Enterprise Virtualization Strategist
SAP Labs, LLC
SAP and Virtualization: Partnering to Increase Flexibility, Improve Scalability, and Reduce TCO
Thanks to improved tools and technologies, workers today are incredibly efficient. But with each new labor-saving tool we’ve thrown at employees, the IT landscape that supports those technologies has grown exponentially. When exactly did the “server room” become a “server farm”?
Why can’t IT systems be as cost-efficient as the average workforce? What many companies don’t realize is that they can. One of the major technological trends to enable this efficiency is virtualization — and not just server virtualization, as this technology can also be used in other IT infrastructure components, including storage devices and network resources. Companies are increasingly turning to virtualization to reduce IT costs and boost their bottom lines.
So what impact can virtualization have for SAP customers? Here are three scenarios that can keep any IT manager up at night, areas where a virtualized environment could have a direct impact on the bottom line:
- Overbuilding IT systems to accommodate occasional peaks of service, such as a month-end or year-end closing. When designing an IT landscape, there is a tendency to size it for peak use. In some cases, this means that dozens or hundreds of servers sit idle for most of the year, waiting for those few days a month when they are called into service. And as they sit, they draw power, take up real estate, and require cooling. But imagine an environment — a virtual environment — where you appropriate server resources that are not being used by other applications. This concept makes it possible to easily balance performance peaks across server resources.
- Maintaining servers 24x7 for occasionally used applications, such as training systems. Every IT landscape has servers devoted to applications such as training systems that are only used occasionally or during concentrated periods. With virtualization, you can create a “system parking lot,” where applications can be “parked” on the storage system and started up again on a free resource. Don’t need it for two weeks? Then just park it.
- Supporting separate “day” and “off-hours” applications. There are many applications, such as business intelligence (BI) solutions, that have different performance patterns during daily and nightly operations. During the night, for example, batch jobs could be running, while during the day, dialog users might want to access a fast-reacting system. By employing virtualization, the required server and application resources can easily be assigned for the different requirements.
Virtualization abstracts computing resources and enables an IT organization to manage its resources more efficiently. SAP and its technology partners have provided virtualization technology in several layers of the SAP landscape and the underlying IT infrastructure.
Responding to Customers: The Adaptive Computing Controller
Four years ago, SAP introduced the adaptive computing concept, where the SAP system is decoupled from the underlying operating system (OS); in essence, the SAP system is virtualized and able to relocate across servers. SAP then provided the Adaptive Computing Controller, a central tool for managing the SAP systems in an adaptive computing landscape. The Adaptive Computing Controller, available within SAP NetWeaver, enables SAP customers to manage SAP systems on servers, within networks, and in storage, nimbly assigning resources in the landscape as needed. With the Adaptive Computing Controller, customers can reduce the complexity, increase the flexibility, and, by extension, reduce the cost of running their SAP systems.
The Adaptive Computing Controller evolved as a result of feedback we received from SAP customers who insisted that we simplify the management of SAP systems. At the same time, customers demanded that SAP applications perform more and more complex business processes and offer more powerful functionality. Also, they wanted their SAP systems to be more flexible, to easily react to changing business needs. And they wanted to reduce overall costs. Our approach, therefore, was to create the Adaptive Computing Controller as a management tool that would be operator-enabled — the tool hides the complexity of the underlying IT infrastructure so that an SAP Basis administrator can start, stop, and relocate SAP systems in the landscape without intervention from his or her colleagues on the infrastructure side. Furthermore, the Adaptive Computing Controller can also perform mass operations for start, stop, and relocation. All operations executed by the Adaptive Computing Controller are supported by its resource management capabilities.
We’re certain that, using the Adaptive Computing Controller, our customers can reduce the total number of servers needed to run their applications, and therefore get better control and achieve the reduced complexity, increased flexibility and scalability, and decreased costs they’re looking for.
Over the past few years, we have seen the Adaptive Computing Controller go from a nice-to-have tool to a business-critical investment. And in this uncertain world economy, every dollar, pound, or euro saved goes directly to an ever-shifting bottom line.
Virtualization: Outside Looking In
While SAP has been approaching virtualization from the application side, our partners have been tackling it from the server, operating system, storage, or network side. Today, more than a dozen partners offer virtualization solutions, many of which are highlighted within this SAP NetWeaver Magazine special report.
From the beginning, our customers have asked us to work in close collaboration with their preferred hardware and software vendors to ensure that SAP solutions run in virtualized environments, and to provide a superior integration of our solutions to an underlying virtualization infrastructure.
That’s why it’s not a question of choosing one or the other — of using the Adaptive Computing Controller versus any other vendor’s virtualization solutions. Each solution can run independently of the other. But together, they create a potent recipe for optimizing the operation and management of SAP solutions in customers’ data centers.
We also directly engaged partners involved in virtualization and worked with them to make sure that SAP solutions are properly running in productive customer environments. You can find a current list of supported virtualization platforms at https://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/virtualization.
Committed to Holistic Support
It’s one thing to share the stage with our partners in virtualization, but it’s another thing to commit to supporting such a program. Customers will no doubt find our unique “one-stop shopping” support approach a welcome change of pace from other systems and applications. Because of our close relationship with our partners, we have created a support model in which customers can call SAP for help with any SAP- supported product in a virtualized landscape.
