Summer of 2014: Recap of SAP HANA Infrastructure Innovations

Zora Caklovic

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SAP is committed to continuously enhance the openness of SAP HANA providing its customers and developer community with ultimate amount of flexibility and choice. Openness helps customers achieve innovation, increase agility and lower TCO. This year’s SAP HANA product news certainly reflects this commitment.

Since the beginning of the year, SAP has introduced a number of new hardware and software innovations across all layers of the SAP HANA technology stack, further extending SAP’s commitment to openness. Working closely with its partners, SAP has incorporated the latest technology advancements around microprocessors, memory, storage, networking, operating systems, and virtualization into the SAP HANA infrastructure.These innovations not only open up many new deployment choices for SAP HANA, they also deliver real business value to SAP customers through significant cost saving and dramatic performance improvements.

Here is a recap of the SAP HANA infrastructure innovations that we brought to the market this year:

  • On Feb 18th, Intel released a new generation of the Xeon family of microprocessors (E7 v2, also known as Ivy Bridge). The new Ivy Bridge processors provide up to 50% more cores, have up to 4x times improved I/O bandwidth and can support up to 3x times more RAM than the previous generation of processors. SAP’s hardware partners were ready to deliver pre-certified SAP HANA Ivy Bridge appliances on day one of Intel’s announcement. Thanks to the increased clock speed of the cores and having twice the amount of available memory with new microprocessors, most customers have experienced dramatic (often doubled) performance improvements when running their applications on the new SAP HANA Ivy Bridge appliances. Larger memory sizes enable higher scale-up capabilities of single node systems. For many customers, these higher scale-up capabilities eliminate the need to deploy scale-out configurations which can be more costly and more challenging to manage.

Today, there are more than 100 supported SAP HANA Ivy Bridge appliance configurations. This number continues to grow with new configurations being introduced almost daily. Don’t forget to check the SAP Certified Appliance Hardware for SAP HANA site for the latest, up-to-date list of supported HANA Ivy Bridge appliances.

  • Several important SAP HANA news announcements were made at this year’s Sapphire Conference:

SAP HANA on VMware provides new deployment architecture and allows for better utilization of the underlying hardware infrastructure by enabling multiple SAP HANA virtual machines to run on the same host appliance. Customers can also leverage VMware template cloning for fast and easy provisioning of new SAP HANA instances. Zero downtime maintenance is enabled via VMware vMotion support, by allowing customers to dynamically move virtualized HANA instances to new HANA-certified hardware for scheduled maintenance. Finally, native HANA and VMware high availability capabilities can be combined for increased business continuity and to further streamline and optimize data center operations for customers who have adopted data center virtualization strategies.

SAP HANA on RHEL provides customers with an additional deployment choice. Customers that already run Red Hat in their IT landscape can now also deploy SAP HANA on Red Hat, thus leveraging existing skills and standardizing their business operations within the data center. The platform also provides military-grade security technology such as Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux), typically required by many companies in financial, government and other highly regulated sectors.

As of today, several SAP partners (e.g. Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, IBM, and NEC) already have RHEL-based SAP HANA appliances available. This list has been rapidly growing. You can find the list of certified vendors and configuration information at SAP Certified Appliance Hardware for SAP HANA.

Many businesses today run their mission critical SAP applications on IBM Power Systems. SAP HANA on IBM Power provides our joint customers with a choice to preserve/extend their investments (in infrastructure, people, processes) on Power, while adopting next generation technology like SAP HANA to drive innovation in the future. This will further expand the deployment options for SAP HANA, providing customers who want to standardize on IBM Power with the option to deploy SAP HANA on their infrastructure platform of choice (when it becomes generally available).

An early adopter program that will allow customers to go live with single node, scale-up SAP Business Warehouse or ERP on SAP HANA on Power 7+ is planned for the end of November (in the context of HANA SPS09).

Also at Sapphire, SAP briefed its partners that it will further relax SAP HANA hardware requirements for non-production systems and extend SAP HANA appliance reference configurations for production systems. SAP has made great progress on both of these topics since Sapphire.

In case of SAP HANA non-production systems, hardware requirements have always been less stringent than the ones for production systems. For example, customers could deploy multiple workloads and consolidate their development and test systems by sizing the non-production systems to use a 2x times higher core-to-memory ratio than the one used for production systems. Last month, SAP made additional steps to further relax hardware requirements and lower cost for SAP HANA non-production systems:

  • The low-end family of E7 processors (e.g. Westmere EX Xeon E7-x8xx or IvyBridge EX Xeon E7-x8xx V2) are now allowed in non-production systems and there are no more restrictions for core-to-memory ratio. For example, customers can over-provision and use as much main memory as they want if they are willing to accept the penalty of lower performance on their development/test systems.
  • The minimum storage-to-memory ratio requirement has been relaxed from 5x times to 2x times for non-production usage
  • Storage KPIs are no longer enforced in non-production systems. For example, customers can use any local storage or shared storage with standard disks.

As for the SAP HANA production systems, several new reference configurations are now being approved for SAP HANA Ivy Bridge appliances:

  • The list of supported Ivy Bridge configurations has been enhanced with additional HANA “T-shirt” sizes (such as the addition of 2 socket – 384 GB, 512GB; 4 socket – 768GB; 8 socket – 1.5TB for OLAP scale-up; 2 socket-512GB for OLAP scale out). New configurations with more granular memory sizes have also been added for OLTP loads, including 4 socket -3 TB, 6TB, and 16 socket configurations ranging from 128GB to 12TB).

These more granular memory options and larger memory sizes will not only provide more choices for SAP HANA customers, they will also provide significant cost savings by making it easier for customers to buy only as much memory as they need. In addition to this, the ability to scale-up to 12TB on a single node will enable many customers to remain on their single systems longer before they have to scale-out, reducing TCO.

  • SAP has also relaxed the storage requirements for single node, scale up systems. The storage requirement, “The storage media itself needs to be protected from failures,” can now be achieved with one single SSD card in the system. This will further reduce the cost of SAP HANA entry-level systems.

In summary, the SAP HANA ship is steadily moving deeper into the sea of openness. We are constantly adding new hardware and software choices that provide customers with increased flexibility and cost benefits when deploying SAP HANA into their Data Centers. Stay tuned for SAP news on the many new and exciting innovations that are coming very soon…

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