Home > Blogs > VMware Global Alliances Blog

Virtualize SAP: A Blueprint for Success

Posted by Vaughn Stewart
NetApp, Director & Virtualization

Since VMworld 2011 there’s been a noticeable increase in customer confidence around the ability to successfully virtualize the most demanding business critical applications. The list of applications commonly being considered often includes business applications powered by database technologies like Oracle RAC and Microsoft SQL Server and Messaging and collaboration platforms like Microsoft Exchange Server and SharePoint. With all of this activity the application that is generating as many discussions as any of the others is SAP.


With customers confident  in the capabilities of vSphere 5 to facilitate significant infrastructure cost reductions with multi-tier SAP landscapes, many still have questions on how to successfully virtualize such a large-scale architecture. You have to understand that for many customers SAP is ‘THE’ mission critical application within their organization. An interruption to SAP can have massive impact to an organization, thus there is no room for any unexpected ‘lessons learned’ like the early days of server consolidation, desktop virtualization, or lab automation initiatives.

Customers often pose the question…

                                  “How do I successfully virtualize SAP?”

 From my perspective this is a relatively simple question to answer…

“Deploy as SAP has, virtualize SAP with VMware on NetApp!”

SAP Runs SAP Virtualized with VMware and NetApp

In order to reduce ever increasing infrastructure costs and to automate the delivery of IT services, SAP committed to a ‘Virtualization First’ strategy in their global IT, SAP NetWeaver, SAP Center of Excellence and SAP Business ByDesign (SaaS & PaaS cloud service offerings) datacenters. To accomplish these goals SAP abandoned legacy architectures and began deploying their future with technologies and platforms from VMware and NetApp.

By the end of 2010 these efforts resulted in over 40% of SAP’s compute systems virtualized on VMware vSphere and 70% of their worldwide storage requirements residing on NetApp. Frankly, I don’t know if one can make it a simpler or more compelling case around how to virtualize SAP.

It’s not just SAP virtualizing SAP with vSphere on NetApp. Below is a list of customer case studies published within the past 12 months that highlight the outstanding results of their efforts.

vSphere 5 Powers SAP at Near Bare-Metal Levels

As one might expect, customers often want to understand a bit more than simply the architecture in which to virtualize SAP.. Many want assurances around the performance capabilities of the vSphere platform. Fortunately, there are a number of recently published benchmarks that demonstrate the capabilities of vSphere 5. In August, Fujitsu published the first SAP sales and distribution (SD) benchmark on vSphere 5 along with a corresponding benchmark comprised of a bare metal deployment comprised of the same hardware.

The benchmarks took advantage of the new larger VM support in vSphere 5, supporting 4,600 SD Users and 25,150 SAPs from a 24-vCPU VM on the Fujitsu Primergy server. These results were within 6% of what was obtained from the bare metal configuration (4,875 SD Users and 26,630 SAPs).


HP published an even larger scale benchmark, comprised of a three-tier SAP Landscape on vSphere 5 which supported 32,125 SD Users and delivered 175,320 SAPs. The results produced in all of these benchmarks are a testament to the performance capabilities of vSphere 5 and it’s ability to meet real world workloads.

FlexPod, CVDs, and Partners: Delivering Virtualized SAP Applications & SAP Landscapes

Building on the foundational architectures and performance capabilities, many seek assurances around the design and implementation of their solution. This is where the efforts of the FlexPod engineering teams really stand out. They have recently published a Cisco Validated Design for deploying SAP Applications and SAP Landscapes in vSphere on the FlexPod platform.

This private cloud architecture covers the entire infrastructure stack including SAP, Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS), NetApp Unified Storage, VMware vSphere, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Oracle Database. For those who need secure separation of resources in their shared infrastructure the CVD includes the designs for deploying in a Secure Multi-Tenancy architecture.



A number of FlexPod partners specialize in delivering SAP and have developed expertise in the area of migrating SAP to a virtualized FlexPod architecture. One leader in this space is Accenture, who has developed the SAP Private Cloud Solution. Collaboratively designed by engineering teams from Accenture, SAP, Cisco, NetApp, VMware and Red Hat, this solution expands the FlexPod CVD architecture by including services such as consulting, migration, and project management. Together these capabilities help make the migration of SAP to vSphere simple.

Through partners like Accenture, customers receive a standardized virtual infrastructure for SAP, dramatically shorter migration timeframes, advanced SAP automation and a number of advanced features such as SAP analytics and mobility capabilities.

Wrapping Up This Post

The move to virtualizing business critical applications like SAP is viewed by many as critical to the advancement of the maturity of their private cloud. Such applications are often significantly more complex in areas of design and scale. Projects to virtualize such complex and critical application are typically monitored a bit more closely and their success measured a bit more precisely than previous virtualization projects like server consolidations.

Ensuring the success of our customers and their virtualization initiatives is the focus of VMware, NetApp, SAP and our mutual technology partners. In this post I hope to have shared with you that the time is now to begin virtualizing your SAP Landscape. As I’ve shared in this post; SAP has done it, vSphere 5 can power it, the FlexPod platform was designed for it, and our SAP focused partners can deliver it!

If you’re interested in additional information around virtualizing SAP on VMware & NetApp please checkout the following links: