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IBM Power for Hana

Under former SAP Chief Technology Officer Vishal Sikka, the strategy for Hana was Intel only. However, because Intel processors are universal geniuses, they are subject to IBM's specialized processors in the database area.
E3 Magazine
December 18, 2023
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This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

An Intel processor is equally suitable for games, word processing, video editing and databases. Intel has thus conquered the world. IBM is at home in the business community and trimmed its Power processors to the requirements of business processes and databases. It quickly became clear to the experts that IBM Power's processor architecture offered more advantages for Hana than Intel's universal geniuses.

E3 Magazine spoke to Christian Nett, Senior SAP on Power Technical Architect at IBM Germany, and Peter Kindiger, Business Development Manager, IBM Power Systems at TD Synnex, about current developments.

E3: What does the typical server landscape of medium-sized companies look like when it comes to SAP Hana?

Christian Nett, IBM: Many of these companies have so far only migrated a small SAP landscape to Hana. This often involves SAP Solution Manager, as this is associated with the free use of SAP Hana as a database. These customers still have the S/4 migration ahead of them with the conversion of their ERP architecture. As the companies are still using classic databases such as Oracle, IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, SAP ASE etc. with significantly lower resource requirements, they often only have a small number of physical SAP servers with relatively little main memory and CPUs. However, this will change when the switch to Hana as a database is due as part of the S/4 migration.

E3: What challenges do medium-sized companies face when either migrating to Hana or expanding their Hana capacities?

Christian Nett,
Senior SAP on Power Technical Architect, IBM

Nice: SAP Hana requires significantly more hardware than traditional databases. In terms of CPU performance, it is around a factor of three and significantly more for memory: usually 10 to 20 times as much. The memory requirement depends on the uncompressed size of the classic database on the hard disk or SSD and accounts for around half. With an uncompressed database size of two terabytes on IBM DB2, SAP Hana requires around one TB of main memory. The load behavior is also completely different to that of classic databases and the SAP application server. SAP Hana parallelizes very strongly and therefore has very high peaks in relation to the average CPU load: usually between five and 20 percent. This makes Hana, together with the SAP application server, the ideal solution for workload consolidation, as the servers generally have an inverse CPU-to-memory ratio: high computing power but low main memory requirements.

E3: What solutions are there?

Nice: Virtualized IBM Power Servers can greatly reduce the high resource requirements triggered by SAP Hana and thus operate the new SAP S/4 Hana landscapes efficiently and cost-effectively. 

E3: What is the most common prejudice against IBM Power?

Peter Kindiger, TD Synnex: Many IT experts believe that Power is expensive and only suitable for large customers! However, this is often a case of comparing apples with oranges. With IBM Power, for example, virtualization does not cost any extra. In addition, depending on the model, up to 16 productive Hana instances run on the Power10 machines. In addition, the main memory is 2.4 times faster or has twice the bandwidth of standard industrial DIMMs. And reliability is guaranteed at 99.999 percent. All these advantages quickly put the price into perspective.

Nice: You always have to compare which SAP workloads can be run on the machines. If you carry out a TCO calculation based on the SAP landscapes to be operated, IBM Power is the most cost-effective solution in almost all cases. There are now also smaller Power systems with two to eight terabytes of main memory, where even the TCA value (Total Cost of Acquisition) without the consolidation effect is lower than that of competitor systems. 

E3: What are the arguments in favor of switching from the Intel x86 platform to Power10 servers? 

Peter Kindiger,
Business Development Manager, TD Synnex

Kindiger: If you really want to save energy, there is no getting around IBM Power Systems. This is primarily about consolidation. With the L1022 and L1024 entry servers, up to four productive
Hana instances plus additional workloads for test or demo environments. With the large E1080, the SAP productive share even increases to 16 instances. Another important advantage: with capacity on demand, a company can grow within the system without having to make further investments in hardware. Other fundamental advantages of the Power platform are its integrated security and reliability. IBM Power servers are available from four cores with 32 GB main memory up to 240 cores with 64 terabytes. 

E3: How is the market developing with Hana in the two to six terabyte segment?

Nice: Most Hana databases in the midmarket are smaller than six terabytes. Many customers will have to switch completely to SAP S/4 or SAP Hana by 2030 at the latest. This segment is therefore developing rapidly at the moment and IBM is participating strongly in this growth.

E3: In which areas do you see the new Power-L systems and for which companies are they of interest? 

Kindiger: The L models are the optimal choice for operating Linux workloads. The focus is on SAP Hana with a size of between two and eight terabytes. With this performance, IBM is clearly targeting the midmarket.

E3: What is the pricing of the L1022 and L1024 models?

Kindiger: It is difficult to give specific prices, as each Power machine can be equipped variably. In any case, the L models designed for Hana are so attractively priced that they can compete with any x86 architecture for medium-sized companies. If you consider that PowerVM virtualization is included at no extra cost, the two Power systems L1022 and L1024 are even unbeatably affordable - both in terms of purchase and operation. IBM promises a return on investment of 137 percent in seven months! Support is provided by BM Power Expert Care. The term is between three and five years with a selectable response time of 30 minutes to four hours. In addition to the hardware, IBM offers comprehensive software support. All IBM products are covered here: from operating systems such as SLES for SAP, Red Hat or PowerVM to IBM i and AIX.

E3: How future-proof is the Power platform and what innovations can we expect in the next few years?

Nice: The IBM Power platform is very future-proof. We have a roadmap that extends far beyond 2037. We are already working on the successor to Power10. Before then, however, there will also be enhancements for the Power10 generation, for example in the main memory area. But I'm not allowed to talk about this in detail yet.

Kindiger: According to IBM, the Power 11 chip is already fully developed. The switch to IBM Power therefore offers a high degree of future security.

E3: Thank you for the interview.

ibm.com

tdsynnex.com

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Work on SAP Basis is crucial for successful S/4 conversion. This gives the so-called Competence Center strategic importance among SAP's existing customers. Regardless of the operating model of an S/4 Hana, topics such as automation, monitoring, security, application lifecycle management, and data management are the basis for the operative S/4 operation. For the second time already, E3 Magazine is hosting a summit in Salzburg for the SAP community to get comprehensive information on all aspects of S/4 Hana groundwork. With an exhibition, expert presentations, and plenty to talk about, we again expect numerous existing customers, partners, and experts in Salzburg. E3 Magazine invites you to Salzburg for learning and exchange of ideas on June 5 and 6, 2024.

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Event Room, FourSide Hotel Salzburg,
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June 5 and 6, 2024

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Early Bird Ticket - Available until 29.03.2024
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Event Room, Hotel Hilton Heidelberg,
Kurfürstenanlage 1,
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28 and 29 February 2024

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The organizer is the E3 magazine of the publishing house B4Bmedia.net AG. The presentations will be accompanied by an exhibition of selected SAP partners. The ticket price includes the attendance of all lectures of the Steampunk and BTP Summit 2024, the visit of the exhibition area, the participation in the evening event as well as the catering during the official program. The lecture program and the list of exhibitors and sponsors (SAP partners) will be published on this website in due time.