For example, if you run your SAP application software on servers of a dedicated virtualization platform and you have an issue, you need only to contact SAP and we will work with those vendors to identify and resolve the issue.
What SAP Customers Can Do Now to Embrace Virtualization — and What Lies Ahead
Thousands of companies have already discovered the benefits of virtualization, from both inside the SAP space via the Adaptive Computing Controller and outside through one of our multiple partners.
Perhaps you have already implemented the Adaptive Computing Controller and want to know how it works with other virtualization technologies. Or perhaps you have implemented the virtualization platform of one of our partners and want to discover how to extend it into your SAP landscape.
To learn more about virtualization and how it can directly support your own efforts to boost flexibility, increase scalability, and reduce TCO, please visit:
In the near future, virtualization will extend beyond the server to networks and even desktops. Desktop virtualization, in particular, also has great potential for efficiencies and cost savings for our customers, as it will make it easier to free desktops not only from their hardware, but also from the bounds of their offices or other brick-and-mortar locations.
Embracing Partner Collaboration in the Virtualization Space
Almost from the start, SAP has been working closely with its partners and customers in the virtualization space.
The Adaptive Computing Council, a community SAP founded together with its partners in October 2003, primarily focuses on making adaptive computing available on all partners’ respective IT infrastructure platforms. A large partner community meets regularly with SAP’s adaptive computing team to collaborate very closely with adaptive computing development and enable partners to provide appropriate adaptive computing solutions for SAP customers. An important result of this collaboration is the Adaptive Computing Compliance Test, which partners can perform to prove that their components can be used in an adaptive computing landscape. For more information about this test, see https://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/adaptive → Compliance Tests.
Another community is the Enterprise Virtualization Community, founded in April 2008 by AMD, Cisco, Citrix, EMC, HP, Intel, NetApp, Novell, Red Hat, SAP, Sun, and VMware (F5 joined the community in June 2008). This community brings together the major virtualization vendors to discuss strategies, concepts, and possible solutions around business-driven virtualization, a technical strategy that allows customers to run scenarios completely integrated with a virtualization infrastructure.
In addition to collaborating with partners in these communities, SAP also supports virtualization through in-person events. This April, SAP will host the third SAP Virtualization Week, which will bring customers, partners, and SAP together to learn about customers’ experiences running SAP solutions in virtualized environments. There will also be opportunities to review the latest products and technologies from the partner community and see how SAP is working with them to offer integrated solutions to joint customers.
Another strong example of SAP’s commitment to collaboration with its partners is the SAP Co-Innovation Lab. The mission of the lab is to enable our customers and partners to join SAP to collaboratively work on joint projects and promote new and innovative business solutions and technologies.
For example, NetApp, VMware, and SAP recently ran a collaborative project at the SAP Co-Innovation Lab to create and validate a disaster recovery solution using virtualization. The project was a success and has allowed us to deliver a solution that ensures business continuity while at the same time reduces management costs. This disaster recovery solution is easily tested, centrally managed, and completely automated — and with it, an organization can develop disaster recovery procedures that match its specific environment requirements.
After opening the first SAP Co-Innovation Lab in Palo Alto, California, in June 2008 (together with HP, Intel, NetApp, and Cisco as founding sponsors), SAP recently launched a second lab in Tokyo.
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Open Up New Possibilities for Your SAP Landscape
VMware’s Virtualization Offerings Help You Optimize Your Software Investments
The benefits of virtualization are clear: By running several operating systems and applications at the same time on a single computer, you can dynamically rebalance applications while increasing system resource utilization across test, development, quality assurance, training, and production environments. You can also save money on hardware, space, and power needs. So how can you start taking advantage of these benefits?
VMware Infrastructure is a flexible and cost-effective industry-standard hardware virtualization suite for SAP solution implementations. With it, your SAP solutions-based environments can cost less and be more productive than they can within a purely physical infrastructure. VMware Infrastructure helps companies apply the full range of virtualization benefits — from server consolidation and containment to business process and data center automation — to all sizes of SAP deployments. SAP customers are already using VMware’s solutions to:
- Optimize data center resources
- Ease system upgrades, implementations, and platform migrations
- Meet service-level agreements (SLAs)
- Support service delivery to the business
Let’s look at each of these opportunities in more detail.
Optimize Data Center Resources
In a typical SAP deployment, every layer of the environment is hosted on dedicated physical servers, which are often underutilized. By enabling companies to run multiple applications on virtual machines, VMware Infrastructure helps companies cut back on the number of physical servers they need. This virtualization technology also addresses one of the increasingly painful costs of underutilized hardware resources: high energy consumption. Energy costs are on the rise, and many data centers simply lack the power or space to continue supporting large numbers of physical servers.
In fact, industry analysts estimate that the annual cost of powering a server will soon exceed its acquisition cost. By enabling server consolidation and reducing server sprawl, VMware virtualization solutions allow users to dramatically cut hardware and energy costs while increasing hardware utilization.
Ease Implementations, Upgrades, and Platform Migrations
Upgrades present a golden opportunity to move system landscapes from older, proprietary platforms to cost- effective, industry-standard servers and operating systems. But these upgrades must be thoroughly planned and tested to ensure the smoothest and least disruptive transition possible.
An important task in any upgrade project is setting up environments — whether it’s the initial environment setup or ad hoc deployments of new environments for test or development purposes. Providing new environments is especially important if the project includes a migration or an operating system upgrade. In a traditional native deployment, this process tends to be time consuming and can cause project delays, especially if the available hardware is not sufficient.
