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Virtualization for SAP HANA and SAP Systems: Q&A with Kurt Hollis

by Kurt Hollis

February 12, 2015

Why take a virtualized deployment approach for your SAP systems? What are your options now  for virtualization with SAP HANA?  

Kurt HollisDeloitte consultant and HANA 2015 speaker Kurt Hollis took questions on virtualization of your SAP environment, including SAP HANA, and technical tips, best practices and tools for migrating your SAP systems to virtualized environments.

Review all the discussion here in the chat replay, along with Kurt's podcast on this topic, for more from Kurt on virtualization options for SAP HANA. 



Bridget Kotelly, HANA 2015: Welcome to today’s live Q&A, where looking at virtualization for your current SAP landscape and SAP HANA.   

I’m joined today by Kurt Hollis, a long-time speaker at our events. Kurt will be presenting a session on virtualization at HANA 2015 conference, and I’m very pleased he could join us today to take your questions. Welcome, Kurt, and thank you for joining us!   

Kurt Hollis, Deloitte: Thanks Bridget, glad to be here today. Thanks for having me. 

Bridget Kotelly: We have quite a few questions from our readers, but I want to just kick off the chat with a quick overview of what you see as possible reasons to run HANA on virtualized systems. This is a relatively new option for SAP HANA, right?   

Kurt Hollis: Yes, an option available for over one year. It allows for approach to deploy multiple HANA systems in one VM platform, faster deployment, HA capabilities, and is cost effective. This allows for greater flexibility, especially in the Sandbox, Development, and Test environments.

Bridget Kotelly: I’m sure this will come up again in some of the questions from readers. We’ll let you get to those now!


Comment From Atul Kumar Jain

For large database (20TB) visualization support, please explain the multi-node and scale-out scenarios in virtualization.  

Kurt Hollis: Large database support is not ideal for VM solutions since current limit is 1TB (768GB actual) VM size when using VMware and version 5.5. New versions coming soon will support higher memory. For large system above these limits, use standard certified systems. For very large BW systems scale-out multiple nodes, for others scale up (4TB).


Comment From Subbarao

What training is available for SAP HANA Cloud Integration? What is the complete skill set required to work on SAP HCI projects?  

Kurt Hollis: Training for HANA HA100-200-300 exists. For the cloud portion, you would obtain the particular cloud documentation, and for any certification that they provide, such as Amazon Cloud for example, documents exist.


Comment From Manish

The HANA server requirements involve a huge resource for memory, CPU, etc. What is the benefit to using a virtual environment for HANA?

Kurt Hollis: Once again, the advantage is HA, rapid deployment, and the ability to change memory size. It allows for an approach to deploy multiple HANA systems in one VM platform, and drivers include sharing of resources, faster deployment, HA capabilities, and cost effectiveness. Allows for greater flexibility especially in the Sandbox, Development, and Test environments. The caution, though, is not to over-commit resources. Central management using products like vSphere to manage all HANA servers is nice.


Comment From Manish

Can we use a virtualized environment for a production HANA server?

Kurt Hollis:  Yes, since VMWARE 5.5 and the announcement from SAP, it is supported for production (also Hitachi LPAR). Must be non-scale-out and meet sizing guidelines.


Comment From Roger

What is the proven cost savings that customers obtain compared to a HANA appliance? Does HANA support virtualization with Enterprise Storage residing on cloud (e.g. AWS)?  

Kurt Hollis: The savings are based on your use cases -- mostly HA capabilities, faster deployment, and central management. Savings will vary and may not be right for your use case.

AWS has its own platform and is not VM type discussed here. I will need to check the AWS document for the enterprise storage type choice.  


Comment From Jason Chao

What is the maximum capacity such as memory sizing (RAM TB) of SAPS and criteria to use the HANA database for a company with a 50,000 user platform?  

Kurt Hollis: The database sizing is all about memory capacity for the database tables and contents. The support for 50,000 users comes from the SAP application servers in front of the database and that can scale up to support them all. 50,000 are not all on at the same time, correct? This requires special considerations for that many users.


Comment From Guest

"VMware can support SAP HANA databases in scale up mode, up to the maximum size of a virtual machine on vSphere 5.5, which is 64 vCPUs and 1TB of memory." The above line was pulled from a recent HANA VM publication - is that still the limitation of the size of a single VMware server? Still no support for a 6-node HANA cluster environment configuration?  

Kurt Hollis: Good question. The limit with VMware 5.5 is actually on VM HANA maximum 768GB due to CPU/memory restrictions. This will change in the next release to be announced and be greater. So this is not the large system solution for everyone. Scale out on VM is not supported. For those systems, you would still need to go with standard non-VM certified vendor solutions on the list from SAP.



