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In his SAP SAPPHIRE NOW keynote speech, Hasso Plattner announced that 86% of SAP ERP customers are adequately served by a 1TB SAP S/4HANA system. That means that the standard 1TB SAP HANA limit on VMware is already insufficient for 14% of customers. And as SAP BusinessObject and the Apple partnership drive the growth of big data analytics, companies will have a powerful incentive to gather even more data.

In light of this, the joint announcement that VMware vSphere 6.0 will support 4TB has major implications for SAP hosting. With support for both HANA appliances and TDI, this puts a powerful virtualization tool within the reach of almost everyone. However, VMware is only one of many strategic options companies need to consider.

The VMware vSphere SAPPHIRE NOW Announcement

SAP and VMware announced VMware vSphere, with production support for SAP HANA SPS 11 (and higher). In addition to increasing the size of a virtual HANA instance, vSphere now supports up to 128 vCPUs — twice the previous limit. The system will support native capabilities, including high availability, live migration and Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) — a system that balances workloads in the virtualized environment.

Benefits of VMware vSphere Virtualization

Since physical servers can only run a single SAP HANA instance, organizations often have to spin up more resources than they’re actually using, leading to greater CapEx in hardware provisioning, and higher OpEx and energy costs over the long haul. SAP implementations, upgrades and migrations can cause significant disruptions, since the software is tied to the physical hardware. During hardware maintenance, the system needs to be migrated to a new server, increasing cost and complexity and requiring downtime.

Virtualization solutions like VMware vSphere tie the SAP landscape to a unit of compute, not a single physical location. This lets SAP hosting providers use servers more efficiently, decreasing costs for users. It also simplifies upgrades and allows live migrations without downtime; if the hosting provider needs to service equipment or replace a server, they can just move the SAP landscape to a different server, with little to no effect on the end user.

Limitations of the SAP SAPPHIRE NOW VMware Upgrade

VMware supports 4TB, but has not rolled out all features for that size. Multi-node deployments and multiple VMs per server aren’t currently available, so organizations won’t be able to run SAP across multiple servers, or run multiple large landscapes on a single server. This reduces some of the cost benefits of VMware, and makes it impractical for certain scenarios.

There are other scenarios where VMware is technically practicable, but impractical. For example, PCI compliant data needs to be logically and physically segregated in its own server. Single-tenant hosting options including TDI and SAP appliances will continue to play a major role, as will alternate virtualization options.

Nonetheless, VMware’s SAP SAPPHIRE NOW announcement will provide a compelling virtualization option for large landscapes, accelerate adoption of the SAP HANA cloud, and reassure companies considering a VMware deployment, but unsure about its ability to support them in the long run.

The Importance of Managed IT Services Partners

Partnerships dominated SAP SAPPHIRE NOW 2016. SAP users have more choices in everything from hosting and virtualization software integration and apps, Organizations need IT managed services partners with the expertise to sort through all the options.

Symmetry is one of the only HANA providers with SAP Certification in hosting, cloud services and operations. This allows our IT consulting services professionals to help you review the full range of on-premise and cloud hosting solutions, and make the right IT decisions for your company.

Read our Karma Automotive case study to learn how our SAP HANA services support ongoing innovation.

Matt Lonstine, Director of SAP Technology

Matt Lonstine, Director of SAP Technology

A Leader and SAP technical veteran, Matt Lonstine oversees the SAP Technologists that make up Symmetry’s Delivery team, while providing strategic guidance to customers. Matt has managed and executed some of Symmetry’s most complex projects with a current focus on HANA, virtualization, disaster recovery, system hardening, and migrations to Symmetry’s SAP Cloud environment.