VMware virtual machine templates allow you to enforce consistency among application instances. You can build an archive of development and test environments that you can deploy at a moment’s notice, eliminating time-consuming, manual tasks associated with setting up system configurations. This also makes it easier to clone environments for ad hoc or production purposes.
Using VMware software, you can also take snapshots that capture the state of a virtual machine before applying and testing changes to SAP code or the operating system. You can then roll back to a known good state in minutes, allowing more tests cycles in a shorter time window.
With these snapshots, you can also make platform migrations easier. These migrations can take several hours and involve extensive testing and tuning to minimize risk of failure. VMware snapshots can capture the state of an application at multiple intermediate points during the process, making it easy to test sub-phases of the upgrade under multiple scenarios.
In case of problems, snapshots also enable a quick rollback to the pre-upgrade state, providing worst-case insurance that your environment can be rapidly returned to a functional state, limiting any potential downside to the business.
Meet Service-Level Agreements
SAP application owners, Basis administrators, and IT staff are responsible for meeting service-level agreements that guarantee availability and performance targets for solution users. VMware has several virtualization solutions that work alongside SAP-provided functionality to deliver high availability for critical business functions and improved infrastructure and application performance:
- In the event of physical server failure, VMware High Availability automatically restarts virtual machines on servers that have spare capacity, minimizing downtime and service disruption and eliminating the need for dedicated standby hardware. It also provides high availability benefits for SAP environments without the complexity of setting up cluster configurations.
- VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler dynamically balances computing capacity across hardware resources that are aggregated into logical resource pools. It monitors utilization and intelligently allocates available resources among virtual machines based on predefined rules that reflect business needs and priorities. When load increases on an SAP virtual machine, the VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler automatically redistributes virtual machines across physical servers to ensure resource availability so applications can continue to perform at expected levels.
- VMware VMotion enables the live migration of virtual machines from one physical server to another with minimal downtime. With VMotion, you can perform hardware maintenance without scheduling system downtime that disrupts business operations. Your IT staff can do maintenance work during regular business hours, rather than during late-night or weekend shifts.
- With VMware Site Recovery Manager, you can implement a unified disaster recovery process without investing in an exact replica of the hardware. This solution integrates with storage replication software from third-party storage vendors to eliminate complex manual recovery steps and enable nondisruptive testing of recovery plans, making failover and recovery rapid, reliable, affordable, and manageable.
Support Service Delivery to the Business
VMware Infrastructure enables companies to deploy a service-oriented architecture (SOA) rapidly and cost effectively. Consider a system that operates within set business parameters — at a certain number of SAP transactions per second, for example. The system can use VMware Infrastructure capabilities to move resources dynamically into the application resource pool as load increases, or to shift resources away from the pool as load diminishes.
Mergers and acquisitions, for example, can present a host of challenges to IT organizations, particularly when it comes to maintaining the integrity of data and transactions in financial, customer, and other operational systems, building communication among application systems, transitioning data and users from one application to another, and so forth. VMware virtualization software reduces the cost and complexity of merging disparate IT environments by converting legacy applications and database environments to virtual machines. These virtualized workloads can run on the latest industry-standard servers and are easily incorporated into the existing landscape. Furthermore, as you integrate the acquired company’s data and processes into the existing SAP systems, the virtualized architecture provides flexibility to effectively address the increased load on the systems.
With rising power costs, shrinking budgets, and increasing pressure to do more with less, IT organizations would be well served to consider virtualization. Many companies are already using VMware virtualization tools and solutions for their SAP environments.
Visit www.vmware.com/sap to read case studies, download white papers, and learn more about the benefits of VMware Infrastructure.
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Technical Program Manager
Enterprise Platform Enabling
Enterprise Platform Enabling
Deliver Business Value Through Strategic Technology Investments
Reduce or Eliminate Cost Using Virtualized Solutions from Intel and SAP
Virtualization has transformed businesses by generating more value from physical servers than ever before — in short, accomplishing more with less. A traditional single server environment, in which one server is often responsible for one service (such as database hosting or email), doesn’t make the best use of the server’s hardware. This type of configuration wastes the server’s remaining computational power, which cannot be relocated to a different service.
In contrast, virtualized servers optimize their underlying hardware. Through virtualization, one physical host consolidates the software elements of multiple traditional servers — including their operating systems, applications, and data — and runs them all simultaneously. This approach can generate tremendous business value.
Companies that are running mission-critical SAP applications in development, test, training, and production environments should consider moving those applications to virtualization stacks when possible. A virtual platform, while just as reliable and productive as a purely physical infrastructure, can be more cost efficient. The help SAP customers need now is figuring out which platform to choose.
Choosing the Right Platform and Virtualization Technology
Clients who are looking for rapid ROI when upgrading, migrating, refreshing, or consolidating servers should consider SAP and Intel virtualized solutions. With nearly 15 years of development and business collaboration, Intel and SAP offer an optimized portfolio of integrated and pre-tested hardware and software solutions. These solutions provide lower TCO while adding flexibility to support your business.
