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Running SAP on the IBM BlueMix Infrastructure Platform: Live Q&A on IaaS Deployment Options

April 27, 2017

IBM offers SAP certified cloud infrastructure available in multiple locations globally with a choice for clients to choose a self service / IaaS model or fully managed by IBM on the BlueMix platform. IBM's bare metal servers on BlueMix provide the best performance for SAP and HANA applications while allowing the capability to leverage Watson and other services on the BlueMix platform to unlock the data in SAP and use it in new and innovative ways.

Read the transcript of the chat with IBM’s Madhuri Chawla and Jay Jubran from the IBM Cloud team to learn how IBM Cloud can be customized to meet your organization’s managed and unmanaged SAP cloud needs and get advice on how you can successfully deploy your applications, including SAP HANA and SAP S/4HANA.

Live Blog Running SAP on the IBM BlueMix Infrastructure Platform
 

Transcript: 

SAPinsiderMatt: Welcome to today’s live Q&A. I am pleased to be joined by IBM's Madhuri Chawla, Jay Jubran, and Bradley Knapp. They will be answering your questions today on running SAP solutions on the IBM Bluemix infrastructure platform.

There are already a number of questions posted. Please enter your questions into the module below to ensure the panelists have a chance to answer it during the hour. Enjoy the chat!

Madhuri Chawla: Hello everyone. Good day to all of you. Jay and Madhuri are here to answer your questions. We will start with the questions that have been submitted.

Bradley Knapp: Good morning/afternoon to everyone! We're here at the IBM Bluemix Headquarters and looking forward to answering any questions that you may have for us!

Comment From Guest: 2. Are the Bluemix datacenters all IBM owned or are they run by third parties?

Bradley Knapp: While we don't discuss the specifics of ownership or detailed location information for any of our data centers, we can share with you that IBM Bluemix staff designs and operates each of our DCs, and they are all staffed 24x7x365 with a full support staff capable of any work necessary.

For more information, please see here:

https://www.ibm.com/cloud-c...

Comment From Guest: 1. What is your DC presence/availability for running SAP workloads? Do all Bluemix datacenters support SAP or is that only a subset of the Bluemic datacenters?

Bradley Knapp: Our SAP-certified servers are available on-demand in 13 datacenters today, but if additional footprint is needed, they can be ordered and configured in almost all of our DCs. For more information about custom ordering (or sales questions in general), please contact Bluemix Sales using one of the options at this website:

https://www.ibm.com/cloud-c...

Comment From Guest: What is the biggest HANA box supported on the Bluemix platform?

Madhuri Chawla: The answer depends on the model of service being delivered. Under the fully managed option, which includes managing the application layer, we support: Bare metal: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB (Limit for BW), 2TB, 3TB (Limit for Business Suite) – only for managed SAP options.

Comment From Guest: Do you support BW on HANA scale-out on Bluemix?

Madhuri Chawla: We do have capabilities to support BW on HANA as well as other applications. Scale-out can be supported on Bluemix.

Comment From James Berkey: Can you address the differences between SAP on Bluemix vs. your SAP CMS offerings? Where are the gaps in the functionality of the offering?

Madhuri Chawla: We have various options for providing services for SAP on our cloud. Under the fully managed service for SAP called IBM Cloud for SAP, we offer the service on 2 platforms - our CMS sites and our Bluemix sites. The service SLAs are the same, but technical deployment varies by the CMS and Bluemix.

Comment From Guest: How is the Bluemix platform different from, say, AWS or Microsoft Azure?

Bradley Knapp: Fundamentally, the most significant difference between the SAP offering from Bluemix Infrastructure and AWS/Azure is that our offering utilizes the power and flexibility of bare metal servers, while the AWS and Azure offerings are virtualized servers.

In addition, by utilizing the Bluemix Infrastructure, you gain access into our global network of datacenters and network points of presence, as well as our robust internal private network that allows for free transit of data from any datacenter to any other datacenter worldwide. Additionally, Bluemix is #1 on the current cloud benchmarks for SAP’s per core, providing better price for performance.

Comment From Don: Hi there, are there any existing references in EMEA?

Madhuri Chawla: We have multiple clients around the globe, including EMEA, where clients benefit from different options for SAP services including fully managed / partially managed. We have public case studies posted on our external websites. Here is an example of a case study on global company Rockport:

https://www-01.ibm.com/comm...

