Do you need to virtualize your BI deployment? Join the crowd. Some say that by 2015, 80% of Business Intelligence deployments will be on virtualized in one way or another… and there are a lot of reasons to virtualize. In fact, I’ve been doing BusinessObjects demos using VMWare for over 10 years.
So what about my production SAP BusinessObjects environment?
There are two things you need to consider:
- Does my existing license agreement provide me virtualization rights?
- Will SAP support BusinessObjects running on a virtualized environment?
The License Agreement
Virtualization language need to be included in the terms and conditions of your license agreement. BusinessObjects license agreements from before February 2008
did not include virtualization rights… and even if you have purchased additional licenses in the last few years, you may have simply signed an addendum to the original contract which would not necessarily have included virtualization rights.
If you need virtualization rights, please contact your SAP sales representative and let them know. They will be able to help you get virtualization language into your license agreement.
If you virtualize your BusinessObjects deployment without the associated
license terms in your contract, you will be out of license compliance.
SAP Support for Virtualization
SAP BusinessObjects has been supported on the VMWare platform for a number of years but as virtualization options have expanded it’s been harder and harder to find detailed information about exactly what SAP supports and doesn’t support and where to go to get the best information on this topic.
Earlier this year SAP support published a virtualization support statement which covers all the SAP products, including SAP BusinessObjects. (Note: the key exceptions are HANA and BWA which are hardware solutions and virtualization doesn’t make sense.)
Here can find the statement here:
What does this mean for me?
This means that if you are using Hypervisor vendors such as Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V, VMWare vSphere, you will be able to get support for your SAP environment leveraging these technologies. The same is true for AIX partitioning and Solaris containers.
The core statement is: SAP supports virtualization solutions that behave in a fully transparent manner to the application. Therefore, functionally SAP will support a virtual environment in the same way that it supports physical environments.
Performance on Virtualized Environments
This is a great topic.
I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that running SAP BusinessObjects in a virtualized environment tacks on about a 30% performance hit, but I’ve not seen any whitepapers to support that claim. What I have heard from SAP support is that the majority of performance related issues are associated with how the Hypervisor or host environments have been configured.
Key To Remember
Before you provision a virtual server for your BI environment think about the workload before you start. It’s very different from traditional application environments.
Keep in mind that:
- Transactional applications have fairly consistent load patterns, but BI applications tend to spike.
- Aggregating millions records is much different than streaming transactions.
- BI environments are very I/O intensive and behave more like an Exchange Server than an ERP application
- Your BI environment should not underresourced.
Working With Your Infrastructure Team
Sometimes the infrastructure team, in an attempt to manage limited server resources will throttle down your BI environment. The problem is that if BusinessObjects doesn’t get enough CPU or RAM, then it will begin swapping in ways that aren’t expected. You want to avoid this problem.
Before you call support about performance, make sure that you also understand how the virtual environment is being controlled. It may appear that SAP BusinessObjects is using 100% of the cpu, but after hours of troubleshooting, we often discover that in reality you are using 100% of the 25% you were allocated. You’ve topped out your ‘share’ of the cpus.
SAP BusinessObjects is architected to use all system resources available to it. It will be greedy when it comes to leveraging available resources, so don’t be stingy. On a shared environment a single server is going to share the same network card, the same host bus adapter so keep that in mind as well.
“Don’t believe everything you hear.” – Aesop
Virtualization vendors have traditionally provided guidance to their customers on how to configure virtual environments for specific applications; however sometimes those recommendations have unintended consequences to performance.
One notable article was recently published on SCN. VMWare had provided a number of tuning best practices for customer running Java applications and yet these best practices did not have the intended effect. Read more here:
The good news is that BusinessObjects doesn’t necessarily require special tuning when running in a virtual environment. The bad news is that there is a lot of misinformation out there which might lead you astray.
Although SAP doesn’t yet have a full configuration best practices guide for running SAP BusinessObjects within a virtualized environment, I know that there are folks who are eager to hear about your experiences. Last week I heard from Ashish Morzaria and he asked me if I knew any customers who might be willing to get involved and provide some feedback.
Well, now is your chance.
Help Us Help You
Get in touch.
- Have already virtualized and can share your lessons learned
- Want to virtualize and are looking for a whitepaper
- Want to tell us your story – either a case study, reference, etc.
Please let me know and help get you in touch with the right folks.