Another interesting article from my favorite guest author.
SAP HANA is column-oriented, in-memory relational database management system (RDBMS). While traditional databases store information in persistent storage, HANA uses random access memory (RAM). This in-memory functionality enables it to provide significantly faster read and write times.
SAP HANA functions as a database server, enabling you to store and retrieve your application data. It is frequently used for application serving and business intelligence. You can use HANA for a range of advanced analytics, including spatial data processing, stream analysis, and predictive analysis. You can also use it to transfer data between databases or data sources using extract, transform, load (ETL) processes.
In this article, you will learn about
Hosting HANA on Azure Architecture
Azure offers SAP-certified virtual machines (VMs) and bare-metal servers for hosting HANA.
VMs are hosted on shared resources (like standard VMs) while bare-metal servers offer dedicated resources. If you choose to run HANA on bare-metal, you still need VMs for your applications and middleware. This configuration is considered a Tailored Datacenter Integration (TDI).
When hosting HANA on Azure, you are using a SAP application layer composed of numerous VMs. These machines provide somewhere between 36 CPU cores with 786GB of memory to 480 CPU cores with 24TB of memory. These are connected to separate storage resources, such as Azure Files.
Benefits of Moving to Azure
There are a variety of benefits you gain when hosting SAP on Azure. The most common benefits include:
- Cost-savings—Azure hosting enables you to avoid large capital expenditures required for on-premises hosting. Alternatively, hosting with a hybrid cloud infrastructure enables you to extend the life of on-premises resources and pay down technical debt.
- Scalability—Azure resources are highly scalable, enabling you to easily adjust to changing demands as needed.
- Availability—Azure provides SLAs and data redundancy to ensure that resources remain available. This reduces the chance of downtime and eases distributed workflows.
Limitations of HANA on Azure
While Azure provides a variety of benefits, there are some limitations when hosting HANA. These limitations include:
- Compliance—compliance measures must be configured and are not applied by default. Likewise, although Azure offers a Government Cloud for compliance, you must pass certain criteria to use its resources.
- Complexity—depending on your configurations and what resources you are using, you may have difficulty maintaining full visibility of your services. Azure provides good support for integrating a variety of environments and applications but each addition adds to your overall complexity. This makes services more challenging to configure and manage.
- Resources—resources such as storage, memory, and compute are only available in large blocks. This means that if you exceed those sizes, even by a margin, you have to pay for another whole block. To handle this, you need to either downgrade your performance to fit smaller resources or pay for unused resources.
SAP HANA Infrastructure Configurations
When hosting HANA, there are a few configuration options you need to understand to ensure a successful deployment.
Choose Host Resources
Azure offers either SAP-certified VMs for use on shared infrastructure or Large Instances for use on bare-metal servers. SAP-certified VMs are optimized for SAP use but typically cannot provide the same level of performance as Large Instances. You can find the full range of supported VM types in the SAP documentation.
You also have the option to use the SAP Cloud Platform, hosted on Azure. This platform is a fully managed service offered by SAP and based on Cloud Foundry.
Set up Your Network
Once your VMs are deployed, you need to configure your network connections. You can accomplish this with an Azure virtual private network (VPN), ExpressRoute, or via a Virtual Gateway in a subnet of the Azure Virtual Network (VNet).
When you install HANA, you also need to create two subnets in addition to those you already have. One is used to host your VMs and the other is used for a Jump box or Management VM. A jump box is a machine you can use to access and manage devices from an isolated security zone. This latter VM hosts your SAP HANA Studio, application software, and management software.
For specifics, see the official Microsoft documentation.
Connect to Azure VMs
There are three basic methods for connecting to your VMS. You can either:
- Connect through public Internet endpoints on a Jump VM
- Connect through public Internet endpoints on your HANA host VM
- Connect through Azure ExpressRoute or VPN
Connection through VPN or ExpressRoute is preferred and is required for production environments. The other options can be used when testing configurations or for development environments.
Ensure Your Resources are Right-Sized
Right-sizing refers to ensuring that your resources are sufficient for your needs without restricting performance. It requires allocating the correct number and type of resources for your environment. To effectively run HANA in Azure, you need to ensure that your resources are right-sized. Otherwise, you lose out on the benefits of in-memory database management.
To determine the number of resources needed, you need to collect and analyze data on your current configurations. This data should include storage, memory, compute, and networking requirements. Once you understand your current resource use and consider it in light of your desired performance, you’ll have a better idea of how to adjust your configurations.
Deploying SAP HANA and Azure can work well as a cost-effective and scalable solution for big data operations and other high availability workloads. However, you need to know what you are doing when you configure your infrastructure. This includes data and security compliance, network connectivity, and resource optimization, to name a few. If this is your first run with SAP HANA on Azure, be sure to do a test run, consult with experts, or use a fully-managed third-party.
Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Imperva, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership.