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SAP HANA runs best on x86. Period.

By Drew Iacone

There’s lots of noise out there about which platform runs SAP HANA best. Some vendors continue to try to make a case for UNIX. For example, IBM is claiming that SAP HANA is certified to ‘work’ in a PowerVM on Power 8 CPUs. That may be true, but “certified to work” is definitely not the same as “best performance.”

So let me cut through the noise and put an end to claims that could mislead you into settling for a platform that will not deliver the results you need. 

The winner
HANA was developed and optimized to ‘run’ on Intel E7 CPUs and very special distributions of Linux (from SUSE and RHAT). And we are not talking about a little difference in run performance. It’s a massive difference. There are two optimizations specifically introduced in Intel E7v3 CPUs for HANA (TSX and AVX) that offer a 5x performance boost over older Intel E7 or Power 8 CPUs.

Trailing behind
As mentioned above, IBM was recently able to get SAP to let them claim that HANA is certified to ‘work’ in a PowerVM on Power 8 CPUs. However, that statement hides a BIG “gotcha.”

HANA on Power only ‘works’ in a TDI model. There is a 10x difference in performance KPIs required by SAP to certify and ship a HANA appliance vs. a solution certified for TDI only. Just to be clear, nobody is saying that HANA will ‘run’ ~10x slower in a PowerVM. It ‘works’ … but it is just held to a ~10x lower standard without any of the performance optimizations attributed to SAP’s co-innovation efforts with Intel.

Naturally, this only matters if you want to be able to call SAP support to get help on nuance performance issues impacting your productive SAP HANA deployment. Since when do SAP customers care about performance and supportability? You get the point. This matters far more than any speeds and feeds debate

Why bother?
So if performance can’t compare, why is IBM still bothering to remain a player in the SAP HANA marketplace?

Easy answer? IBM wants to be the king of legacy businesses like mainframe and UNIX. That’s pretty much the only platforms they have left. So now that they can state that HANA “works” on Power, they can make a case to their AIX/Power customers that they should stay on AIX/Power for SAP and HANA and avoid what IBM claims to be an “oh so painful’ Unix to x86 migration.


y w in data center.jpgWhat it all comes down to
If you are a current AIX/Power customer and you are evaluating the best platform for your SAP HANA environment – all you need to do is remember three things:

• Don’t be distracted by speeds and feeds and CPU to CPU comparison slides
• Don’t pay a premium to stay on Power when HANA ‘runs’ up to 5x faster on x86 for 60% less? See this TCO analysis for details 
• Don’t be afraid of a two tier model where you run HANA on x86 nodes and keep your other SAP workloads on AIX. You have to do a OS/DB migration regardless, so there’s no better time to also knock out what is really a “not so painful” Unix to x86 migration.

Every day you put off that UNIX to x86 migration, you are running HANA in a performance degraded mode with production support limitations.

It’s undeniable: SAP HANA runs best on x86. And by the way, customers are running twice as much HANA on HPE Hardware as the next closest x86 rival!

For more information:

Check out these SAP Blogs on Intel x-86 for SAP HANA:
New Intel Xeon “Haswell” Processor Delivers Exceptional Performance for SAP HANA Platform
New Intel® Xeon® “Broadwell” Processor Boosts SAP HANA Scalability and Performance to New Highs

You can also find more information on the HPE – SAP Alliance web site


About the Author


HPE Alliance Partners