Un Nuevo Día! A New Day in the collaboration between SAP, VMware, & EMC to facilitate replatforming Production SAP to Intel X86
This week, I am coming to you all from beautiful Madrid, a city that I am very fond of but which I have not been back in almost 11 years. Many of you know that I really love Paris, my sometime “hometown” since I spent part of my youth there and I have been back there so frequently these last few years on EMC business, but I often thought that the food in Madrid is better than in Paris (hmm, I hope that I did not upset my French friends and colleagues with this last statement).
In my previous blog posts on Making the case for replatforming SAP on Intel X86 with VMware and on Why people should not wait longer to replatform SAP to Intel X86 with VMware, I have presented the compelling technical reasons, as well as discussed how our customers have undertaken their journey without any significant problems.
Indeed, SAP announced a “Preferred Three-Way Strategic Collaboration with EMC and VMware to Deliver Greater IT Efficiency and Business Agility”, and the subtitle to the press release reads “Next-Generation Infrastructure with SAP Services Offerings to Provide Upgrade Support for Customers”.
People often said that press releases are “just words”, but this particular one actually gave me pause as I read through the carefully worded marketing-speak.
Let me start with “SAP and VMware expect to deliver an extended support program by integrating a configuration and health check for SAP systems running on VMware cloud infrastructure into SAP® GoingLive™ Check services and SAP EarlyWatch® Alert service. Customers should gain a better ability to monitor and manage their SAP systems running on the VMware platform” – now, if you still had ANY concern about virtualizing your SAP Production environment on VMware, this point should really remove your concerns once and for all.
If you don’t know what SAP EarlyWatch Alert service is, then perhaps you are new to the world of SAP, but to those of us whose lives revolve around taking care of our customer’s problems with SAP, EarlyWatch is the only way to resolve the endless finger pointing exercise whenever there is a problem. Now that SAP itself is making sure that your virtualized SAP by VMware is ready for GoLive and SAP itself is leading the problem diagnosis using the “SAP way”, should we still be having any discussion as to which virtualization platform is the best choice for SAP in Production?
Then let's examine the statement about “Additionally, consulting services and global support offerings from SAP are planned to focus on helping customers accurately assess, design, implement and optimize a virtualization and cloud strategy, with minimal impact on the business”. Aha! So the SAP consulting people will offer to help you, their customers, to design, implement, and optimize your SAP virtualization and cloud strategy! It’s about time that SAP customers can benefit from such services offerings, and I can assure you that EMC and VMware professional services experts will be actively participating in a significant number of these engagements since after all, who in the market today knows more about cloud and virtualized SAP infrastructure than VMware and EMC?
Many SAP customers have lingering concerns that the extensive SAP upgrade work, which is often a part of a replatforming project, is not “blessed” by SAP and therefore will there be any support issues going forward? But now, the SAP Services organization can be engaged to work alongside its partners in a SAP upgrade which will include a replatforming. Talk about zero risk!
Personally, I am very pleased to see that SAP is more or less stating that it makes sense to move quickly toward full virtualization, especially since SAP AG IT itself is about 60% virtualized, and on VMware of course!
I watched Jim Hagermann Snabe’s excellent opening keynote speech (he is SAP’s co-CEO with Bill McDermott), and Jim mentioned SAP HANA often in his presentation, stating that the HANA launch for the first 20 customers has been so successful that SAP will now start the HANA launch for “the masses”. That was at the same time when my eyes caught this point from the SAP press release “SAP and EMC will explore collaboration opportunities around the SAP HANA™ platform to deliver high-end system availability and EMC's fully automated storage tiering technologies (FAST). This deep collaboration will further strengthen SAP in-memory computing technology to deliver actionable insight into business processes by providing scalability and availability for customers”.
In my opinion, here is the key point about that sentence: “to deliver high-end system availability and automated storage tiering technologies”. So HANA may be in-memory computing and it’s so wonderful that a SAP customer in Japan can reduce a BW query to optimize their stock of cameras from days to minutes (according to Hagermann Snabe), but the subtext is that this in-memory data has to live SOMEWHERE, since HANA is volatile. Now, EMC is “Where Information Lives”, right? So it makes perfect sense that SAP is collaborating with EMC to build innovations and solutions on data protection, high availability, data repurposing, and long distance business continuity, and all those things are absolutely critical to a SAP customer – after all, who knows more about these subjects than EMC in the marketplace today ?
Finally, the press release mentioned FAST, a subject near and dear to my heart which I have blogged extensively on. Now why would FAST has anything to do with HANA? It would seem that SAP recognized that while it is highly desirable to have all the data in memory to speed things up, it is not always POSSIBLE to create such an architecture. What is needed is an intelligent algorithm which will allow for data to be tiered from FC disks, to EFD, and all the way to HANA, and back, automatically and seamlessly. Does that sound familiar?
Today, EMC already have many SAP customers in Production with FAST VP on the VMAX, and with FAST Cache on the VNX, so EMC has accumulated an invaluable store of knowledge on how data can be automatically tiered in SAP Production environments, without human intervention and without any downtime. With the new “extensive and ongoing collaboration” between SAP, EMC and VMware, expect to see SAP HANA to have very familiar EMC and VMware technologies be part of its future releases - here is a hint: SAP HANA runs well on Linux, and VMware offers high availability and disaster recovery on Linux out-of-the-box. Of course, we’ll have to see if and how all parties will deal with the “not-invented-here” syndrome, but Jim Hagerman Snabe himself said that SAP cannot do it all by itself, so it must rely on its really fantastic eco-system of partners to build the best solutions for its customers.
Tim K. Nguyen
SAP Global Technical Evangelist & EMC Cloud Architect
EMC Solutions Group