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Virtualizing SAP HANA Databases Greater than 1TB on vSphere 5.5

VMWorld 2015 Session Recap

I’m almost fully recovered from VMWorld, which was probably one of my busiest and most enjoyable VMWorld’s I’ve had in my 6 plus years at VMware because of the interaction with attendees, customers, and partners.  I’ll be doing a series of Post-VMWorld Blogs focused on my SAP HANA Software-Defined Data Centers sessions but my first blog will cover the misconceptions associated with sizing SAP HANA databases on vSphere. There are many good reasons to upgrade to vSphere 6.0, going beyond the 1TB monster virtual machine limit in vSphere 5.5 when deploying SAP HANA databases is not necessarily one of them.

SAP HANA is no longer just an in-memory database, it is now a data management platform.  It is NOT confined by the size of available memory since the SAP HANA warm data can be stored on disk in a columnar format and accessed transparently by applications.

What this means is the 1TB monster virtual machine maximum in vSphere 5.5 is an artificial barrier. SAP HANA multi-terabyte size databases can be easily virtualized with vSphere 5.5 using Dynamic Tiering, Near-Line Storage, and other memory management techniques SAP has introduced to the SAP HANA Platform to optimize and reduces HANA’s in-memory footprint.

SAP HANA Dynamic Tiering (DT)

SAP HANA Dynamic Tiering was introduced last year in Support Pack Stack (SPS) 09 for use with BW, Dynamic Tiering allows customers to seamlessly manager their SAP HANA disk based “Warm Data” on an Extended Storage Host, essentially placing data which does not need to be in-memory on disk. The guidance SAP gives when using the SAP HANA Dynamic Tiering option for SPS 09 is up to 20% of in-memory data can reside on the Extended Storage (ES) Host, for SPS 10 up to 40% can reside on the ES Host, and in the future up to 70% of the SAP HANA data can reside on the ES Host. So in the future the majority of SAP HANA data which was once in-memory can reside on-disk.

Near-Line Storage (NLS)

In addition to the reduction of the SAP HANA in-memory footprint DT affords customers, Near-Line Storage should be considered as well. With NLS, data is moved outside of the SAP HANA database proper to disk and classified as “Cold”, due to its infrequent accessed and can only be accessed read only. SAP provides examples showing NLS can reduce the HANA database in-memory requirements by several Terabytes (link below).

It is also important to note that both the DT Extended Storage Host and NLS solutions do not require certified servers or storage, so not only has SAP given customers the ability to run SAP HANA in a reduced memory footprint, customers can run on standard x86 hardware as well.

There is a white paper authored by Priti Mishra, Staff Engineer, Performance Engineering VMware, which is an excellent read for anyone considering DT or NLS options. “Distributed Query Processing in SAP IQ on VMware vSphere and Virtual SAN”

Importance of the VMware Software Defined Data Center

To their credit SAP has taken a leadership role with HANA’s in-memory columnar database computing capabilities and as HANA has evolved the sizing and hardware requirements have evolved as well. Rapid change and evolving requirements are givens in technology; the VMware Software Defined Data Center provides a flexible and agile architecture to effectively react to change by recasting compute, network, and storage resources, in a centrally managed manner.

As a concrete example of the flexibility VMware’s Platform provides, Figure 1. illustrates the evolution of SAP HANA from SPS 07 to SPS 09. For customers who would like to take advantage of SAP HANA’s multi-temperature data management techniques but initially deployed SAP HANA on SPS 07 (all in-memory); through virtualization customers can reclaim and recast memory, storage, and network resources in their virtual HANA landscape to reflect the latest architectural advances and memory management techniques in SPS 10.

Figure 1. SAP HANA Platform: Evolving Hardware Requirements

sap hana vmware

Since SAP HANA can now run in a reduced memory footprint, customers who licensed HANA to be all in-memory can use virtualization to reclaim memory and deploy additional virtual databases and make HANA pervasive in their landscapes.

As a general rule, in any rapidly changing environment The VMware Software-Defined Data Center provides an agile platform which can accommodate change and also protect against capital hardware investments that may not be necessary in the future (certified vs. standard x86 hardware). For that matter, the cloud is a good option to deploy any rapidly changing application/database in places like VMware vCloud Air, Virtustream, or Secure-24 just to mention a few.

