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The Virtualization&Cloud week has ended and it has been a great week. There were a lot of good sessions and the event agenda was properly balanced. I’m convinced that the event will grow even bigger over the course of the next couple of years as the Cloud is being adopted more and more by customers and partners.

 

My perspective

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I was given a free admission to the main event for my activity within the SAP community and my involvement in specific areas and products of SAP around Virtualization&Cloud.

 

A number of SAP community members requested me to provide them with real-time information on what was going on during the Virtualization&Cloud week. As such I tweeted a lot on the sessions I attended. From tweeting out slides with some additional information to thoughts and information that was not available on the slides. I had no commitment of any kind towards SAP to do this.

 

SAP LVM is all around the place

For the readers that don’t know what SAP LVM is, SAP LVM (Landscape Virtualization Management)  is a product from SAP which enables the customer to manage SAP systems in their environment (build specifically for virtualized SAP systems in private clouds) . From doing mass operations (stop, start and relocate) to system copy, clone and refresh functionality and much more.

 

SAP LVM was featured in many sessions. Those sessions would tend to be packed as well. A lot of attendees are in fact interested in putting SAP LVM in place. More and more customers are asking their hosting partners if they have knowledge on SAP LVM and if they can integrate it into their hosting services. The product is getting traction and for good reasons as the concept is very interesting and if you have the right environment you can save a lot of time to get SAP systems up and running using the  automation capabilities of SAP LVM for SAP system clone/copy/refresh operations.

 

Hands-on

The additional deep dive hands-on training on Friday was also fully booked. The content provided during the hands-on training comes from a two day internal training at SAP. That’s an interesting course to add to any curriculum vitae I would say. Does it make you an expert when you leave the classroom? No it does not but it does mean the participants get a lot of insight on how SAP LVM is build up, they have had time to play around in SAP LVM and they also had the opportunity to ask a lot of questions. The demo system got stuck at a certain moment in time but SAP promised to provide access on a later date to the participants who enrolled for the deep dive session.

 

Findings

Personally I have been using the Standard Edition of SAP LVM to provide SAP with feedback so for me this was a good opportunity to use the Enterprise Edition (although slightly limited because the system copy ran in simulation mode) and get some feedback going on those parts as well. I sat down with a lot of team members of the SAP LVM team to provide feedback, exchange thoughts and ask questions.

 

Please note that upcoming features, dates and so on are under disclaimer and are subject to change.

 

Let’s take a look at some findings concerning SAP LVM after Virtualization&Cloud week:

 

SAP LVM roadmap

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http://sapteched.com/sapvweek/presentation/TECH12/TECH12.pdf

 

One of the slides which was made available even before the Virtualization&Cloud week is the slide on the roadmap for SAP LVM. SAP LVM 1.0 should become generally available around June 2012. By SAP TechED Madrid SAP the ramp-up of SAP LVM 2.0 will be ongoing and hopefully more customer cases on either SAP LVM 1.0 or the ramp-up of SAP LVM 2.0 will be featured there as well.

 

There was some discussion around the fact that another ramp-up is taking place so close to the ramp-up of version 1.0. There are both pros and cons for this plan but I don’t think it’s a bad idea actually as it will give the opportunity to customers who don’t have got SAP LVM in place to either go for SAP LVM 1.0 or to join in on the SAP LVM 2.0 ramp-up and collaborate with SAP to further improve the product.

 

What can you expect?

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What can you expect in LVM 2.0? http://t.co/KkDumI5x

 

  • Enhancement of End-to-End System Copy/Refresh for SAP Solutions
  • Integration with nZDM
  • External Interfaces – open API’s
  • Model-based Automated Capacity Management
  • *Variant option available

 

What you can expect to see are all round improvements. By the time SAP LVM 1.0 hits GA there will be at least be one additional storage vendor who adds support for their storage.

 

SAP LVM is a rather technical product which is why it’s hard to get people excited about upcoming features. I can’t really tell everything I know since I had to sign a NDA to do the usability testing and some information was provided to me under NDA.

 

So what can I say then about SAP LVM 2.0? You can expect to see lots of improvements in different existing parts of the product. For me, a very interesting pointer is the external interfaces / open API’s as that will enable SAP LVM to collaborate with other products. Such integration is very welcome and needed as companies often have certain functionality in place in other products and as such they want integration options of SAP LVM into existing processes as well.

*A request from Bosch and a very valid one is the request to have the option to save the configuration in a variant after running through all the steps to perform a system clone/copy/refresh. This would be very useful as you can then use the template for the next run instead of having to run through the steps again.

 

Licensing editions

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http://sapteched.com/sapvweek/presentation/TECH12/TECH12.pdf

 

The standard edition is free of cost and can be seen as the successor of ACC 7.3 (Adaptive Computing Controller). As such ACC 7.3 will be discontinued.

