The SAP Community Network was growing fast, from around 250,000 to almost two million registered users across the globe. SAP wanted to provide this important community with access to the SAP NetWeaver platform in a stable, reliable Linux environment that would help developers explore the benefits of SAP applications for their own businesses.
To encourage the use of the SAP NetWeaver application development and integration platform, SAP initially created the SAP Developer Network. This later expanded to a network of role-based communities dubbed the SAP Community Network, which now is the umbrella for five vibrant communities. This online collaboration environment is itself built on SAP NetWeaver, and gives developers rapid and easy access to code samples and technical data.
Hosted at scn.sap.com, the SAP Community Network (SCN) is a comprehensive content and collaboration hub for developers, partners, enterprise analysts, consultants and system administrators. By 2006, more than 250,000 users had registered and were active participants on the network.
The large and continually growing user numbers placed significant demands on the underlying infrastructure. The existing operating system struggled to maintain performance and reliability during times of peak workload, impacting the user experience and, by association, the perception of the capabilities of SAP NetWeaver itself.
The initial instance of the SAP Community Network was running on a 32-bit operating system. The 1.6GB limit on addressable memory space for each 32-bit Java Virtual Machine placed practical limits on how many users a given hardware footprint could support.
SAP looked for a 64-bit operating system capable of running Java Virtual Machines with larger memory spaces. The result would be a better service for developers, and reduced infrastructure costs on a per-user basis for SAP.
“We looked at the product availability matrix for SAP applications themselves and asked the SAP Managed Services teams for their view,” said Matthias Boehmert, Development Manager for the SAP Community Network.
“Three key features emerged rapidly to make SUSE Linux Enterprise Server the right choice for the SAP Community Network. First, its 64-bit operating system had the advantage of relative maturity: some other Linux vendors were only just releasing their products, and the Java Virtual Machine for 64-bit Windows was not yet at version 1.4, making it unsuitable for SAP’s requirements. Second, SAP Managed Services was already successfully using SUSE Linux Enterprise Server to host systems for its clients. Finally, SAP had chosen SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as its reference platform for SAP software development, and 75% of all SAP customers running Linux use SUSE Linux Enterprise.”
The SAP Community Network team has added five further servers running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server to the same cluster, providing a simple and reliable way to add capacity as it is needed.
To manage the ongoing growth of the SCN community and to offer users secure, role-based access to the site, SAP runs eDirectory to manage user identities and provide users with personalized access to the developer portal.
Since the introduction of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, the network has grown to more than 1.8 million members, with an average of 30,000 new members each month. Typically, some 10,000 users are active at any time, and more than 900,000 unique users log in each month. This makes the SAP Community Network one of the largest and most lively communities of its kind. “We are very happy with the performance, configuration capabilities and reliability of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server,” said Matthias Boehmert. “It is much more stable than our previous operating system, which could sometimes experience crashes of complete nodes or even the entire landscape.
“SAP NetWeaver and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server enable us to offer a better, more reliable service to individual developers, as well as presenting a showcase for SAP NetWeaver itself.”
The configurable memory allocation capabilities of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server enable the SAP Community Network team to ensure that each user is served efficiently. Effective exploitation of existing resources minimises the need to buy additional hardware.
“Many of our developers are working on complicated and extensive projects,” said Matthias Boehmert. “Easy and reliable access to the developer portal helps them to collaborate and share solutions with thousands of other users. The SAP Community Network shows SAP customers how SUSE Linux Enterprise Server can deliver success on a large scale.”
The services running on the SAP NetWeaver platform have expanded, and now include a complete range of Web 2.0 applications, such as blogging (with more than 4,800 active bloggers), wikis, forums (with 6,000 posts per day), documentation libraries, best-practice services and code libraries—for a total of 20 million page views per month!