Comment From Grigory Starikov: Which SAP products will be available on Bluemix Cloud?

Madhuri Chawla: We support the majority of SAP products as part of offerings. SAP running on HANA as well as S/4HANA are supported. In addition, we also support the traditional DB for SAP clients.

Comment From Ed Funk: How does the new fully managed model on IBM's BlueMix platform complement and differ from IBM's CMS managed model?

Jay J: We use the same resources for the fully managed model on Bluemix. The difference is that the number of locations available globally is higher.

Comment From Grigory Starikov: Will there be any disaster recovery solution for SAP across IBM Bluemix regions?

Madhuri Chawla: We do offer disaster recovery services as part of offerings. We have data center pairings in the major markets for this purpose.

Comment From Grigory Starikov: Will IBM provide any backup solution for SAP systems?

Bradley Knapp: The beauty of the Bluemix Infrastructure offering is that we make available a number of backup options that utilize the flexible and robust Bluemix environment. IBM also offers a suite of backup options as a core component of the managed services offerings.

Comment From Sohi: What is the difference between HANA & S/4HANA?

Madhuri Chawla: SAP Suite on HANA came first. As the name suggested, the traditional SAP ECC solution is available on SAP HANA. It has all of the traditional functionality of an ECC environment, but the engine (database) is now a HANA engine.

SAP S/4HANA is SAP’s next generation business suite. It’s meant to replace SAP ECC/ERP with a simplified tool designed specifically to work with SAP HANA.

Comment From Rick: What are customer migration paths for moving from SAP ERP on-premise to the Bluemix platform?

Jay J: Today, customers can rent bare metal servers that are SAP certified and run their workloads as they would on-premises. They have full access and control of the infrastructure.

Comment From Thom Josefsson: Watson is in the news a lot...do you have any clients with references for running SAP data workloads on your cloud and using the Watson Cognitive engine? I need live examples.

Jay J: I don't have public references to share with you, but Watson is a key component of IBM Cloud. As customers bring their data to IBM Cloud, they will be able to access Watson cognitive services through Bluemix. This is a key differentiator for IBM Cloud and a good reason for customers to run their SAP workloads on Bluemix.

Comment From Grigory Starikov: What benefits will clients have if they choose to run SAP on Bluemix?

Bradley Knapp: Grigory, here are 6 Reasons for why you should choose SAP on Bluemix:

1. Performance: We are #1 in SAP’s per core benchmark compared to AWS and Azure. We have better price/performance via dedicated/private cloud options vs. multi-tenant only solutions.

2.Network: Physical public and private network segmentation for better security and data isolation with $0 charge for use of a private network for server-to-server and DC-to-DC communications.

3.Storage: Up to 70% less expensive than AWS when leveraging Bluemix Endurance SAN storage; 74% less expensive than Azure and 53% less than AWS for backups/archival.

4. Locations: A global footprint for both datacenters and network points of presence allow clients to connect their worldwide operations into a single integrated ecosystem to deliver the best possible performance to all sites worldwide.

5. Control: Leverage investments made in your own tools (i.e. VMware on bare metal); use open APIs for the integration of other management / provisioning tools.

6. Next Generation Platform: We have raw performance of 600gbps network connectivity with near 0 latency; 1.5 million IOPS storage options; multiple zone deployments in single country; the ability to build RPO 0 capabilities for HA/DR.

Comment From Johan: Once onboarded, does the client have access to a self-service portal, for instance, to spin up new server instances or increase instance resources?

Jay J: Yes, customer can access their resources through our portal and have full access to managing these resources. They can also do that through API calls.

Comment From Thom Josefsson: I understand the 3TB limit for running Suite on HANA on Bluemix. How about running regular ECC on bare metal infrastructure? What is the size limit?

Madhuri Chawla: We continue to refine our offerings. The limits change all the time. Currently, we support a 1TB limit for BW or a 3TB limit for Business Suite.

Comment From Grigory Starikov: Will IBM provide additional services like SAP kernel upgrade or system copy?

Madhuri Chawla: We do provide system copies and SAP kernel upgrade as part of our fully managed service.

IBM can offer full upgrade, migration, as well as implementation services for SAP. We have our Global Business Services available to augment the cloud services.

Comment From Alberto Gonzalez: what is the difference between your service and HEC from SAP?

Madhuri Chawla: IBM has been offering services for SAP clients on the cloud and in the hosting space for 20 years. We have long history of supporting SAP clients of several sizes and industries for many years.

