To deliver outstanding learning experiences to students, higher education institutions like the University of Haifa are always looking for ways to do more with less. The university recognized an opportunity to deliver substantial savings by migrating its mission-critical SAP business systems to x86 servers running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications. By working with SUSE, the university has reduced operational spend and created a robust foundation for its transition to in-memory analytics on SAP HANA.
Universities face the constant challenge of using limited resources to deliver the best possible student experience. In many organizations, infrastructure is considered a cost center, but the University of Haifa identified a valuable opportunity to trans- form its IT into a lean, cost-effective platform for value-added analytics.
Arthur Shkabatur, System Administrator at the University of Haifa, said, “Like many higher education institutions around the world, we rely on SAP applications to support many of our core processes, including admissions, student lifecycle management, educational performance management and business intelligence.”
Over the years, the university saw a substantial increase in the demand for analytics from across the organization. In particular, there was an appetite to drill deeper into the university’s financial data—but because the accounting system sat outside the SAP environment, it was difficult to build and deliver the necessary reports.
“In the past, we relied on IBM Power Systems servers running IBM AIX to support our SAP ERP applications and Oracle Database,” said Shkabatur. “Our IBM Power Systems landscape was nearing end of life, and we knew that we could achieve substantial cost-savings by migrating to commodity x86 servers.
“At the same time, we saw an opportunity to migrate our finance processes to SAP, and extend our analytics capabilities by deploying SAP BusinessObjects. To deliver the required levels of reliability and performance, we looked for a robust, cost-effective server platform to support our new business systems.”
To solve the challenge, University of Haifa decided to migrate its entire SAP landscape to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications on HP servers connected to EMC and NetApp storage arrays.
“Our first experience with SUSE was ten years ago, and we more recently deployed SAP Portal as a user-friendly business intelligence front-end for our personnel,” said Shkabatur. “We chose SUSE Linux Enterprise Server to support the application, and it has never let us down. That positive experience gave us the confidence that SUSE was an ideal platform for our new x86 environment.
“We have been very impressed by the close relationship between SUSE and SAP, and the enterprise-class documentation and support we receive from SUSE. Better still, SUSE offers an academic software licensing program, which enables us to reduce our operational costs substantially compared to the equivalent IBM AIX environment.”
By virtualizing the environment with VMware VSphere, the university can provision compute and storage resources from a single, shared management interface— reducing the time required to build, test and deploy new services.
The solution also offers the university a comprehensive range of management and configuration tools as standard. For example, University of Haifa uses YaST extensively to administer its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications environment.
Today, University of Haifa has the robust, cost-effective and scalable platform it needs to build and roll out value-added analytics capabilities.
Shkabatur said, “Moving from expensive AIX infrastructure to SUSE Linux Enter- prise Server for SAP Applications on x86 systems is helping us to reduce our operational costs significantly. By saving money on IT, without compromising on performance, we are deploying our limited resources more efficiently and enabling greater spending in other areas—helping to provide our students with an even better environment to learn in.”
The university is now preparing to mi- grate its financial processes to SAP ERP and deploy SAP BusinessObjects. The new finance application will be connected to a SAP HANA database in a sidecar configuration, delivering lightning-fast reporting.
“The academic licensing program for SAP HANA will bring enterprise-grade in- memory analytics within our reach—with- out breaking the bank,” said Shkabatur. “Looking further ahead, we plan to move all our SAP ERP application databases to SAP HANA, which will reduce our end-user application response times across the board.”
Shkabatur concluded: “Without a doubt, our SUSE and SAP solutions will help us to offer our staff the tools they need to deliver outstanding learning experiences to our students.”