The public cloud increasingly has become the target for workloads which traditionally were considered to be confined to on-premises environments. This trend is particularly evident in the context of deployments of SAP products. In this article, you are provided with an overview of factors that should be taken into account if you are considering hosting SAP HANA in a public cloud.
When it comes to SAP HANA deployments, it is fairly easy to recognize the benefits of public cloud because of their extensive resource requirements (in particular, the amount of memory per instance) and the corresponding cost. When operating on-premises, this cost is further compounded if it becomes necessary to implement high availability and disaster recovery capabilities. The need to provision development, test, and quality assurance environments further exacerbates the budgeting challenges and frequently results in underutilized hardware, affecting return on investment.
Public cloud helps with addressing these issues. All of the major public cloud vendors offer hyper-scale capabilities, including built-in resiliency, high-availability and disaster recovery features at competitive prices. In addition, accurate sizing that accounts for long-term trends, critical in on-premises scenarios, is much less relevant in the cloud since both vertical and horizontal scaling are readily available and straightforward to implement. Automation is commonly built directly into the cloud platform, minimizing labor costs and simplifying management tasks. Charges for non-production environments can be substantially lowered by deallocating resources which are not actively used. The pricing model changes from cap-ex to op-ex, with significant reduction of investment in infrastructure and facilities.
However, it is also important to note that the flexibility offered by the cloud is a subject to a number of constraints. For one, each of the public cloud platforms imposes its own limits and quotas, necessary to deliver multi-tenancy. Similarly, while vertical scaling is part of the standard features supported by virtual machine instances (available as Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering), there is obviously an upper limit to which their sizes can be increased (some cloud providers support deployment of physical hosts for more resource demanding workloads). More importantly, SAP itself imposes a number of constraints, which limit the number of configurations that qualify as supported by the vendor. Detailed descriptions of these constraints are provided in the form of SAP notes, with the overarching note 1380654 summarizing principles of SAP support in the Infrastructure as a Service environments. As per that note, there are several factors that determine whether a particular deployment is considered supported by SAP:
- Compliance with SAP licensing requirements (all SAP software must be licensed).
- Inclusion in the Platform Availability Matrix (available at https://apps.support.sap.com/sap/support/pam), which documents support for SAP products based on the operating system platforms (note that access to this information, as well as to any SAP notes requires SAP S-user ID).
- Completion of SAP system sizing process that determines the suitable virtual machine instance size for a given workload.
- Familiarity with the networking characteristics (bandwidth, latency, and package loss) of the cloud provider infrastructure.
- Compliance with provisions stated directly in the SAP note 1380654 as well as any of the SAP notes referenced by it (majority of these notes are cloud provider-specific).
In particular, the SAP note 1380654 stipulates that the entire infrastructure on which an individual SAP deployment is based must be hosted by the same cloud provider (for example, it is unsupported to rely on two distinct providers to host different tiers of the same deployment). In addition, you will find there a listing of SAP notes that document the following aspects of cloud-based deployments:
- virtual machine instance types supported with SAP HANA
- supported SAP applications
- additional support requirements
As of September 2019, this information is available for the following IaaS cloud providers:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Microsoft Azure
- IBM Cloud infrastructure
- Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
- Alibaba Cloud
- Huawei Cloud
- Open Telecom Cloud (OTC)
This concludes our introduction to planning deployment for SAP HANA in public cloud. In future articles, we will explore specifics of such deployment in Azure, AWS and GCP.