SAP is a large enterprise management software company. Not only do its main products have broad markets and profound user base in European countries, but also in North America and Asia-Pacific regions. Take China as an example. More than 60 percent of the manufacturing industries in South China Guangdong Pearl River Delta region have adopted SAP enterprise management software, most of which are relatively large-scale, high-quality enterprises.
Furthermore, as the cooperation between IBM and SAP strengthens, the IBM system-based SAP software has become the standard for advanced manufacturing informationlization. For example, China’s top-ranked home-appliance enterprises basically built their system architectures on IBM Power Systems servers with AIX operating system to support SAP database and applications, and a considerable part of these enterprises also uses IBM DB2 database, rather than Oracle database.
As a new integrated platform, can IBM Flex System be applied to support SAP software environment and become a good choice for both old and new SAP clients? The answer is yes.
We can start with analyzing the characteristics of the SAP software:
- According to the scale of the enterprises it covers, SAP enterprise management software can be divided into three types: large and medium-sized enterprises software, such as SAP Business Suite and SAP ERP (ECC); medium-sized enterprises software, such as SAP Business All-in-One (A1); and small-sized enterprises software, such as SAP Business One (B1)
- Regardless of the software types, the production environment for each suite of SAP software requires two servers for database and application. With high availability in consideration, three or four servers are required. Usually, the development, test, and training environments also require a separate suite of software, which means more servers.
- In addition, SAP ECC software, which supports businesses of large and medium-sized enterprises, incorporates more application modules. In addition to considering dual redundant database servers in the production environment, separate environments should also be provided for applications outside the SAP ECC’s basic modules to ensure their secure isolation and performance. Such applications may include business warehouse (BW) data module, SCM (supply chain management) module, CRM (customer relationship management) module, SRM (supplier relationship management) module, which are actually part of the SAP Business Suite.
In conclusion, larger SAP clients have higher requirements on the number, level, and scalability of their server environments. Even small-sized SAP clients have essential and critical requirements for their server environments – at least three servers and usually five.
Therefore, IBM Flex System, which can accommodate 14 stand-alone servers within its 10U space, can dramatically help improve the integration of SAP application environments.
Furthermore, the peak load of various application modules usually differs. For example, the SAP ERP basic modules are usually busier during the daytime working hours, but BW modules are usually busier at night. In such a situation, the virtualized server environment of the IBM Flex System can be used. Although only limited server nodes can be configured, multiple partitions can be deployed for computing resource sharing. For essential partitions, such as basic production environment, relatively fixed resources can be reserved. For auxiliary analysis modules and development and test environments, centralized shared processor pool can be provided to enable rational resource allocation and improve the overall system utilization.
Regarding the disk I/O consumption, each environment or module might also differ. The virtualized storage environment in the Flex System can meet such diverse and uncertain demands. It can provide high-redundancy, high-performance RAID for SAP ERP database, combined with the Easy Tier to eliminate hotspots data and further improve performance; high-throughput RAID for SAP BW data mining module; and high-capacity RAID for SAP development and test modules.
Finally, in terms of the simplification and efficiency of environments, the Flex System enables direct network communications among multiple SAP software environments within one integrated box, not passing through external switches, because it directly integrates redundant Ethernet switches and Fibre Channel storage switches to form a complete system. External users need to connect only to the upper switch for access, making Flex System a good architecture for energy saving and integration.
Of course, there are many more combinations for the Flex System integrated with SAP software; besides that, its architecture and functionality fit the features and requirements of the SAP software. Its scalability also fits most of the enterprise customers. For example, a stand-alone Power7 server can support as many as four 8-core CPUs – that is 32 cores – which can support thousands of SAP standard clients.
In short, the emergence of Flex System, the new integrated platform, is a boon for all SAP clients. Using Flex System as the IT platform not only provides an additional choice, but an additional great choice.
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