Virtual SAP HANA Back on track

After speaking with session attendees, customers, and partners, at VMworld about SAP HANA’s Multi-temperature management capabilities, I was happy to hear they will not be delaying their virtual HANA deployments due to the vSphere 6.0 roadmap certification timeline. As I said earlier, the 1TB monster virtual machine maximum in vSphere 5.5 is an artificial barrier. It really is a worthwhile exercise to take a closer look at the temperature of your data, age of your data, and your access requirements in order to take full advantage of all the tools and features SAP provides their customers.

I was also encouraged to hear from many session attendees that my presentation at VMWorld brought the SDDC from concept closer to reality by demonstrating actual mission critical database/application use cases. My future post VMWorld blogs will focus on how I deconstructed the SAP HANA Networks Requirements document and transformed that into a virtual network design using VMware NSX from my desktop. I’ll also cover Software Defined Storage, essentially translating SAP’s Multi-Temperature Storage Options into VMware Virtual Volumes and Storage Containers.

“SAP HANA SPS10- SAP HANA Dynamic Tiering”; (SAP Product Management)


“Distributed Query Processing in SAP IQ on VMware vSphere and Virtual SAN”; Priti Mishra, Performance Engineering VMware


Blog: Bob Goldsand; “SAP HANA Dynamic Tiering and the VMware Software Defined Data Center”





Case Study: Big Data/Hadoop on vSphere and Other Blogs

A new customer technical case study on Skyscape’s use of vSphere as their platform for deploying Hadoop in the cloud was published recently. Skyscape, based in the UK,  deploys Hadoop clusters on demand for their UK Government customers from the company’s public cloud infrastructure. Citizen services data and analysis tools are provided by these government departments that leverage Hadoop for data gathering and analysis.


The newly provisioned Hadoop clusters are based on the Hortonworks HDP platform today, but plans are in the works for providing other Hadoop distributions also in the future. The Skyscape engineers really innovated in an impressive way on the Big Data Extensions (BDE) platform. The system not only provides the end user with a Hadoop cluster capability but also with an Ambari Server of their own to manage and monitor their Hadoop cluster. This is all done on X86 hardware servers with direct-attached storage. Skyscape also made use of the BDE REST APIs to achieve their goal. They had five separate end-user customer groups signed up for use shortly after releasing the Hadoop service to their community.

Two other very interesting and useful blogs on virtualization of big data appeared recently: one on Using Big Data Extensions 2.2 written by Julie Roman, a Technical Account Manager at VMware who has worked on big data projects and another (from LinkedIn) on Big Data as a Service by George Trujillo, who is a VP at a Financial Services company. Both of these are very useful reads on their respective areas!

New Release: vCenter Server 5.5 Update 2d

Today VMware released an update to its vCenter Server management solution.

vCenter Server 5.5 Update 2d | 27 JAN 2015 | Build 2442329
vCenter Server 5.5 Update 2d Installation Package | 27 JAN 2015 | Build 2442328
vCenter Server Appliance 5.5 Update 2d | 27 JAN 2015 | Build 2442330

Please make sure to review the release notes and download from vmware.com

While this is a minor release it does resolve many issues previously experienced as summarized here:

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vCenter Server 5.5 Update 2 Released

Today VMware released Update 2 of its vSphere management solution, vCenter Server. In this release there are updates to the supported database versions and many resolved known issues.

What’s New

  • vCenter Server database support: vCenter Server now supports the following external databases:
    • Oracle 12c. Important: For pre-requisite requirements, see KB 2079443.
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2014
  • vCloud Hybrid Service: The vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS) introduces a new container, Hybrid Cloud Service, on the vSphere Web Client home page. The Hybrid Cloud Service container contains the vCHS installer and the new vCloud Connector installer.
  • Customer Experience Improvement Program: The vSphere customer experience improvement program is introduced to collect configuration data for vSphere and transmit weekly to VMware for analysis in understanding the usage and improving the product. For more details, see the vSphere Documentation Center.

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VMware Feature Walkthrough: Step-by-Step VMware How-to’s

If you are like me, VMworld 2014 in San Francisco left my brain on overload. With so many new product and services announcements, plus breakout sessions filled with technical information and demos in the expo floor booths, it’s hard not to feel like you are drinking from the proverbial fire hose.  Throw in a party or three, plus the pile of work waiting when you get home and all that great info you gathered starts to turn up with some CRC errors in your memory.
VMware Feature Walkthrough Home

Fortunately, VMware has a tool that you can use to refresh your memory on the VMware solutions and services that you explored at VMworld.  The VMware Feature Walkthrough site (http://featurewalkthrough.vmware.com) provides technical overviews and step-by-step guidance for installing, configuring and managing our solutions.  Each walkthrough includes screen shots with relevant steps highlighted and text explaining the process.