IBM is also an HEC global partner and can deliver HEC services on our cloud platforms as well.

Comment From Lori: How can our solutions on the cloud link to on-premise systems when there are strong restrictions on inbound traffic through the company's firewalls?

Bradley Knapp: Lori, you can utilize IBM Bluemix datacenters or network points of presence to link your internal network to the virtual private network that lives within the Bluemix infrastructure. The private network is physically separate from the public network, giving you security that your data won't leak outside of where you intend it to go.

For more information, please see the details in this link:

https://www.ibm.com/cloud-c...

Comment From Thom Josefsson: Whoever commented that AWS offers only virtualized infrastructure is wrong. They now offer a 2TB HANA appliance.

Jay J: Right! That would be a dedicated host managed through the hypervisor. Ours is a bare metal dedicated appliance.

Bradley Knapp: To expand further on Jay's comment, when we say that we make a bare metal server available, we really mean it! Customers who purchase bare metal servers on IBM Bluemix have access to their machines down to the BIOS level, allowing them the flexibility to configure their infrastructure in the way that works best for them rather than having to adapt to whatever (limited) options are provided.

Comment From Sohi: If a company implements a cloud solution, is it possible to change the provider afterwards? How time / cost consuming would that be?

Madhuri Chawla: A company can decide to switch cloud providers after they are live. Many considerations need to be taken into account: A) Your migration plan needs to be put together, including scope, term, and impact to business; B) Overall cost of the migration; C) Stability and capability of the cloud provider along with expected ROI. The cost and timing depends on the scope being migrated.

Comment From Thom Josefsson: What is the limit for just ECC on baremetal?

Madhuri Chawla: For non-HANA SAP Workloads, the Bluemix DB size limit is 5TB as of now; on CMS it is 18TB .

http://blog.softlayer.com/2...

IP Latency Lookup: http://lg.softlayer.com

Comment From Paul: What further investments is IBM making in the SAP on Bluemix space?

Bradley Knapp: We are constantly investing and innovating in the SAP space here at IBM, and while we aren't sharing any specifics at this time, I can tell you that our roadmap for SAP on Bluemix is robust, and that many new options are planned for this year. For more information, please engage with your local IBM sales team.

Comment From Thom Josefsson: Madhuri, my understanding was that your limit for a bare metal server was 3TB on Bluemix. If so, how can you support a 5TB ECC workload on bare metal?

Madhuri Chawla: Thom, the comment on 5TB was to do with running ECC for non-HANA

Comment From Wendy: What are some common use cases for clients to choose IaaS as their SAP cloud deployment model?

Bradley Knapp: Wendy, one of the best use cases for moving your SAP environment to IaaS cloud is the ability to utilize our worldwide private (cost-free) network to move data from location to location. This allows clients around the world to keep their locations in sync with each other and utilize the same worldwide private network.

We like to sum it up with the expression, "Let the world be your datacenter."

Comment From Thom Josefsson: Madhuri, again the question is, can I run a 5TB non-HANA ECC workload on bare metal?

Bradley Knapp: Yes.

Comment From Wendy: What are the key differentiators for IBM Bluemix compared to other cloud providers for running SAP?

Bradley Knapp: Wendy, here are 6 reasons for why you should choose SAP on BlueMix

1. Performance: We are #1 in SAP’s per core benchmark compared to AWS and Azure. We have better price/performance via dedicated/private cloud options vs. multi-tenant only solutions.

2.Network: Physical public and private network segmentation for better security and data isolation with $0 charge for use of a private network for server-to-server and DC-to-DC communications.

3.Storage: Up to 70% less expensive than AWS when leveraging Bluemix Endurance SAN storage; 74% less expensive than Azure and 53% less than AWS for backups/archival.

4. Locations: A global footprint for both datacenters and network points of presence allow clients to connect their worldwide operations into a single integrated ecosystem to deliver the best possible performance to all sites worldwide.

5. Control: Leverage investments made in your own tools (i.e. VMware on bare metal); use open APIs for the integration of other management / provisioning tools.

6. Next Generation Platform: We have raw performance of 600gbps network connectivity with near 0 latency; 1.5 million IOPS storage options; multiple zone deployments in single country; the ability to build RPO 0 capabilities for HA/DR.

Comment From Liz: What are some areas where clients are using Watson and SAP in the IBM Cloud?

