The bigger the promise, the bigger the potential for disappointment. SAP HANA offers extraordinary performance promises: real-time analytics, revolutionary data modeling and dramatically increased speed. To gain these benefits, customers pay for purpose-built infrastructure and highly trained support. Running SAP HANA in the cloud combined with HANA’s outstanding data compression have made the system affordable, but for customers who handle SAP HANA performance tuning, administration and hosting internally the cost is still substantial.
So when HANA doesn’t work as promised, the backlash can be intense. Executives rip their hair out over inconsistent performance, stability issues, project setbacks and even unplanned outages. It sours companies on future upgrades and occasionally, it can drive customers off HANA entirely.
SAP HANA Really is Powerful — If Configured Properly
HANA can do everything it promises — and for many organizations it does. SAP HANA is revolutionizing a huge range of use cases, from linking sensor, clinical and genomic data for better medical treatment to providing advanced NHL statistics that help hockey fans deepen their understanding of the games and sports reporters tell better stories. New projects and collaborations announced at SAP SAPPHIRE NOW 2016 promise even greater advancements in mobile apps, Office 365 integration, virtualization, and support for big data and the Internet of Things (IoT).
So why do some systems fail so badly, while others work so well? Often, the problem is inadequate SAP HANA performance tuning. Getting consistent performance out of your HANA landscape requires careful configuration, adjustment and maintenance from day one, and most enterprises aren’t up for the job.
SAP HANA Performance Tuning From Planning to Post Go-Live
In a sense, SAP HANA performance tuning starts in the planning phase. SAP HANA is sensitive to hardware configuration, and must be carefully provisioned, with sufficient compute to cope with demand surges and growth over the course of the implementation. The use case affects OLAP and OLTP workloads, which means it affects the appropriate balance of CPU and RAM. If companies don’t account for every use case, it can lead to immediate SAP HANA performance issues at go-live.
Future needs like rapid scaling also need to be considered. If your company needs to be able to scale up to 12TB, you can’t just opt for virtualization technology with a 4TB limit, and deal with it later. The agility needs to be baked into how your system is designed.
You also should consider data aging and implement a solution like HANA dynamic tiering. This can control costs and slow the growth of your landscape, which will simplify future SAP HANA performance tuning. If you have 15 years of sales data, keeping everything in memory will make your system much more expensive and require more frequent scaling without any significant performance advantages. Creating a system to automatically migrate old data onto a hard drive (and move very old data into an archive) will prevent headaches down the line.
No matter how carefully designed it is, your project won’t succeed without sufficient SAP HANA performance testing. Your SAP implementation should undergo functional and operational testing after sandbox, development, and quality assurance migration. Individual steps, such as data transformation and data conversion must also be carefully tested.
Another critical factor that can undermine success is the adoption of legacy business processes to a modern SAP environment. Business processes tend to evolve over time, with ad hoc additions and exceptions. They need to be carefully modelled and mapped in the blueprint phase to ensure functionality and iron out legacy inefficiencies.
Businesses need to go through an extensive SAP HANA performance tuning process, from individual transactions to entire chains of processes. There will be gaps or issues with configurations that need to be fixed. The only question is whether you catch them before launch.
Daily SAP HANA Performance Tuning is Crucial to System Health
Your SAP Basis support team needs to keep HANA patched, secured and tuned. Background tasks called batch jobs must be carefully scheduled so that they don’t slow system performance during times of high demand, and monitored for unsuccessful termination. If a batch job terminates unsuccessfully, it means an essential task is not being completed, which can decrease productivity or cause knock-on effects in other parts of the system. SAP batch job management can simplify the process and save time, but consistent SAP HANA performance tuning is still essential to success.
Reviewing system logs for obvious failures isn’t enough, however. An SAP landscape can slow to a crawl while still appearing available. Admins need to look at metrics like End User Response Time (EURT) for performance degradation, then drill down to find and fix the root cause.
SAP HANA Performance Tuning Depends on Quick, Skillful Incident Response
Often, the trickiest part of SAP HANA performance tuning is diagnosing what is slowing down the system. There are often many possible causes, and companies don’t have the resources to do it quickly internally. In-house developers doing double-duty as SAP HANA admins end up applying band-aid fixes which don’t address the root cause, because they don’t have the time or knowledge to go deeper. This may fix things temporarily, but in the long run it leads to more service calls, poorer response time and serious performance degradations or outages.
The problem is, an SAP HANA performance issue slowing down part of your SAP landscape can be the result of a problem with networking hardware, the application layer, or anything in between. If the system is overtaxed, admins could assume that it’s a load-balancing issue — i.e. they haven’t been compensating for demand spikes from a seasonal sales boom, end of year financial reporting, expanding demands from adding a new application, or some other factor.
They might be able to apply a quick SAP HANA performance tuning fix by shifting resources around or tweaking batch job scheduling, only to find the problem recurs. By the time they realize that the system has started to outgrow resources, it may be too late to upgrade the cloud and IT infrastructure before major performance degradation strikes.
Commodity cloud hosting makes quick SAP HANA performance tuning even more difficult, because the providers give admins very little insight into system health. When the system slows to a crawl, there’s often no way to know whether the problem is bandwidth, a failing node or a demand stage. Add in the slow, escalation-based responses of most public cloud MSPs, and you have a recipe for disaster.
SAP HANA Performance Tuning Requires Proactive IT
Sometimes, the biggest obstacle to effective SAP HANA performance tuning isn’t inadequate support or visibility — it’s the disconnect between technical and business teams. If an SAP Basis admin notices a developing issue such as demand outpacing resources, there’s no direct avenue for them to apply for an SAP upgrade. By the time the message gets through to the C-suite, budgets have been set. System performance and reliability suffer, and Basis support staff spend the next six months putting out fires.
A proactive IT team needs to be able to address system needs before they become SAP HANA performance issues. The business and technology teams need to collaborate, creating a technology plan that stays ahead of the needs of both.
SAP HANA Performance Tuning Works Best In a Managed Cloud
Most organizations aren’t setup to handle the needs of SAP in-house. Their overstretched IT teams don’t have the time or knowledge good SAP HANA performance tuning requires. Their hosting providers make everyone’s job harder with inconsistent performance and inadequate visibility. And their organizational culture keeps the SAP Basis team sequestered in a corner instead of using their insight.
Symmetry’s SAP HANA cloud provides a better solution. Your SAP landscape is hosted in a purpose-built cloud in our own secure data center, with deep insight and consistent monitoring at every layer. That cloud is run by a dedicated SAP Basis administration team, who know your system inside and out, and is available around the clock. And the team works with every layer of your organization, ensuring your SAP HANA cloud meets everyone’s needs.
Contact us to learn how Symmetry’s SAP HANA managed services can make your landscape live up to the hype.