To keep its mission-critical SAP ERP systems on the vendor’s standard support path and to improve performance for business users, Boydak Holding needed to find the optimal platform for staged migrations to SAP HANA. The group chose SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications running on IBM Power Systems servers with IBM POWER8 processors. Following rapid and smooth deployment, the new platform accelerates some SAP reporting by more than 120 times, helping business users gain faster insight.
Boydak Holding is one of the largest users of SAP ERP software in Turkey: having deployed the solution almost a decade ago, the group today has more than 3,000 SAP users.
To maintain its leading position in diverse markets, Boydak Holding must operate efficiently and understand emerging competitive challenges. For both requirements, the SAP solutions play a key supporting role, and it is vital to keep the software up-to-date and running optimally.
Ramazan Yildirim, IT Manager & SAP Basis Manager at Boydak Holding, said: “Technology changes extremely quickly; if you don’t stay current, it’s hard to catch up again. With the launch of S/4HANA, we knew that we would eventually need to migrate our mission-critical systems to the SAP HANA database, and we wanted to do this in a controlled, low-risk way rather than waiting for the deadline. And, naturally, we also wanted to give business users the higher performance that comes from in-memory technology.”
When Boydak Holding decided to adopt SAP HANA, its largest SAP systems were running on IBM AIX on IBM Power Systems servers with Oracle databases, and the group also had smaller instances on Solaris and Windows platforms.
“The dynamic flexibility of the logical partitioning technology on IBM POWER8 seemed a perfect fit with HANA,” said Ramazan Yildirim. “After testing, we concluded that it would be easier to deploy and manage SUSE Enterprise Linux Server for SAP Applications than the alternative from Red Hat. The SUSE OS provides everything we need in a single license—including high availability and integrated support from SUSE and SAP. It’s also easier to find experienced people locally.”
Boydak Holding deployed SAP HANA on an IBM Power E870 server in each of two data centers. IBM PowerVM provides the virtualization layer, hosting guest instances of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications. Boydak Holding uses synchronous in memory (mode=syncmem) SAP HANA System Replication together with the SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension to mirror HANA between its two sites for added resilience.
In what was a first-of-its-kind project in Turkey, Boydak Holding completed this Tailored Datacenter Integration (TDI) deployment of SAP HANA using its own skilled internal resources. Choosing the TDI approach—rather than the more common pre-integrated HANA appliance route—was partly motivated by the desire to reuse existing hardware.
“We have strong internal know-how around SAP, and the TDI deployment was accelerated by the specialization of the SUSE OS, which makes SAP HANA installations quick and easy,” said Ramazan Yildirim. “To date, we have migrated the databases for three large SAP systems from Oracle to SAP HANA, with two more to follow in the near future.”
Moving from a disk-based database to in-memory technology typically produces large performance gains, and this has certainly been Boydak Holding’s experience. A sample of three reports shows speed increases of 1.68 times, 64 times and 126.5 times.
“At first, we couldn’t believe how much faster some SAP reports ran with SAP HANA on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications,” said Ramazan Yildirim. “With very minimal modification, some reports that previously took ten minutes now complete in five seconds. For the business, this means faster decisions and more analysis within the same timescales, helping sharpen our competitive edge.”
The migration also cut the database size by 74 percent (from 1.78 TB in Oracle to 0.46 TB in SAP HANA), contributing to the performance increase and freeing up valuable disk space. This also implies faster replication, backup and recovery of mission-critical data.
As Boydak Holding continues to migrate its remaining SAP databases, and ultimately its SAP applications, to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, it will be able to choose the most appropriate hardware platform.
“Our largest and most important SAP systems will go on SAP HANA on IBM POWER8, but for smaller companies within the group, it may be more appropriate to deploy on x86 servers,” says Ramazan Yildirim. “The SUSE Linux Enterprise platform runs on both architectures, providing commonality that will simplify management, cut costs and enable us to respond faster to new requirements from the business.”