Servers & Systems: The Right Compute

Thinking about running SAP HANA on VMware? The top 10 things you need to know

The many benefits of virtualization are well established, and many customers have adopted a standard practice of deploying nearly every environment under VMWare. So it’s no surprise that customers often want to do the same for SAP HANA deployments.

But there’s a catch: SAP HANA is a different animal than most traditional application environments—and it carries its own HPE-SAP HANA-VMware-cloud-blog.jpgset of rules and guidelines. It’s critical to understand and consider these when planning your HANA and VMWare deployment. With careful planning, such a deployment can be the basis for a HANA private cloud, either on premises or in a colocation facility, often at a lower cost than a public cloud deployment. 

As you will find however, this is an architecturally complex environment with many details to consider. I’ve summarized the 10 most important factors below, and you can find more details in this Wiki page and in referenced SAP notes. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your HPE representative for help. 

10 critical factors for success when running SAP HANA on VMware

1. Verify in the SAP notes which VMware releases are certified for your particular hardware platform. Typically, VMware will certify and support at least two VMware releases for SAP HANA on a particular Intel CPU platform. For example, you can use either vSphere 6.5 or 6.7 with Intel Second Generation Scalable (a.k.a Cascade Lake) servers.

2. Choose Intel Platinum top-bin CPUs unless you are able to perform a workload-based sizing (more details on SAP note 2779240) and determine that your compute requirements (SAPS) can be met with lower bin processors.

3. Reserve some memory for the hypervisor. This may vary by size of the host but I normally assume between 64GB-128GB of the total physical RAM will be available to the ESX host.

4. Use HANA-certified shared storage solution in order to benefit from many of the VMware features and tools (like vMotion, etc.)

5. Don’t allocate fewer than eight physical cores and 128GB of RAM to your HANA VM, although the minimal recommended size of your VM will depend on the actual #cores/processor in your ESX host (see item #9)

6. Don’t forget that the largest VM you can run will vary based upon the actual SAP HANA use-case:

  • OLTP (SoH) or Mixed workloads (S4): 4-sockets/6TB
  • OLAP (BWoH/BW4H or DM): 4-sockets/3TB. The 3TB limit could be exceeded based on results from a workload-based sizing if applicable or for non-production instances

Anything larger than 6TB (at the time of writing of this article) requires a bare metal deployment.

7. In theory, you can host SAP HANA and Non-HANA VMs on the same ESX host. However, most customers will run their non-HANA VMs (including SAP ASCS and Application servers, etc.) in separate ESX clusters, since overall sizing rules and recommendations are different for HANA and non-HANA systems.

8. If you decide to co-host HANA and non-HANA VMs on the same host, make sure they reside on different sockets. Bear in mind that each socket or CPU represents a NUMA Node. For best performance, SAP HANA production VMs must run on dedicated CPUs or NUMA Nodes.

9. Once you know the memory required by your SAP HANA DB and use case (OLTP/Mixed vs OLAP), you can determine the appropriate size of your HANA VM in terms of #sockets, physical cores and #vCPUs. Beware that for Production, SAP only supports HANA VM sizes of ½ socket, 1, 2, 3 or 4 socket maximum, even if your ESX host has 8-sockets. Also, you want to make sure that each VM accesses memory that resides locally on the NUMA node(s) or CPUs where it runs.

Here is an example: Let’s say your ESX host is an HPE ProLiant DL560 Gen10 server, with 4-sockets Intel Platinum 8276M 28-core processors (112 physical cores in total, 224 vCPUs with Hyperthreading on), and 6TB of RAM (or 1.5TB per socket or NUMA Node)

Based on this configuration we can estimate possible VM sizes we can support (OLTP/Mixed environment) and upper memory limits per VM (See Table 1)

Table 1. Possible SAP HANA VM sizes (OLTP)

SAP HANA on VMware table 1.jpg

 In our example, we need to host 4 HANA VMs: Production S4 (3TB), Fiori (500GB), Solman (500GB), DEV (1TB) (See Figure 1.). Using the reference sizes from table 1, we can easily determine the optimal size for each of my VMs:

  • Production S4: 2 sockets / 56 pCores, 112 vCPUs for Production S4
  • Solution Manager and Fiori: ½-socket / 14 pCores, 28vCPUs for each
  • DEV: 1 socket, 28 pCores, 56 vCPUs

 Figure 1. SAP HANA on VMware sizing example

SAP HANA on VMware figure 1.jpg

10. Make sure to review all the relevant SAP Notes and Best practices documents from VMware referenced in the Wiki page to guarantee a successful deployment. We at HPE have vast experience deploying SAP HANA in both bare metal and virtualized infrastructures and will be happy to help with the design and implementation of your solution.

More questions?

I hope that this post sheds some light on some of the important considerations when virtualizing HANA with VMware and the best practices to ensure a successful deployment.

When in doubt, be sure to contact your HPE Sales representative. As you know, SAP HANA evolves rather quickly and rules and recommendations are often updated. We at HPE can help you navigate these guidelines and design a solution that will meet your requirements and be fully supported by SAP.

Learn more about HPE Solutions for SAP HANA

Fanny Osorio -HPE.jpgMeet Server Experts blogger Fanny Osorio, Master SAP Solutions Architect, HPE MCS Architecture & Design SAP. Fanny is a Master SAP Solutions Architect at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. A member of the Americas SAP Competence Center, she has spent the last 18 years working as an SAP Solution architect, sizing and architecting solutions to run many different SAP applications on HPE technology, including physical and virtual infrastructures, for customers across the Americas. Since 2011, Fanny has devoted most of her time to designing/sizing solutions for SAP HANA, and has become one of the HPE presales technical leads for SAP HANA. She holds a computer engineering degree, and speaks English, Spanish, and French.

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