SAP HANA Co-innovation for Real-Time Computing

For more than 10 years, Intel and SAP have worked together to deliver an industry-leading performance of SAP solutions on Intel architecture, and a large proportion of new SAP implementations are now deployed on Intel platforms. The latest success from that tradition of co-innovation is available to customers of all sizes in the SAP HANA, which is fully supported only on the Intel Xeon®  processor E7 family.

Co-innovation for Real-Time Computing

The relationship between Intel and SAP has become even stronger over the years, growing to include a broad set of collaborations and initiatives. Some of the most visible include the following:

Joint roadmap enablement. Early in the design process, Intel and SAP decision-makers identify complementary features and capabilities in their upcoming products, and those insights help to direct the development cycle for maximum value.

Collaborative product optimization. Intel engineers located on-site at SAP work with their SAP counterparts to provide tuning expertise that enables SAP HANA and other software solutions to take advantage of the latest hardware features.

Combined research efforts. Together, researchers from Intel and SAP continually explore and drive the future of business computing. As a result of these efforts, customer solutions achieve performance, scalability, reliability, and energy efficiency that translate into favorable ROI and TCO, for increased business value.

Operational Success and Management of Real-Time Events

In-memory computing based on SAP solutions on the Intel Xeon®  processor E7 family enables greater business agility and innovative usage models that let companies respond to changing conditions in real-time.

Scenarios such as monitoring customer and supplier activity can generate petabytes of data, the value of which depends on the ability to distill it into actionable intelligence.

SAP HANA and the latest Intel Xeon® processor E7 v2 family with up to 15 cores per socket deliver rapid data analysis that discerns patterns and trends, so you can adjust your just-in-time supply chain rapidly. You can also model “what if” scenarios to structure sales and promotions for optimal outcomes based on the latest sales and pipeline information.

Features of the Intel Xeon processor E7 v2 family, such as 37.5MB of L3 cache, Intel® QuickPath Interconnects, and quad-channel integrated memory controllers with the max memory speed of up to 1600MHz deliver extraordinary capabilities for businesses of all sizes that implement SAP HANA for functionality such as business intelligence and data analytics.

Especially the up to 24 DIMMs per socket with 64GB max DIMM density, which allow up to 6 TB in 4-socket, up to 12 TB in 8-socket or 24 TB in 16-socket servers provide SAP customers significant improvements for large transactional workloads e.g. BUSINESS SUITE ON HANA.

Performance Optimizations of SAP HANA with the Intel Xeon®  Processor E7 Family

SAP HANA benefits dramatically from high-speed Intel® QuickPath processor-to-memory interconnects and the latest processor instructions, Streaming SIMD Extensions e.g. Intel® AVX. Those features eliminate many I/O bottlenecks, so processor headroom is available to generate excellent throughput and responsiveness.

SAP HANA is also engineered to take particular advantage of RAS (reliability, availability, and serviceability) features of the Intel Xeon processor E7family, especially error correction through Machine Check Architecture Recovery, for mission-critical implementations.

As a result of the high level of performance optimization for servers based on the Intel Xeon processor E7 family, SAP HANA can provide businesses of all sizes with superior results for data warehousing implementations such as business intelligence and data analytics.

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Assured Performance with Mission-Critical Advanced Reliability of the Intel Xeon Processor E7 Family

Machine Check Architecture Recovery, reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS) feature built into the Intel Xeon® processor E7 family, enables the hardware platform to generate Machine Check Exceptions. In many cases, these notifications enable the system to take corrective action that allows SAP HANA to keep running where an outage would otherwise occur.

Hardware-based on the Intel Xeon® processor E7 family enables SAP HANA to failover from one processor socket to another in the event of a processor failure and to handle memory errors with as little impact on workloads as possible.

Cisco Systems SAP HANA Solutions

As part of the “Unified Appliance Environment,” Cisco has developed a full portfolio of SAP HANA appliances based on Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS™) spanning from the smallest T-shirt sizing, supporting as low as 64 GB memory, up to large scale-out solutions which can support up to 8 TB of usable memory.

Depending on the compression factors, the Cisco appliances can support databases up to 56 TB, the largest currently supported by SAP. However, the Cisco technology can support up to 20 TB of usable memory, which corresponds to uncompressed databases up to 100 TB or more.

