Virtual SAP HANA Now Available on VMware vSphere 5.5

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger: "The first and only hypervisor for production use of HANA is now VMware vSphere 5.5."

LAS VEGAS -- Up until May 6, SAP's prized HANA in-memory database had been available for production-use only on physical servers. Not anymore, however; VMware and EMC co-announced May 6 that Virtual HANA is now available to run on vSphere 5.5 for high-end business applications.

SAP HANA, launched in late 2010, is now a $1 billion business with more than 3,200 customers for the Germany-based software maker.

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, in making the announcement from the main stage at EMC World 2014, said that the "first and only hypervisor for production use of HANA is now VMware.

"SAP makes critical infrastructure. Fifty-four percent of worldwide governments run on SAP. Sixty percent of the world's transactional revenue runs through SAP," Gelsinger said. "But to date, production has been limited to physical environments only. Today, all of that changes.

"This is a huge step forward for both companies when it comes to mission-critical virtual environments."

Thus, EMC moved closer to its goal for providing a software-defined data center architecture.

Michael Harding, lead SAP Technical Architect for EMC's internal IT, wrote in a May 6 blog that "EMC's IT organization has undergone the strategic process of replacing our legacy ERP environment with a new one from SAP. In the process, we have significantly transformed and optimized several dimensions of EMC's business.

"SAP's HANA in-memory data management and application platform helps us mitigate performance risks associated with the heavy, end-of-quarter priority reporting to address real-time business critical quote-to-order, manufacturing and shipping processes."

Virtual HANA on vSphere 5.5 can be managed along with the rest of an SAP landscape using the same tools already in use. One of the key benefits of virtualizing HANA with VMware is the ability to have several smaller HANA instances all sharing a single physical server. This means that an entire HANA appliance does not have to be dedicated to a single instance but instead can run multiple virtual HANA instances at the same time, thus allowing for more flexibility. This can lead to much better utilization of existing resources and improved overall efficiency.

Using VMware's virtualized HANA offering, enterprises also can:

--Reduce HANA deployment times significantly. The provisioning of a new SAP HANA node becomes simple VMware task that uses copy/clone technology tightly integrated with EMC storage arrays.

--Enable live migration of virtual HANA instances using vMotion. Recent benchmarks validated that a 512GB virtual SAP HANA instance under a heavy load can be cloned and copied with vMotion among data centers in fewer than 10 minutes.

--Avoid additional costs for hardware appliances by using their existing HANA certified server and storage, via HANA’s Tailored Datacenter Integration methodology. EMC's own IT now uses VMware's high-availability feature to bolster availability of Virtualized HANA applications, instead of having to use a fully provisioned standby node in the appliance-based physical HA model. EMC uses VMware’s HA because the Virtualized HANA instance is automatically restarted during a server failure.

In November 2012, SAP and VMware combined to get HANA and vSphere together for the 5.1 release, but it wasn't ready for heavy production use. Now it's fully sanctioned by both IT providers.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...