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Managing an application landscape on multiple servers, driven by multiple databases, becomes a significant, time and energy-consuming proposition.

Here are some of the pain points:


Insufficient server utilization: Some machines are panting while others are sitting pretty. In today’s climate, admins can’t afford these imbalances of usage.


Complex IT landscapes: With ever increasing security and permissions requirements, customization updates from every hardware and software provider every few months, managing a corporate IT landscape has only become more complex.


Low flexibility in hardware resources: Perhaps it’s become accepted as common practice that each user’s PC contains only personal settings and files particular to their job function, and each server is dedicated to supporting one vertical service—but with less budget to go around and increasing computing power requirements, maybe it shouldn’t be. IT managers are looking for more innovative ways to spread the computing power across existing server machines, sending the power where it’s needed, when it’s needed.


High Energy Use: The more individual machines you use to support individual applications, the more power you use. The price of energy is rising, and pressure is on data center administrators to use less energy and reduce their carbon footprint.


In response to these challenges, the SAP users I’ve been meeting tell me it’s now common for them to run many server instances in Solaris Containers. This offers a significant advantage in operations over hard partitions or separate servers, allowing admins to consolidate multiple database and server instances and run them independently of the machines, by way of virtualization, the practice of running multiple computing environments on a single machine. The benefits are myriad: by virtualizing, you get increased business agility, savings on energy and cooling costs, and better business continuity. Furthermore, using containers as a virtualization strategy, rather than hard partitions, offers flexibility and very low overhead (less than 2%).


However, when it becomes necessary to separately administer SAP applications, managing the relevant operating system instance (whether server, hard partition, or Container) can become problematic—admins have to track which applications are running where. In order to start or shut down an application, admins must log on to each operating system instance. This can be time-consuming, requires a deep dive to the operating system level, and is prone to human error. One way to simplify administration of SAP applications is by using the SAP NetWeaver Adaptive Computing Controller (SAP NetWeaver ACC), which allows SAP admins an interface to manage SAP application services across many servers, including Solaris Containers. The SAP concept of “adaptive computing” basically means you can pool computing resources for better performance at lower costs, and, you have great flexibility in manipulating, moving and reassigning those resources to best suit your individual requirements.


ACC is the central point of control for SAP NetWeaver and the applications NetWeaver supports. ACC views each instance as a separate application and can track the dependencies between databases, servers, and applications. With ACC, you can have one view of all the application services you’re running, and immediate, effective control of their provision and operations. You can create, start, stop, or move SAP instances across Solaris Containers.


That means you can switch a daytime operation from a larger machine with more capacity to a smaller machine to reflect changes in demand, freeing up the larger machine for overnight batch processing, for example.


Or maybe you need to start up more instances to reflect peak demand. ACC maps all of the relationships needed to make this chain of events happen and sets the chain into motion with a minimum of human intervention.


If you need to migrate an application instance from one server node to another, ACC can handle that too, and with much less effort than you’d need to expend without it.


You can also start and stop the entire application service, or only one part of it, such as the database, and reassign the parts to operate optimally. ACC maintains the logical links between the modules of an application service, allowing complete continuity from the end-user’s perspective, while distinguishing between them from an administrative perspective. Even better, you can schedule these changes to happen automatically, so you don’t have to stick around to supervise them.


With ACC combined with Solaris Containers, SAP admins have an enhanced level of control over a pool of virtual machines that have been specially configured to support their environments. A complex environment is simplified for administrative use—cutting down on training time, reducing errors and improving flexibility.


On average, for tasks such as relocating SAP systems, relocating databases, hardware maintenance, and software maintenance, ACC users can complete these tasks 4 to 12 times as fast as those performing these tasks manually. That leaves a lot of time for more high-value programming and services design.


Furthermore, if you’re able to turn off unused equipment with ACC, you can reduce your IT energy consumption by up to 30 percent.


There’s a mantra I have heard SAP ACC users repeat: “any service, at any time, on any server.” Whether they need to quickly switch out hardware without causing a service interruption, or perform a system shutdown for weekend maintenance, SAP customers are finding out that ACC is an essential tool for smooth operations. Add the flexibility of Solaris Containers to the mix and you get an ability to move applications across virtual machines that can be instantiated very quickly and dynamically resized to meet the needs of the application in question at its current load. Many SAP administrators prefer Containers to physical server resources because of this extreme flexibility. With ACC, even the management of the Containers themselves is handled behind the scenes for the SAP NetWeaver admin, who can simply focus on the SAP applications and their needs for resources.


The SAP Adaptive Computing Controller is certified for SPARC, UltraSPARC and x86 platforms running Solaris. Solaris Containers provide the benefits of hard partitions—performance, security, and stability—and the benefits of virtual machines (flexibility) with virtually no overhead. I hear such good things from administrators who recognize that they can really benefit from the shared engineering vision of Sun and SAP; a vision that is characterized by innovation, flexibility, stability and scalability. ACC on Solaris Containers is another major step in the right direction.


Those who have adopted ACC are on their way to doing their part to stop server sprawl and reduce carbon footprint as well as the cost of power, cooling, and administration for server hardware.


To learn more download the whitepaper.  It illustrates how to configure and install SAP NetWeaver ACC with Solaris Containers!

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