Changes in technology usually don’t justify system changes or migrations. That is especially true for SAP systems, since the business processes SAP runs are critical to an organization. Changing your running SAP system only for the purpose of introducing new infrastructure technology typically does not happen. I can attest to that from my time at The Walt Disney Company, when I managed SAP system infrastructure. We only changed any technology of the infrastructure stack in combination with business process changes or enhancements the business benefited from. To my surprise though, the last year has taught me something new. I am stunned how many SAP customers have embraced all flash storage systems and changed their running systems only to introduce this technology. This is an unusual behavior in the SAP community, but why is that?
According to the customers I have to pleasure to interact with, all-flash systems offer a few very compelling advantages the business cannot deny.
Extremely simple installation and operation. XtremIO as an example, is so easy to install and configure, you really don’t need complicated data center deployment requirements and storage specialists anymore. Since any all-flash system knows typically only one tier, the provisioning and ongoing manage,net of storage space becomes a no-brainer. I remember hundreds of lines in countless spreadsheets designing and documenting filesystem, their purpose, and requirements with the right storage level configuration and tier. Incredibly tedious work, which takes a lot of time and is hard to ensure accuracy when SAP untrained system administrators have to maintain that part of the system. This matters to the business because it reduces risk associated with system changes dramatically.
Huge cost savings. All-flash storage systems offer very powerful capabilities that can radically reduce the amount of storage needed for your overall SAP system landscape. The use of snapshots for the purpose of running non-production systems is incredibleI know snapshots have been around for a long time, but you always had to balance the number of snaps and their level of activity with remaining performance headroom of the originating ( production) system. Not so with snapshots on all-flash systems. You can literally create a snapshot from your PRD systems for your system refresh of the QAS system and use the snapshot as if it were its own storage space without any impact to your PRD system. When people realize how incredible this capability is, jaws drop. In my days of operating SAP systems with up to 750TB of storage for all system needs, this could have saved easily 50% of storage. Incredible!!! Additionally, you can use snapshots of course in many different ways. For operational data protection and systems refreshes as data movement tool alone, reducing your backup space dramatically as well if you are using online backups to host file systems. Significant Cost savings are always welcomed by the business.
We have posted a quick summary video here XtremIO snapshots for SAP video A very welcomed side affect is, your system refresh speeds up significantly, which brings me to performance next.
Improved performance of your Non-Hana systems. Usually, the first benefit people think of related to flash technology is speed. How this matters to SAP systems is regarding any data that needs to be retrieved from storage of course. Most of the data required to deliver optimal dialog response time is already buffered on app servers, in database buffers, file system buffers, and on storage cache. Larger amounts of data required for batch processing of financial reports, month end close, or running payroll benefit immensely from flash systems because of the incredible speed they deliver. Your basis teams and your business owners can also enjoy much shorter outages for system refreshes. BDLS for example will finish significantly faster than on traditional storage systems without any changes to your Database configuration or SAP buffers. Some of our customers reported improvements of up to 60% faster job completions in SM37. This means, if your BDLS takes currently 72 hours, you can finish in just under 22 hours on flash. Your business owners and regression testers will love you for giving them their QAS system back sooner! Another side effect here is that your QAS system can perform at the same speed as your production system. If today your QAS system is running on cheaper and less performant storage configurations you are unable to make precise predictions regarding outage planning. Also, your SAP Hana system will start and fail over faster utilizing flash for your Hana persistent layer. This is especially true for larger ( > 1TB) Hana systems.
New data center standard. Many IT organizations are modernizing their data centers with faster, denser all-flash storage systems and see already incredible improvements for other workloads like VDI and exchange. If you are able to use the same platform for all your data needs in the data center, the overall effectiveness, TCO, risk management all become better. The ability to mix any workload on the same storage platform simplifies operations significantly including of your SAP systems. And you need less specialized knowledge and I described earlier here.