IBM PureSystems, SAP and business transformation

Organizations seeking to reduce costs while also increasing flexibility find that they need to embark on a journey to a virtualized environment. IBM, in conjunction with SAP, just announced the IBM Systems for SAP Business Suite and SAP HANA, which are designed to assist.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor on

IBM reached out to me a few days ago to introduce me to some new PureSystems offerings designed to simplify the lives of organizations using SAP's Business Solutions and HANA as part of their operations. These solutions are being announced at SAP's Sapphire today. This effort remindes me of things DEC did with its X86-based products back in the 1980s. IBM's efforts, however, are focused on the complex workloads and virtualized environments found in today's data centers.

Here's a quick summary of what IBM announced

Here's how IBM summarized its announcement:

  • First partner certified for SAP Business Suite on HANA applications (ERP, CRM, SCM)
    • 1TB, 2TB & 4TB configurations
  • New! Virtualized HANA installation with VMware
    • Enables multiple HANA VMs on a single node system – Non-production environment
    • New! SAP HANA Synchronous Disaster Recovery – Enables HANA system failover to a remote site
  • Largest scale-out solution certified for SAP HANA BW workloads
    • 56 x 1TB/Node = 56TB
  • New! IBM Systems Solution for SAP Business SuiteTM and SAP HANATM
    • Reference Architecture of SAP Biz Suite on PureFlex and SAP HANA on System x3950 X5 Workload Optimized Solution for SAP HANA
  • IBM PureFlex Solution for SAP Business SuiteTM
    • Reference Architecture for PureFlex POWER and x86
  • IBM Flex System Solution for SAP NetWeaverTM Business Warehouse Accelerator
    • Reference Architecture and Integrated Offering for BWA on Flex System

I liked the fact that these solutions don't require a Storage Area Network (SAN) to support scaled-out configurations and are likely to reduce required floor space.

More information about these solutions can be found here.

Snapshot analysis

"Reduce costs," "increase agility," and "optimize IT infrastructure" have all become common phrases in discussions I have with IT executives. Their budgets are flat or falling and yet they need to increase what they're doing for the organization. Getting to a better computing environment isn't an easy task, however.

Today's applications are often constructed of highly distributed services that are spread over multiple system tiers. These tiers are likely to be replicated in several data centers. Some organizations have also replicated some of these tiers or, perhaps, the entire workloads in a third party's data center (can you say "Cloud Computing?") to reduce their operational costs. This requires systems that can be scaled from small to very large without requiring a customer to change system architectures somewhere along the way.

Achieving the proper balance of processor performance, memory size, and the best storage and network configuration is also a must. Getting this to work properly also requires many layers of software, each of which has to be configured properly. This requires quite a number of different types of expertise. Many organizations no longer have the staff necessary to pull this off. So, they over-provision systems, purchase too many software licenses, and blindly install configurations hoping that they'll perform "well enough to get by."

IBM appears to have stood back and listened to its customers and then put its engineers to work building and testing pre-configured hardware/software solutions for SAP's Business Suite and SAPs HANA. These pre-configured solutions are based upon IBM's PureFlex and System x3950.

Having taken part in something similar while I was working at DEC, I understand how challenging it can be to develop a reference architecture and then fit all the pieces together. IBM is fortunate to have a wealth of systems, storage, networking, and software expertise that can be assigned to this task.

In the end, being able to treat complex IT solutions as if they are "black boxes" that can easily be installed and used is very likely to help IBM's and SAP's joint customers get to a working, reliable, flexible environment quicker and at a much lower cost.

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