This slide created instant feedback from the audience. It seems the concept  is not really clear and one thing that was not mentioned is that you also have to pay a yearly maintenance fee.

 

The concept of having an Enterprise Edition and licensing that separately and then having a system copy/refresh option license on top seems to create confusion.

 

I was wondering who would actually buy the Enterprise Edition without going for the system copy/ refresh option as the functionality provided in the Enterprise Edition outside of the system copy/refresh option are not so appealing that I would actually be prepared to pay for it looking at what’s there compared to the Standard Edition. At least not right now, perhaps when SAP LVM reaches 2.0 those Enterprise Edition features (outside the system copy/refresh option) outweigh the additional price factor.

 

Apparently they have at least one customer who decided to go for the Enterprise Edition without the system copy/refresh option but the only reason seems to be that they are waiting on support for SAP LVM of a specific storage vendor before going for the system clone/copy /refresh  option.

 

How is the license cost calculated then?

 

Enterprise Edition price = (#services managed / 10) x list price for Enterprise Edition

 

System copy/clone/refresh price = #source systems that are the source of a clone/copy/refresh x list price for system copy/clone/refresh

 

Yearly maintenance fee price = (Enterprise Edition price + System copy/clone/refresh price) x maintenance fee %

 

Total price per year = Enterprise Edition price + System copy/clone/refresh price + Yearly maintenance fee price

 

I can understand how the above can be confusing for customers and even for local SAP offices. The message here is get the above properly written down on paper so everyone understands how the price is being calculated.

 

Surely a customer can decide to get rid of a source system that is being used for the system clone/copy/refresh option in the middle of a year. At that point the customer will also expect to be able to use another SAP system as source system. The difficulty here for SAP is, how will they manage/measure that based on the price model that exists right now? I know that there is an option to switch from one source system to another each six months but does that provide sufficient flexibility for the customers in this age and day? I’m not convinced. Something to reflect upon I would say.

 

Number of services

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In the above picture you can see the information provided after clicking the Info button in the top right corner in SAP LVM. This displays the number of services that are being managed. I suppose the premium services belong to the system clone/copy/refresh option but I’m not sure. This is rather confusing as well and to my regret there is no option to click on the line and jump to a list of these services to see which services belongs where.

System copy functionality

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It takes ten days to take a system copy without using SAP LVM” is one of the statements on which I immediately commented on Twitter as to me it sounded like pure marketing talk. I tend to be skeptic when I hear such statements and it immediately made me think about kittens.


Hans-Werner Cedl of Bosch presented session TECH09 - SAP Landscape Virtualization Management Ramp-Up Experience @ Bosch which was very interesting. After the presentation I had the time to sit down and talk to him on his experience on the ramp-up of SAP LVM Enterprise Edition and get some insight on how to make a proper business case to run SAP LVM.


PDF of Session TECH09: http://www.sapteched.com/sapvweek/presentation/TECH09/TECH09.pdf


He told me that a system copy would take them around seven days. Not quite the ten days that SAP is referring to but it’s close right. So my question was “What is included in those seven days then?”. The answer to the question was what SAP should have mentioned during the earlier presentation of SAP LVM because it would have changed the sentiment towards the previous statement. Those seven days include waiting time that persons from other teams outside of the technical netweaver “basis” team. So those seven days include things like waiting on SAN storage, waiting on filesystem creation, waiting on DNS entries to be created and so on.


Tip for SAP here: check if your ramp-up customers minds that you mention his “time needed” to deliver a system copy and also mention that wait time is included here. Not mentioning either of the previous makes the comment look like a marketing statement which resembles the use of “Game changer” which fuels criticism.


Post-copy automation

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One of the most wanted parts of SAP LVM is the post copy automation functionality. It looks very slick and it works really well. A separate framework was build up in ABAP in order to provide the customer with the right functionality. You can basically use any ABAP related functionality and integrate that into the post copy automation task list. This is one of the most compelling features of SAP LVM I must admit.

 

The audience was inquiring if the tool would be sold separately as well. Of course the answer is no because this tool brings a lot of added value to SAP LVM as the post copy steps are often a big chunk of time that is being spent by basis administrators to get the system back in the state that the business wants it to be in.

 

Custom services and operations

Another very interesting part of SAP LVM are the custom services and operations. According to the customer case presentation TECH09 it’s fairly easy to set up these customer services and/or operations. They use them for various operations such as starting an online or offline Oracle backup through SAP LVM. It’s very easy to build your own list of custom services and/or operations.

 

For me, the community can chime in here and share their self-created custom services and/or operations through code exchange for example. I already created a project in code exchange but I have to get into creating my own custom services and/or operations in order to start sharing them.

