The benefits of SAP HANA for enabling digital transformation are now well understood by SAP customers. But not all infrastructure is created equal. Here we look at three critical criteria to ensure your environment will deliver the benefits you expect from SAP HANA.
We all now expect the companies we deal with to anticipate our needs, seamlessly respond to the way we are communicating or transacting with them across platforms and devices, and execute flawlessly.
The customer intelligence that can enable such an approach is drawn from analytics based on massive quantities of data from many different sources. However, many organisations are finding that their existing systems and approaches to processing data cannot respond to this new set of business requirements.
SAP HANA and S/4HANA can provide the right digital platform to combine everything from transactions and the Internet of Things to big data analytics in a single system. To run in an optimal fashion, there are huge demands for compute resources, memory, reliability and scalability.
Initially SAP HANA was deployed using a hardware appliance model that required customers to use fixed preconfigured, preinstalled hardware and software, which limited customer choice significantly. But there are now increasing choices to servers and storage options which can fit into existing infrastructure. So choosing the right environment to deliver the benefits you are expecting from HANA is a crucial part of a successful implementation.
Here are three factors you should be considering when evaluating infrastructure for your SAP HANA deployment.
One of the great benefits of SAP HANA is that it enables new processes that take advantage of real-time visibility into business problems, for instant changes that can improve operations and profitability. Line of Business organisations also have the ability to implement new processes and strategies as needs arise, supported by the analytics and improved decision support that SAP HANA provides.
To full take advantage of these benefits, however, your infrastructure needs to provide the flexibility to scale up or down as the business requires. This could come from the ability to add on more physical or virtual capability in a non-disruptive way, especially if decisions are being driven by those at the director or manager level (rather than by upper management).
Deploying a system that utilises virtualisation can provide this level of agility, by facilitating the handling of the varying utilisation patterns typical of SAP HANA workloads.
It also reduces the hardware requirements for failover of mission-critical systems, with virtual systems instead configured on the primary production physical hosts as failover targets. These resources can also then be used for development and test environments for new applications or use cases.
SAP itself has defined a Tailored Datacenter Integration (TDI) model, which aims to reuse existing IT resources such as server, storage and networking assets, so using an infrastructure designed to be implemented under this model is worth considering.
SAP HANA systems are now commonly being used for some of the largest high-volume transaction workloads in the world, from scanning millions of transactions for fraud prevention in the banking industry, to load management in the utilities sector.
However, gaining as-it-happens support for decision-making and utilising new real-time business strategies relies on uninterrupted system operation. You need a rock-solid system you can count on.
SAP has also suggested for optimal operation, SAP HANA workloads should be consolidated onto fewer physical systems – which inevitably ups the ante on the 24/7 resilience of those systems. Therefore the infrastructure you choose for your HANA system needs to provide the right safeguards to deliver maximum availability.
A system that provides predictive alerts can help to head off failures before they occur, reducing the risk of unplanned outages. Virtualisation can also enable the creation of virtual failover targets on scale-up production systems, which could dramatically improve efficiency compared to the approach on traditional scale-out architectures, of providing idle spare nodes.
With SAP HANA, organisations want the ability to respond to business data as it emerges, rather than after the fact. For example, supply chains can be better aligned with ongoing market needs, pricing can be tuned to optimise profitability, and consumer experiences can precisely target individual needs, based on real-time analysis using massive data sets.
But the performance of the infrastructure is vital to process increasing data volumes for multiple sources and deliver the results in real time. A suitable infrastructure environment will need the capacity to accelerate SAP HANA workloads and provide consistent load times, even in high-utilisation conditions. Memory capacity and speed will also dictate the ability of your SAP HANA system to respond to changing business needs via its capacity for rebalancing resources to cope with new transaction types or data sources.
There’s no doubt SAP HANA can transform the way you do business, in not only consolidating applications and services from all over the business, but also facilitating the creation of new ones. But to deliver on the promises of your business case, you must ensure your infrastructure is up to the task.
To find out how IBM Power Systems delivers on all three critical factors – flexibility, resilience and performance – for SAP HANA workloads, click here. This article is sponsored by IBM.