Business Challenge

As the number of SAP applications grows, the number of databases tends to increase. Every new SAP application usually requires a production, development and quality assurance system, and on occasion a training system. Setting up these systems and corresponding databases takes time and effort. Experience shows that new systems are needed on average at least once a week, and in some companies even once a day.


To handle the continuously growing number of database systems, the joint development team developed the IBM entry cloud configuration for SAP solutions on zEnterprise, a configuration that can deploy IBM DB2 databases on IBM z/OS for SAP systems automatically on demand.


Up to 40%

reduction in project durations thanks to IBM entry cloud configuration for SAP solutions on zEnterprise

Days to minutes

cut in time to create new databases

70% more cost-efficient

operations on IBM zEnterprise compared to distributed environments

Business challenge

Solving business challenges

Banks around the world rely on IBM® zEnterprise® servers to process critical business transactions. The reliability and performance provided by the zEnterprise platform translates into a better customer experience for credit card payments, ATM terminals, online banking and other services. Measured by assets, 96 out of the top 100 banks worldwide rely on IBM System z® servers. The platform has the ability to absorb massive workload variations and system growth, and has been developed for the world’s most challenging tasks.

To address the banking sector’s needs, IBM and SAP design integrated solutions that offer scalable, highly available, reliable and easily managed IT infrastructures specifically for operating SAP solutions. IBM zEnterprise sets the standard with leading-edge technology, providing all the performance and high availability large SAP customers need to operate huge SAP® Business Suite system landscapes reliably.

SAP supports centralized database management and performance analytics for large SAP system landscapes with its SAP DBA Cockpit. This solution enables database monitoring and database administration directly in the SAP application, reducing administration workload significantly.

Dr. Bernd Kohler, Development Manager for SAP on IBM System z and DB2 for z/OS , SAP


Collaborating for excellence

IBM and SAP collaborate closely to ensure that SAP applications run smoothly on IBM zEnterprise servers. Some 40 developers from both IBM and SAP share an office at the SAP development facility in St. Leon-Rot near Walldorf, Germany. Working on both internal development projects and on customer assignments in a shared environment, the collaboration is designed to ensure product quality and performance for customers choosing to run SAP solutions on IBM technologies.

The development team works closely with the joint quality assurance team at SAP, with the IBM and SAP International Competence Center in Walldorf, Germany, and with the worldwide network of IBM and SAP development labs.

For example, this includes colleagues working at the IBM Silicon Valley Lab on the IBM DB2® database, the z/OS® developers in Poughkeepsie, New York, and the teams working on Linux on System z at the IBM Lab Boeblingen, Germany. In addition, the teams working on SAP solutions for IBM AIX® and Linux in Austin, Texas, are also involved in the development efforts for SAP solutions on IBM zEnterprise.

The joint development team maintains close contact with the customer base, runs workshops and presentations, and is deeply involved in events such as the Very Large Database Customer Conference. As required, the team also supports implementation projects from start to end.

Customer feedback is very valuable to the team and helps with continuous solution improvement. For example, if a customer raises an issue and suggests improvements, the change requests may be integrated into the next release to enable all customers to benefit.

Demonstrating real-world capability

Proving the capability of this unique combination, IBM and SAP worked together to create a performance test for the banking industry, building a system based on IBM zEnterprise technology and SAP Core Banking software populated with 150 million accounts. This performance test covered both SAP Core Banking features and the general ledger functionality of SAP Business Suite.

The IBM and SAP teams are currently working on the setup of an internal SAP Customer Simulation Bank on IBM zEnterprise. This system will go far beyond a simple SAP Banking Systems implementation by including the complete SAP Business Suite, SAP NetWeaver® Process Integration, SAP Bank Analyzer and a workload scheduler. The system is intended to simulate day-to-day banking processes and workload, e.g. for savings accounts, loans, or the provisioning of services to ATM machines.

The SAP Customer Simulation Bank on IBM zEnterprise technology will provide a test, development and showcase environment that is very similar to the landscapes that banks operate. This solution is the ideal environment to demonstrate the key advantages of IBM zEnterprise technologies: high availability, performance, scalability, and robustness. It will significantly improve the combined ability of both SAP and IBM to further optimize the joint solution stack.

The IBM zEnterprise infrastructure provides systems for all the development teams, including the essential quality assurance teams that cover application testing and verification.