 

Creating a proper business case

Making the business case to put SAP LVM in place requires getting a lot of information from different teams, persons, sources and putting all of that together. Not to forget that beyond reduction of TCO there are other arguments to put SAP LVM in place.


The point of the seven days is that if you have the right environment set up you can reduce the duration of getting a SAP system up and running from based on a copy of another SAP system to a matter of hours instead of days. Now this is a good message to bring across to the business.

You do have to take into account that in order to provide a SAP system in a matter of hours you might also need the leverage other products, Bosch has IBM flashcopy manager in place along with SAP LVM for example.


More information on IBM flashcopy manager: http://www-01.ibm.com/software/tivoli/products/storage-flashcopy-mgr/


Before diving into SAP LVM make sure that you environment matches the % of automation you want to reach with SAP LVM. If it does not match you can still make the case of course but you have to be aware to what extent you might have to perform certain tasks manually.


You can expect to see more and more different combinations supported in the near future so if your environment is not yet supported for SAP LVM 1.0 the compatibility might be there when SAP LVM 2.0 hits GA.

 

Compatibility

What about Windows registry keys?

During the hands-on sessions on Friday my colleague was sharing his thoughts with me and said “How do they manage to completely copy over an Oracle database, software and all, on a Windows installation, it uses registry keys right?”. A very valid statement and as it turns out, right now, there is no solution for it. Well there is a workaround which would be installing the Oracle database up front on the target server but that’s not really fun to do right because then you are back to doing manual work instead of having an automated process doing this stuff for you.


This is exactly what I meant in the chapter creating a proper business case. Make sure you are aware of existing limitations. SAP is working on making it easier for customers to check what is currently supported and what is not by creating some kind of compatibility matrix much like something you would see in the PAM (Product Availability Matrix). That matrix will surely be welcomed by customers.


This being said, moving an Oracle database on a Unix/Linux environment works like a charm so maybe it’s not just SAP that has to do some thinking on this one but also Microsoft or even Oracle. Microsoft could and perhaps should step away from the registry model. Another option could be that Oracle enables their database as “portable”, meaning the Windows registry would not used at the time of the Oracle database installation for SAP. This would make it ten ten times more easy to copy it over to another Windows server. The same restrictions and set of arguments might also be valid for other database types that use the registry when running on a windows environment.


The new SAP

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A positive mindset holds great value and I’ve met a lot of SAP LVM team members over the course of this week and what I can definitely say is that they embrace the new SAP. They are open to suggestions and they are willing to collaborate in many ways. It was also interesting to find out that the teams are using very new age methods (SCRUM for example) to build their products.

 

Follow-up

I will certainly follow up on this product and collaborate with SAP to help them improve the product and to give an outsiders opinion, sometimes perhaps a critics opinion on how things are going and how the product progresses.

 

Product accessibility for community members and further collaboration with the SAP Mentors are pointers which I have already discussed with the SAP LVM team and which will be picked up and discussed at SAP internally to see what can be done.

 

In regards to further collaboration I might also periodically go over to the SAP Labs in Walldorf to spend the day with the development team and provide them with feedback on different aspects of the product.

 

Wrap-up

VC product portfolio

While there is still work that needs to be done on the products, the products in the Virtualization&Cloud portfolio are looking good and the future looks bright. There are interesting times ahead of us for sure and at the pace they are going I expect to see a large adoption of these products in the coming years.

 

SAP LVM 1.0

Let’s not forget the SAP LVM is a 1.0 product. It has great potential and it can already deliver added value depending on the use case and the environment you are running your SAP systems in. There is a session available on how to get SAP LVM going in an Amazon cloud environment as well so that can also be interesting to check out. The presentations of #sapvweek are accessible for anyone on http://www.sapteched.com/sapvweek.

 

SAP LVM 2.0 and beyond

You can expect to see more information on SAP LVM 2.0 and perhaps even information on the future of SAP LVM by SAP TechED 2012. SAP HANA or other major products will probably slightly overshadow SAP LVM but that doesn’t mean that one should not pay attention to SAP LVM and the products in the Virtualization&Cloud portfolio as they will surely impact the future of SAP system administration and they can significantly reduce time spent to deliver a given SAP system, no matter which type of cloud you are or will be running your environment on.

 

Final words

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I look forward to further collaboration with SAP on this product. SAP LVM is a very interesting product. Yes there is still work to be done but this could significantly change the way system administration is done. Automation of operational tasks is definitely what lies ahead of us and exactly what SAP LVM can deliver.

 

The only thing I can advise is look into SAP LVM and contact SAP to help you out if needed. They will be more than happy to help out, provide relevant information and even chime in to create a proper business case.



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