It works as if it is very simple, and it could be argued that it is: this is how the provision of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) resources for SAP use should function today. Yet an observer may only have a vague notion of what remarkable feats of high-performance software engineering have gone into delivering this functionality: with just a few mouse-clicks, a new VM (virtual machine) is set-up, and if the user requires it so is a second one.
For instance, this may apply if there is a need to make extra server resources available from an IaaS Cloud environment, for special consolidation-related activity sequences that, under certain circumstances, may be performed only once per quarter. Or if a functional-specialist department requests an extra SAP test system from the company IT department. Or if a service provider for one or several SAP customers, within the framework of the agreed services, provides new or additional infrastructure resources as a service: the list can go on and on.
How many VMs are running, and which individual VMs they are, can of course also be included. In addition, one VM or several can in effect be put out of operation in next to no time and deleted, or transferred over to somewhere else.
And everything is documented and available for inspection, either in an overview or in very fine detail; all the information about VMs’ status, all information about the facts associated with this, and the activities performed. This, and a number of other elements of functionality, is offered by Suse Cloud, the comprehensive OpenStack-based platform for administration and orchestration, named Suse OpenStack Cloud for SAP.
The SAP Cloud with the Hana Enterprise Cloud (HEC), in addition to Hybrid Cloud-SAP operating models (with Private Cloud and Public Cloud environments), and using Suse solutions, are constantly being further advanced – both by SAP and also by Suse.
This is on the basis of what has been jointly accomplished over more than a decade: at Linux, at Hana and also in Cloud Computing using Suse SLES specifically, with its numerous function packages and Suse OpenStack Cloud for SAP.
SLES: Linux platform used in mission-critical SAP
Today Suse carries significant weight in the SAP market as a provider of infrastructure benefits. With Suse Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for SAP Applications, Suse has succeeded in advancing to the position of leading provider in what continues to be a growing use of SAP-Linux, including migration from Unix to Linux. Around 70 per cent of all SAP-Linux installations worldwide are based on SLES for SAP.
In Germany, the proportion is probably even higher – above all, in the SAP Linux Lab. When this lab was founded 15 years ago, Suse was a founding member.
Closely-interlocked developments, the shared desire to change, and also a certain necessary commitment of resources made available: these factors have crucially contributed to SLES for SAP proving able to mature into today’s standard for SAP installations. At the same time, Suse is cultivating a distinctive portfolio of partners; this involves numerous SAP-related partners, e.g. Realtech, Trend Micro or also Amazon Web Services, as well as VMware or HDS.
Development platform for SAP and Hana
Due to the fact that SLES for SAP Applications was selected as the development platform for SAP Hana, SAP and Suse have opened up a further chapter of collaboration. By now, far more than 3,000 companies of various sizes, and from practically all business sectors globally, are using Hana in-memory appliances from a variety of hardware suppliers – and thus also using Suse Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications. Indeed, the Walldorf software group itself does so, as a Hana application user.
Use of Hana spans the following range of advantages: from accelerated transaction-based applications, and use of what – in part – are wholly new applications with combined OLTP and OLAP functionality; improved opportunities for analysis (including for Big Data); new optimised planning procedures or forecast procedures; right through to hitherto-unknown trend forecasts – all this is alongside the great potential to use Hana for an opportunity to implement important IT-consolidation or innovation-related initiatives.
Examples include Geberit, a European market leader, which has converted its ERP system to Hana, and for which HCM serves as the first ERP/ECC component; in a series of further steps, the entire use of SAP is being migrated over to Hana. In this, the expertise built up in connection with the use of Suse SLES for SAP Applications is of great value (see also the feature “Geberit – forward-looking”). Combining software from SAP, Intel-based hardware and Suse SLES for SAP Applications offers major benefits when operating Hana.
As an opensource operating-system platform deployed thousands of times throughout the SAP market, in the context of Hana (as well as in other contexts) Suse SLES stands for cost efficiency, a high level of availability, and also as a guarantor of optimum system performance. Using Hana, SAP customers benefit from Suse’s fast pace in generating innovations that have real substance.
Suse’s kGraft Technology
Originally, kGraft was a research project at Suse Labs. Yet it soon transpired that, for instance, it enables the business-critical deployment of SAP to be optimised to a significant degree. As a result, a live patching of the Linux kernel can be performed.
In ongoing operation, it makes critical patches possible for system security or other operationally-relevant issues. This is done without a new start of the system or a need to take into account a planned down-time period.
