Servers & Systems: The Right Compute

Virtualized SAP HANA solution using HPE Superdome Flex Server, 3PAR Storage and VMware vVols

This solution showcases deployment of virtual SAP HANA on multiple virtual machines on an 8-socket HPE Superdome Flex server using HPE 3PAR Storage in conjunction with VMware vVols. The solution offers optimal utilization of infrastructure plus guidance on optimal performance.

SAP HANA® is a modern technology that offers an in-memory database, enables a radically different application HPE Superdome Flex-SAP HANA-blog.jpgarchitecture, and provides a new philosophy with regards to data model simplicity. SAP HANA offers a new way of solving current and future challenges with enterprise applications, such as real-time data analytics of large amounts of data. Customers are considering SAP HANA deployments in virtualized environments for production workloads.

In planning the next steps in their virtualized SAP HANA journey, customers are concerned about:

1. Infrastructure provisioning and management complexity

2. Storage management complexities
• Difficult to directly manage the data storage needs of individual Virtual Machines
• Need for Administrators to be familiar with storage systems to satisfy application-specific performance and availability requirements
• Manage storage array with vendor-specific tools and plug-ins
• Non-alignment of Data services to individual Virtual Machines

3. Managing SAP HANA database sizes with minimal wastage of compute and storage resources

4. Performance optimization particularly when using virtualized environment

HPE solution addresses these concerns when deploying SAP HANA in a virtualized environment

This solution is built with the HPE Superdome Flex server, HPE 3PAR 8400 storage, HPE FlexFabric 5945 network switches, HPE SN6000B Fibre Channel switches, and VMware 6.7U3. HPE Superdome Flex servers and HPE 3PAR 8400 StoreServ storage communicate over SAN switches and Fibre Channel protocol.

HPE’s server and storage technologies have been integrated with VMware Virtual Volumes (vVols) to develop a flexible solution for SAP HANA. The solution demonstrates multiple production instances of SAP HANA configurations that can be deployed on VMware® virtualized infrastructure. The solution for virtualized SAP HANA has been designed and developed considering the best practices from HPE, SAP, and VMware.

The solution is designed to run 16 virtual machines on an 8-socket server with SAP HANA instance using VMware vVols.

Solution overview

HPE Superdome Flex is truly a breakthrough system for powering critical applications and enabling real-time analytics using in-memory computing. HPE Superdome Flex utilizes a unique, modular, building block architecture, and scales from 4-to-32 sockets in 4-socket increments and provides from 1.5 to 24TBs of shared memory for SAP HANA workloads in a single system. This solution provides guidance on deploying SAP HANA on virtual machines on an HPE Superdome Flex scale-up environment. For this solution, a 4-socket server can support up to eight Virtual Machines or two 4-socket machines that can be glued to form an 8-socket machine and support up to sixteen Virtual Machines. Two Virtual Machines can be accommodated per socket.

In a virtualized environment, it is important to configure the storage in a way that delivers the best performance to meet the storage I/O requirements of SAP HANA. VMware has introduced vVols architecture to access the storage in a software-defined way. Figure 1 shows a comparison of different approaches to expose storage to a Virtual Machine.

VMware vVols is a new approach that bridges the gap between the Virtual Machines and the storage array. It is an Figure 1. Different approaches between virtual machines and storage arrayFigure 1. Different approaches between virtual machines and storage arrayintegration and management framework for external storage. VMware vVols approach addresses the challenges of the traditional approach as each VM can directly access its storage. VMware vVols are encapsulations of Virtual Machine files, virtual disks, and their derivatives. vVols also streamline the storage operations using the policy-driven approach, enabling more agile storage consumption for Virtual Machines.

This new approach allows the storage array to directly interact with Virtual Machines. vVols can be managed from VMware vCenter thus enabling simplified storage management and improved Virtual Machines efficiency. It also enables thin provisioning and dynamic space reclamation on storage. VMware vVols method consumes storage resources in a highly flexible way by eliminating the traditional physical LUN approach. All these capabilities are leveraged in this solution to deliver a highly flexible, simplified and efficient SAP HANA solution.

