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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”





Use VSAN Assessment to validate Virtual SAN’s benefits for your organization

Are you experiencing challenges with your current vSphere storage environment (i.e., performance, capacity constraint, complexity, expensive renewals) or just not sure if VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) would be a good fit?

Now VMware partners, SEs, or reps can help you with a free VSAN Assessment.

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One Cloud, Any Application – #VMW28days

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 4.11.51 PM

VMware Virtual SAN 6.0 – you heard all about it on February 2nd – you read all about it in our blog post on the vSphere Storage Blog.


Still want more?


Visit VMware’s One Cloud, Any Application site every day in February to learn more about our products and solutions including software-defined storage, Virtual SAN 6, and Virtual Volumes (VVOLs). With content for IT decision makers and practitioners alike, this site contains everything from technical documentation to infographics, whitepapers, and analyst insights.


Stop by today!


Also, this Thursday, February 12th, at 11am PST, we would like to invite you to join the software-defined storage CrowdChat! Here, you’ll be able to ask questions directly to VMware storage experts. RSVP today!


For more information about VMware Virtual SAN, follow us on Twitter at @VMwareVSAN and Facebook at facebook.com/vmwarevsan.


vSphere APIs for IO Filtering

I’ve been fortunate to have one of our super sharp product line managers, Alex Jauch (twitter @ajauch), spend some time explaining to me one of the new enabling technologies of vSphere 6.0: VAIO.  Let’s take a look at this really powerful capability and see what types of things it can enable and an overview of how it works.

VAIO stands for “vSphere APIs for IO Filtering”

This had for a time colloquially been known as “IO Filters”. Fundamentally, it is a means by which a VM can have its IO safely and securely filtered in accordance with a policy.

VAIO offers partners the ability to put their technology directly into the IO stream of a VM through a filter that intercepts data before it is committed to disk.

Why would I want to do that? What kinds of things can you do with an IO filter?

Well that’s up to our customers and our partners. VAIO is a filtering framework that will initially allow vendors to present capabilities for caching and replication to individual VMs. This will expand over time as partners come on board to write filters for the framework, so you can imagine where this can go for topics such as security, antivirus, encryption and other areas, as the framework matures. VAIO gives us the ability to do stuff to an IO stream in a safe and certified fashion, and manage the whole thing through profiles to ensure we get a view into the IO stream’s compliance with policy!

The VAIO program itself is for partners – the benefit is for consumers who want to do policy based management of their environment and pull in the value of our partner solutions directly into per-VM and indeed per-virtual disk storage management.

When partners create their solutions their data services are surfaced through the Storage Policy Based Management control plane, just like all the rest of our policy-driven storage offerings like Virtual SAN or Virtual Volumes.

Beyond that, because the data services operate at the VM virtual device level, they can also work with just about any type of storage device, again furthering the value of VSAN and VVOLs, and extending the use of these offerings through these additional data services.

How does it work?

The capabilities of a partner filter solution are registered with the VAIO framework, and are surfaced for user interaction in the SPBM Continue reading

SAP HANA Dynamic Tiering and the VMware Software Defined Data Center

The latest release of SAP HANA has brought the concepts of multi-temperature data and lifecycle management to a new level.  With SP09, SAP has addressed the size and cost constraints which may prohibit an all in memory solution. SAP HANA with the Dynamic Tiering (DT) option enables placement of the highest value “hot data” in the classic SAP HANA in-memory tables, and less frequently accessed “Warm Data” is placed or migrated to tables which reside on an SAP HANA Extended Storage Host (ES Host).

The data associated with the ES Host will reside on disk and not in-memory, however since data is stored using the same columnar paradigm as classic SAP HANA, performance is optimized for data processing.

SAP Business Warehouse Powered by HANA

The Dynamic Tiering option is Plug & Play for SAP Business Warehouse (BW) 7.4 SP8 Power By HANA. SAP BW provides full access to your data whether it resides in-memory data or on the extended host, access is transparent to the user, so no need to direct your queries to the SAP in-memory store or extended host store.

With the SAP HANA SP09 release BW Objects which can reside on the Extended Storage Host are the Write-Optimized Data Storage Objects and the Persistent Staging Area. Since these objects can comprise between 15% to 40% of the total database footprint, customers using DT in their landscapes can realize substantial savings by reducing the amount of RAM necessary to run SAP HANA. In addition the SAP HANA Extended Storage Hosts can be deployed on either Certified Servers or standard x86 commodity servers.

