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Initially, SAP HANA was only supported on x86-based servers. This meant organizations had to invest in that hardware, even if they ran other SAP applications on IBM Power Systems. Migrating to SAP HANA from a Power Systems server and Oracle meant a forklift upgrade. Budgets also came into play—many IT shops balked at the large capital outlay required for x86 appliances.

Today, SAP HANA licenses can be acquired in two ways: as an appliance or as part of the TDI program. With an appliance, the organization buys the SAP HANA software license for a dedicated server preconfigured for the task. The server can only be used to run SAP HANA, frequently as a single instance. Additional workloads must be hosted on a separate server, which in turn means shelling out more money for additional servers.

In 2015, SAP certified a pair of IBM Power Systems products to run SAP HANA within the TDI model. SAP recognized the IBM Power Systems servers as resilient, robust and secure enough to support multiple partitions of SAP HANA. Even better, they certified the platform to support those instances alongside AIX, IBM i and Linux partitions running other workloads.

Sandbox to Production

With IBM Power Systems technology, moving to SAP HANA doesn’t always require a large capital expense for new hardware. The system administrator simply defines a new LPAR on an existing server and deploys the SAP product. The IT shop can use the partition as a sandbox running independently of their current database and side-by-side with their existing Power Systems workloads. This allows staff to explore the capabilities and move their custom code without disturbing their stable workloads.

“As you go through user validation testing and everything else that SAP requires, you can get to a point where the LPAR that started as a sandbox leads you all the way to a full production environment for SAP HANA,” Moranta says.

“You’re doing that all in the same box so you’re saving the cost of having to buy a new server and having to integrate that into your data center,” says Jennifer Lin, senior offering manager, AIX. That’s a stark contrast to the forklift upgrade required with x86-based servers.

It’s important to note the applications in the additional partitions can access the data stored in the SAP HANA LPAR, with all of the performance benefits that delivers. This holds for virtual machines running AIX, IBM i or Linux.

“It wasn’t that hard once SAP certified that SAP HANA is supported on the Power Systems platform,” says Moranta. “Obviously, the apps are executed differently with a different instruction set, but once a server is communicating with another server—an LPAR that is running AIX to an LPAR that is running Linux—it’s transparent to the user. SAP is really good about that kind of validation.”

Kristin Lewotsky is a freelance technology writer based in Amherst, N.H.



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