Fujitsu FlexFrame Enables SAP to Work on Tomorrow’s Cloud Enabled Computing Architectures Today

Enterprises covet the higher levels of transparency, faster information processing and improved decision making capabilities that result from deploying SAP into their environments. But with IT staffing levels and budgets staying flat, businesses need solutions that enable them to deliver SAP’s benefits without spending more money or hiring more people. Fujitsu FlexFrame™ for SAP® provides an optimal infrastructure to leverage cloud computing technologies to speed the time of SAP deployments, minimize its ongoing management requirements and grant enterprises new levels of flexibility without introducing the perceived risks of cloud computing.

Enterprises that implement SAP (System, Applications and Processes) systems find they can both improve existing business processes and make better decisions. For instance, K+S Group implemented SAP systems across the company which enabled it to significantly reduce administrative expenses, shorten IT response times and increase the availability of its infrastructure. 

It is for these reasons that more businesses are looking to implement SAP. But many still struggle to justify the deployment of SAP systems for one or more of the following reasons:

  • IT staffing levels are staying flat. Robert Half Technology, a job search company, found that 89% of CIOs from US companies of 100 or more employees still had no plans to increase hiring in Q1 2011. This trend inhibits organizational abilities to deploy and support SAP systems.
  • SAP systems need performance intensive computing hardware. SAP systems collect large amounts of business-related data which in turn require high end (i.e. costly) UNIX and storage systems to process the data in short time-frames that result in actionable information.
  • This hardware must be dedicated to hosting SAP systems. These traditional hardware architectures are not conducive to being repurposed or shared with other application workloads. This makes it more difficult to justify expenditures on SAP systems.
  • SAP systems take time to implement and manage. Case studies reveal that it may take months to implement SAP systems and then, once implemented, full time IT staff may be called upon to manage them.

In order to reduce the amount of resources needed to support SAP systems, these systems need to adapt so they are able to take advantage of maturing cloud computing architectures. Such architectures are well positioned to address the aforementioned staffing, performance, hardware and management concerns. In addition, they also are:

  • Affordable as they cost a fraction of traditional approaches
  • Flexible so their workloads can move across aggregated compute and storage resources
  • Highly performing so they can scale-out to deliver needed capacity and performance
  • Reliable. The increasing stability of Linux OS and its supporting Intel hardware in the last decade has led to their increased use in hosting business critical applications
  • Quick to deploy so enterprises can start small and scale out as their business and budget allows

Such cloud computing solutions appeal to enterprises. However enterprises also recognize that they will be betting their business on SAP and rightfully believe there are still risks associated with cloud computing.

One is the complexity of the procedures associated with the setup, hosting and management of SAP systems. While these procedures on UNIX servers and storage are complex, they at least have the benefit of being well known and documented.

This is not always true when it comes to cloud computing solutions. SAP systems running on cloud computing platforms are still complicated and timely to implement but lack the benefit of having established and known procedures to follow. This lack of clarity may prompt enterprises to opt for a solution that has a more certain outcome.

This is what makes a cloud computing enabling platform like the Fujitsu FlexFrame™ for SAP® relevant. It first came to market in 2002 using a platform than may be classified as a cloud enabling computing architecture as it uses Intel based hardware with a Linux operating system to deliver the high performance, commodity computing solution that today’s organizations seek to host their SAP systems.

But maybe more important to enterprises, Fujitsu can legitimately claim it delivers a cloud enabling computing solution that is “proven.” Fujitsu FlexFrame for SAP is already installed and in operation in over 250 customer accounts that together host approximately 12,000 SAP systems.

This combination of product maturity and real world experience gives Fujitsu FlexFrame for SAP a number of advantages over competing cloud computing solutions:

  • A mature Linux operating system that is optimized to work with SAP systems. The Linux operating system may be mature but that does not mean other cloud computing solutions are optimized for SAP systems. Fujitsu FlexFrame has almost 10 years of experience in this area.
  • Server virtualization has gone main stream. The advent of server virtualization is the result of forces largely external to Fujitsu but it plays to FlexFrame’s strengths by enabling enterprises to first virtualize and then place Linux-based SAP systems on any Intel hardware.
  • Leverages NetApp Data ONTAP. Storage virtualization is as critical as server virtualization to realize the full benefits of cloud computing. Leveraging NetApp’s Data ONTAP storage virtualization software, enterprises can optimize storage capacity by placing the right data on the right tier of disk, protect and recover data using ONTAP data protection software and create clones of existing systems to facilitate rapid provisioning of new SAP systems.
  • FlexFrame SAP agents. Fujitsu’s FlexFrame SAP agents support SAP systems on both physical and virtual machines which provide the ability to monitor and manage them in either environment.

Bottom line: By using Fujitsu FlexFrame for SAP enterprises get an integrated package for implementing and managing SAP systems in a cloud computing environment. This enables organizations to manage SAP systems in ways they never could before such as detecting which SAP systems are:

  • “Hot”. In the past, administrators at most received an alert that there was a problem and then had to fix it, if they could fix it at all. Now using Fujitsu FlexFrame, more resources may be allocated to an SAP system or the entire SAP system may even be moved to other hardware so it runs faster.
  • “Cold”. This also works in reverse. If an SAP system is not busy but resides on high performance hardware, the SAP system can be moved or its resources reallocated to an SAP system that needs them.

These are the clear advantages that Fujitsu FlexFrame for SAP has over traditional UNIX server and storage-based SAP implementations and emerging cloud computing platforms. Fujitsu FlexFrame delivers the stability and predictability that enterprises require their SAP systems to have while also overcoming the objections that may arise around using cloud computing platforms to host their SAP systems.

Fujitsu FlexFrame already has a history of working in production environments. In addition, it comes preconfigured with servers, networking and storage that lay the foundation for it to function as private cloud. Then by virtual
izing SAP systems using the indu
stry standard VMware server virtualization software and NetApp’s proven Data ONTAP storage virtualization software, FlexFrame knits all of these components together to alleviate the concerns that enterprises may have around deploying such a cloud-based solution.

SAP’s claim to fame is helping businesses run better. But it is difficult to run your business better when too much money, time and effort must first be spent on implementing and managing the infrastructure that needs to be put in place whether that infrastructure is a traditional one or an emerging cloud computing platform.

Fujitsu FlexFrame for SAP delivers what businesses want:  a cloud enabling computing solution for their SAP implementation minus its costs and risks. Using mature cloud enabling computing technologies, known server and storage virtualization platforms and established SAP support, deploying SAP systems that leverage cloud computing architectures is not a solution for which organizations need to wait until tomorrow to deploy. Using Fujitsu FlexFrame for SAP they can make it a reality today.

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