SAP HANA Native Use Cases

The number of software ISVs and developers choosing SAP HANA as their native database is quite impressive. Whether SAP HANA is being used for Data Marts, Enterprise Data Warehouses, or for custom applications, Dynamic Tiering presents interesting opportunities to make these use cases more robust. It’s important to adhere to the SAP HANA Node to ES Host ratios when using HANA as the native database. When the HANA in-memory database is 64GB to 512GB in size, the Extended Storage Host resident data can be 4 times the size of the HANA in-memory database. Below is a sizing summary:

SAP   HANA In-Memory Data

Extended   Storage Host Data Ratio

64GB – 512 GB


>512 GB to <2TB





Deploying SAP HANA In The VMware Software-Defined Datacenter

SAP HANA Extended Storage Host is fully supported by SAP to runs on VMware vSphere. It’s interesting to note that SAP does not allow the deployment of a SAP HANA Worker Node and the Extended Storage option on the same physical server. In addition when deploying SAP HANA with DT in the physical world, SAP provides the following guidance:

“The distance between HANA hosts and Extended Storage hosts should be as short as possible to avoid performance impact on distributed INSERTs, UPDATEs, or Queries. Ideally, ES hosts should be placed inside the same rack as the HANA hosts.”

VMware can actually go one better. In the VMware Software Defined Datacenter both the SAP HANA Worker Node virtual machine and the Extended Storage Host virtual machine can be consolidated on a single physical vSphere Host which is a supported SAP configuration. This avoids the performance impact on distributed INSERTs, UPDATEs, or Queries which SAP mentions in the physical world. This is a clear benefit, by consolidating these virtual machines customers can better utilize server resources and increase their ROI. Also the consolidation and co-location of SAP HANA Nodes onto a single vSphere Host may reduce the internode communication latency associated with multi host deployments in a physical SAP Dynamic Tiering landscape.

SAP HANA Dynamic Tiering with VMware HA and Workload Management

For customers who choose to use the Dynamic Tiering option, SAP HANA System Replication is not available in SP09. However as with SAP HANA single node scale up deployments, the Extended Storage Host can be protected against hardware and or OS outages with VMware High Availability (HA). Enabling VMware HA allows the ES Host to be restarted on any vSphere hosts within the vSphere cluster without the need for a dedicated standby server. Also vMotion can be used to perform workload management or zero downtime maintenance by live migrating the ES Host to another server. Since the ES Host can run on both certified and standard x86 hardware, Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) can be set to atomically migrate virtual machines to other vSphere hosts within the cluster in order to maximize performance and availability.

SAP has devised a brilliant multi-temperature strategy to manage the data lifecycle of their customer’s SAP HANA landscapes. When deploying SAP HANA with Dynamic Tiering our joint customers can extend and virtualize their SAP HANA databases beyond the 1TB vSphere 5.5 monster VM limitation. I will be discussing these topics in-depth, as well as techniques to simplify and accelerate SAP HANA deployments in the VMware Software Defined Data Center at VMware Partner Exchange 2015 in my session entitled; “Leveraging SAP HANA Dynamic Tiering Strategy and Concepts in The VMware Software Defined Data Center”

Storage and Availability at Partner Exchange 2015

VMware’s 2015 Partner Exchange is now just about one week away, and it’s shaping up to be a great one!

In storage and availability we’ll have a lot to talk about across the board: Some sessions will offer deeper examinations of our current products, others will give you a great exploration of some of the newer things VMware has to showcase.

I’ve made a list of some of the sessions put on by those of us in the storage and availability product team; it’s a good cross section from product marketing, product managers, and technical marketing people such as myself.  Outside of the engineers who actually write the code, these are the people closest to the products you use, so sign up and hear something new.  There are also sessions from our highly experienced field sales and technical teams — the experts at understanding how these products address customer requirements and explaining their value to our customers.

I’m personally doing a technical session with my colleague Rawlinson on Virtual SAN (STO4275) and looking forward to it quite a bit.

Lastly, don’t be shy to come say hello after the sessions.  We love to hear your thoughts, if we’ve got time between activities…

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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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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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Now Available – VMware vSphere Mobile Watchlist

VMware vSphere Mobile Watchlist allows you to monitor the virtual machines you care about in your vSphere infrastructure remotely on your phone. Discover diagnostic information about any alerts on your VMs using VMware Knowledge Base Articles and the web. Remediate problems from your phone by using power operations or delegate the problem to someone on your team back at the datacenter.
IMPORTANT NOTE: A VMware vSphere installation (5.0 and above) is required to use VMware vSphere Mobile Watchlist. Access to your vSphere infrastructure may need a secure access method like VPN. Contact your IT department for further assistance.


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