Madhuri Chawla: We do have clients that are benefiting from IBM's Watson and SAP digital transformation initiatives. There are use cases for using weather data for analytics; Watson in the life sciences is another use case. There are several other use cases.

www.ibm-sap.com/digital_tra...

Comment From Thom Josefsson: If you can run a 5TB ECC workload on bare metal, I am confused, as I heard the max bare metal server size on Bluemix is 3TB. What is the max bare metal server size you support on scale-up, not scale-out?

Bradley Knapp: Thom, the fundamental difference is that ECC workloads are traditional DB workloads, whereas HANA is an in-memory database. As the current largest in-memory server we offer has 3TB of RAM, that is the largest HANA server that is currently available.

For traditional database ECC environments (non-HANA), the largest we currently offer is 5TB.

Comment From JasonS: Are there any specific or more robust use cases that are possible when running SAP on Bluemix? How are these augmented when accessing it via Direct Link Cloud Exchange?

Madhuri Chawla: Bluemix provides thousands of function calls to hundreds of services.

It supports REST, SOAP & XML-RPC interfaces.

But for custom applications that you may have created or for exposing some of your standard SAP functionality to other applications running on Bluemix, you can expose them as RESTful services.

Leverage API integration for ticketing, provisioning, and other services (comprehensive documentation, libraries, and support).

Comment From Kathleen: What are some cloud-specific infrastructure challenges that we can expect to encounter?

Bradley Knapp: Kathleen, the challenges that clients encounter when moving to the cloud are as varied and unique as the clients themselves. A (somewhat dated) presentation is available at the link below that describes some of the challenges that you might encounter.

https://www-01.ibm.com/even...

Comment From Rohit Raina: Background: We are a small, what I call boutique SAP shop. We 4 staff members supporting 170 users with around $100 million in transactions. We have an in-house SAP installation using FI, MM, SD, and WM functional modules. The environment has about 25% custom code. We are at EEC 6 EHP8 service pack 3. There are no plans for expanding our SAP use. Question: If we want to stage HANA and S/4HANA deployment, how will it work (considering we have an in-house installation)? How does the support model work for custom code? How do interfaces to other environments work?

Madhuri Chawla: There are options for you to consider. During migration, an SI can help you and make recommendations on the custom code. You may find that some of the custom code is now offered as part of the standard functionality.

System conversion/Migration Paths

1. From SAP Business Suite (ERP6.0, EHP xx, AnyDB or SAP HANA DB) to SAP S/4HANA

2. From SAP Business Suite (ERP6.0, EHP xx, AnyDB or SAP HANA DB) to SAP S/4HANA Finance

3. From SAP S/4HANA Finance to SAP S/4HANA

Comment From Deep: What are the best possible ways available to connect an app (mobile, web) or even a middleware service running in Bluemix to the on-premise SAP ECC or other systems? Do we have APIs created for this requirement? Or do we need to expose them from SAP as RESTful / web services and vice versa to consume the data? Kindly advise.

Bradley Knapp: Deep, there really isn't a best way to solve your question, as much as there are a myriad of ways, each of which with its own benefits and drawbacks. Without knowing the details of the proposed environment, it's hard to make a recommendation one way or another. My best advice is to reach out to your IBM sales team and have them engage with our technical resources that can do an in-depth analysis of your environment and make recommendations that are the best for your business.

Comment From Thom Josefsson: I’m familiar with HANA vs. non-HANA, but the question was if I can get bare metal for a non-HANA system on Bluemix. I looked at your Softlayer portal, and it does not allow me to get the 5TB bare metal appliance that I would like to use for supporting a non-HANA workload. Thoughts?

Madhuri Chawla: I would suggest that you get in touch with us. The 5TB limit is part of our fully managed service. For this service, you do not order this thru the portal but get in touch with our cloud sales team.

Bradley Knapp: Everyone, I'd like to thank you all for spending this hour with us, and we're glad that we were able to answer your questions. If you have any more questions that we weren't able to get to, or if more questions come up in the future, please feel free to contact your local IBM sales team or reach out to us via the web at the link below:

https://www.ibm.com/cloud-c...

SAPinsiderMatt: Thank you everyone who participated in today's chat, and thank you Madhuri, Jay, and Bradley for your time and expertise.

I will send everyone an email when the transcript of the chat is posted.

An email has been sent to:






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