SAP also uses the zEnterprise infrastructure to develop solutions that reduce the implementation time and effort for customer projects, based on extensive experience and close collaboration with IBM. The ultimate objective of this partnership is to accelerate the time to value for customers.

Operating an integrated solution

The shared development team runs SAP Business Suite on IBM zEnterprise systems, operating many SAP landscapes in parallel by taking advantage of the powerful and flexible IBM zEnterprise architecture. This approach provides insight into how parallel operations on zEnterprise affect the solution and helps to design the optimal system configurations.

In the SAP data center in Walldorf, the team runs one new IBM zEnterprise 196 system complete with an IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter® Extension with 14 Power Systems™ and 14 System x® blade servers. For compatibility testing, the team also operates an IBM System z10®, an IBM System z9® and an IBM eServer™ zSeries® 990. To store SAP data and provide best I/O performance for all z/OS workloads, the IBM zEnterprise servers are directly connected via Fibre Channel to IBM System Storage® DS8000 devices and an IBM System Storage DS8800 array with of 90 TB and 70 TB capacities respectively.

All non-z/OS workloads, including virtual Linux on System z® servers, access a second storage environment. Using a storage area network architecture, an IBM SAN Volume Controller virtualizes access to an IBM System Storage DS8800 with 31 TB capacity, an IBM System Storage DS4300 system with 16 TB, and an IBM Enterprise Storage Server® with 31 TB.

For improved data protection, an IBM System Storage TS3500 Tape Library providing 360 TB of backup space is connected via Fibre Channel to the IBM zEnterprise servers.

With the BladeCenter extension, an IBM zEnterprise system can be used as single point of control for a hybrid landscape of different computer architectures. A central management console enables companies to install highly integrated computing systems, optimized for different workloads, within one physical chassis. This approach reduces the risk of IT operations by reducing the number of different components and systems and, more importantly, the flexibility allows for a reduced time to market of new IT systems.

Deploying IBM Entry Cloud Configuration for SAP Solutions on zEnterprise

As the number of SAP applications grows, the number of databases tends to increase. Every new SAP application usually requires a production, development and quality assurance system, and on occasion a training system. Setting up these systems and corresponding databases takes time and effort. Experience shows that new systems are needed on average at least once a week, and in some companies even once a day.

The joint development team understood this administration pain point, especially in large SAP software environments. For example, the joint development team itself requires about 220 testing and development databases, with 130 active in parallel. It is a challenge to provide an infrastructure of this scale.

To handle the continuously growing number of database systems, the joint development team developed the IBM entry cloud configuration for SAP solutions on zEnterprise, a configuration that can deploy IBM DB2 databases on IBM z/OS for SAP systems automatically on demand.

The entry cloud configuration for SAP solutions provides an easy-to-use web interface, empowering application developers and application testers to request the systems and services they need without active involvement of the database administrator. The configuration follows the service oriented architecture (SOA) paradigm, which enables its seamless integration with other technologies. The joint team works closely with the SAP team that is developing a comprehensive SAP application management solution. The goal is to integrate the automated database provisioning system with the SAP NetWeaver Landscape Virtualization Manager.

A combination of methods and tools form the entry cloud configuration for SAP solutions. At the core, the configuration is built on IBM z/OS UNIX System Services, taking advantage of a certified and fully integrated UNIX system. The automation configuration covers a range of complex tasks, where every task includes defined pre-execution and post-execution procedures to make sure the IBM DB2 databases are deployed as expected. The configuration covers the installation, backup and restore of an IBM DB2 subsystem, cloning the content of a backup into an IBM DB2 subsystem, and the application of new service levels to an IBM DB2 subsystem.

To ensure compliance with data security requirements, the entry cloud configuration for SAP solutions relies on proven IBM z/OS security features such as Resource Access Control Facility (RACF®). The configuration also takes advantage of IBM DB2 database pools and user groups to allow different services to be provided to different departments, which increases data protection and isolation.

In the past, creating system copies of SAP databases took up to two weeks, sometimes even four weeks. With the entry cloud configuration for SAP solutions on zEnterprise, system copies can be completed within a few hours. The joint IBM and SAP team itself uses IBM entry cloud configuration for SAP solutions on zEnterprise and benefits from time savings of around 98 percent.

