Niraj Verma, Cloud Solution Architect NetApp
This architecture brief provides an overview of SAP databases and gives a reference architecture for deploying SAP workloads on Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud.
Some of the largest businesses run SAP applications. Increasingly, customers are running mission-critical SAP applications on Google Cloud to take advantage of Google Cloud’s secure, modern, and reliable global infrastructure as well as its capabilities in AI, ML, and analytics.
Every enterprise customer is different, and each has its unique journey and challenges to the cloud when it comes to migrating SAP applications. NetApp and Google have teamed up to simplify this journey by offering customers best practices that are tied to reference architectures underpinned by NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud. As customers look to transform their SAP landscapes, NetApp Cloud Volumes Service will help them modernize and create experiences using the highly secure and highly available Google Cloud infrastructure.
With better and more reliable hardware, simple upgrades, and easy migration, the promise of VM-based agility for their SAP data is attractive to many customers. Google also offers many integrated services for collaborating, analyzing, and innovating with the SAP data to drive new business value, all while keeping downtime to a minimum.
This document provides a brief overview of SAP use cases targeted for Google Cloud. It also gives a reference architecture for deploying SAP on NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud Platform and explains the added benefits and value.
Many customers that have on-premises SAP deployments are looking to simplify operations and move to cloud faster. With a hybrid SAP landscape, there needs to be a seamless way for data management across the landscape. Customers are also looking to minimize and eliminate extraneous on-premises infrastructure used for sporadic, non-production requirements such as development, quality of service, and training. In parallel, new SAP customers are looking for virtualized SAP deployments in the cloud to avoid distributed landscapes (on-premises and cloud).
For scenarios of on-premises, existing hybrid, or new SAP deployments, customers need to think about their requirements for no-impact testing, training, and prototype development. They want to integrate with Google Cloud services for a consistent experience without sacrificing performance or data management capabilities.
NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud is great for customers who are looking to run SAP databases in the cloud. Instead of waiting for months or years to refactor an SAP-based application, customers can easily migrate their data to Cloud Volumes Service on Google Cloud Platform.
Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud is an enterprise-class storage offering that is running on the same technology proven for SAP deployments on-premises. It is available as a cloud-native offering. Multiple Fortune 100 enterprise SAP deployments (development, QAS, and PRD landscapes) are running on Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud. With high performance and near instant copies, customers can simplify operations, resulting in up to 50% cost savings and accelerating time-to-market by 70%.
The following subsections outline the key benefits of Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud Platform.
With consistently high performance of over 250k IOPS, Cloud Volumes Service provides shared persistent storage with high throughput and low latency. It easily meets the demands of large-scale SAP deployments.
You can easily create a snapshot of an SAP database using NetApp TM Snapshot technology. Snapshot act as logical backups. They’re point-in-time representations of your data that allow you to restore your database or shared file systems without downtime. You can create snapshot manually or schedule creation by using the Cloud Volumes Service API, gcloud CLI, or graphical user interface (GUI).
Snapshot are fast, easy, and nondisruptive. A NetApp snapshot creates a “frozen” read-only view of a volume that enables your applications to access older versions of files and directory hierarchies without additional workflows. Snapshot creation takes only a few seconds (typically less than 1 second), regardless of the size of the volume or the level of activity within the environment. Since they are read-only, incremental copies, you only pay for the space consumed by new data written.
Most organizations need multiple copies of data for testing and development. SAP landscapes are littered with system copies for a variety of uses; creating and refreshing those copies is cumbersome. Typically, creating copies of SAP landscapes is a time-consuming and tedious process. Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud enables you to create a near instant copy using snapshots. It significantly improves the release cycle from development to stage and production. The process can be scripted using Cloud Volumes Service APIs, which leads to a quicker time to market.
NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud is a regional service. It means that application instances in any of the Google Cloud zones in a given region can access the SAP database and shared files. More importantly, the service is unaffected by zonal outages. You don’t have to replicate content and incur additional charges for data egress either.
NetApp Cloud Volumes Service uses at-rest encryption, relying on the XTS-AES 256-bit encryption algorithm. Cloud Volumes Service encrypts your data without compromising your storage application performance. NetApp manages and rotates encryption keys for you. This single-source solution can increase your organization’s overall compliance with industry and government regulations without compromising the user experience.
By leveraging Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud, you can control your cloud performance by dynamically adjusting among three service levels. For an increase in performance, you can increase the capacity allocation (for example, 10TB provides 160MB/s); you can also choose a higher service level.
One of the unique features of NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud is the capability to change performance on demand without impacting the availability to the application or users. Thus, if users need Extreme performance for just two hours a day and Standard performance for the remainder, you can use API calls or a scheduler in Linux to automate that process, resulting in significant cost savings at scale.
To understand the specific storage requirements and different use cases for SAP, we need to take a closer look at the different types of SAP applications, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1 - SAP storage performance requirements and certification
|Sap shared file systems||Sap Any DB||Sapn HANA|
|KPI||None||Based on Sizing||Defined by SAP(HWCCT)|
Figure 1 shows typical file systems that are used by an SAP application server, an SAP/AnyDB database server (such as Oracle, SQL, DB2, ASE, and MaxDB), and an SAP HANA server. The colors indicate the typical performance requirement for these type of file systems, showing a low performance requirement for standard file systems that hold binaries, log and trace files, or configuration files using a green color. In contrast, SAP HANA data and log volumes require higher storage performance; therefore, they are displayed in red when compared against traditional databases.
