What a recent HANA Cloud downtime announcement tells us about SAP’s shift to service delivery in the cloud
A recent on SCN caught my eye.
Dear SAP HANA Cloud customers,
Please be reminded that there will be a planned downtime for https://hana.ondemand.com on April 11th, between 05:00 – 06:00 UTC due to an infrastructure update.
Development operations like deployment, starting and stopping of applications will not be possible.
The following platform services will be down during the update:
- Document Service
- HANA DB
The other underlying platform services might experience short outages.
Running applications will be accessible.
Note: I closely follow the SAP HANA Cloudon SCN and the resulting updated release notes. I always look forward to seeing how the platform has evolved and I’m impressed that the team is keeping up with its two-week release cycle. The public communication of such events is also an important sign of transparency vis-a-vis the ecosystem.
The associated but the initial announcement still irritated me. Usually, such announcements contain statements like this one – “The other underlying platform services might experience short outages.“ but this time two critical services were down during the update. I have no idea how long the downtime really lasted but it was announced as lasting one hour. Running applications might be accessible but what if they used the document or HANA DB service? Would such applications still work? I don’t know whether the downtime announcement was just unclear or whether applications using the affected services were also impacted. I also have no idea have many applications are currently productive on the platform or how many of these applications use these two services.
So many unanswered questions were disturbing. I was recently doing research on cloud SLAs and I started wondering about the downtime announcement and SAP’s SLAs for the offering. Could the downtime of these two services be considered a SLA violation?
I looked for the SLAs of the HANA Cloud and only found an old SAP NetWeaver Cloud Supplemental Terms and Conditions from 10/2012 which contains this clause:
5. Platform Availability
With respect to the Platform (includes compute, structured storage, unstructured storage, bandwidth, connectivity connector in the Cloud), SAP warrants at least ninety-nine point nine percent (99.9%) System Availability over any calendar month. Should SAP fail to achieve ninety-nine point nine percent (99.9%) System Availability over a calendar month, Customer shall have the right to receive a credit equal to two percent (2%) of its subscription fees for the Service (for Platform fees only) for that month, for each one percent (1%) (or portion thereof) by which SAP fails to achieve such level, up to one hundred percent (100%) of the fees for such month.
Note: This paragraph really isn’t detailed enough for a cloud service. The description provided by the HP Cloud group regarding their SLAs is much easier to understand.
So, we have an availability of 99,9%. What is the acceptable downtime in a month to maintain the SLA? I used the Ez (Easy) Uptime Calculator to calculate it.
Just a downtime of 43.2 minutes would be permitted in a month. If the HANA Cloud services were really down for an hour, then it appears that we might have a SLA violation – especially since the “Platform” described in the availability clause in the ToC is defined as including “structured storage, unstructured storage”.
Why am I even bringing up the topic? The deployment was successful and everything is fine.
There is currently a heated debate about the quality of the support provided for SAP’s cloud applications. In the comment stream to this blog, Sina Moatamed makes a very important point: “First challenge is that SAP is no longer in the software business. Cloud is about Service Delivery. The entire engagement has to be from that lens.” Although the blog in question focuses on metrics associated with support for SAP’s cloud applications, Sina’s point is very important and represents a shift for SAP.
Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill and the two services weren’t even down for an hour. Yet as SAP moves more rapidly into the cloud space, it must be very aware that the market is closely watching its actions. SAP’s image and a judgement on its degree of professionalism regarding its cloud offering are still in flux – especially in comparison to other vendors / competitors. Despite the fact that SAP’s cloud / platform strategy has many moving parts, there have been major improvements over the last year; yet, as the platform matures, the expectations of the market change as well. SAP’s challenge is to couple the innovative character of the platform with the new responsibilities associated with cloud-based service delivery.