Using traditional methods, manually creating a new database requires between two and three days depending on the database administrator’s workload. The entry cloud configuration for SAP solutions can provide a new database in approximately eight minutes. If an error arises, the developers can simply request another database, which is usually available as a working instance in less than 30 minutes.

The time savings gained by using IBM entry cloud configuration for SAP solutions on zEnterprise have helped reduce project durations by up to 40 percent.

SAP is very satisfied with its close collaboration with IBM. This collaboration enables us to provide the required end-to-end solution, including services and support. Together, we can both ensure high-quality SAP applications and help customers with other parts of their mission-critical IT landscape, such as middleware and hardware infrastructure.

Uwe Guenther, Vice President and Global Head Financial Services Hub , SAP


Exploiting the advantages of SAP on IBM zEnterprise

SAP is expanding its product portfolio, providing a broad range of software solutions. The company is a leading vendor of enterprise resource planning software and offers a competitive and flexible core banking solution.

In supporting the IBM zEnterprise platform, SAP makes it easier for customers who are already using IBM enterprise technology to implement SAP applications.

Developing solutions together and collaborating on customer projects with the same goal enables the team to create value more quickly. For example, in South Africa a leading bank can now offer services to people who were previously unable to attend bank branches, leading the way with innovative products supported by SAP solutions.

To provide a reliable implementation blueprint, IBM and SAP developed a reference architecture for SAP for Banking solutions on IBM zEnterprise. This reference architecture is built on customer experience, implements best practices and takes into account major requirements such as high availability and data recovery.

The architecture leverages IBM zEnterprise technologies such as Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex™ (GDPS®) and Metro Global Mirror to support continuous operation. Based on this reference architecture, SAP is working on further optimizations. Following close collaboration with IBM, SAP has separated the mission-critical SAP Central Services (enqueue and message servers) that provide the messaging and locking features required for an SAP system to operate.

By taking advantage of IBM zEnterprise technology and IBM Tivoli® Service Automation Manager, customers can operate the two critical enqueue and message components in a Sysplex for improved business continuity, minimizing potential downtime from hours to just a few seconds.

To boost performance, SAP will soon move parts of its Central Services directly into the IBM zEnterprise Coupling Facility. The Coupling Facility software manages an IBM Parallel Sysplex® and enables data sharing for high availability IBM DB2 configurations.

Optimizing business solutions

IBM and SAP are working on further improvements of SAP solutions on IBM zEnterprise, designed to further increase reliability, availability and security while also taking advantage of the economics of consolidation and centralization. IBM zEnterprise is fine-tuned for the banking industry.

By leveraging its integrated features, zEnterprise provides a very efficient platform for even the most challenging of workloads. Studies show that zEnterprise is as much as 70 percent more cost-efficient to operate than distributed environments.

The ability offered by IBM zEnterprise to bring new solutions to the market faster on the same platform without the complexity of adding new systems is crucial for innovation. The flexibility of the platform makes it an excellent solution for SAP workloads, and the ‘SAP in a box’ approach can provide a central consolidation platform with a free choice of the best operating system and processor architecture for every task, providing a completely optimized IT infrastructure.

The shared IBM and SAP collaboration started with the first release of SAP R/3 software approximately 15 years ago. This long-lasting and deep collaboration is outstanding. The comprehensive cooperation between IBM and SAP development teams is key to the success of our projects, ensuring optimized solutions from both companies.

Katja Mertiens, Development Manager for SAP on IBM System z, IBM

About SAP on IBM System z

Banks and financial institutions rely on SAP applications to process millions of financial transactions. The solution simply must work without failure or error and must include protection against external threats.

Solution Components

  • IBM Bluemix
  • IBM Power Systems
  • IBM Z: IBM Z running z/OS
  • IBM Z: IBM Z running z/VM
  • IBM Z: IBM zEnterprise 196 (z196)
  • IBM-SAP Alliance
  • Networking: iFlow Director
  • SAP Business Suite
  • Storage
  • Storage: DS4000
  • Storage: Enterprise Storage Server
  • Storage: IBM DS8000
  • Storage: IBM DS8800
  • Storage: TS3500 Tape Library
  • Storage: Tape & Optical Storage
  • z Systems
  • z Systems : z Systems running Linux
  • z Systems : z10 Systems
  • z Systems : z9 Systems
  • z Systems: zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager

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