When you are running an SAP system in production, an important thing to remember is the SAP HANA certification or a formal support declaration for AnyDB databases, such as Oracle. In contrast, file systems used for SAP application servers do not require a certification. The SAP HANA certification includes the host and storage on which SAP HANA is running in production. Additionally, the certification includes a performance test with stringent key performance indicators (KPIs) that a system must pass to be listed in the Certified and Supported SAP HANA Hardware Directory.
Based on the classification described in the previous section, there are various use cases where NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud could help improve customers’ SAP cloud experience:
Although the four use cases listed above are unique, the rest of this document will refer to them as Use Case Category 1: SAP shared file systems, and Use Case Category 2: Non-production databases (SBX, QAS, Training).
As shown in Figure 2, shared files are needed for almost any SAP system landscape, starting with the typical candidates such as /usr/sap/trans, SAP HANA data volumes, and SAP HANA log volumes. The exact performance requirements can vary based on a customer's setup; however, you can find shared file systems in any customer environment, mostly using NFS as the protocol.
Almost every SAP landscape requires a shared file system provided through the NFS protocol on UNIX, the Linux operating systems, or the SMB protocol in the case of an SAP system running on Windows operating system.
This section discusses the shared file requirements for an example setup using an SAP HANA multiple- host system with SAP HANA system replication, an SAP application server using clustered SAP ABAP SAP Central Services (ASCS), and an SAP Enqueue Replication Server (ERS). This is a very common setup to achieve high availability for the SAP HANA database by using HANA system replication, as well as for the application server by implementing clustered ASCS and SAP ERS instances.
Figure 3 shows the following shared file systems that are required for the system landscape:
A do-it-yourself Linux cluster using a block device such as Persistent Disks is one of the solutions within Google Cloud that provides a highly available NFS service. At first glance, this solution is appealing due to the localization of files to the application instance. However, this type of solution can quickly present the following challenges when it comes to scaling:
Figure 4 shows NetApp recommended architecture for SAP shared file systems using Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud in a multi-host HANA deployment:
Figure 4 – Reference Architecture for SAP Multi-Host HANA Shared File system on Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud
By running the high-performance data and log stores locally on a persistent disk, and remainder shared file systems on Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud, customers can gain several advantages that will strengthen their mission-critical or enterprise-scale SAP landscapes:
Customers have the choice to host shared file systems by performance and protection needs with the matching service level (Standard, Premium, or Extreme). The service level can also be changed on the fly with automation (REST APIs) to respond to a business process (such as a seasonal peak) or sustained growth, as discussed earlier.
In addition to performance, ease of management, and flexibility, SAP customers also require enterprise- grade data protection not only for their databases, but also for their shared file systems. By using NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud, customers can implement comprehensive data protection for their SAP shared file systems by using NetApp snapshot.
Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud snapshot are very fast (completed in seconds), space efficient, and have no performance impact, regardless of the size of the file system. Instead of copying data, the service marks the blocks on the active file system to be part of the new snapshot. It ensures that whenever a block is changed, the new content is written to an empty block, preserving the snapped data block and avoiding any additional I/O. In other words, snapshot are pointers to data blocks that also allow restore operations to be fast because only pointers are changed and no data will be copied.
Customers can easily create storage snapshot by using the Google Cloud console, or they can integrate snapshot functionality into their own scripts by using REST API. Using the console, you can schedule snapshot to include automated retention management. For example, customers can schedule hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly snapshot, and configure the number of snapshot they want to keep. These snapshot can be used to quickly restore files. They can also be used to create clone copies of the file systems in the same region for development, training, or QAS, or to create a new volume in another region for added protection.
This category includes the following systems:
In this second category of use cases, customers can run database volumes (data and log) on NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud along with shared files (separate volumes).
The advantages of running SAP databases on Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud include:
The most basic SAP HANA configuration requires three different storage volumes—data, log, and /hana/shared.
The following storage volumes are required for a single-host HANA system:
When the memory size of a single server is not sufficient, SAP HANA allows you to combine the memory of multiple servers to run SAP HANA in a multiple-host configuration. In this setup, SAP HANA allows you to configure a standby host that takes over the role of the failed server if a host failure occurs on one of the worker hosts (see Figure 5). This SAP HANA cluster mechanism requires that the /hana/shared file system is available on all SAP HANA nodes, which in turn requires NFS. Also, the data and log volumes must be remounted on the standby host, which is a perfect use case for an NFS endpoint, such as NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud.
In addition to these changes, SAP HANA multiple-host setup requires that one of the following common backup volumes be shared between all SAP HANA hosts for a file-based backup:
Figure 5 - Multi Host SAP Development / Non-Production Database on Cloud Volumes Service
As discussed in the Data protection for SAP shared files section, Cloud Volumes Service offers integrated, fast, and easy snapshot that can be created on-demand or according to a predefined schedule. SAP architects and administrators can orchestrate application-consistent snapshots by first opening a native snapshot in HANA, and then creating a snapshot using the gcloud CLI or the Cloud Volumes Service REST API, and then closing the HANA snapshot to complete the process.
In the next update of this document, we will be adding sample code and illustrations to highlight how easy and powerful this process can be.
For more information about Cloud Volumes Service, technical architecture, and API specifications, see the Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud user documentation.
Cloud Volumes Service on Google Cloud gives customers a robust set of capabilities for migrating or deploying new SAP workloads. Cloud Volumes Service allows for an agile, future proof design by eliminating any performance or scalability challenges with zero impact, and automated and/or controlled service level changes.
Cloud Volumes Service is highly available, protects against data corruption and data loss, and features granular roles that are built into Google Cloud Identity and Access management, making it a secure choice for the most demanding SAP workloads.
To learn more about NetApp Cloud Portfolio, visit cloud.netapp.com/cloud-volumes-service-for-gcp.