SAP HANA and EMC Technology: Architecting for the Future

A few months ago, EMC IT successfully migrated its mission-critical, SAP Business Warehouse (BW) from an Oracle database to SAP HANA, an in-memory, relational database management system that offers several benefits over our existing system.

Not only is SAP HANA providing us with speed and efficiency needed to meet today’s growing demand for real-time business analytics, it is also allowing us to showcase how several EMC technologies can be leveraged in combination with HANA to create a contemporary IT architecture.

EMC implemented an SAP-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system in 2012, to replace its decades-old, Oracle-based ERP system. However, since SAP HANA was still very new and developing at that time, we waited more than a year to migrate our Business Warehouse database from Oracle to a now-evolved SAP HANA-based system. In the meantime, our data volume grew and our business reporting process to analyze and report on key data was slow and not so efficient.

Transition Overview

Making the transition to this new platform has had several key benefits. SAP HANA, which is essentially an appliance that is a combination of hardware and software, provides much faster database response. Its unique  features—like columnar data storage, data compression, and the ability to handle structured and unstructured data—enable us to run complex data analytics on thousands of records in a matter of seconds rather than hours to help guide business decisions.

Adding to the efficiency of SAP HANA, we have used VMware technology to virtualize applications and databases wherever possible. As my colleague Mike Harding noted in an earlier blog, Why EMC IT Virtualized SAP HANA with VMware,  virtualizing SAP HANA not only improved our cost and resource management but also increased our flexibility and agility, embedded high availability, and added efficiencies in automation.

Additionally, by using SAP HANA on EMC’s VMAX storage system, we have been able to achieve data compression by five times. We have also used EMC TimeFinder software for trusted storage replication, leveraging the high-end VMAX Architecture.

And lastly, we have been able to showcase EMC technology to provide proper backup to our SAP HANA environment with Data Domain (DD) Boost. DD Boost integrates seamlessly with SAP HANA to enable faster, more efficient backup and gives SAP application owners complete control of backup and recovery.

Innovative Deployment

The enormous data volume (approximately 7 terabytes), as well as thecorresponding daunting infrastructure investment associated with enabling our business users through SAP HANA, was a major implementation challenge. So, we had to be more innovative in nature to face the above challenge along with the technical hurdles.

Within BW on HANA, we have:

  • Incorporated Application Cleanup – Archiving, Component Upgrades
  • Implemented Sybase IQ attached to EMC Storage as NLS and Archiving Solution for BW
  • Upgraded Business Objects to 4.1
  • Migrated Operating System from Red Hat Linux to Suse Linux
  • Migrated BW Database from Oracle to SAP HANA Database
  • Upgraded to SAP NetWeaver 7.40 SP6
  • Plan, build and implemented Virtualized SAP HANA instances for Non-Prod BW environments
  • For BW Production usage, leveraged SAP TDI certified VBlock™ converged infrastructure
  • Implemented DDBoost for SAP HANA Database Backup
  • Implemented HA/DR Plan and Process

During this deployment, we moved more than 3 billion records to a Sybase IQ database, and then realized a 5X compression ratio as productive Oracle data compressed from 4.7 TB to 800 GB in SAP HANA.

Through virtualization, VMware’s vSphere allows us to quickly create HANA instances with better resource utilization. This results in substantial cost savings. Virtualizing SAP HANA for non-production BW environments not only improved our cost and resource management, but it also increased our flexibility and agility, embedded high availability, and added efficiencies in automation.

For our BW Production system, we have used VMAX storage with Cisco UCS B440 servers, which have received SAP’s Tailored Datacenter Integration (TDI) certification. EMC storage can be used with a choice of servers as long as key performance indicators (KPIs) from SAP are followed. Using the TDI approach for SAP HANA, SAP Customers can reuse existing hardware components and operation processes as well as leveraging an existing ecosystem. EMC TimeFinder Software plays a big role for storage data replication.

EMC Data Domain Boost for Databases and Applications is an EMC product which helps to perform backups and restores of SAP HANA database data with a Data Domain system. DD Boost for Databases and Applications is integrated with the SAP HANA BACKINT interface to enable SAP HANA database data and redo log backups and restores. Users can perform a backup, recovery and other operations with the product on a SAP HANA database server by running one of the supported SAP HANA tools:

  • SAP HANA command line interface (CLI) with the hdbsql command
  • SAP HANA Studio GUI
  • SAP DBA Cockpit in The Computing Center Management System (CCMS) GUI

Business Benefits

This deployment allows business more timely access to data with faster response time. There were some significant improvements (ranging from 36-87 percent for different data loads) made in data load times by using BW on HANA. Business users also gained much more control of costs with only the required memory footprint.

Business users utilized the maximum ROI / cost efficiencies:

  • By avoiding appliance-based model for all Non-Prod/DR environments using VMware technology
  • By leveraging existing Cisco UCS/x86 architecture platform (SAP Tailored Data center Integration certified VBlock™ infrastructure)

Drinking Our Own Champagne

EMC IT’s SAP HANA environment using VMAX technology is a first, serving as a proven use case showing how our technology can enhance this data platform. We have also demonstrated that along with VMware, VMAX is a viable, scalable and cost-effective solution for SAP HANA Systems. At the same time, we continue to focus on continually improving our enablement of our business users and analytics through SAP HANA. Currently we are in process of deploying Sales and Operation Planning (SAP S&OP) and Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) on SAP HANA.

SAP HANA, in conjunction with EMC technologies, is providing our business users with real-time analytics reports that can even be incorporated into mobile applications. This provides our decision makers the information they need when they need it to make faster and better-informed decisions every day.

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About the Author: Debajit Banerjee