See SAP Business Suite in Action on Nutanix

  • 18 May 2017
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See SAP Business Suite in Action on Nutanix
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This blog was authored by John Williamson, Technical Writer at Nutanix, and Greg White, Solution Marketing Principal at Nutanix.

SAP makes powerful and multifaceted business software, touching nearly every aspect of an enterprise. It’s no surprise, then, that SAP users place the highest premium on uptime and performance and are extremely risk averse. This intolerance for downtime and interruption to business extends to routine maintenance as well, leading some users to put off upgrades and patches for months, even years. This holds true for other enterprise grade applications as well. Nutanix gets this, which is why simplicity, availability, performance, and agility are some of the defining qualities of the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform.

What if we told you that, for example, you could upgrade the Nutanix cluster storage and management software, the Acropolis Operating System (AOS), during business hours while your SAP landscapes are running full tilt, with absolutely no downtime, loss of connectivity, or performance degradation? What if we told you that you could create multiple SAP VM clones of a couple of terabytes worth of data in just over a minute without consuming any additional storage capacity? Or what if we said that you could convert your Nutanix cluster running SAP from one hypervisor to the native Nutanix hypervisor, AHV, with 1-click simplicity? You’d likely need to see it to believe it, and so we’ve created demos that show exactly these features for SAP’s 2017 Sapphire Now conference.

Managing infrastructure and its resources has long been a headache for admins and CIOs alike, which is why Nutanix makes infrastructure "invisible," which is our way of saying incomparably simple to operate. Our commitment to design allows us to deliver the agility and flexibility of the cloud into your datacenter, accelerating your time to market, and freeing your IT to focus on using SAP to drive business innovation, rather than spending all their time keeping the lights on.

SAP users have been hesitant to avail themselves of the benefits of virtualization because it adds complexity, and greater complexity means greater risk. This has been especially true of traditional three-tier architectures, which were not capable of taking full advantage of virtualization or scaling beyond a certain point. The compatibility requirements alone for three-tier infrastructure architectures, where you have to worry about coordinating among storage, compute, and networking components, is onerous and exhausting. An enterprise cloud built on hyperconverged infrastructure alleviates this complexity across all layers. This extends to basic functionality as well, such as infrastructure upgrades. When you upgrade with Nutanix, you upgrade the entire system as a whole—no need to deal with multiple vendors, which become another unwanted overhead and source of risk.

In our AOS upgrade demo, we show that you can perform essential maintenance tasks while running demanding workloads, with no downtime or performance loss. To illustrate this, we performed multiple SAP client copies while executing the AOS upgrade. A client copy is a logical partition of an SAP system, which consists of business and technical data. The copy scans all the tables within the system, which can be in the tens of thousands, and copies the data into a different subset, thereby creating twice the amount of data in the SAP environment for each client. Both in terms of capacity and workload, this task can consume a significant amount of resources and put your database under a bit of stress.

During the upgrade, we copied data from the default client to three other clients, all while sending network pings to the SAP VM to monitor connectivity. The demo video, which accelerates the approximately forty-minute process, shows that there are no performance or latency issues and no lost network packets—that is, no risks to the business and no downtime to any layer of the application. Perhaps even better news for the SAP basis admin, Nutanix high availability means there’s no need to spend days or weeks planning a weekend upgrade or to sacrifice nights or weekends on standby while the process runs. Because we design the Enterprise Cloud Platform to manage failure at every layer, we can conduct rolling upgrades anytime, even in the middle of a work day without compromise or risk.

The second demo shows the 1-click process for cloning SAP systems. We chose an SAP system that consumed around 500 GB of storage, which approximates a mid-size SAP system. Each target clone has two vCPUs and 16 GB of RAM. We created four clones, totaling close to 2 TB, in 1 minute and 16 seconds, all without consuming additional storage capacity. We were then able to boot up the clones straightaway, without a hitch. At this point, the basis administrator can perform any necessary post-cloning activities, such as changing the network IP and SID, or installing additional app instances.

Cloning activity typically represents about 20 percent of the time it takes to conduct a full system copy—it’s not hard to see that, when cloning multiple systems over time, Nutanix saves countless hours, and many TBs of storage, otherwise wasted on copying. The benefits also extend to external support systems and databases that constitute an SAP business transaction.

Our final demo shows cluster hypervisor conversion. We start with SAP environments on Nutanix clusters running with VMware ESXi 6.0. All it takes is 1-click in Prism, our centralized management system, to initiate converting the entire cluster to AHV. The conversion takes around 30 minutes per node. Why do this? In a few words, TCO reduction and simplicity. VMware vSphere requires far more effort in design and deployment for SAP than AHV. Moreover, AHV is bundled with Nutanix appliances and thus there are no additional licensing fees. For more information on SAP support on AHV, please refer to SAP Note 2428012 - SAP on Nutanix.

Another crucial advantage that Nutanix offers SAP environments is scalability. Not only does Prism make it easy to manage a large-scale SAP implementation, but 1-click node addition and linear scalability means organizations no longer have to engage in the dark art of predicting hardware resource requirements four to five years in advance. Three-tier architectures force you to over provision your environments in the near-term, burning OpEx and CapEx for years, until the resources are needed (if they are, in fact, ever needed). Even worse, you could run out of capacity too soon, limiting business expansion. With Nutanix, just buy what you need, when you need it, for all your critical application landscapes. You can also run both production and non-production workloads on the same cluster, without fear of noisy neighbors, due to the unique web-scale architecture Nutanix provides.

Nutanix invisible infrastructure allows SAP users to get the most out of their SAP investment, leveraging this sophisticated set of tools to improve processes and generate new business value.

We recently loaded up some new demos focused on SAP in time for Sapphire Now in Orlando this week. Check them out!

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