Hana Security Hardening for Hana
Security Hardening for Hana includes instruction on actions to take, as a kind of guide, and also includes specific software functionality.
On the one hand, this enables the operating-system platform involved in using Hana to be tuned, so as to establish certain security levels according to priorities, or to put in place different safety-relevant settings. On the other hand, a Suse Firewall for Hana can also be used, counteracting the local network attacks or counteracting the Hybrid Cloud Computing opening of certain ports from an external resource, thus more effectively protecting a Hana databank against threats.
Security hardening for Hana can also use mechanisms indicating which operating-system packages necessarily ought to be available, and which can be done without if so decided. The optimisation in this is: de facto, fewer packages give threats a smaller target area to attack.
Hana System Management: Suse Manager
The package offers distinctive Hana System Management functionality, such as updates of Hana servers with regard to scale-out (multi-box) scenarios. Suse Manager includes methods, procedures and software functionality for administering and controlling Linux systems efficiently. Three key points of focus are integration, system monitoring, and also the provision of information.
HA for SAP Hana
In future, Suse Linux includes features that sustainably and effectively address the topic of Hana HA. They build on tried and tested elements, and represent a logical extension of what already exists in the area of Linux HA Clustering.
The core of this is to effectively secure and protect applications and Hana databases (and also database instances) against a possible disruption of operation. What serves as the basis for this “Fail-Safe Operation of SAP Hana” is Suse’s Linux Enterprise Server 11 HA Extension for SAP Applications; this fulfils SAP’s clustering reference architecture (SAP Netweaver High Availability Cluster 730 Certification).
SAP Hana’s fail-safe operation, made available by Suse, also provides sophisticated Hana HA System replication mechanisms – replicating or cloning guarantee a high level of security against system failure. As part of this, Hana scale-up scenarios (in the form of single-box replication) are supported, as are Hana scale-out scenarios (multi-box replication).
Linux – ideal for Cloud Computing?
In the Cloud Computing context – independently of whether a Private Cloud, Public Cloud or Hybrid Cloud is used – it is hugely important to be able to use the decoupling of the SAP application logic from the operating system (more broadly), or from the OS as standard functionality.
With Linux, this decoupling is built-in from the outset. Staying in step and keeping up the pace, in accordance with changed requirements for Cloud use, was and is a relatively easy challenge when using Linux. This also relates to the implementation – notably with regard to the following issues: initially putting that functionality in place, maintaining the flexibility, or minimising the amount of patching involved.
In this context, SAP LVM is a key element of SAP Cloud Computing. This solution is the hub, so to speak, around which the SAP Cloud use is called into being; it flexibly provides SAP services (with the virtualisation of applications) or shifts them elsewhere, according to business requirements.
Suse Cloud on OpenStack
So as to be able to set up a Private SAP Cloud, and to make it operational and to control it efficiently, special procedures, methods and software functionality are required. This is where Suse Cloud, the OpenStack-based Cloud platform, comes into play. This provides the opportunity for automated implementation, administration and control of high-availability, mission-critical IaaS Private Clouds.
As a point of principle, Suse Cloud offers the opportunity to use Hana or NetWeaver. OpenStack is an open-source project in which a total of more than 260 companies have got involved. By now, OpenStack counts as the standard platform for Cloud Computing.
The Suse OpenStack Cloud 3 enables companies to bring together their existing and new technologies in the OpenStack Cloud. This solution is based on the OpenStack release “Havana” and supports companies in implementing their mission-critical Cloud requirement.
For instance, this is done so that SAP applications can be run within the framework of operating an IaaS Private Cloud, or to support SAP application-users with scalable IaaS Cloud Services. This is done, for example, by FIS-ASP, a service provider for SAP applications.
In addition, Suse OpenStack Cloud is an element that supports the SAP Hana Enterprise Cloud – together with SLES for SAP and the Suse Manager. Here, all three Suse packages are combined or they collaborate, taking over important tasks in the context of a use of HEC. This can be in the application, the managing or the monitoring of Hana or Hana services, taking into account important HA features and SLA’s.
Suse makes available several important components – well-proven supporting columns, so to speak – for SAP Cloud Computing. This provides support to customers in converting selected SAP operating models into reality, based on reliable interoperable Linux-based and Cloud-based infrastructure solutions and platforms.
Consistent with this, this support is provided to optimise the monitoring and the flexibility in the mission-critical deployment of IT, according to requirements.