VMware vSOM Walkthrough

The Feature Walkthrough site is a great for stepping through a self-paced demo of a particular VMware product or feature.  We’ve made the site mobile friendly, so go ahead and open it on your tablet and take it into the data center to guide your proof-of-concept install of the products you saw or heard about during VMworld, or to simply refresh your memory on just where exactly that checkbox to enable a product feature is.  Use it to show your boss that cool feature you saw at VMworld, or to familiarize yourself with the basics of a product before you jump into a live Hands-on Lab environment.

We’re always adding new walkthroughs; the vSphere with Operations Management (vSOM) series of Walkthroughs was recently refreshed, and NSX and Virtual SAN walkthroughs are now available. If there are any particular products or features that you want to see added to the site, feel free to drop me a note at featurewalkthrough@vmware.com or leave a comment below!

vCenter Server 5.5 Update 1b released

Today VMware released an update to its virtualization management solution, vCenter Server. The update brings several fixes as documented in the release notes which can be reviewed in full here.

The new versions are as follows:

  • vCenter Server 5.5 Update 1b | 12 JUN 2014 | Build 1891313
  • vCenter Server 5.5 Update 1b Installation Package | 12 JUN 2014 | Build 1891310
  • vCenter Server Appliance 5.5 Update 1b | 12 JUN 2014 | Build 1891314
    downloaded now from vmware.com

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Which vCenter Server platform should I use – Appliance or Windows?

One of the most repetitive questions that I get asked is which version of vCenter Server should I be using. This obviously is based on the decision between using the vCenter Server appliance (VCSA) introduced with vSphere 5.0 or the trusted and proven vCenter Server on Windows.


It has been general knowledge that the vCenter Server appliance, since its introduction has lacked features to that of its Windows counterpart. With vSphere 5.5 the vCenter Server appliance has come a long way, it supports all solutions that integrate with vCenter Server (vCD, vCOPs, SRM, VUM etc) but is it production ready? I can confidently say yes but will it meet your requirements?
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vCenter Server 5.5 Update 1 Released

As hinted throughout most of the day, the vCenter Server 5.5 Update 1 has been publicly released this evening.

vCenter Server 5.5 Update 1 | 11 MAR 2014 | Build 1623101
vCenter Server 5.5 Update 1 Installation Package | 11 MAR 2014 | Build 1623099
vCenter Server Appliance 5.5 Update 1 | 11 MAR 2014 | Build 1624811

Whats New

  • vCloud® Hybrid Service™ vSphere® Client Plug-in, is now available in vSphere Web Client
  • vCenter Server is now supported on Windows Server 2012 R2
  • This release delivers a number of bug fixes

Full release notes can be found here

Download bits here

Getting ready to upgrade production to vCenter Server 5.5? Make sure you’re using the correct deployment option

Over the last few months, many customers have been testing and familiarizing themselves with vSphere 5.5 however deployment into a production environment is usually stalled until the availability of the first update or service pack. As we are nearing the typical time frame of when such an update or service pack may become available, I wanted to share some findings that may affect your deployment selection of vCenter Single Sign-On when deploying or upgrading to vCenter Server 5.5

During the installation of vCenter Single Sign-On server you are asked on the deployment option of the vCenter Single Sign-On instance. Below is the intended use case for each deployment option.


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Installing or upgrading to vSphere 5.5 made a little easier

Many of you have now kicked the tires with vSphere 5.5 either in your home lab or on some servers at work and you’re anxious to get all the new goodies running in your production environment. Perhaps some of you early adopters are already running in full production, but we’re guessing many of you are just contemplating your major upgrade now.

VMware’s Tech Support staff tend to see a surge during the month of March in number of calls to support. But guess what? Many of the issues we’re anticipating are already resolved, and we’ve been busy compiling and documenting solutions to common problems that you can handle yourself.

Those of you installing or upgrading your vSphere hosts, and vCenter Server instances to version 5.5 will find the following KB articles and Support Insider posts of great interest.