itelligence is one of the largest providers of SAP hosting services in Denmark, with a large number of clients running their business-critical SAP applications
on its platform. Working with customers in industries such as manufacturing — where even a few minutes of downtime can result in million-dollar losses — itelligence must ensure that its systems can offer high performance and flawless availability, 24/7.
To provide fast, reliable hosted SAP applications to its clients, itelligence decided to modernize its SAP landscape. After successfully migrating its SAP HANA databases to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for SAP Applications, the company decided to move its SAP Business Suite applications, too — boosting performance, reducing IT management workload and creating an architecture that can offer better than “five nines” availability.
SAP’s strategy for the immediate future involves convincing clients to rearchitect their systems around the SAP HANA realtime database. This will be vital to help clients benefit from the next generation of SAP applications: SAP S/4HANA.
For itelligence, the launch of SAP HANA marked the start of a new era, prompting the company to begin migrating its existing hosting infrastructure from Sybase and SQL Server databases, which were mostly running on Microsoft Windows, to a new SAP HANA-based platform.
“SAP HANA is designed to run on Linux,” says Peter Drengsgaard, System Administrator at itelligence. “We realized that we would soon be running a much larger number of Linux servers than ever before, so we wanted to choose a single distribution that we could use as our enterprise Linux platform.”
“The support we get from SUSE is outstanding—they don’t just tell us how to solve a problem, they really explain what their solution does and why it works. That level of knowledge gives us huge confidence and helps us reinforce our own Linux skills.”
When itelligence installed its first SAP HANA systems, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications was the
only operating system on the market supported by SAP. Subsequently, SAP introduced support for other Linux distributions too, but by that time, itelligence had already been impressed with its experience of SUSE’s technical features, service levels and commercial flexibility. “When we looked at other enterprise Linux vendors, their licensing terms were not as advantageous compared to SUSE,” says Peter Drengsgaard. “And when we spoke to other SAP users, everyone agreed that SUSE Linux Enterprise was by far the best choice.”
As a result, the company decided to move its SAP Business Suite applications onto the SUSE Linux Enterprise platform too. Today, the total environment comprises more than 1,100 virtual machines across both IBM Power and x86 hardware.
With the vast majority of its hosted SAP application and database servers running on a single Linux distribution, itelligence has simplified its infrastructure and made it easier to manage. Support from SUSE has also helped the itelligence team ramp up its Linux knowhow and become experts quickly.
In particular, a week-long engagement with SUSE’s consultants helped the itelligence team implement the SUSE High Availability Extension—giving clients the option of a clustered SAP landscape that practically eliminates unplanned downtime.
“The support we get from SUSE is outstanding. The SUSE consultants don’t just tell us how to solve a problem, they really explain what their solution does and why it works,” says Peter Drengsgaard. “That level of knowledge gives us huge confidence and helps us reinforce our own Linux skills.”
The introduction of SUSE Manager has given itelligence a further boost in efficiency.
“Before SUSE Manager, patch management was a major pain,” says Peter Drengsgaard. “We depended on two team-members with really deep Linux skills to keep our VMs patched correctly. Today, any of our support staff can easily review and apply patches and updates through SUSE Manager: it’s much quicker and there’s much less risk of errors.”
Moving its SAP Business Suite applications to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server has not only reduced management overhead for itelligence, but also improved performance significantly. In particular, the combination of the SUSE Linux Enterprise operating system with SAP HANA and IBM Power Systems servers has led to some startling results: one client was able to reduce the time taken to generate reports from 10 hours to just 30 minutes, for example.
At the same time, the high availability clustering technology that is built into the SUSE operating system enables itelligence to offer clients extremely tight SLAs around the availability of their SAP applications. If necessary, availability rates of 99.999 percent or above are now achievable. Finally, SUSE Manager has reduced the cost of managing multiple SUSE Linux Enterprise Server versions across itelligence’s 1,100 virtual machines. The SUSE Manager interface is so popular and easy to use that the company is even considering using the software to manage its small Ubuntu environment too.
Peter Drengsgaard concludes: “We get a lot of value from being a member of the SUSE community, and the high-quality tools and support make all the difference in helping us build and maintain fast, secure and reliable SAP environments for our clients.”