Everybody is talking about all-flash arrays and why this new technology is ideal for virtualization and applications, but what about mission critical applications such as SAP? The customer expectations on new all-flash technology is very high. In addition, SAP customers need a compelling event (e.g. DB migration, HANA, replatforming etc.) and a compelling business case to even consider deploying new technology (spoiler alert: just better performance is not a compelling event).
Again, the reason why SAP customers looking at all-flash technology, such as XtremeIO, is business driven. Typical business reasons are:
- Providing additional SAP services to increase revenue or shorten sales cycles
- Faster quarter/year close end to provide financial results quicker
- Sales-driven ad-hoc reports to make better sales decisions
- Rapid access to information and data anywhere (e.g. mobile) to provide detailed and more accurate information to customers
Now lets look at the value proposition running SAP applications and eve
n entire SAP landscapes on XtremIO:
- Better performance with new low-latency flash technology
- Reduced cost and lower TCO by reducing the infrastructure footprint in the datacenter and build-in deduplication
- Consolidation running various workloads on the same infrastructure
- Simplification of deploying, optimizing and managing XtremIO
These are all great technology reasons and they can be mapped to business justifications, but with every new technology the proof is in the pudding and all these great benefits are relatively worthless without the technical evidence through customer validation (e.g. POC) or EMC solution engineering confirmation.
In the case of XtremIO for SAP applications we already have two customers testing XtremIO for their mission critical SAP applications.
- Large bank in Australia
- US retailer manufacturing sports equipment
Both recently finalized their joint POCs on business suite (= ERP, CRM etc. applications) and business warehouse (BW = analytic application) and provided the technical evidence to proof that XtremIO justifies and enables the business use cases through new all-flash technology. Lets look at the customer expectation in more detail and how the POCs map to the claims.
Performance: All customers POCs were done on real production data using backup/restore to create the test environment on the XtremIO brick. In order to show the non-existent impact on the performance when running multiple scenarios on the same infrastructure we simply created new test environments by using read/writable snapshots off the original production application, and yes, we did not see any performance degradation by creating multiple snaps running several test in parallel. We also realized that the performance improvements are linear.
Results: The real customer reports we ran showed a performance boost of 2 x compared to the same reports running on the customer’s existing hardware. Another very significant performance boost was significant when extracting, transforming and loading production data from the ERP system to the BW system to run analytics. The performance improvements showed an improvement of over 66% and the data could be loaded in one instead of three days. The business impact is significant, since the customer can update and refresh the data more frequently providing their sales force more accurate information to make better, faster decisions.Summary: Performance, as expected, increased by a factor of two or more.
Consolidation: Many SAP customers do not mix their SAP production landscapes with test/dev or QA environments to
- Avoid performance degradation
- Reduce cost by running it on more cost effective hardware
even though having multiple environments increases complexity and manageability.Results: What we found in the customer POCs is that customers now have the confidence and assurance to run multiple environments on the same XtremIO brick without any performance degradation. This also resulted in a smaller real estate footprint in the datacenter with an effect on reduced TCO. XtremIO’s build-in compression could even increase the consolidation rate, reducing the TCO further.
Summary: Consolidation introduces a new SAP architecture concept and results in a reduced TCO therefore increase flexibility and agility for SAP environments
TCO: Almost as a by-result the customer discovered during the POC a new and more efficient way of managing their backup and recovery strategy and architecture for test/dev. Instead of creating backups every day and store them on the backup device they simply create a snapshot from production and keep them for a week, reducing the backup size by a factor of 6.Results and summary: Compression, new XtremIO enabled architectures and processes demonstrate a significant reduction of CAPEX and OPEX
Simplicity: When the XtremIO bricks arrived at the customer site, the data center personal, storage admins and technical architects were expecting a lengthy process and a lot of work to get the new XtremIO technology setup, optimized and administered. Surprise, surprise. The entire process was less than an hour since it did not need complex or complicated setup routines or optimization for SAP environments what decreased the time to deployment immensely. The POC could start way ahead of time.
Results and summary: No optimization or complex setup procedures necessary resulting in faster deployment time and less specialized tuning skillset to run XtremIO for SAP
Comparing now the results of the POCs with the customer expectation and mapping it to the business use cases:
- Performance: increased performance by at least a factor two = faster business decisions and more accurate data availability
- Consolidation: reduced SAP footprint in the datacenter and multiple environments on the same hardware = less IT to keep the lights on and more investments for innovation
- TCO: reduced CAPEX and OPEX = develop new revenue generating services for sales force
- Simplicity: Rapid already optimized deployment = IT staff to focus on new services
BTW: Both customers purchased the testing XtremIO equipment and more, since they are convinced that it far exceeds their expectation on this new technology as well as proofs the technology and business use cases.
If you need more information about the POCs, please read the following blog from Tim Nguyen who managed the POC and made sure we get these great customer results.