Run SAP on VMware in IBM Cloud
VMware as a leader in the virtualization industry is obviously the first choice when it comes to running SAP on an elastic, agile, complete (top to bottom) and certified virtualized platform.
Most likely when we look at a running SAP workload on VMware, we will intuitively think of running workload on-premise or private data center … Well, it makes sense, but it is not the only option for VMware.
Thanks to the strong partnership between VMware, IBM and SAP, customers can operate their SAP workload in IBM Cloud on VMware in a fully certified environment !! which is a unique offer in the cloud industry.
In this article, I will provide detail on the available offers in IBM for SAP and high-level solution architecture.
Again, and always, before to start any action and to guaranty the success of the exercise, it is important to do some reading on our subject. Here is a collection of guides, references and SAP Notes to be reviewed.
These references differ from the previous article, so take the time to review it
1492000 – General Support Statement for Virtual Environments
1122387 – Linux: SAP Support in virtualized environments
2414820 – SAP on IBM Cloud: Support prerequisites
2414097 – SAP Applications on IBM Cloud Classic Infrastructure environment
2161991 – VMware vSphere configuration guidelines
2718982 – SAP HANA on VMware vSphere and vSAN
SAP workload on VMware in IBM Cloud, what does it mean for customers?
First, as stated earlier, IBM Cloud is the only cloud provider certified to run SAP workload in VMware on public cloud. This is a big deal especially when we think about the hybrid cloud trajectory model that many customers embrace and more specific to customers that are running their SAP workload on VMware platform.
Customers can now extend their SAP workload to the cloud without changing anything in terms of tools or operations, which save time and money. Beyond the fact that customers run their operation as usual, they also can consume and integrate native cloud services with VMware.
Which offer is available for VMware?
In terms VMware solution/portfolio, IBM provides 4 different types of offer that can be consumed. However only 2 of them can be used for SAP workload.
This offer gives the ability to deploy a single ESXi server that you can scale by adding more servers to your cluster. From a cost point of view, it is very economical and allows you also to add different VMware products as part of your deployment of environment.
VMware vCenter Server
On the other hand, VMware vCenter Server offer works at a completely different scale. Here you will be on a much broader and more complex environment. Unlike the previous offer (VMware vSphere) here you dispose of 2 types of clusters.
The management cluster, aka Consolidated Cluster which does not need to use SAP certified host servers because this cluster hosts only the VMware components and tools (such as vCenter Server, vRealize) but must start with a minimum of 3 nodes cluster.
And the workload cluster, which obviously is used for your SAP with a minimum of 2 nodes servers.
Besides the mandatory node, this offer comes de facto with NSX-T component appliances
And on top of that add-on’s services can be deployed upon to your business need, such as HCX or Zerto for VMs mobility and migration, Veeam for backup, BigIP F5 for security, vRealize Operations to monitor and troubleshoot the performance.
What makes IBM Cloud certified
Now that we saw the offer available for SAP, time to see what is making IBM Cloud unique. From these offers, at the CPU generation you will have the ability to choose the SAP-certified option which will lead you to 2 choices of profiles “Netweaver” and “Hana”
The profiles are very simple to understand, below you can find the list of profile available for Netweaver and Hana deployment.
VMware SDDC certified profiles for SAP NetWeaver
VMware SDDC certified profiles for SAP HANA
How is it articulated?
Well, before that you even think of starting flying VMs left and right, it is important to understand from an architecture point of view how things are articulated. Let’s have a closer look at the different components involved and how to interact with on-premise or remote location.
The above picture illustrates the different part of the component involve in the SDDC common offer by stacks, note that I will talk on specific points by stacks and not drill down on every item … yes yes I know but it’s a blog not a book 😉.
The bottom stack is obviously the physical infrastructure, this stack is divided in 3 parts, the compute which is specific because remember it is certified by SAP with the follow default characteristics:
The physical network part of IBM Cloud is separated into two distinct networks: public and private. The private network also contains the management Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) traffic to the physical servers.
And finally, the physical storage design which consists of the configuration of the physical disks that are installed in the physical hosts and the configuration of the shared network-attached storage.
Note that vSAN option is not available for SAP workload profile
Alright that is pretty much it for the physical infrastructure, let’s jump on the virtual infrastructure. Not much to cover from a high-level point of view, but quite interesting stuff on the network side with NSX-T components
At the vSphere level the latest supported and certified SAP version will be in use, here you will go with the default 7.03 as a baseline. Nothing much to add there besides the fact that this version comes with several nice native VMware features, I will cover some of them in my next blog.
Now, for NSX-T if you are not very familiar with this component, it is designed to span software defined network and security infrastructure across platforms other than just vSphere alone.
One of the key point for NSX-T to consider as part of the deployment is the license implication. During the hardware provisioning, you can either consume the license provided by IBM or use your own, however, on the NSX-T part special license featured base will need to be chosen.
No rocket science here, obviously since license are featured base, Enterprise will give much more advantages. Here is the minimum license level to operate correctly
On the following link you will find the comparison between feature provided by each license
Alright, let’s now quickly talk about the infrastructure management, which basically consist of a centralized platform for managing VMware vSphere environments and is one of the fundamental components in this solution.
Not too much to cover for the part, but good to know that VMware vCenter Server is deployed with an embedded PSC as a virtual appliance on a portable subnet on the private VLAN that is associated with management VMs.
Finally, the last part now of the default components involved in the offer, the common services which consist of to simplify AD/DNS configuration.
As mentioned 2 aspect of this needs to be considered the AD part which handle the identity and access service, and the DNS for the cloud management and infrastructure components only.
By default, a single Active Directory VSI is deployed onto the IBM Cloud infrastructure, however the design also provides the option to deploy two HA AD servers as dedicated Windows Server VMs in the management cluster.
The vCenter Server deployment uses the deployed AD VSIs or VMs as DNS servers for the instance.
Note that if you decide to go with the HA option, you will be responsible to provide Microsoft licensing and activation.
This is a wrap for the components 😉, hope this gives you a good understanding on the solutions.
What about integration with cloud service and native components?
Running SAP in IBM cloud native VMs (VPC) is nice because you can consume and integrate cloud native service and components easily.
Running SAP on VMware is awesome for many reasons (I’m a big fan of VMware 😊), so for customers who want to leverage this unique offer here is a classic simplified architecture view.
One of the main elements in this picture for the integration with IBM Cloud native service or components is the transit gateway. This specific network component is commonly used in hybrid scenario to interconnect multiple layers in IBM Cloud, here the TG will provide connectivity between VMware and the VPC layer to consume interact with native VM.
On top of it (not shown here) because of the interaction with the VPC layer, the Cloud Service can be consumed from Virtual Private Endpoint for VPC.
Running SAP on VMware as mentioned previously has many advantages, but the alliance between the two (2) giants IBM and VMware raised the bar to a whole new level in the hybrid cloud scenarios. Because the VMware native features remain intact, customers can leverage the full power of the technology and push to more innovations and transformations by integrating IBM cloud extended features and specifics platform offers for SAP like VPC or IBM Power.