What are the options for S/4 HANA and BW HANA production virtualisation? How about tenant (MCOS) HANA systems with S/4 HANA & BW on HANA?  

Kurt Hollis: The new versions of HANA, which support those capabilities, are supported on VMware-based HANA. The limits are the memory and size. It seems multi-tenant conflicts with purpose of VMware except in certain use cases. Still looking into this combination. Release 93 of
HANA provides multi-tenancy, much like MCOS.


Comment From Guest

What options do I have to run HANA on VM platforms?  

Kurt Hollis: It is supported to run HANA on a certified hardware platform along with an approved VMware or other vendor virtualization solution. The Tailored Datacenter Integration (TDI) approach is also supported. You can install HANA systems and take advantage of the virtualization platform capabilities.


Comment From Guest

What do you recommend for risk management (disaster recovery) in a HANA virtualized environment?

Kurt Hollis: In a virtualized environment with HANA, you can set up and configure for HA using VM tools. For DR, you need vendor solutions like those from EMC, Cisco, and others to provide data replication to another site. These are now available. Google Rubicon as one example.


Comment From Guest

Kurt, Thanks for taking these questions. Can you specify where we are now - which SAP systems and databases are now supported in a virtualized environment?

Kurt Hollis: In general, for virtualized environments, the most popular operating system is Linux (both SUSE and RedHat) and Windows Servers. The database include all of the SAP databases but most popular is MS SQL and HANA and also Oracle.


Comment From Jason Chao

What are the top first 3 things to be considered when a SAP database platform migrates into HANA database platform?

Kurt Hollis: Top three things for migrating. (1) Perform HANA sizing to determine memory requirements, backups and storage for backups, network (2) architecture for system including application servers, integration with Business Objects, Data services, SLT replication (3) optimization to take advantage of HANA in memory speed.

SAP tools for migration of non-SAP data are limited. The methods are by using data services or exported files into the HANA system. Takes some work to set up, but it can be done. HANA is an open platform.


Comment From KAI

Do we have an option to migrate our SAP ERP to virtualization?

Kurt Hollis: SAP ERP (Suite on HANA) is supported on a virtualization platform and is a good choice for that, as long as the sizing is right. VM is great for small- to mid-size environments.


Comment From Jason Chao

What are the top first three things to be considered to be a powered by HANA database platform?  

Kurt Hollis: Top three:

(1) HANA in-memory platform key is performance and reporting speed. Your use cases drive the decision to use HANA. HANA provides a development environment (studio) and allows for open access to other applications. These may be the driver alone.
(2) Aligning with SAP strategy for future, HANA is a strategy, performance is the benefit.
(3) Requirement for other new applications developed for HANA such as HANA LIVE solutions.


Comment From Tom

For talent with a strong techno-functional background and recent training from SAP on HANA Implementation and modeling, what are the best job opportunities in terms of type of work for 2015? What work will companies demand the most?  

Kurt Hollis: There is a strong demand for HANA development knowledge and optimization skills in the job market. Also, technical areas such as database migrations to HANA and deploying SAP products on HANA. Very strong job growth exists in these areas.
Much of this is handled by consultants currently and in 2015 companies are seeking HANA experts to add to staff as well.


Comment From Guest

What are the biggest differences when deploying SAP HANA for a virtualized environment?  

Kurt Hollis: The biggest difference for deploying on HANA on virtualized systems is the setup of the virtualized system resources for use with HANA, such as storage and networking. The steps are as follows:
(1) deploy the VM guest
(2) setup storage and networking
(3) install or upgrade HANA latest version same as non-VM based systems.
Many vendors supply the VM image with HANA already deployed. In those cases, I had to update that HANA to the new versions. Sometime this requires them to remove or clean up the older version and then install the new one. The entire process can be done in less than 4 hours -- I have done this.


Bridget Kotelly: Thanks again, everyone, for joining us and for all your great questions!

Kurt Hollis; Yes, thanks for having me today. Very nice to discuss and share the knowledge and answer people's questions. Very good questions today, thanks for asking them.

I can be contacted by email Kurt Hollis at Please be free to send a question you may still have but not asked here today.

Bridget Kotelly: You can listen to Kurt Hollis’s earlier thoughts on SAP HANA and virtualization in our podcast section, and learn more about Kurt’s sessions at HANA 2015 here. 

And thanks again to Kurt Hollis for joining us today. Great to have you here today, Kurt, and we will see you in just a few weeks in Vegas! 

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