If you’re an SAP application or project manager, you’ll know that organisational demands for risk management, well-run projects and predictable costs are ever-growing as businesses seek to transform digitally. So how do you give yourself the best chance of delivering these results?
Let’s look at the three key areas which must be addressed for success as an SAP application manager.
1. Project risk
Application managers need to contain multiple types of risks – including the risk of either the application or the underlying infrastructure failing. While the project is in the development or testing phases, failure is expected, but organisational tolerance of failure reduces dramatically once the project enters production, particularly if the implementation is business- or mission-critical, as many SAP systems are. Therefore this risk needs to be addressed, reduced and mitigated.
If you’re moving systems to HANA, this shift not only drives consolidation of data sets, but also the infrastructure. You’re effectively putting more eggs in one basket – and as the application and infrastructure become concentrated, if there is an infrastructure failure, you could have a situation that is catastrophic for the SAP implementation. No SAP application manager wants that on their watch.
The ante has also been increased by the fact that HANA, as an in-memory appliance, places specific pressure on the type and quality of memory used.
To address this failure risk, IBM has designed IBM Power Systems to specifically handle large amounts of data and the demands of the in-memory HANA system, while delivering 24/7 reliability. As a project starts to scale, Power Systems have the performance and resilience to accept higher loads without disruption – avoiding unforeseen outages.
2. Lifecycle management
Innovation is now an expectation within organisations. As an application manager, you’re not just in charge of a production instance of SAP, your responsibility extends to the delivery of projects within that application.
In recent years, there has also been a noticeable shift in the way projects are conducted – from large-scale, multi-year ‘big bang’ implementations, to smaller, more discrete ‘proof of concept’ and modular projects.
This has implications for both the way human and infrastructure capacity is acquired and assigned.
In the traditional Intel world, infrastructure must be acquired, which can introduce ‘project friction’ in the form of delays. As the project moves through the lifecycle into production – first in limited release and then full release – the workload capacity requirements will often increase as well. This can become a huge headache for customers if they have already purchased appliances of a certain size, but now must either purchase more appliances or replace existing appliances with larger version – adding time and expense to the project.
This approach is also quite inflexible – for example, if you need to deploy multiple versions of SAP environments to support different projects or parts of the lifecycle, the traditional Intel environment will not adapt to these requirements.
One way to address ‘project friction’ is through virtualisation. SAP HANA customers using IBM Power Systems can benefit from SAP-certified virtualisation capabilities, which allows you to house up to eight production environments on a single Power server. SAP project managers can onboard not only dev and test environments rapidly, but production environments can also be added to the same server. Capacity on demand also allows for the activation of dark processor and memory capabilities to match dynamic project requirements.
3. Cost management
No SAP application manager wants to be the bearer of bad tidings – and that includes having to flag cost blowouts.
While you might consider the infrastructure cost to be a relatively small part of the total cost of an SAP project, in these tighter economic times, even this is coming under scrutiny. This is especially the case when it comes to unplanned costs, compared with planned costs – with the former often resulting in infrastructure being deemed expensive.
Unoptimised hardware, appliances that are restrictive in their build and which don’t support the scaling up (or down) of projects, and forced refresh cycles because the technology no longer supports SAP, can all contribute to project cost blowouts.
Virtualisation with IBM Power servers can deliver a cost-effective, highly optimised infrastructure platform by allowing for the consolidation of SAP environments and dynamic scaling as project requirements change. This reduces the need to purchase or replace infrastructure due to appliance-related capacity constraints.
The pressures for SAP application and project managers are greater than ever, but choosing the right foundation for your SAP environment can go a long way in ensuring you can be successful in delivering the results your organisation expects.
IDC has published a white paper on the types of businesses that can benefit from running SAP HANA and S/4HANA on IBM Power Systems. Click here to download the white paper.
This article is sponsored by IBM.