-the-fly to add more vCPU, vRAM, and so on to increase the capacity and capability to the virtualized SAP HANA appliance WITHOUT taking any downtime! Now, can we “guarantee” the performance and stability of the virtualized SAP HANA appliance as if it was a bare metal, dedicated SAP HANA appliance?
Understandably, there is a level of skepticism on running something as resource intensive as SAP HANA in a converged infrastructure as the Vblock, where the compute, network and storage infrastructure is shared with other SAP and non-SAP applications. Would our virtualization approach work?
To prove this would work, first we configured a virtualized SAP HANA appliance on the Vblock, and then proceeded to “certify” it by running the same tests used by SAP to certify all SAP HANA physical appliances.
Then, we used 3 market-leading tools to monitor, alert, and report on the performance and stability of a virtualized SAP HANA appliance on the Vblock as massive Production-level workload was applied to it.
- SAP IT Process Automation by Cisco was used to monitor, alert, and report on the performance and stability of the computing and network tiers.
- Blue Medora vCenter Operations Management Pack for SAP was used to monitor, alert, and report on the performance and stability of the computing, network, and storage tiers specifically for SAP HANA.
- EMC ViPR SRM was used to monitor, alert, and report on the performance and stability of the storage tier, although it can also monitor the network and VMware components.
Finally, we set out to create a massive Production-level workload to run through the virtualized SAP HANA appliance so that we could be satisfied that not only was the virtualized SAP HANA appliance up to the task, but also that any issue on performance and stability would be caught and documented, so that remedial actions could be applied quickly.
Collaborating with Worksoft Inc. and its amazing Worksoft Performance software designed for performance and load testing across SAP business processes, EMC partnered with a Deloitte team that recreated a “month-end closing” workload for the project:
- Why not have thousands of SAP users (at least 1,000 dialog users) going at the virtualized SAP HANA appliance on the Vblock to place orders, view stock availability, ship products, and so on?
- Why not also have massive, resource intensive MRP jobs run in the background to summarize and consolidate all the activities?
- Why not create tens of gigabytes of SAP HANA logs to see if there would be any issue with the infrastructure keeping up with logs replication to the remote site?
- To top it all off, why not relocate some or all of this SAP HANA workload from Suwanee (Deloitte) to Durham (EMC pretending to act as the cloud service provider) in a Hybrid Cloud fashion over the VPN and a distance of 550km?
The team did all that and more with amazing results. Learn more about our project and Worksoft Performance in the videos below:
See my full EMC blog post here for more details, and stay tuned for future blogs that will drill into the results further. Looks like 2015 will be even more exciting than 2014!
Tim K. Nguyen
SAP Global Technical Evangelist & EMC Cloud Architect
EMC Global Solutions Marketing – SAP