SAP Watch

Apr 24 2009   2:42PM GMT

Easing your fears of SAP virtualization support

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

Support has been one of the biggest issues surrounding SAP virtualization, especially when it comes to moving mission-critical applications to virtual environments.

Typically, when there’s a problem with a virtualized application the application vendor will tell the IT shop it must uninstall the application from its virtual environment and move it to a physical setup to isolate the fault, according to this article on

To that end, one of the most interesting presentations during SAP Virtualization Week was from Rick Scherer, a virtual infrastructure architect with the City of San Diego — who shed some light on this issue.

Scherer works for the City of San Diego Data Processing Corporation, which handles IT for the city. San Diego is in the midst of a massive SAP project — standardizing each department (all of which run different software) on SAP in a virtual environment.

It’s virtualizing about 55% of its servers with VMware, and it’s hoping to have 70% to 75% of those virtualized by the end of the year.

Scherer focused much of his presentation on the importance of proper design — building the virtual infrastructure the same way you would build a physical infrastructure in order to avoid having to call for support in the first place.

“If you design improperly, you’re designing for failure,” he said.

Scherer told reporter Mark Brunelli in this article on that, in his own experience and in talking with industry peers, he has found that most virtualization support issues can be traced back to infrastructure problems.

“One scenario that I’ve heard is that a customer deploys a Tier 1 application like SAP on a virtual machine, and the performance isn’t that great,” he said in the article. “Come to find out that they put all of their data on one set of discs and [as a result they] hit an I/O contention that they normally wouldn’t hit in a physical world. That’s because, in the physical world, you would separate your OS from your database from your backup, and so on.”

He shared a few tips for proper design in his presentation: 

  1. Look at SAP requirements
  2. Do not overcommitt memory
  3. Separate O/S from database from log, keeping O/S disk on slower, SATA drive and database and log on SAS or FB disks
  4. Have multiple virtual machines with smaller amounts of CPUs on the systems

The payoff is great. Virtualization saved San Diego around $100,000.  To run its applications on physical servers would have cost $210,000. Running its applications in a virtual environment cost $106,000.

We’ve been writing quite a bit about virtualization lately and you can read all of our coverage in this SAP Virtualization: Special Report.

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