Solution workflow

The solution workflow is illustrated here in Figure 2. A data path has been created between VMware ESXi host and storage via Protocol Endpoint. Protocol Endpoint acts as a proxy to direct the information coming from the ESXi host to the correct Figure 2. Solution workflowFigure 2. Solution workflow\vVols on the array.

VMware has implemented an API called “VASA – VMware API’s for Storage Awareness” which is used to manage all aspects of Virtual Volumes from the storage. The VASA provider helps to enable three-way communication between ESXi host, Storage, and vCenter server. VMware VASA Application Program Interface (API) enables the vCenter server to recognize the capabilities of storage. VASA is integrated on HPE 3PAR StoreServ storage and it acts as a VASA provider.

A storage container is a pool of raw storage capacity created on HPE 3PAR storage which acts as a logical grouping of vVols. Passing the required information from the storage array to the ESXi host is handled by the VASA provider. When the Virtual Machine is powered on, the VASA provider is used to bind the vVols with the Virtual Machine. A Virtual Machine that runs on a Virtual Volume datastore requires a VM storage policy. VM storage policy is created with a set of rules which define the storage requirement for Virtual Machines.

As shown above, the vVols and VASA functionality is integrated into the HPE 3PAR operating system software (firmware) and the same has been utilized in the vSphere 6.7 environment.

This Virtualized solution enables segregating hardware resources like CPU, memory, and storage into resource pools that can be assigned to virtual machines based on the database size that is has to serve. These resources can be scaled up or scaled down based on the database growth. This is against hard allocation of resources on bare metal hardware that depends heavily on initial sizing of the database. This flexibility helps to avoid any wastage of resources.

The solution is designed and tested with multiple Virtual Machines, each running with an SAP HANA production instance in a virtualized environment on a single host. The solution document provides all the tunable parameters required to tune infrastructure components like BIOS, Hypervisor (ESX), Guest OS kernel, Network, Storage etc. to ensure performance is optimized and it meets or exceed SAP required KPIs. The High Availability between Virtual Machines has been managed by clustered ESXi servers using VMware vCenter® server. Having VMware HA in place, VMware vSphere vMotion® can be used to migrate SAP HANA virtual machines to another node in the VMware cluster during planned/unplanned maintenance activity.

In conclusion

The solution describes:

  1. Best practices to configure all infrastructure components deployed in the solution
  2. All tunable parameters required to optimally tune the infrastructure
  3. Detailed configuration steps required to configure HPE, VMware, and SAP components
  4. HPE solution testing and results
  5. Capacity and sizing guidance

The solution addresses challenges of running multiple Virtual Machines with production SAP HANA database instances by designing the disk layout with the help of VMware vVols. The solution provides guidance on optimum performance tuning for all solution components to achieve SAP mandated performance metrics. With VMware vSphere 6.7U3, Virtual Machines of sizes up to 6TB can be created in an HPE Superdome Flex server based on Intel Cascade Lake processors, which allows consolidation of multiple SAP HANA production databases of varying sizes onto a single physical server. VMware vSphere also allows management of compute, networks and storage from a single management interface. This solution is designed to achieve a better TCO by improved resource utilization and by having a single server running multiple Virtual Machines with the SAP HANA database. The ability to compose a large machine by connecting multiple chassis together using NUMA links distinguishes HPE solution from any other virtualized SAP HANA solution.

Please contact your HPE representative or HPE Certified Partner should you want to discuss your specific business needs. And here are more resources to help you learn more about HPE solutions for SAP HANA:

HPE Consulting

HPE Solutions for SAP HANA

HPE Mission Critical Systems

HPE Servers

HPE Storage

HPE Networking

HPE Superdome Flex Server Quick Specs

Meet HPE Server Experts bloggers

Vasu S H-HPE.pngVasudevarao S H  Vasu has 16 plus years of experience in the IT industry. Currently, he is a Sr. Solution Design Specialist with the HPE Solution Engineering Team – SAP HANA, which is focused on creating Solutions and Reference Architectures for enterprise use cases around SAP and/or SAP HANA technologies. 


Sanjay Batra-HPE.pngSanjay Kumar Batra  Sanjay has two decades of experience in the IT industry. Currently, he is a Solutions Architect with the HPE Solution Engineering Team – SAP HANA, which is focused on creating Solutions and Reference Architectures for enterprise use cases around SAP and/or SAP HANA technologies.


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