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Apr 09 2019

Be Successful in the Digital Age with SAP S/4HANA® and FUJITSU PRIMEFLEX for VMware vSAN

In mid-January, Fujitsu announced that soon a slew of new options would become available to help customers run mission-critical SAP HANA workloads on hyper-converged infrastructures (HCI). The goal is to enable companies to operate their very own advanced SAP solutions in a fully virtualized, on-premises data center, in order to achieve the cloud-like economies they so urgently desire. Fujitsu can now pave the way for such scenarios thanks to a certificate that attests that SAP HANA has been successfully integrated with our HCI platform PRIMEFLEX for VMware vSAN installed on a 4-socket FUJITSU Server PRIMERGY RX4770 M4.

Soccer fans from all over the world will likely remember what has often been called the defining moment of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, that is, the first semi-final of the tournament, in which Germany's side beat an increasingly frustrated Brazilian team 7–1. But only few fans will recall (or knew at the time) that Germany's enterprise software giant SAP was also part of the team, having provided a Big Data solution called Match Insights that enabled coaches and players "to prepare themselves for upcoming matches by dissecting key situations that may present themselves throughout the course of the match," as the online mag SportTechie wrote on the day of the event. Needless to say, the crew at Walldorf took great pride in this success as well as Germany's subsequent tournament win – after all, developers are fans too.

Accelerate and Simplify
Outside such historic references, Match Insights belongs to a group of applications that benefit immensely from SAP HANA, a software that is typically described as in-memory database and go-to solution for all businesses that benefit from quick decision-making, regardless of size or industry. To underpin this assessment, they cite the fact that HANA helps users to access relevant data much faster than any classic DBMS while at the same time providing advanced analytics capabilities. In short, it delivers numerous essential software functionalities required to run a data center out of the box. But for all its powers, HANA was also subject to certain limitations: At the time of its initial release in late 2010, it only ran on what were then considered to be extremely powerful servers – typically equipped with Xeon E7/E5 or comparable processors, 128 GB of main memory and at least 256 GB of disk storage – that many potential users, especially medium-sized businesses, either did not have or could not afford. Nine years and several processor and RAM generations later, modern compute platforms have amassed so much performance that the need for specialized environments no longer exists. Instead, a full-fledged SAP HANA installation will cooperate with a regular four-socket system. What's more, when equipped with adequate hard- and software capacities, it may even work as a so-called HCI solution – essentially a 'data center-in-a-box.' Here's where Fujitsu comes into play.

The FUJITSU Factor
In our case, the basis for this HCI solution is a FUJITSU Server PRIMERGY RX4770 M4, the same that runs in thousands of installations around the world. The rock-solid x86 server draws outstanding performance, scalability and flexibility from a mix of Intel® Xeon® Scalable Family Processors with up to 28 cores, DDR4 main memory, up to 12 NVMe flash drives that serve as cache and a total of up to 12 "capacity disks" that have room for 23 TB of data. But the not-so-secret ingredient that turns a powerful server into a launch pad for HCI is our FUJITSU Integrated System PRIMEFLEX for VMware vSAN. Originally developed to mitigate the risks in deploying core virtual infrastructures, PRIMEFLEX for VMware vSAN uses software-defined design principles to enable IT departments to further streamline and consolidate their networks. To achieve this, Fujitsu and VMware created a next-generation solution that combines the PRIMERGY RX4770 hardware with the vSphere virtualization platform, which natively supports vSAN, VMware's software-defined storage technology that lays the groundwork for high-performance shared storage for virtualized vSphere machines. The result is an integrated system – consisting of the certified components listed in Table 1 below – that can serve as a node (or group of nodes) for productive SAP HANA® installations.

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Table 1: Components of FUJITSU Integrated System PRIMEFLEX for VMware vSAN

Put differently, PRIMEFLEX for VMware vSAN was designed to help data centers overcome the above-mentioned HANA limitations by addressing the following key aspects:

  • Performance – previously, SAP HANA VMs could not share CPU sockets with storage controller VMs (CVMs). But with vSAN running natively in vSphere, users no longer need to work with CVMs to execute the storage stack. Instead, PRIMEFLEX for vSAN gives HANA VMs complete access to all four CPU sockets in the PRIMERGY RX4770 M4 server. Our Integrated System thus offers the highest HANA VM density per node. For example, four HANA VMs or one 4-socket HANA VM configuration can be run on one single PRIMERGY RX4770 M4 server. By contrast, if the CVM was still required, only three sockets would be available for HANA VMs.
  • Scalability – With average sizes somewhere between 2 and 6 TB, SAP HANA® production databases are usually anything but easy to handle. In our new HCI package, VMware vSphere 6.7 supports capacities of up to 6 TB or 10.4 billion datasets, and correspondingly, the PRIMERGY RX4770 M4 can be equipped with up to 6 TB of RAM, so that HANA users can run databases that once seemed unmanageable on just a small number of nodes.
  • Management – PRIMEFLEX for VMware vSAN comes with a selection of powerful management tools. Aside from vSphere, it also includes Fujitsu's own Software Infrastructure Manager (ISM). In combination, these two allow for quick service provisioning, easy shifting of workloads and automated SAP operations. Moreover, ISM simplifies running SAP thanks to central capacity and health management capabilities, automatic configuration and other features. vSphere for its part adds integration with vCenter to include consistent lifecycle management, and high availability with automatic fault tolerance.
  • Support – getting assistance for solution packages that integrate components from different vendors can often be tedious. With PRIMEFLEX for VMware vSAN, users won't run into such problems: Here, Fujitsu supports the entire set of hard- and software building blocks. What's more, Fujitsu is the customer's single-source contact for all matters related to the solution. This clear and direct line of communication keeps maintenance and eventual troubleshooting very simple.

The certificate also indicates that PRIMEFLEX for VMware vSAN is considered ready to shoulder S/4HANA, the latest iteration of SAP's business software suite, to further reduce or even remove common obstacles associated with legacy ERP applications – such as long batch latencies and a host of processes driven by user interaction – and replaces them with a modular design, a huge set of automation options and helpful digital assistants in an effort to make running ERP software almost as easy as using office applications.

Conclusion
The FUJITSU Integrated System PRIMEFLEX for VMware vSAN can easily handle complex and data-intensive workloads – like SAP HANA production databases and business analytics – all in real time. The solution reflects Fujitsu's 40 years of experience in delivering fast, secure, highly available implementations with optimized TCO and makes 'data center upgrades' considerably more convenient, i.e. simpler, faster and more flexible. Based on SAP-certified components, the package covers a wealth of usage scenarios, from deploying pre-installed scale-up systems, VMware-virtualized platforms and individual scale-up concepts (in line with the SAP HANA Tailored Data Center Integration approach) right through to rolling out customized disaster-tolerant software-defined storage setups. Likewise, it will fire up pretty much all software capabilities usually associated with SAP HANA or the SAP Business Suite: Critical business data are transferred to the right person or application in less than a second while reporting and transaction functions are accelerated to deliver results in record time. In fact, advancements in performance and ease of use are substantial enough to convince users of using HANA in conjunction with PRIMEFLEX for VMware vSAN as their primary database to underpin a Business Warehouse installation. And almost nothing prevents them from developing further custom scenarios based on SQL and common APIs. For customers seeking out new performance levels and striving for more freedom in their infrastructure and application deployments, PRIMEFLEX for VMware vSAN is a viable alternative.

Susanne Brügelmann

 

About the Author:

Susanne Brügelmann
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Global Marketing – Susanne is responsible for Product Marketing of Fujitsu's SAP Infrastructure Portfolio globally. Her background includes localization,...

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