Supporting pillars for Cloud use [shutterstock: 303809474, Brandon Bourdages]

Supporting pillars for Cloud use [shutterstock: 303809474, Brandon Bourdages]

Supporting pillars for Cloud use

Suse Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications is the leading and the established Linux-operating­system platform used in mission-critical SAP operations. Both for classic system environments and also for Hana. Suse SLES with its function packages and Suse Cloud, the OpenStack-based solution for administration and orchestration, act as perfect supporting pillars for deriving real benefits from SAP Cloud use.

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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 (Page 66). 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.

Conclusion

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. Consistent with this, this support is pro­vided to optimise the monitoring and the flexibility in the mission-critical deploy­ment of IT, according to requirements.

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