Live from the SAPinsider Studio: Michael Pytel on Moving to SAP HANA

An interview recorded live at HANA 2014 in Orlando

by Michael Pytel

May 5, 2014

In this interview recorded live on the sidelines of HANA 2014, Michael Pytel of NIMBL provides some insights on moving from proof-of-concept to production with SAP HANA.

The discussion covers:

  • The importance of working with SAP-certified partners when implementing SAP HANA
  • Things to consider in transitioning administrators from SAP NetWeaver to SAP HANA
  • What to consider in moving SAP HANA to production
  • The value of a replication server in working with SAP HANA
  • Monitoring SAP HANA and integration with SAP Solution Manager

Watch the interview and read the edited transcript here:

Ken Murphy, SAPinsider: Hi, this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider, reporting live from SAPinsider’s BI 2014 and HANA 2014 event. Pleased to be joined by Michael Pytel, of NIMBL, the co-founder and also technologist, Michael, thanks for joining us.

Michael Pytel, NIMBL: Thank you very much for having me, it’s a great conference so far, great event, and I see a lot of familiar faces around here, so really excited to be here this year.

Ken: Good to hear! I was hoping you could just start us out by explaining a little about NIMBL?

Michael:  So NIMBL... We’re a small SAP services company, we’re a certified services partner, and primarily focus on all things NetWeaver and technology. So we do a lot of work around Solution Manager and integration. Then over the past two years we have been developing a HANA practice, expertise in HANA and going beyond the proof of concept and really going into long-term maintenance and architecture and supporting a HANA environment long-term. So we’re technologists at heart.

Ken: As SAP HANA adoption is increasing, can you expand on what you just said about the proof of concept and the architectural phase? Are companies struggling with proof of concept?

Michael:  Yeah, there’s still some confusion. These organizations have been running NetWeaver for three, four, five, ten-plus years, right, and now they need to convert their system administrators to HANA administrators. And when you first talk about HANA, you see that it’s an in-memory database, it’s very cool, it’s very sexy. How different is it than administrating a SQL database or an Oracle database? 

So once the Basis administrators get in under the covers, they really figure out it’s not that scary. It’s just like administrating a normal database server, except the database is all in-memory, so you do have some things to consider when working with a  system like that. 

But lot of customers will buy a HANA appliance, they’ll kick off a project, they’ll kick off a proof of concept, and everything goes great. Well, now we’ve got to do this in production. So how do we do disaster recovery? How do we do high availability? Now that the system’s going to be business-critical, how do we ensure that it’s available to the business 24 by 7?

Ken: So what do you advise clients on some of these technical challenges? How do you overcome those?

Michael:  Well, the first thing is, is make sure you’re working with certified partners only. SAP has a very specific list of HANA-certified partners for the hardware. So number one is, make sure you’re always working with technology that’s certified by SAP, so when something does go wrong, you can make that phone call, and you’re not going to hear that you’re not supported. So there’s where we start.

Second is just architecting the systems so that you have the ability to fail over. HANA includes a replication system, a replication server, kind of out of the box, and a lot of people don’t realize this. I can actually do replication across multiple sites.

So let’s say I’m an organization with a data center in Denver, and I have another backup center in Atlanta. I can actually do replication of a HANA system across those two data centers, and that’s called asynchronous replication. So I can have that hot standby at another facility, and a lot of people actually don’t realize that comes with HANA out of the box -- I don’t need to buy something from NetApp or IBM or HP, it’s a feature, it’s there.

So lots of options to talk about, and that’s obviously why people come to sessions like we have here, to learn about this and figure out what can they get out of the box and what they need to potentially buy to architect a system that can be a true high-availability system.

Ken: Just wanted to ask you about monitoring this investment, with HANA, and curious about its integration with SAP Solution Manager. Are there any special considerations with monitoring and integrating with that Solution Manager environment?             

Michael: HANA is built organically from SAP, and SAP is obviously big on Solution Manager. Solution Manager is near and dear to my heart - I’ve spent the past five, seven years blogging, and writing, and speaking on Solution Manager – so I bleed blue when it comes to Solution Manager.  HANA has some monitoring features in the HANA Studio, which is great for the developers and the HANA administrators. But what if you have a data center, and you have a bunch of night operators? They’re not HANA experts, but they need to be able to monitor the system. How’s it performing? Did the backups kick off on time? How’s the disk performing? What is the index utilization in-memory for all those night jobs?

So instead of training those data center type folks to get into HANA Studio, we can activate monitoring and Solution Manager. And we can present monitoring dashboards to those night operator, system administrators, Basis administrators, to give them enough information to know whether or not this is performing well or poorly, and whether they need to escalate.

And then lastly, if you’re one of those customers that’s going from proof of concept to production, the only way you can execute what’s called a “going-live check” from SAP is through Solution Manager. As part of a customer’s enterprise maintenance, they get these going-live checks where SAP will bless the HANA system before it goes live, and the only way that’s delivered is through Solution Manager. So Solution Manager’s key to a HANA implementation in that it’s your gateway to SAP support, it’s your gateway to go-live services, and it’s the only way to provide these nice, HTML monitoring dashboards from HANA.

Ken: Where are you off to next?

Michael: Today, I have a presentation on HANA, and then tomorrow I have a presentation on high availability, so wish me luck.

Ken: Good luck! Great to speak with you.

Michael:  Thank you.

Ken: Again, this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider, I’m chatting with Michael Pytel of NIMBL, live at the SAPinsider BI and HANA 2014 event.          

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