Enterprises and “cloud” providers that run SAP want the most powerful and effective ways to deploy and manage the software. That’s why SAP tested its software running on Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V virtualization technology, and using the latest deployment and management tools from both SAP and Microsoft. The results: the SAP and Microsoft technologies reduced SAP deployment time and cost by 95 percent compared to physical deployments, and boosted management productivity by 400 percent. The newest technologies in Hyper-V give it the power, reliability, and flexibility that enterprises and providers need for SAP virtual systems and landscapes. “We can recommend Hyper-V without reservation,” says an executive.
In the new economics of the post-recession era, a company can’t afford to pick technologies that simply outperform their competitors. If a company wants to outperform its competitors, it needs technologies that are as innovative at cutting costs as they are at operating in new and highly sophisticated ways.
When companies look for innovative technology solutions, they look increasingly to SAP. The company’s eponymous SAP software is used by 109,000 customers in more than 73 countries to provide an integrated platform for the broad sweep of business needs, including enterprise resource planning, customer resource management, supply chain management, operations management, and much more. Companies can deploy and manage SAP solutions anywhere, from a local premise to a public cloud.
But, because margins in the current economy are more and more likely to be razor-thin, companies also want to deploy their SAP solutions as quickly as possible and manage them as easily as possible—reducing costs and enabling the solutions to deliver broader business benefits. Over the years, SAP has responded to this need, for example, by moving its enterprise-scale software to the web, and by offering Business ByDesign, a software-as-a-service business management solution for small and midsize enterprises.
With these and other SAP innovations, a deployment that once took many months to install could instead be deployed in four to six weeks on an enterprise resource planning product stack. That was a great boon for SAP customers, giving them the ability to put SAP capabilities into production in the time they might otherwise need to deploy a single enterprise application from another vendor.
But, with their IT budgets frozen or reduced, and with competition fierce, companies want even further savings of time and money when they deploy large-scale, multisystem SAP environments. The company calls these environments “landscapes.”
One innovation that’s helping to achieve this is virtualization. “Virtualization is important to our customers because it holds out the promise of greater reliability, more uptime, faster deployments, easier management, and greater flexibility,” says Ralf Lindenlaub, Vice President for Virtualization and Cloud Management, Value Prototyping/Center of Excellence (CoE) at SAP. “All of that helps to keep costs low, while helping to boost productivity, speed processes, and contribute to profitability.”
To help its customers to deploy SAP software in virtual environments—as well as to make other changes or customizations to SAP landscapes, and to test performance—SAP operates a CoE best-known worldwide as the Value Prototyping Global Field Organization. The center gives companies the opportunity to test their proposed SAP virtual landscapes before they introduce any new or changed software to their own environments. Companies have the opportunity to see what works, what doesn’t, and to work with SAP engineers to adopt best practices.
The CoE also hosts virtualized production landscapes for its customers, delivering them over the Internet. It currently provides this “Lab as a Service”, or private-cloud, model to more than 300 customers. Recently, SAP customers have been asking the company to base these virtualized production landscapes on Hyper-V, the increasingly popular virtualization technology in Windows Server 2008 R2.
||We can recommend Hyper-V without reservation for customers looking for the most effective way to virtualize their SAP systems or landscapes.
Vice President for Virtualization and Cloud Management Value Prototyping/CoE, SAP
Customers and potential customers asked SAP about running its software on Hyper-V. Would it work? How long would such deployments take? How effectively could they be managed? Solution
In April and May 2011, SAP conducted tests on the SAP and Hyper-V solution at its CoE, using test deployments that matched the typical installations used by its customers. In addition to testing virtualized versions of its software for Windows Server, SAP also tested Linux-based versions of that software, also running on Hyper-V.
“Linux, along with Windows, is important to our customers, especially to cloud service providers who, like us, need to support the broadest range of technologies,” says Lindenlaub. “We want to give cloud and service providers and enterprise customers every option to run their SAP virtual landscapes.”
Testing with SAP Tools
SAP tested more than just the ability of Hyper-V to support SAP. The company also tested the ability of Hyper-V to work with the powerful tools that SAP offers to optimize virtual landscape deployment and management. Chief among those tools are the SAP Virtual Appliance Factory.
The SAP Virtual Appliance Factory is a library of preconfigured and validated—or “golden”—images of SAP systems and landscapes. SAP offers it as a subscription-based or per-use service that private or public cloud providers can use to minimize the installation, configuration, and maintenance costs associated with large-scale application clouds.
For these providers, the Virtual Appliance Factory does more than lower costs. It speeds deployment, because the providers can put new, virtualized SAP systems into production for their customers more quickly. It enables them to respond more quickly to customer requests for demonstrations, prototyping, and pilot tests of SAP systems or landscapes, boosting the providers’ competitive advantage. It reduces or eliminates the errors that come from manual software configuration. And it ensures that providers always have access to the most current golden system releases and landscapes—including updates—so they can meet customer needs for the latest SAP technology.
