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Addressing the Perceived Challenges to Virtualizing SAP

By Stacey Meston, Sr. Manager Enterprise Programs

Virtualization continues to define the modern architecture of enterprise IT, establishing both a new model for how applications are run and a path to cloud computing. Still, for some organizations the migration of business-critical applications, such as SAP, to a virtual environment is a foregone conclusion.

SAP Virtualization Lagging Behind

Recently, Aberdeen Group conducted a survey of 100 organizations representing a global audience of enterprises of all sizes. Thirty-five percent (35%) of survey respondents were veteran users of SAP products, who reported that they have deployed SAP for more than 10 years.  Within these enterprises, it was learned that only 31% of SAP deployments have been virtualized.  SAP users appear slower to adopt the concept of virtualization than the general population.  In fact, research of VMware’s own customers indicates the virtualization of SAP is lagging behind other key business-critical applications.

Perceived Challenges to Virtualizing SAP

Aberdeen asked the 69% of survey respondents that have only a physical SAP deployment about the challenges of converting to a virtualized implementation.  Four key areas of concern emerged:

  • Uncertainty as to the ROI (40%)
  • Fear of harming performance (40%)
  • Security (27%)
  • Lack of resources to conduct the transition (27%)

Performance issues have been addressed in earlier blog entries.  So let’s focus on the others.

Return on Investment

In a recent TCO Study of SAP running on vSphere conducted by VMS, a specialist in analyzing and optimizing SAP landscapes, a significant savings in TCO was identified and driven by four key items:

  • VMware virtualization enables significantly better utilization of hardware, thus reducing power and floor space consumption.
  • Faster and smaller hardware also reduces the additional cost for servers, cost for data center and the administration of servers.
  • Even more important are savings in the area of upgrade, rollout and improvement projects, for these savings have much more impact on the TCO of SAP systems.
  • Flexibility increases in project scenarios like rollout, upgrade and change. Building additional project systems, resetting test systems on the fly, adding training systems, etc. requires no change in adding or buying additional hardware but only in allocation of resources.
  •  Decoupling SAP and OS systems from hardware by virtualization enables more focused planning of each: the technical infrastructure and the SAP systems.
  • Savings in the area of ongoing cost or operations are smaller, since the majority of the effort there is related to the SAP application itself, which is not affected so much by VMware.

Lack of Resources

Companies planning to virtualize their SAP deployments should consider the use of professional consultants. Over half of the SAP users captured in the Aberdeen survey report that they have virtualized their application with the aid of professional service providers.  Professional consultants have deep experience in virtualizing SAP deployments, which is especially valuable if you feel you do not have the capabilities in your own IT headcount.

Virtualizing your SAP deployment has tremendous upside and the potential for positive returns for your organization.  To fully investigate the potential to your organization, download the full Aberdeen report, “The Case for Virtualizing SAP” or VMS TCO Study, at our VMware Virtualizing SAP Knowledge Vault — a comprehensive resource center for assisting with your SAP virtualization journey.

One thought on “Addressing the Perceived Challenges to Virtualizing SAP

  1. Todd Muirhead

    It’s a bit unclear exactly what the first chart is representing, but I think that it is the percentage of customers (that were in the survey) that have virtualized the different business critical applications. At first I thought that it didn’t match up very closely with my own experience of working with SAP customers over the past few years, but then I realized that the data is for 2010 and 2011. It shows a big increase from 2010 to 2011. Although SAP still shows as a relatively low percentage in 2011, I would guess that the acceleration seen has likely continued into 2012. I would expect to see a good amount of growth for virtual SAP in the 2012 survey.

    While SAP customers were a bit slow to begin adoption, I have found that it is very common now for a large percentage of an SAP landscape to be virtualized. The slowness in starting was that the number of vCPUs supported for a VM was just too small a few years ago when the limit was 8. But now with support for 32 and 64 vCPUs over the past two years this capacity limit has been removed.

    Good to see some data on virtual SAP.

    Todd

    Reply

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