Helping to transform system environments, hardware-assisted Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) provides greater flexibility and maximum system utilization by consolidating multiple environments into a single physical server. With fewer systems required for the same tasks, Intel VT delivers:
- Simplified resource management, increasing efficiency
- Greater system reliability and availability, reducing corporate risk and real-time losses from downtime
- Lower hardware acquisition costs with increased utilization of your existing servers
SAP and Intel: Achieving Business Goals Through Development and Collaboration
By running SAP ERP and SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW) on Intel-based systems, enterprises have access to scalable and high-performing applications that can help them achieve their business goals. The latest processor series, Intel Xeon 7400, offers 24 cores in total. With this number of available cores, it is possible to project in detail how SAP application servers will scale when running on multicore systems in a virtualized environment.
Intel and SAP engineers are working together to enable SAP applications to run best on Intel platforms (both in native and virtualization stacks), perform optimizations, develop proof points in support of platform and software launches, and create proofs of concept running SAP applications on Intel platforms. In addition to providing powerful, multicore hardware, the Intel software engineering teams work closely with SAP software developers to improve SAP’s multithreaded application performance.
Enhanced Performance for Enterprise Resource Planning
Servers based on Intel Xeon processor 7400 series can help enterprises make the most out of SAP ERP. Designed to deliver outstanding performance, these servers scale from 2 to 16 processor sockets. Based on the new 45-nm Intel Core microarchitecture, Intel Xeon processor 7400 series helps achieve better overall server performance than the previous generation — within the same power envelope.
Multicore Intel Xeon processors have also helped Intel establish virtualization performance leadership when running a typical SAP ERP workload. Based on internal results, Intel Xeon processor 7400 series platform 2.67 GHz outperforms Intel Xeon processor 7300 series platform 2.93 GHz by 1.4 times for a typical SAP ERP workload in a virtualized environment.1
Virtualization Trends on the Horizon
Dedicated to continual customer-driven innovation, Intel architects know that a well-integrated hardware and software stack is the key to virtualized success. The latest Intel Xeon processor series delivers next-generation Intel VT for greater performance and efficiency and to enable pooling of multiple generations of resources (see table).
As organizations realize the benefits virtualization offers in terms of server consolidation, cost savings, and increased flexibility, virtualization of even the most mission-critical workloads has become mainstream in today’s data centers.
Visit www.intelalliance.com/SAP to read case studies, download white papers, and learn more about the advantage of choosing an Intel platform to run your SAP applications.
|Features of Next-Generation Intel VT
||Benefits to the Virtualized Enterprise
|Extended Page Tables
||Provides a hardware assist to mapping memory between virtual machines and the physical host, increasing efficiency
|Virtual Process ID
||Enables the virtual machine monitor to cache mappings between virtual machines and CPU microarchitecture, reducing the performance hit when switching control between virtual machines
|Intel VT FlexMigration
||Enables running virtual machines to migrate more freely among various generations of server hardware, increasing interoperability
|Intel VT for Directed I/O
||Allows a virtual machine to have direct, exclusive access to an I/O device, without emulated device drivers in the virtual machine monitor
|Intel VT for Connectivity
||Provides multiple send/receive queues that can be assigned to specific virtual machines, allowing more efficient sharing of network connectivity
|Virtual Device Machine Queues
||Offloads part of the burden of managing virtualized traffic from the virtual machine monitor to the network controller, accelerating that management functionality
|Intel I/O Acceleration Technology for Virtualization
||Optimizes packet flow and provides hardware assists to I/O processing, avoiding I/O bottlenecks from large numbers of virtual machines per server
|Single-Root Input/Output Virtualization
||Allows virtual machines to access network hardware directly, helping to improve virtualized performance dramatically, using an industry specification
1 Source: Internal Intel measurements. Performance tests and ratings are measured using specific computer systems or components and reflect the approximate performance of Intel products as measured by those tests. Any difference in system hardware or software design or configuration may affect actual performance. Buyers should consult other sources of information to evaluate the performance of systems or components they are considering purchasing. For more information on performance tests and on the performance of Intel products, visit www.intel.com/go/virtualization. [back]
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Going Virtual? Novell Helps Companies Do It Right
Make the Most of Your Virtualized SAP Environment
Virtualization is a hot topic in today’s data centers and a top priority for many organizations. Enterprises worldwide — including those that run SAP solutions — are using virtualization to increase the efficiency, utilization, and flexibility of their existing data centers. Virtualization can also dramatically reduce your IT purchasing, provisioning, and maintenance costs by consolidating business applications and services and enabling you to respond more dynamically to rapidly changing resource and application needs.
However, if a virtualization solution is deployed incorrectly, it can wreak havoc. With virtualization, you have the power to move data resources in an instant — but the wrong move can actually hinder user performance and increase management costs. Without careful planning and the right tools, virtual machines and hypervisors can rapidly proliferate within an IT landscape, leading to poor resource utilization and excessive IT overhead — the very problems that virtualization is meant to solve. This makes capacity planning and modeling crucial to avoid resource bottlenecks and virtual server sprawl.
That’s where Novell comes in. Novell delivers a complete infrastructure, with solutions and support for virtualization, workload migration, and workload lifecycle management from one source — for both Linux and Windows.
Optimize the Infrastructure Supporting Your SAP Applications
Virtualizing your SAP environment requires a new approach to managing your infrastructure — including upfront planning, workload lifecycle analysis, and continuous monitoring — to optimize IT resources while ensuring that your SAP applications continue to run seamlessly. Some SAP workloads run more efficiently on physical hardware, while other workloads run better on virtualized systems.
