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Introduction

The most interesting pointer at SAP TechED 2011 Madrid for me as a system administrator was the Cloud and Virtualization pointer and more in particular I was interested in the SAP Netweaver LVM (Landscape Virtualization Management software). I was able to connect with some key persons for LVM and other upcoming products and I want to share the information I have gathered by talking, mailing and even spending time on the phone with them.

Technology innovation

LVM can be used to manage (stop, start, relocate …) SAP systems in the private cloud (on-premise) and in the public cloud. It can even be used to move SAP systems from your private cloud to a public cloud. Other very interesting functionality are the system copy/clone capabilities and the automated capacity management.

Besides LVM there is also project Titanium which is now used internally at SAP to do provisioning of SAP systems and SAP system landscapes. The concept of project Titanium is that you have a repository (codename Xenon) of images of SAP systems and SAP system landscapes which you can then use to build up SAP system or SAP system landscapes really quickly. It will be interesting to see if SAP can launch project Titanium in a later stage (product name might differ by that time) and enable customers to create and use their own images.

There was some confusion around the fact that project Titanium would be a competitive product for LVM but that is not the case. Project Titanium and LVM are in fact complementary products. Where Titanium handles the provisioning, LVM can come in at a later stage (once the SAP systems or SAP system landscapes are there) to manage those SAP systems and SAP system landscapes.

The product set which SAP is working on are a result of customer requests and interest to have these kind of tools around. LVM is entering the ramp-up phase soon (this month) and it will be interesting to see to what extent the product can deliver added value in terms of lowering TCO through management capabilities and getting SAP systems up and running more quickly thus saving time and effort.

Caring deeply about your product

One thing that became clear to me was to what extent the SAP team behind this product believes in this product. Sanjay Kulkarni wanted to meet up with me at SAP TechED Madrid  and after talking for a few minutes he went off to get Allen Bannon to come over and talk with me. I had a nice chat with them on this product and I provided feedback after using their product in a hands-on session.

This showed a sign of the new SAP at work. I made some comments in the past that the eagle hasn’t landed everywhere but it showed the eagle has landed in the Cloud and Virtualization team. Caring deeply about your product matters and connecting and spending time with community members to talk about your product and to get feedback shows the dedication of the team to get it right.

Editions

Within the SAP community there were a lot of comments on the fact that LVM requires a license. A number of customers currently have ACC (Adaptive Computing Controller) in place which can be used to manage SAP systems (stop, start, relocate, …) and ACC is free of charge. To get rid of the confusion I requested to get more information on the licensing.

Standard Edition

The standard edition can be seen as the direct successor of the ACC (Adaptive Computing Controller) and will feature the same functionality (stop, start, relocate …) which will enable customers who have ACC in place to replace it by LVM.

Enterprise Edition

The enterprise edition will not be free of charge but it will offer additional functionality which was not found in the ACC.

The additional functionality which will only be part of the Enterprise Edition:

1. Automated copy / clone of SAP systems
2. Automated capacity management
3. Ability to transform your landscape to virtualized infrastructure

Enterprise Edition Licensing Cost

Once you have the above information, the next question rises which is of course how is the pricing then handled?

The pricing is based on the number of systems which act as a source for system copy / clone capabilities. This means if you a 3-tier landscape and you use your productive SAP system as source to refresh your acceptance SAP system you have “one source system” which is counted for calculating the price of the license.

The number of copies or clones doesn’t matter, the cost is based on the number of “source systems” you have. This is the most determining factor in terms of licensing cost.

Besides the number of source systems there is another smaller pointer in the license cost which is the so called foundation licensing which is based on the number of services that are being managed. A third party application (for example) that is managed through LVM  would up this counter by one.

The foundation licensing is supposed to have little impact on the overall pricing since the major pointer is the number of “source systems”.  The above construction in terms of pricing should ensure smaller customers are also be able to put LVM in place.

Where is the evidence?

I already have a few customers who are already interested in implementing this product and after talking with the Cloud and Virtualization team I felt they are determined to make this a success story. We agreed to keep in touch so I could gather more information on this product and follow-up on its progress.

The product pricing will be a very important factor for my customers in their go / no go decision to put LVM in place. The pressure is on when the customer has automated refresh procedures in place and has no plans to move SAP systems into a public cloud anytime soon. The ramp-up is planned to start this month so I hope to be involved and be able to provide the necessary feedback on the implementation of LVM.

I did a hands-on session of LVM at SAP TechED and I did see room for improvement but that is to be expected since the product is not yet in ramp-up phase. I will share some thoughts on that in a separate blog to keep this blog reasonable in length.

Time will tell if this product delivers the value it is supposed to deliver. By the time the SAP Cloud and Virtualization week takes place some implementations should already have been performed and by then there should be a better view on the pro’s and con’s of this product and to what extent it can reduce TCO and if it can deliver the added value the customers are requesting.

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2 Comments

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  1. Steve Rumsby
    It is at least a relief that the ACC-like functionality in the LVM is going to be available free of charge. To start charging for something that is available now for free would be annoying in the extreme. That seemed to be the message given in the hands-on session in Madrid (I was in the seat next to Tom:-), and that’s what started the discussion on Twitter even while that session was in progress. I’m grateful to Tom for taking the trouble to clarify this while the relevant people were physically on-site.

    I am a little disappointed that the more advanced functionality is being charged for. I realise that all this great functionality has to be developed and that the development costs money, but surely the LVM functionality is no different from so much else that is available in Solution Manager. SAP seems to be providing all of the tools to manage the technical infrastructure for free, so why not LVM also? Or, at least if there has to be a multi-level system, provide the LVM Enterprise Edition free with Enterprise Support and extra cost with Standard Support.

    At least I know my investment in the ACC will be safe, and not a dead end. And maybe the licence cost for the LVM Enterprise Edition won’t be that high? (Oink, oink, flap, flap)

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    1. Tom Cenens
      Post author
      Hello Steve

      One of the feedback points I gave was the fact that I was missing integration into Solution Manager. There might be a good reason to keep the tool outside of Solution Manager to also provide customers who don’t have Solution Manager in place to still be able to put LVM in place but I do feel like there should at least exist links in Solution Manager towards LVM so you can call up LVM when you are working in Solution Manager.

      I do understand your sentiment on the licensing and you are by far the only one who feels that way. Would I prefer that customers don’t have to pay for the software? Ofcourse I would because that makes it a lot easier for me to get this implemented at our customers. 

      For me it’s like comparing an free iPad app vs one you have to pay for. If the payable app is much better to start off with and afterwards has free updates that add additional functionality and features then it can be worth it. The cloud and virtualization team answered my question on why does the customer have to pay for it by stating that they want to innovate and makes progression on the product. To succeed the product will have to be outstanding and customers will expect to see additional functionality and features being released over time. Only time will tell if it’s the case.

      I do see potential in LVM. One Innojam team which included a number of #sapadmin’s at SAP TechED Madrid came up with the idea to auto shutdown instances running in the cloud if they weren’t used during a specified amount of time. This could significantly reduce the cost of running instances in the cloud and by what I have seen so far this kind of functionality could be something LVM could be able to bring in the future. The Innojam team had some more ideas around cost savings which are interesting in this context.

      Kind regards

      Tom

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