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Building Your Adaptive Computing Business Case: Optimize Data Center Management and Run an Efficient Landscape While Reducing IT Spend

by Gunther Schmalzhaf | SAPinsider

July 1, 2010

In this installment of "Lifecycle Management Matters," three SAP experts address the concept of adaptive computing, introduce the latest release of the SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller tool, and explain how you can leverage the tool's benefits—such as enhanced operational efficiency—to build a business case for adopting it at your organization.
 

For years, businesses have been challenged with how to manage data center complexity while driving down IT spend. This is particularly true for SAP system landscapes, which typically consist of production, test, or quality assurance systems and heterogeneous IT infrastructure components like servers, storage systems, operating systems (OSs), and virtualization solutions.

With the adaptive computing concept — an approach to designing hardware, software, and system services in a way that can accommodate constant business change (see Key Concept box) — these issues are addressed. Integral to the adaptive computing concept is the SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller tool, which optimizes the operation of an SAP system landscape, including the underlying IT infrastructure, and ensures that SAP business solutions run at optimal cost efficiency.

SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller is a central point of control for flexibly assigning computing resources — both physical and virtual resources — and dynamically managing application and database instances in SAP system landscapes (see Figure 1). Armed with this tool, data center administrators are empowered to run any service, any time, on any server. Managing a landscape with SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller enables you to:

  • Reduce IT complexity by focusing on the management of the SAP landscape and hiding the underlying IT infrastructure’s complexity
  • Increase flexibility and scalability by easily adding and removing resources as business requirements change
  • Decrease data center costs by reducing the number of servers, maximizing server utilization, and minimizing power and cooling expenses through optimal energy efficiency

Toward the end of the article, we’ll explain how you can leverage the benefits of SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller to build a business case for adopting the tool at your organization.

Figure 1
Figure 1 With SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller, administrators get an overview of the system landscape, enabling them to reassign resources as the business requires or t o take corrective actions if necessary

Introducing the Latest Release of SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller

In addition to features that were available with earlier releases — such as start, stop, relocation of SAP instances, mass operations, and a task planner — the current release of SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller includes auto-detection functionalities to simplify the configuration of the managed landscape, a diagnostic landscape scan to prevent issues, and enhanced mass operations.

The major new feature of the current release is its ability to integrate with virtualization technology such as hypervisors provided by SAP technology partners.1 With this integration, administrators can manage and monitor not only physical servers, but also virtual servers in SAP landscapes (see Figure 2).

Figure 2
Figure 2 The latest release of SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller can integrate with virtualization technologies

The integration of virtual servers into SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller lets administrators trigger a start, stop, and migration of a virtual machine. Administrators also get an overview of the virtual server landscape through all of the virtualization layers, down to the physical server hosting the virtual servers.

Understanding the Data Center Landscape

SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller is a Java application that runs on a separate SAP NetWeaver Application Server (SAP NetWeaver AS) Java installation. The tool serves as an umbrella over the underlying IT infrastructure components and SAP applications in the data center (see Figure 3).

Figure 3
Figure 3 SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller serves as an umbrella over infrastructure and data center application layers

All of a landscape’s servers, whether they are physical or virtual, are designated as resources, which can be logically grouped in the SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller landscape with their application instances. As a result, you can create separate pools, such as a production pool and a test pool. This way, different responsibilities may be assigned to different administrators in the data center, an option often used by service providers that use the pool structure in SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller for their different customers.

How administrators are able to use SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller depends on how the SAP landscape is conceived in their data center:

  • In landscapes where the SAP application layer is coupled with the underlying OS, an administrator can use SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller to start and stop instances, including mass operations. All functionalities of the tool can be applied, except the relocation of instances on the application level. SAP instances may run on both virtual and physical servers.
  • In landscapes where the SAP application layer is decoupled from the underlying OS through the concept of virtual host names and the use of central storage, the tool allows an administrator to relocate instances from one server to another, provided that the instances run on the same OS. This relocation can even happen between a physical and a virtual server — and vice versa — ensuring enhanced flexibility on the application level.
  • In landscapes where SAP systems run on virtual computing resources provided by virtualization technologies from SAP partners (such as hypervisor-based technology), the tool is able to trigger a virtual machine-based (live) migration. Since this technology is provided by virtualization partners, the migration is only possible across those underlying physical servers within a homogeneous technology stack.

SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller can manage all of the above implementation types, which can even be mixed within one adaptive computing controller environment. This means that the tool can start and stop an SAP application that is coupled with the OS, and, in addition, can relocate an SAP application on the application level that is decoupled from the OS (see Figure 4). Plus, the tool can trigger a live migration of the underlying virtualization technology, which then affects the whole virtual machine, including the SAP application.

Figure 4
Figure 4 The SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller’s functional scope in view of application and server virtualization

Customers can achieve the highest flexibility if they use both virtualization layers in one adaptive computing controller. For example, a relocation on the application level is typically used to patch the OS, while a live migration of the underlying virtualization would be used when the physical server underneath the virtual machine needs to be maintained.

Building a Business Case

As we’ve seen, SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller can play a central role in your data center’s SAP landscape. When building a business case for adopting the tool, be sure to have a close look at its major benefits and typical use cases.

Enhancing Operational Efficiency

SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller simplifies and streamlines data center management by providing a single point of control that allows administrators to visualize, monitor, and manage data center tasks for deployed SAP solutions. The tool reduces excessive coordination between data center administrators and other infrastructure domains, such as server and storage administrators, for routine maintenance and upgrade tasks.

Managing Shifting Application Demand

Masking the underlying complexity of the IT infrastructure, the SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller tool enables administrators to manage database and application instances and freely move them between physical and virtual servers as needed — all without requiring them to log on to a system each time they move an application. For example, an administrator could relocate an SAP instance to patch the OS of the virtual server on which the instance is running.

SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller empowers an administrator to easily perform mass operations, such as stopping and restarting dozens or hundreds of instances, which are typically required for maintenance weekends. The tool’s integrated task planner allows an administrator to schedule related activities for single or recurring time windows.

Maximizing Virtualization Investments

The current release of the tool works smoothly with offerings from a comprehensive list of SAP technology partners that provide OSs, physical and virtual server technology, and storage systems that support an adaptive computing approach. Most of the major server and storage platform configuration that a business deploys will work with the tool — offering the flexibility of virtualization to manage the IT application infrastructure.

The tool also provides the flexibility to dynamically reassign available resources as circumstances require. In addition, it ensures safe operations — it alerts administrators to any SAP applications running on a virtual resource that is about to be shut down. In short, SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller lets a company move toward virtualization at a pace that makes sense for its specific landscape and business needs.

Reducing Infrastructure and Energy Costs

Finally, SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller can help drive down infrastructure and energy costs. By using the tool to quickly and easily move SAP applications between servers, an administrator can shift applications to under-utilized physical and virtual servers and shut down those no longer needed — thus reducing the overall number of servers. As a result, your business can significantly reduce powering and cooling costs in the data center.

Learn More

More and more businesses are turning to adaptive computing and virtualization to efficiently manage their IT resources and run their system landscapes. With SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller, administrators can easily assign physical and virtual resources and manage application instances within their SAP environment.

For more information on adaptive computing and SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller, including upcoming new features, visit www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/adaptive.

Gunther Schmalzhaf

Gunther Schmalzhaf (gunther.schmalzhaf@sap.com) is a Solution Manager focusing on adaptive computing, virtualization, and cloud computing. Prior to joining SAP, Gunther worked for HP in the storage system field for a number of years.

Dieter Krieger

Dieter Krieger (dieter.krieger@sap.com) is a Solution Manager, having covered various fields, such as user management, monitoring infrastructure (CCMS), and SAP Solution Manager. He currently focuses on adaptive computing, virtualization, and cloud computing.

Alexander Gebhart

Dr. Alexander Gebhart (alexander.gebhart@sap.com) is Director of Technology Development for Virtualization and Adaptive and Cloud Computing. Prior to joining SAP in 2002, Alexander worked at the IBM Research and Development Lab in Boeblingen, Germany, for several years. Alexander holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Tuebingen, Germany.

1To learn more about virtualization technology offered by SAP partners, see the special reports in the April-June 2010 and January-March 2009 issues of SAPinsider. [back]

 

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