Lenovo provides a solid foundation for SAP’s cloud platform

Soeren Genzler

Monday 29 May 2017

A partner like SAP needs to consider how it maximises its hardware to make its cloud offering consistent, which is why the company chooses to build its business on Lenovo hardware.

SAP is a company that offers cloud-based solutions, driven by its proprietary SAP HANA in-memory technology. It offers public, private and hybrid environments to more than 100 million customers, and runs 41 benchmark-setting data centres around the globe. So when it comes to choosing the servers to power these solutions, SAP needs market-leading performance and reliability. And it chooses Lenovo.

SAP uses Lenovo System x3850 X6 and x3950 X6 rack servers. These machines are the sixth generation of something that started with the System x440 more than 10 years ago at IBM and evolved with the processor architectures of the day. Now the X6 servers are capable of accommodating three generations of Intel® Xeon® processors; we started with the Ivy Bridge, then moved to Haswell and now it’s Broadwell. We’ve always used the highest performance processors possible.

Consistency the keystone

partner like SAP needs to consider how it maximises its hardware to ensure its cloud offering is consistent. If Customer A is not consuming so much bandwidth, then Customer B is, so you have to make sure that by distributing the workload on the cloud infrastructure, you can leverage most of the machine’s capabilities in terms of performance. This is why it is so interesting to have high-performance systems underpinning a cloud ecosystem. If you have good capability you can run your cloud infrastructure at a very reasonable price for the performance.

There are benchmarks in the SAP ecosystem, and Lenovo usually leads the pack by a good margin. That’s why we are very proud of the performance of the system.

SAP can make use of that performance much better than if it were to buy the actual hardware for each and every workload – this creates a totally different workload in the cloud ecosystem. Essentially, the better the system, the more you can get out of it.

Lenovo’s approach to partnerships places the benefits offered to customers front and centre. To provide state-of-the-art solutions, the Lenovo team works closely with Intel, for instance, and we supply SAP with development machines tailored to their needs with the latest processor technology so they can develop the new versions of HANA to incorporate any updates or changes to the architecture.

There is always the chance that if you make a new processor and don’t optimise the software then its performance may not be as high as you expected. So if Intel ever changes horses, it’s our job to make sure everyone can ride. That’s because of our longstanding partnership – we’ve proved ourselves to be reliable.

Thomas Saueressig (SAPs chief information officer) and Martin Heisig (SAPs senior vice president of cloud infrastructure services) comment on how the company relies on Lenovo to help deliver the next generation of cloud applications.

How Lenovo servers are put to work

There are two ways of using Lenovo systems in an SAP deployment. One is for individual physical use and the other is from within an enterprise cloud. For customers who are not interested in acquiring new hardware infrastructure, SAP can host their SAP HANA applications on the SAP Cloud Platform, consisting, to a wide extent, of Lenovo servers.

Naturally, it’s always good to have a machine that keeps running and running. Over time, there were improvements in the software, which made it less important for servers to be as reliable as ours are, with capabilities that provide high availability and disaster recovery within the software stack. This sometimes creates difficulties – the move from Machine A to Machine B may not be hassle free, depending on the quality of that software. Additionally, the user will recognise a short downtime in most cases. And when it comes to larger databases, there is usually a significant recovery time needed to load everything into the memory of the standby system. Therefore an unnecessary move of the workload is usually not desirable, no matter what capabilities are added to the software.

With Lenovo there is a safety margin, where the machine itself is reliable so you don’t have to rely on the software. If you really want to have a reliable solution then there’s no way you can skimp on predictive failure analysis, reliable discs and so on.

Lenovo servers received the top overall customer satisfaction score for 2016, according to the TBR 1H16 Corporate Customer Satisfaction Study: x86-based Servers. This was followed by the latest study, released in December 2016, and which also revealed that Lenovo leads the competition in customer satisfaction scores for 21 of the 22 attributes. That’s something we are very proud of.

What we offer always depends on the use case. For those high-value, high-redundancy requirements of SAP in production, as well as the HANA enterprise cloud, the Lenovo x3850 and x3950 X6 systems are best for reliability. They’re simply the most powerful servers we have for that workload.

We have constant meetings with the development team over at SAP. In fact, we have a special development team in Walldorf in the vicinity of SAP. They have cadence meetings at least once a month to talk about where SAP is heading, where Lenovo is heading and to agree on mutual steps. We are doing more and more together. If we have a good solution and SAP has a good solution then we join forces to really improve our footprint in customer data centres. And that means we can define even better solutions together.

 

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