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SAP HANA for non-production use with VMware Cloud on AWS

Introduction
SAP HANA, the in-memory real-time platform was initially introduced as a physical appliance and has steadily evolved to include support for virtualization with VMware vSphere and SAP HANA Tailored Datacenter Integration (TDI). Virtualized SAP HANA is now supported in scale-up and scale-out configurations in VMware environments. Running SAP HANA on vSphere offers customers agility, resource optimization and ease of provisioning. This solution provides SAP customers with the ability to provision instances of SAP HANA more quickly and effectively by using vSphere virtual machines. Using the SAP HANA platform with the VMware vSphere virtualization infrastructure constitutes an optimized environment for achieving a unique, cost-effective solution. VMware capabilities such as VMware vSphere vMotion, Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS), and vSphere High Availability (HA) are innate components of the virtualized SAP HANA platform.

Proof of Concept for SAP HANA with VMware Cloud on AWS
Tests were run on VMware Cloud on AWS to show that SAP HANA is functional and runs well in this public cloud environment. The VMware Cloud on AWS is powered by VMware Cloud Foundation which is the unified SDDC platform and it is the integrated cloud infrastructure platform for a hybrid cloud. The SAP HANA tests were part of a series of tests which exercised common vSphere platform features like HA, DRS and vMotion for a large SAP HANA virtual machine as part of this proof of concept. SAP HANA currently is in the process of being certified for SAP on Virtual SAN. In the meantime, development and test environments can certainly leverage the benefits of vSphere infrastructures backed by virtual SAN storage that includes the VMware Cloud on AWS.

The core aspects of the Proof of Concept environment were following:

SAP HANA Testing

  • The SAP HANA virtual machine is sized with 32 vCPUs and 450GB of RAM. This size was chosen as it represents the scale-up configuration utilizing almost all the resources of the physical server in the VMware Cloud on AWS – 32 physical cores and 500GB of RAM.
  • The hard disks for SAP HANA are sized per best practices with dedicated disks for data, logs and backups.
  • The memory used for the HANA virtual machine was reserved per VMware best practices.
  • SAP S4/HANA Database was installed on the SLES 12 for SAP virtual machine.
  • A Standardized subset set of OLAP queries (TPC-DS) were run against the SAP HANA database to ensure proper operation.
  • Under heavy load during a performance test, the virtual machine was vMotioned to confirm the ability to move high performance applications under heavy load.
  • Testing
    SAP S4/HANA Functional Validation
    The SAP S4/HANA system deployment and operation was found to be similar to that of any similar on premises SAP HANA system. The SAP HANA system was fully functional and a variety of standardized OLTP and OLAP tests completed successfully on the infrastructure.

    vSphere Functionality Testing
    In addition to the validation of the SAP S/4 HANA system the goal of the proof of concept was to confirm the vSphere platform functionality such as vSphere HA, DRS and vMotion for the environment.

    Of particular interest was vMotion for a vertically scaled large memory application like SAP S4/HANA. If these vSphere features work in VMware Cloud on AWS for a jumbo SAP S4/HANA virtual machine spanning NUMA boundaries and encompassing almost the entire physical ESX host, it can be expected to work under almost all situations.

    Results
    HA & DRS Testing
    A failure of the physical host running the SAP HANA virtual machine was simulated through an unscheduled reboot. VMware HA functioned properly and restarted the SAP HANA virtual machine on one of the other remaining physical hosts with adequate capacity. During the failover, it was also observed that DRS automatically migrated some of the smaller virtual machines running on the new host running SAP HANA to appropriate nodes, to provide for optimal performance for the VM running the SAP HANA system. The SAP HANA application successfully recovered after the HA event and was available to users in a few minutes as is expected. This test successfully validated vSphere HA and DRS in the VMware on AWS Cluster.

    vMotion Testing
    During typical DRS operation large virtual machines do not move unless there is a manual operation or a host is placed in maintenance mode. All aspects of the infrastructure are exercised when a large SAP virtual machine using most of the resources of a physical host is migrated. A manual vMotion of the SAP HANA system (32 vCPU) which was running performance test at a system load of more than 32 was initiated. The vMotion tests were repeated multiple times and was confirmed to be reliable. The average time to completion for the vMotion operation was four minutes for the jumbo SAP HANA virtual machine under heavy load.

    Conclusion
    This proof of concept with SAP HANA running on VMWare Cloud on AWS has validated the following:

  • VMware Cloud on AWS is an excellent platform to run Dev and Test SAP HANA workloads (Note: Production workloads are currently in the process being certified with SAP on this platform).
  • SAP HANA workloads can vertically scale to almost the size of the entire Physical ESXi host.
  • HA & DRS work well and as expected for SAP HANA workloads in the cluster.
  • Large HANA virtual machines can sustain vMotion reliably from one host to another even under heavy load.
  • To look at a video demo of the proof of concept, please visit https://youtu.be/iV2ckyf9gcA

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