SAP Server Consolidation: Consider Linux, Analyst Says

zSeries/SAP consolidation offers cost savings and performance potential that enterprises should consider, Sageza Group reports

A new report from research firm Sageza Group says that Big Iron Linux is an excellent platform on which to consolidate SAP servers.

The report finds that mainframe Linux offers new opportunities for SAP project managers to consolidate distributed SAP application servers running on Windows or Unix onto zSeries hardware to exploit Big Iron capabilities and realize potential cost savings.

According to Sageza analyst Joyce Thompsett Becknell, SAP implementations in distributed environments present a number of management headaches for project managers, especially with respect to the issues of coordinating various workloads from multiple application servers with different data sets and implementing a variety of back-up requirements. “When everything works well, there are few problems; however, should something go wrong along the way, issues of data consistency can lead to severe problems,” she writes.

One possible solution, she speculates, is to manage the servers as one platform on a suitably robust host—such as a mainframe. “If the servers could be managed as one platform, it would be much easier to maintain and grow the application,” she suggests. “The general availability of Linux on the mainframe as a leading new technology platform for SAP applications offers an attractive alternative with many benefits.”

According to Thompsett Becknell, consolidating SAP applications on Linux images running on the mainframe pays other dividends. Organizations can take advantage of HiperSockets support for internal connections between server partitions, which means that application servers can communicate with the database almost at the speed of memory. One upshot of this is that batch window and database update times can be reduced by 40 to 60 percent.

Thompsett Becknell sees other benefits in zSeries mainframe’s support for intelligent workload management features, which ensure that real time applications get the required resources dedicated to them—and that less important applications do not interfere with their availability.

As a result of zSeries’ advanced virtualization capabilities, Thompsett Becknell points out, new Linux servers can be created fairly quickly. “This gives administrators a virtual sandbox for application development. New servers can be added for testing and development—within hours—and when they are finished, resources can be returned to the pool for redeployment almost immediately, providing more efficient use of system resources,” she writes.

Finally, there’s a reliability pay-off, as well. “[M]anagers can take advantage of running SAP applications on Linux and still place the critical Enqueue andMessage processes on z/OS for maximum availability,” she observes.

Thompsett Becknell suggests that there’s a sizeable base of potential customers for SAP consolidations on Big Iron Linux. In particular, she cites Common Existing mainframe users, along with new customers that are placing the SAP database server on zSeries, as prime candidates. Other potential adopters include customers with older platforms running distributed SAP application servers and which are mulling upgrades to take advantage of forthcoming software changes.

Concludes Thompsett Becknell: “While the zSeries/SAP consolidation won’t hold appeal for everyone, the cost savings and performance potential makes it something that enterprises should certainly consider.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.