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SAP HANA on IBM Power Systems

It appears businesses have discovered that there’s an interesting alternative to commodity architecture for their SAP HANA environment. In a survey I recently conducted for IDC, a significant number of respondents who are currently using SAP said that they run SAP HANA on IBM Power Systems. When IDC asked business leaders who are not currently running SAP but who plan to invest in SAP in the next 24 months, the number who said they intend to run SAP HANA on IBM Power Systems was even higher. These findings are indicative of a growth in appreciation of the differentiated value proposition that IBM Power Systems offers.  It’s best captured in the following three pillars: performance, flexibility and resiliency.

Pillar one: Increased performance

The IBM POWER processor offers greater per-core performance thanks to the uniquely different design. Built for data-intensive workloads such as SAP HANA and running the universal little endian Linux of your choice, the processor’s eight-way simultaneous multithreading allows it to process up to four times as many instructions as commodity processors. This means fewer cores and lower licensing cost, a smaller datacenter footprint and the ability to run SAP HANA on a single system rather than a cluster, avoiding the latency of clusters. Also, four very large memory caches speed processes up significantly, and the single instruction, multiple data (SIMD) vector processing delivers an additional performance boost.

Pillar two: Greater flexibility and lower total cost of ownership

Using IBM PowerVM, businesses can virtualize up to eight production SAP HANA VMs on a single Power System, resulting in very efficient workload consolidation, requiring fewer servers and lowering the overall total cost of ownership. You also have the option to mix nonproduction HANA instances and traditional workloads on the same system. The memory footprint of 32TB is large enough to do this without a memory bottleneck. You can carve out a VM to run traditional ECC, another to run BW HANA, another to start a sandbox S/4HANA project, and a few virtualized VMs for application service. Such a combination would be impossible on an appliance on commodity architecture because of SAP rules.

Pillar three: Enterprise-grade resiliency

IBM Power Systems resiliency reached a new milestone in 2016 when IDC included the enterprise-class systems in the highest category of fault-tolerance (Availability Level 4, or AL4) in its annual report on fault-tolerant servers. The AL4 category represents availability levels exceeding 99.999 percent uptime, traditionally the domain of mainframes. IBM Power Systems also use heuristics that run in the background during SAP HANA processing that deliver predictive failure alerts to the administrator. Finally, with an IBM scale-up system (ideal for S/4HANA), a VM can serve as the designated failover target even as it is being used for testing and development. This, too, can contribute to a smaller footprint and a lower TCO, which is not an option on SAP HANA appliances.

The roof: Services and support

At the risk of stretching the metaphor, you could say that the three pillars hold up a roof of extensive IBM support. IDC has found that businesses need a lot of support around SAP HANA, such as HANA configuration and implementation services, infrastructure installation services and application install services. IBM addresses this critical need with an end-to-end solution for SAP HANA on IBM Power Systems that includes planning, installation, operation, problem resolution, ongoing user support and migration. In terms of infrastructure, it includes Power Systems hardware, integrated virtualization, tested flash storage and IBM’s Global Business Services and Lab Services experts.

Three pillars – performance, flexibility, resiliency – with a roof of support atop them. Any business leader making the jump to HANA or renewing existing HANA appliances would do well to investigate the HANA on IBM Power Systems offering.

Read the IDC report to learn how you can benefit from SAP HANA on IBM Power Systems.

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