With virtualization solutions from Novell, you can consolidate the right SAP applications from multiple underused servers onto one powerful server. Our core strength in the virtualization area is our ability to assess, plan, and move physical workloads into virtual machines and back to a physical environment as required. We can also take a snapshot of your environment so you can test those virtual machines with minimal downtime and risk of failure.
With Novell virtualization solutions, you can remotely measure server assets and workload resource utilization trends to identify ideal candidates for consolidation (see figure). By completely automating the measurement, analysis, capacity planning, and movement of thousands of servers into virtual environments, you’ll dramatically accelerate your server consolidation and virtualization projects, reducing the time it takes to complete these projects from years to weeks.
|Novell’s virtualization solution uses partitioning and abstraction, simultaneously dividing and sharing a computer’s resources; this enables flexible, highly automated deployments of SAP solutions in the data center
Protect Your SAP Applications: The Broader Business Case for Virtualization
Many organizations embark on virtualization projects simply to consolidate their servers. However, as these projects mature, we’ve seen the value proposition of virtualization shift toward additional benefits for system management, such as:
- Seamless disaster recovery
- Reduced planned downtime (through live or quick migration) for your data center
- Faster development efforts
Many companies also employ their virtualization infrastructure to help ensure business continuity and enhanced system management. For example, disaster recovery solutions from PlateSpin, a Novell company, allow you to replicate a whole server image by streaming it over the network to an available virtual machine host that has been allocated as a warm standby system.
This live transfer functionality enables incremental synchronization at user-defined intervals to maintain currency between the production environment and the virtual standby system. In the event of a primary server outage, the standby system can be activated to immediately take over the workload while the production server is being restored. After recovery, you can move the system back to a physical server or to a virtual machine server.
Not only does user productivity suffer when your data centers are not consistently available, but the impact can also extend to customers and vendors, affecting customer loyalty and damaging marketplace competitiveness. Employing virtualization solutions for business continuity — and for the wider benefits these solutions bring — lets you get more out of your virtualization investment.
Manage Your Virtual SAP Environment — Automatically
Virtualization solutions can help you cut costs by increasing server efficiency and agility; however, increased management costs could offset these gains if you don’t properly manage your virtual machines. Effectively managing a virtualized environment means the following:
- Optimizing the balance between physical and virtual infrastructures through ongoing workload monitoring and the automatic consolidation, deconsolidation, and free movement of server workloads throughout the network
- Analyzing selected servers and streaming them across the network to the most appropriate physical or virtual infrastructure, based on server resource supply and application workload demand
- Ensuring that servers are continually allocated to the most appropriate infrastructure and maximizing performance for the most demanding applications while minimizing hardware costs
Integrated management tools from Novell allow you to manage and provision all of your computing resources — regardless of whether they’re physical, virtual, or both. The objective is to create an agile, policy-based orchestration environment that will automate and facilitate the management of identities, systems, storage, and virtual machines.
And while many virtualization management tools only allow you to manage one hypervisor, Novell delivers automation and an agile data center by providing a vendor-agnostic approach. Whether you have already chosen VMware, Hyper-V, Xen, or nothing at all, Novell can help.
An SAP Technology Partner, Novell offers SAP customers a virtualization environment that supports their SAP solutions. Our integrated Xen virtualization technology is officially supported by SAP. As a result, our virtualization solutions will operate seamlessly with your existing infrastructure and deliver an integrated suite of tools for virtualization management and automation.
To learn more, visit www.novell.com/partners/sap and www.novell.com/virtualization.
Specialized Service for SAP Customers
Because your SAP environment is business critical, Novell has created a special offering exclusively for customers virtualizing their SAP applications using SUSE Linux Enterprise. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Priority Support for SAP Applications provides these customers with a single point of entry to Novell support through SAP Solution Manager. With this, you can streamline issue resolution, reduce complexity, and lower the cost of owning your Novell virtualization solution. For more information, please visit www.novell.com/products/server/sap.html.
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Red Hat Delivers with Integrated Virtualization Capabilities
Many companies assume that potential overhead of x86 virtualization technology renders it difficult to deploy with business-critical applications, such as those offered by SAP. However, by using the virtualization technologies included in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform, your IT department can improve IT flexibility without jeopardizing the performance of the applications that are critical to your company’s daily operations.
It is an established best practice that a business-critical application should be protected from hardware failures. Typically this requires high-availability clustering and redundant systems. In fact, Red Hat has provided high-availability clustering (Red Hat Cluster Services) as a core function of its Enterprise Linux operating system (OS) since 2002, and it has been used in thousands of installations.
Adding a virtualization layer in a high-availability cluster further insulates the application and end users from the hardware layer. In practice, the result is improved uptime, faster recovery from failure, and simplified IT maintenance. On the other hand, introducing additional technologies into the infrastructure is not without risk. When building your IT infrastructure, you need to balance performance, scalability, and complexity to develop a solution that will meet your business’s needs. The Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform provides both a leading virtualization technology and a mature high-availability solution — all in one package.
Not only does the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system scale well on multi-core x86 servers, it also includes a very low-overhead virtualization layer. Tight integration with the OS and support for the latest x86/x86_64 hardware enhancements enable Red Hat systems to virtualize even high-performance applications. The advantages of a Red Hat solution, in which the OS and the virtualization layer are tightly coupled, are particularly beneficial for applications that have high demand for network and storage traffic.