Cisco UCS: A Unique SAP HANA Solution

Cisco UCS is a single unified system entirely programmable through unified, model-based management to simplify and speed the deployment of enterprise-class applications and services. All Cisco UCS SAP HANA appliances are intelligent infrastructures that can be managed through the embedded, single management plane across multiple Cisco UCS rack and blade servers (Figure 1).

This radically simplifies operations and lowers costs. The model-based management applies personality and configures server, network, and storage connectivity resources. Using Cisco service profiles, which define the model, it is simple to provision servers by applying the desired configuration to physical infrastructure.

The configuration is applied quickly, accurately, and automatically, improving business agility, and staff productivity, and eliminating a major source of errors that can cause downtime.

The Cisco Fabric Extender Architecture reduces the number of system components to purchase, configure, manage, and maintain by condensing three network layers into one. It eliminates both blade server and hypervisor-based switches by connecting fabric interconnect ports directly to individual blade servers and virtual machines.

Virtual networks are now managed exactly as physical networks are, but with massive scalability. This represents a radical simplification of traditional systems, reducing capital and operating costs while increasing business agility, simplifying and speeding deployment, and improving performance.

Cisco UCS helps organizations go beyond efficiency: it helps them become more effective through technologies that breed simplicity rather than complexity. The result is flexible, agile, high-performance, self-integrating information technology that reduces staff costs and increases uptime through automation, providing a more rapid return on investment.

The excellent performance combined with the broad range of usable memory makes the Cisco UCS SAP Appliances an excellent, easy-to-manage choice for analyzing massive amounts of business data.

Figure 1. Cisco UCS SAP HANA Architecture

SAP HANA T-Shirt Sizes Offered

The  Extra  Small (XS)  and Small (S)-size appliances are based on the Cisco C260 M2 rack mount server with 2 Intel® Xeon® Processor E7-4870 (2.4 GHz) and up to 256 GB of usable memory for BW and 512 GB for SAP BUSINESS SUITE ON HANA.

This configuration is primarily used for the development, testing, and small production of SAP HANA systems with uncompressed datasets up to 1.75 TB. The Cisco UCS appliance incorporates a persistency layer, based on internal SSD drives that require no additional drivers tainting the Linux kernel.

The Medium (M) -size appliance is based on the Cisco C460 M2 rack mount server with 4 Intel® Xeon® Processor E7-4870 (2.4 GHz) and up to 512 GB of usable memory for BW and 1024 GB for SAP business suite on HANA.

This configuration is ideal for use in mid-sized and larger production environments such as the one used by Medtronic, a large, worldwide manufacturer of medical devices. The persistency layer is provided by two Fusion-IO cards to avoid possible bottlenecks in duo card configurations sharing the same PCI slot.

Related Article: SAP HANA Interview Questions & Answers

SAP HANA Scale-out offering

The  Cisco UCS solution that has been certified for large SAP HANA implementations is a uniquely scalable appliance. It allows customers to easily adapt to the growing demands of their individual environment by incrementally adding Cisco B440 M2 blade servers with 4 Intel® Xeon® Processors E7-4870 (2.4 GHz) and up to 512 GB usable memory each, as needed.

For every four Cisco UCS blade servers, the persistency layer is provided by an EMC VNX 5300 or a NetApp FAS  3240,  depending on customer preference.

The “basic configuration” of the Cisco scale-out offering is made up of redundant fabric interconnects with embedded infrastructure management, a Cisco UCS C200 server for SAP HANA studio, a Cisco 2911 for secure remote management, and one enclosure with support for up to 4 Cisco B440 blades.

The basic configuration can easily scale by adding up a literally infinite number of Cisco B440 M2 blade servers each and the correspondent storage from EMC or NetApp. The beauty of Cisco’s scale-out architecture is that it can be extended by additional blades and storage units without shutting down the HANA system as we have proven at eBay, where an existing HANA system with 4 TB was extended to 12 TB on the fly without any downtime.

High Availability SAP HANA Solution

Cisco UCS SAP HANA appliances have redundancy designed in providing no single point of failure. However, in the event of a hardware failure on a blade or rack server, any spare Cisco UCS server can take over the role of the failed server in minutes by simply applying the service profile to the spare server.

