As the year comes to a close and the holidays approach, people often reflect on the accomplishments and challenges of the current year, while anticipating great things in the coming year. This is true for businesses as well. I’m sure your organization has already started planning ways to grow the business with new and improved offerings, services and operational efficiency.
Transforming the business typically starts with looking for ways to deliver innovative products and services so that you can meet the requirements of new and existing customers. To understand market requirements in real-time requires instant access to data about products, customers, processes and the competition. Leveraging this data to achieve business results faster is what SAP calls becoming an “Intelligent Enterprise.”
If you’re a Technical Architect or IT Director responsible for planning your SAP infrastructure, your CIO is probably looking for your advice on how to do any or all of those things. And, of course, you need to accomplish this with little or no disruption to your business operations. Ideally, you want to take full advantage of the technologies and skills you’ve already invested in and seamlessly add new technologies that enable you to meet your goals quickly and efficiently.
Every situation is different and I’m no expert (although we do have people who are) but I think that one of our customers, Bosch Group, provides a great example of how to transform SAP operations to become an Intelligent Enterprise.
Setting business goals and IT goals
Digital transformation is about the business, and IT transformation has to align to the business requirements. Bosch Group used to focus mainly on making IT operations more efficient. Now they focus on expanding their offerings to include new digital services. To do this, their IT infrastructure needed to do two things:
- integrate new online services with core ERP data and business processes, and
- increase system scalability to deliver cutting-edge solutions with more flexibility.
Defining a solution
They did this by expanding their SAP HANA implementations from their Intel processor-based systems to IBM Power servers running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications and SUSE Manager. They also evaluated SUSE Linux Enterprise Live Patching for future deployment. Here is their rationale for each solution component:
- SAP HANA was requested by the business sectors in Bosch Group to provide real-time data access and analytics.
- IBM Power Systems was selected not only because it met their requirements for scalability and reliability, but also because they were already running SAP systems on AIX. Bosch could not only leverage its existing hardware but also existing admin skills. They took advantage of the performance benefits of deploying SAP HANA on the same physical server as the ERP applications. They can also easily move workloads from one physical server to others to avoid downtime.
- SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications was recognized as by far the leading OS for SAP HANA on Power Systems. It wasn’t a hard sell to the business units, who already knew of its reliability, stability, and specific optimization for SAP software. After all, it had been running on their Intel-based servers for years. The IT team also appreciated how easy it was to set up clustering so that they could quickly deploy a complete high-availability solution for SAP HANA whenever a business sector requested one.
- SUSE Manager was implemented on an IBM Power server, well, because they can. It was “really important” (according to their CIO) to run the management solution on the same platform as the virtualized SAP HANA databases on Power servers while still managing their Intel-based instances. With SUSE Manager, they doubled the number of instances and substantially reduced the management time.
- SUSE Linux Enterprise Live Patching was successfully tested with plans for later implementation. They expect that applying Linux kernel patches without rebooting the SAP systems will get them even closer to zero downtime.
Giving the gift of IT transformation
Of course, IT transformation isn’t something that you can gift wrap and give to the business. It takes planning and expertise about SAP solutions, your choice of systems which could be a server and/or cloud provider (IBM has both) and an open source platform like SUSE’s that is flexible to quickly deploy and manage highly available services on any supported platform. Wait … there actually isn’t another open source platform like SUSE’s. If, like Bosch, you want to deploy both scale up and scale out SAP HANA clusters, automate configuration management and live patch Linux kernel security vulnerabilities all running on IBM Power servers then SUSE solutions are your only option.
No, you can’t wrap IT transformation and put a bow on it, but there’s no time like the present to start planning for a successful 2019. You can read the full Bosch Group success story here and get more information to help planning your transition to SAP HANA on our website.