The SAP Virtual Landscape Management Solution includes the Virtual Appliance Factory as well as software and services designed to speed and ease the management of SAP virtual landscapes throughout the software lifecycle. The system is intended especially for service hosters and cloud providers seeking to expand their service offerings, as well for midsize to large enterprises seeking to optimize their SAP use—for example, by turning data centers into private clouds from which SAP systems or landscapes can be accessed more readily.
Customers can use the Virtual Landscape Management Solution to expand their virtual environments to support increasing workloads, to provision large numbers of virtual landscapes without the need for SAP post-provisioning service, and to offer on-demand landscapes to support special initiatives.
Testing with Microsoft Tools
In addition to testing its own tools for virtual system and landscape management, SAP also tested another set of management tools: the Microsoft System Center product family and, in particular, Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1). SAP tested the use of its own tools together with System Center Virtual Machine Manager to perform tasks such as creation and provisioning of virtual machines with SAP systems, live migrations of virtual machines hosting SAP systems, physical-to-virtual and virtual-to-virtual conversions, and bringing virtual machines from storage, then cloning and renaming them, and putting them into production.
||Using Hyper-V together with tools from SAP and Microsoft, customers can bring up SAP virtual systems, or entire virtual landscapes, far faster than they could have realistically imagined even a few years ago.
Vice President for Virtualization and Cloud Management, Value Prototyping/Center of Excellence, SAP
It also tested the comprehensive monitoring and troubleshooting capabilities of the Microsoft technology. SAP focused in part on the new and enhanced features in System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 SP1, such as Dynamic Memory for better utilization of a host’s memory resources, and Microsoft RemoteFX for feature-rich desktop environments that function over a network.
With its validation testing complete, SAP now is working to pilot test its first set of customers on SAP deployments virtualized on Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V.Benefits
Tests of SAP software that is virtualized with Hyper-V confirm that customers can bring up and manage SAP virtual systems and landscapes with tremendous ease and little time, and that they can take advantage of distinctive Hyper-V features to further optimize those virtual systems and landscapes.
Reduces Time and Cost of SAP Deployment by 95 Percent
Cloud providers and enterprise customers can use SAP and Microsoft technologies to provision a SAP virtual system in less than an hour, compared to the five days typically required for a traditional, physical deployment, a savings that Lindenlaub puts conservatively at 95 percent. Similarly, customers can provision virtual landscapes in an hour or so compared to the four to six weeks that might have been required previously.
“Using Hyper-V together with tools from SAP and Microsoft, customers can bring up SAP virtual systems, or entire virtual landscapes, far faster than they could have realistically imagined even a few years ago,” says Lindenlaub.
The time savings translates into a similar 95 percent cost savings for IT departments and cloud providers.
“The savings from virtualizing SAP with Microsoft and SAP technology will benefit all enterprise customers,” says Lindenlaub. “They can bring more of the productivity-enhancing and cost-saving benefits of SAP to their enterprises with less of an upfront investment than they otherwise could. For ‘hosters’ and cloud providers, it changes the entire economics of their business. For a provider bringing up average-sized SAP landscapes for just 100 customers, the savings could approach [U.S.]$2 million. That makes its business more profitable and enables it to target a broader range of customers.”
Boosts Productivity of IT Management by up to 400 percent
The deployment savings, while significant, may be just a small portion of a provider’s overall savings. The total lifecycle management savings will likely be greater, according to Lindenlaub.
A typical SAP environment requires one technician to manage 10 systems or about three landscapes. With a virtual deployment of SAP on Hyper-V, that same technician can manage 40 to 50 systems or about 15 landscapes. That’s a productivity gain of up to 400 percent.
“With SAP running on Hyper-V, companies have the flexibility to deploy broader landscapes without adding IT staff, to redirect current IT resources to other projects, or to do the combination of both that works best for them,” says Lindenlaub.
Brings Latest Microsoft Virtual Management Tools to SAP
Lindenlaub says he’s impressed with the performance and technical benefits of Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager—particularly the latest version of that technology, System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 SP 1.
“Hyper-V and Virtual Machine Manager provide a fully robust, reliable platform for SAP,” says Lindenlaub. “We can recommend Hyper-V without reservation for customers looking for the most effective way to virtualize their SAP systems or landscapes.”
Lindenlaub points to enhancements to Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager over the past year. The addition of Dynamic Memory, for example, makes it possible for enterprises and providers to monitor and manage the memory that a virtual machine uses on a host, so they can deploy memory more effectively and cost effectively, boost the consistency of virtual machine performance, and increase the consolidation ratios of virtual to physical resources. Administrators can use other innovations in the latest Virtual Machine Manager software to gain even greater flexibility in how they manage virtual machines, such as moving virtual machines with complete transparency to users; how they add and remove storage resources and use storage-intensive applications; and how they increase network performance while reducing CPU load.Microsoft Cloud Power
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