Virtualization Boosts Efficiency

The community initiated by SAP is to develop new virtualization approaches that focus on customers’ business processes. The aim: To cut costs while increasing efficiency.

Among the charter members of the Enterprise Virtualization Community are industry leaders such as AMD, Cisco, Citrix, EMC, HP, Intel, Network Appliance, Novell, Red Hat, Sun, and VMware. The community aims to enable business agility and success by helping companies solve the challenges of managing increasingly complex IT environments and meeting growing demand for IT in the business departments.

Focus on customer requirements

Working in this community, SAP and its partners and customers will define scenarios that fulfill customers’ specific requirements. This collaborative, open approach to IT virtualization will ensure the optimal alignment of business processes with virtualization products and technologies from SAP ecosystem partners.

“Companies are looking at how to best take advantage of virtualization technology today and in the future, and customers are constantly evaluating their existing infrastructure and application investments,” says Vishal Sikka, chief technology officer at SAP. Implementing virtual environments and optimizing business processes can serve this cause by critically reducing costs and helping to increase efficiency.

Centralized management of SAP applications

Running SAP solutions in virtualized environments was first enabled in 2003. The SAP NetWeaver technology platform offers powerful adaptive computing capabilities. Customers can centralize the management of their SAP applications across virtual environments. The result: optimal utilization of hardware infrastructures.

At the same time, using SAP applications reduces the need for investment in hardware. “SAP environments can be quite complex, so not having to calculate server capacity based on the maximum load for individual systems is a great benefit,” says Roland Wartenberg, a virtualization expert at SAP Labs in Palo Alto.

A human resource management application, for example, experiences peak loads during the accounting period at the end of each month. For the rest of the month, the lion’s share of the server’s resources are unused. “At present, server utilization in IT landscapes averages about 20 percent,” says Wartenberg. His declared goal is server utilization of 80 percent.

SAP has identified three main scenarios where it sees far-reaching benefits of virtualization technologies:

  • Consolidating system infrastructure to reduce the number of servers, thereby reducing costs
  • Accelerating and simplifying SAP software upgrades.
  • Designing more cost-effective high-availability scenarios

All levels of virtualization covered

Network, CPU, server, storage, or desktop: The community members’ considerations reflect the various building blocks of virtualization. SAP NetWeaver is integrated with the infrastructure of each vendor’s offerings. Based on enterprise service-oriented architecture, virtualization is to move from the infrastructure level to the business level.

The community wants virtualization to tie-in closely with business processes. In the future, experts should be able to design new processes that run in virtualized environments without having to know any details about virtualization.

Arthur Fleiss, IT architect at Colgate-Palmolive, concludes: “Virtualization technologies are a key component of our application infrastructure architecture. We are excited about SAP’s Enterprise Virtualization Community and look forward to working with them and their partners on driving a more cohesive, less fractured vision.”