Red Hat’s Virtualization Technology: What’s in It for SAP Customers?
Red Hat has long partnered with SAP to deliver a reliable, scalable, secure, and affordable platform that combines the best of SAP solutions and Red Hat technologies. Many customers looking for a platform that can help them affordably grow their IT architectures for the future are running their SAP solutions on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
SAP customers can use the complete Red Hat solution to achieve:
- Partitioned impressive performance — Red Hat’s virtualization technology brings with it high system performance. In industry benchmarks, Red Hat’s virtualization tests performed within 10% of systems without virtualization; in some cases, the overhead was as little as 2%.
- A greener IT infrastructure — By consolidating the number of servers companies run, virtualization also reduces the amount of energy needed to cool and power these servers. Network World recently recognized Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 for its green operating system.1
- Reduced costs — Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5’s open source virtualization capabilities are integrated into the OS to reduce added technology costs. And with Red Hat’s open source technologies, customers are able to leverage commodity hardware, eliminating the need to purchase expensive proprietary alternatives.
- Increased manageability — Through open standards, managing virtualized systems also becomes easier. To enable this, Red Hat founded the libvirt project with a goal of creating a hypervisor- agnostic interface for managing virtual machines. The libvirt standard has since been embraced by many manufacturers, software vendors, and OS vendors, and is currently shipped in Red Hat Enterprise Linux and many of the community Linux distributions.
Test Results Prove Red Hat’s Virtualization Readiness
In February 2008, SAP LinuxLabs conducted a Linux Virtualization Certification Workshop to demonstrate the readiness of different technology partners to run SAP applications in virtual servers. As a result of this workshop, SAP affirmed that Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtualization is ready for production use with SAP solutions. Please see www.redhat.com/sap for more information on this testing and its results.
In November 2008, an SAP-certified result of 5,156 SD users was achieved by Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 using SAP ERP 6.0, SAP NetWeaver 7.0, and IBM’s DB2 running on an IBM System x3850 M2. To find more information on this benchmark, please visit www.redhat.com/f/pdf/Cert08066.pdf.
In December 2008, Red Hat demonstrated the scalability of its solution in a virtualized server environment, earning an SAP-certified result of 4,400 SD users running in a Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 para-virtualized guest (see sidebar and figure). Testing results can be found at www.redhat.com/sap.
Red Hat works closely with SAP to ensure that SAP solutions are certified and supported on Red Hat Enterprise Linux to deliver the robust, secure, and high- performance solutions companies depend on to manage their businesses. Red Hat also regularly publishes new white papers, benchmarks, reference architectures, and other documentation. To access this documentation and find out more about the many benefits of running your SAP environment on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, visit www.redhat.com/sap.
Optimize Your Operating System with Para-Virtualization
Traditional virtualization products relied on hardware emulation — intercepting and translating hardware requests from guest virtual machines. This approach creates significant overhead, especially for I/O-intensive workloads, and limits the scalability of the virtual environment. For these reasons, enterprise class workloads such as databases or ERP systems are seldom virtualized in production.
Previous customer experience might tell us that any system that needs high performance or needs to be scaled is not a candidate for virtualization. After all, applications, such as those for financial trading, that require low latency or are time sensitive have often been unable to benefit from virtualization. Until now.
In Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, Red Hat optimized the OS to work in a virtualized environment, using para-virtualization to eliminate the I/O bottlenecks and remove the need for complete system emulation. Removing this overhead results in significantly better performance, especially for I/O-intensive workloads. Para-virtualization solves traditional virtualization challenges such as clock-skew — in which problems synchronizing the clock between the hypervisor and multiple virtual machines cause time to be “lost” as the guest clock runs more slowly than the host.
Red Hat Virtualization also supports dynamic resource allocation, allowing memory and CPUs to be added or removed from a live virtualized server. For example, if the system needs more CPU resources to complete a resource-intensive processing job, the user can add more virtual CPUs on the fly. Then, when the job completes, the extra CPUs may be removed and reassigned to other guests. Red Hat integrated virtualization supports up to 32 CPUs per virtual machine, providing a stable and scalable platform for your enterprise applications (see figure).
|The results of Red Hat’s recent virtualization benchmark tests
1 See www.press.redhat.com/2008/06/26/red-hat-gets-the-green-light-as-greenest-operating-system for more information. [back]
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Upgrade Project + Virtualization = Reduced Costs and Increased Efficiency
Virtual Off-Premise Services from TExperts Enhance the Upgrade Equation
Current economic times are forcing companies to search for new ways to cut costs — all while maintaining efficient and flexible IT infrastructures. This challenge is compounded as many SAP customers are presently upgrading their SAP solution-based landscapes, converting to Unicode, or migrating their existing 32-bit hardware and software landscapes to a 64-bit platform (see sidebar).
Upgrades on the Horizon
Organizations are facing upgrade decisions this year as support for SAP R/3 Enterprise and SAP R/3 4.6C 32-bit applications phases out. Many companies are also considering the upgrade window an opportunity to move from an older 32-bit platform to a faster 64-bit platform to support new releases of SAP NetWeaver-based applications. Organizations are also looking into converting non-Unicode systems to Unicode as part of their upgrade because so much new Web Dynpro functionality — for employee and manager self-services, for example — require Unicode.