Synchronous Disaster recovery (DR) scenarios up to 50km and asynchronous over infinite distances can be easily implemented by using service profiles to quickly provision servers at the DR site in conjunction with the “classical” replication technologies of EMC and NetApp or the SAP HANA system replication feature.

SAP HANA Support infrastructure

All Cisco UCS servers are interconnected with a low-latency, high-bandwidth 10-Gbps unified Ethernet fabric. The unified fabric supports both IP and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) connections through redundant, high-performance, low-latency Cisco Fabric Interconnects.

The Cisco Fabric Interconnect, with embedded management, is the core of the Cisco UCS and reduces both the number of network “hops” and network latency, critical to SAP HANA performance. The unified fabric radically reduces the number of cables, inter-chassis switches, and network adapters required by legacy platforms. This reduces energy consumption and operational costs resulting in a much lower total cost of ownership.

Additional software

The operating system, Cisco UCS drivers, and Cisco UCS management software are all part of the appliance; therefore no additional software is necessary to manage the entire system. However, Cisco Intelligent Automation for SAP HANA is highly recommended. The Cisco Intelligent Automation software solution supports the daily operation of an SAP HANA appliance by:

  • Monitoring the CPU and memory workload, and the average index read time at the blade level
  • Automating quarterly maintenance, including firmware updates and file system validation
  • Ensuring configuration management assurance for all  appliance components
  • Monitoring data services availability
  • Proactively monitoring SAP HANA subsystem component's status
  • Monitoring query execution response times using the SAP HANA index for the query execution SAP HANA Query Response Time
  • Executing sample queries and recording total execution time and query component performance breakdown
  • Proactively monitoring the SAP TREX services statistics   based on thresholds
  • Alerting CPU, memory, or throughput thresholds for SAP TREX services
  • Automating Cisco UCS blade and rack server provisioning for use in the appliance in minutes, instead of days

SAP HANA Installation and Support  Services

Cisco SAP HANA installation services include the assembly of all necessary hardware and software required for an SAP HANA  appliance.  Cisco’s  SAP HANA engineers will install the appliance into the customer’s network and connect it to the source system(s).

Also included are the necessary SuSe Linux Licenses, Smartnet 24x7x4 day support for the Cisco hardware,  as well as licenses, and first-year maintenance for EMC or NetApp storage as required.

Implementation of solutions based on Cisco SAP HANA appliances is provided through Cisco Advanced Services and Cisco’s ecosystem of systems integrators and partners. These solutions include data modeling, data load, replication, and SAP HANA application configuration.

Customers who don’t want to run into the hassle of reading a high number of interlinked SAP notes before any HANA patch can use the Cisco HANA remote operation service which keeps sensitive data on-premise and will be managed in a cloud-like style without compromising security.

Customer Success Story

Customer testimonials can act as very powerful marketing content and messaging.

Medtronic dramatically improved reporting performance, increasing the value of its customer information, with the SAP HANA™ platform and Cisco Unified Computing System™  (Cisco UCS™)  server platform.


Medtronic needed to increase its ability to analyze large amounts of data, such as customer feedback. BI reporting on its fast-growing data warehouse was straining the capabilities of the company’s computer infrastructure. Because employees couldn’t generate some types of reports (particularly using unstructured data), their ability to draw conclusions from existing data was limited.


The company deployed the SAP HANA platform on the Cisco UCS server platform based on the Intel® Xeon® processor E7 family. In preliminary testing, users of an “un-tuned” system observed query times just one-third as long as those with existing production systems. With the fully scaled and optimized implementation now in place, Medtronic hopes to cut response times even further.

Customer Benefit:

BI operations at Medtronic will use the SAP HANA platform to report on structured and unstructured data, wherever it resides, whether on SAP or non-SAP systems. The added performance, scalability, and flexibility of this new architecture will increase the value of company data as it continues to proliferate, increasing employee efficiency and enabling smarter decision-making.

About Author

Ravindra Savaram is a Technical Lead at His passion lies in writing articles on the most popular IT platforms including Machine learning, DevOps, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, RPA, Deep Learning, and so on. You can stay up to date on all these technologies by following him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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