Accordingly, IT managers have to evaluate technologies and services that can assist with their upgrade or conversion projects. Virtualization technologies have matured over the last several years to provide a stable, robust, high-availability platform for non-productive and productive SAP NetWeaver technology platform-based applications. VMware is a major provider of these virtualization technologies, and Virtual Off-Premise services from TExperts give SAP customers an acceleration tool in the form of virtual upgrade services — which leave no footprint in customers’ data centers and help save money and increase flexibility in upgrade projects.
TExperts’ Virtual Off-Premise services, which are offered on a month-to-month subscription basis, involve a temporary copy of a customer’s SAP solution-based system being migrated to TExperts’ dynamic data center, to which the customer and all involved parties have remote access (see figure). A service provider offering support for SAP solutions and a Certified VMware VAC Partner, TExperts offers SAP customers these Virtual Off-Premise services based on VMware ESX technology, one of the virtualization technologies officially supported for SAP solutions based on SAP NetWeaver technology.
|TExperts’ Virtual Off-Premise services migrate a virtual copy of a company’s SAP solution-based system to TExperts’ dynamic data center; this allows involved parties to access it remotely
Employ Virtualization for Smarter Upgrades
TExperts’ Virtual Off-Premise services provide flexibility for functional and technical SAP solution-based landscape upgrades and help IT departments perform these upgrades immediately, more efficiently, and in less time. While a copy of a system is temporarily migrated to our dynamic data center, the customer can prepare the upcoming upgrade independently, without temporarily freezing enhancements or other requests for business-critical services.
Furthermore, IT can plan, manage, and perform certain upgrade phases — such as PREPARE — faster and separately from the actual upgrade. Virtualization features, such as VMware snapshots, enable this independence and accelerate the process with fast rollbacks using snapshot technology. For example, IT can do an off-site proof of concept of the involved database upgrade as part of the PREPARE phase. Most SAP upgrades — particularly those related to upgrading to SAP NetWeaver 7.0 from SAP R/3 — require this proof of concept.
Customers can also minimize and accelerate database upgrade efforts by creating one copy of the SAP solution-based system and using the snapshot feature to roll back or roll forward the virtual platform in case of corruption, rather than re-deploying the whole SAP system. This snapshot technology can be used not only to upgrade the database, but also to aid in the different phases of an SAP upgrade project — to respond to unexpected events that may occur during first-time upgrades, for example.
5 Key Virtualization Advantages
Here are several benefits of using virtualization technologies in an SAP upgrade project:
- IT can reuse the virtually upgraded SAP system to further rehearse upgrade scenarios (dry runs) to fine tune the process, especially by using a re-homed copy of the quality assurance or production system to learn about the timing of the different upgrade phases.
- System copies can be created easily to provide a duplicate system to the integration testing or training team, enabling IT to train employees before and during the actual upgrade. The snapshot capability allows the training system to be reset quickly after a training session so it can be reused for the next session. A native training system, on the other hand, requires additional effort for reuse because it has to be cleaned up manually or a client copy must be performed.
- IT can perform, evaluate, and test modification adjustments completely independently while the actual production landscape is live. These adjustments can be realized and prepackaged in the form of a turnkey transport to be reused with the actual upgrade.
- The implementation team can review new functionality well ahead of the actual upgrade, enabling the team to start the blueprint phase independent of the internal hardware deployment and procurement processes.
- SAP solutions, such as SAP Solution Manager, or third-party software, such as BSI TaxFactory or Vertex Sales and Use Tax, can be easily simulated, evaluated, and integration-tested in a similar manner without any intrusion to the customer’s data center.
All involved parties can perform their tasks collaboratively while remaining independent of their location as they obtain the appropriate access, approved by the customer, through the remote access infrastructure that TExperts provides.
Reduce Costs During Your Upgrade
TExperts’ Virtual Off-Premise services offer many opportunities to reduce upgrade costs with:
- Zero footprint in the SAP customer’s data center
- Inexpensive snapshots that replace backup and recovery processes
- Instantaneous system copies for training and testing
- No additional cost for the access infrastructure
- Access to Basis experts
- No travel costs due to virtual collaboration among the various team members
SAP customers who have started to implement virtualization technologies internally typically plan to extend them to their SAP solution-based landscape because of the defined benefits of virtualization. These customers will gain additional benefits by using TExperts’ Virtual Off-Premise services because of the de-coupling effect of virtual platforms. The Virtual Off-Premise services concept can be utilized to start virtualizing SAP systems off-site while the internal implementation of the virtual platform is underway. TExperts’ certified consultants provide expertise in migrating SAP solution-based systems running on native hardware onto a virtual platform allowing customers to benefit from our Virtual Off-Premise services that seamlessly integrate with their existing landscape. To learn more, please visit www.texpertsinc.com/saponvmware.html.
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Global SAP Alliance
Citrix Systems, Inc.
Citrix End-to-End Virtualization Helps Deliver the Full Value of SAP Applications
SAP not only offers exceptional products, but also works with partners to make sure enterprise customers realize the full value of their SAP solutions. Getting this value means increasing end-user productivity and satisfaction, business agility, and IT efficiency — all of which are directly affected by application delivery.
No matter how robust your business applications are, a poor delivery infrastructure can jeopardize their performance. Citrix Systems, Inc. helps companies realize the true value of their SAP applications. Many SAP customers — and SAP itself — use Citrix technology to securely deliver applications to users anywhere, providing them with high performance at low cost.
Today, Citrix virtualization technologies offer new choices for enhancing the flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and speed of application delivery. Virtualization is an important enabler of application delivery since it allows resources — servers, applications, and desktops — to be dynamically coupled and reassembled on the fly. This allows organizations to respond quickly to changing business and operational requirements without adding staff or infrastructure.
Citrix XenApp — working with Citrix XenServer and Citrix NetScaler — offers comprehensive virtualization technologies for application delivery. The solutions enable IT to easily configure, service, upgrade, and add servers, and provide global server load balancing to XenApp server farms, enabling a seamless user experience, even when server farms go offline.
Application virtualization with Citrix XenApp: Application virtualization enables enterprises to deliver SAP applications to office and mobile workers from a secure, central location. XenApp separates where the application is used from where it runs. All application components, such as SAP GUI, SAP NetWeaver Business Client, or a securely patched browser, remain in the data center while the user interface is delivered over the network. XenApp also provides client-side virtualization, streaming applications on demand to a secure isolation environment on the desktop.
Server virtualization with Citrix XenServer: Delivering critical applications in a fluid business environment used to require complex solutions to make hardware maintenance transparent to users and manage the entire life cycle of projects. Now, with XenServer, organizations can reduce complexity and turn static data centers into dynamic resources.
Web application acceleration with Citrix NetScaler: NetScaler is an all-in-one appliance that is easy to deploy and operate. Deployed in front of Web servers, NetScaler combines high-speed load balancing and content switching with application acceleration, data compression, content caching SSL acceleration, network optimization, and application performance monitoring.
Citrix Application Delivery Solutions Optimize ROI for SAP Customers
When selecting SAP solutions, companies want the best return on their investments. Optimizing application delivery helps them get there. Citrix’s application delivery solutions provide several advantages, including:
- Productivity and satisfaction: Users benefit from high application performance, availability, and the freedom to access their applications or desktops from anywhere.
- Lower costs: IT teams benefit from centralized application management and support, freeing them from maintaining applications on the local desktop and helping reduce administrative costs and infrastructure requirements.
- Agility and fast response: The organization benefits from greater agility because applications and desktops can be delivered quickly to new users or new locations.
Together, Citrix and SAP help customers optimize the value of SAP business applications through a complete application delivery solution. View the on-demand Webinar, “High Availability for XenApp using XenServer and NetScaler,” at www.citrix.com/HAforXenApp to learn more.
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Dr. Christoph Brune
Account Manager, SAP
Take Virtualization to the Next Level
Sun’s Virtualization Solutions Extend from the Desktop to the Data Center
Facing rapid growth, increasing energy and real estate costs, and constantly changing market conditions, many companies are looking to simplify their IT infrastructures and leverage computing resources more effectively by implementing virtualization technologies. To make the most out of virtualization, however, companies must ensure that it is available and integrated throughout the business — at the desktop, server, and storage levels.
Accordingly, Sun Microsystems offers the Sun Virtualization Suite of Services, through which Sun experts help you choose the right technologies from our end-to-end virtualization portfolio to build your company’s next-generation virtual environment.
Virtual Solutions for Your Entire SAP Environment
Sun delivers virtualization technologies to help companies build, implement, and manage their entire SAP environment across the operating system (OS), desktop, server, and storage system levels. Sun’s architectural experts can help you choose which hardware virtualization technologies will most benefit your environment, depending on the requirements of your SAP landscape and the specific needs of your company. Sun’s virtualization solutions include:
- Virtual desktops: Sun Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Software allows users to access virtual desktops from nearly any OS on the network without the maintenance, upgrades, and operational costs that traditional PC architectures require.
- Partitioned servers: Sun’s server virtualization technologies — Dynamic Domains, Logical Domains, and Sun xVM Server — allow users to partition servers to run different types and versions of systems and SAP applications on a single server. This helps reduce the number of servers you need for production, testing, quality assurance, training, and upgrades.
- Virtualized storage: Sun StorageTek Virtual Storage manages all storage resources as a single pool, which in turn decreases the burden of managing large tape libraries, increases system usage and efficiency, and reduces costs.
Beyond Virtual Hardware
Once you virtualize your hardware, the next step is to virtualize the OS and your system applications as efficiently as possible to deliver savings in energy, cost, and space. To do so, the experts at Sun can help you implement Solaris Containers and Solaris ZFS file systems.
Solaris Containers provide advanced OS and application virtualization features that follow common commands across Sun’s entire server line, regardless of the underlying technology. Additionally, the Sun N1 Advanced Architecture supports Solaris Containers, which can manage a virtualized SAP environment and enable users to easily create, start, stop, and move SAP instances across pools of hardware. Sun is also working to provide similar capabilities with Sun xVM Ops Center, which is intended to provide a unified management framework to manage physical and virtual environments across heterogeneous systems.
In addition, the open Solaris ZFS file system pools together storage resources to manage storage as a single resource. That way, your virtualized applications have easy access to the storage they need, when they need it.
Sun continues to work with SAP to integrate and certify emerging virtualization technologies — like Sun xVM software — with SAP solutions. Sun Logical Domains and Solaris Containers are currently supported with SAP software.
Get Virtualization Help Now
Virtualized and well-managed platforms help many companies simplify their IT environments — and in turn, achieve greater economies of scale while reducing the ecological impact of their hardware.
Please visit www.sun.com/sap/virtualization to find out more about Sun Microsystems or to schedule a virtualization assessment.
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