Adaptive Computing Connects

SAP in academia: The fifth semester students at the Department of Economics and Management at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki, Finland are getting nervous, because they have to present their group work on the topic of “a globally operating company on the path to greater success – using untapped potential in business processes.”

The results are based on real corporate and economic data and business processes. The company structure was mapped using SAP ERP, which was also used to illustrate the effects of the different courses of possible action, and the results were shown in SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW).

Universities as customers

Students at the University of Augsburg in Germany also use SAP – in the business planning module as well as in marketing, production technology in international project management, and information systems.

Whether in Helsinki or Augsburg, both institutes of education and research have one thing in common with some 200 more universities and colleges in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA): They are customers of the University Competence Center (UCC) in Magdeburg, Germany, and receive SAP applications through application service provision.

UCC is one of the world’s largest SAP data centers at a university. More than 50,000 users from the EMEA region currently plug into UCC’s “SAP from the socket” service. And what’s special about this is that the constantly changing performance requirements are met with an adaptive computing environment that can be deployed flexibly – in other words, with virtualized application services.

University Competence Center (UCC) Magdeburg

The basic concept goes back to 2000. Many institutes of education could not afford or did not have available the necessary resources to set up and operate their own SAP data center including SAP software, other software, and hardware.

As a result, several competence centers were founded, enabling universities to obtain “SAP from the socket” from an application service provider. The SAP data center in Magdeburg has been known as UCC since 2005 and is located at the city’s Otto-von-Guerike University. It is a member of the global SAP University Alliances program.

Within the framework of this program, SAP promotes practical and future-focused education by giving teaching staff and students worldwide access to state-of-the-art SAP technologies. More than 500 institutes now take advantage of SAP applications and services through a university competence center.

Using applications flexibly

The Adaptive Computing Controller tool in SAP NetWeaver acts as a central point of control for processing the tasks initiated (the adaptive computing use cases), while all the infrastructure components, including management software, are provided by HP.

“Virtualized application services can be used flexibly based on the adaptive computing landscape,” explains Ronny Zimmermann, project lead at UCC Magdeburg. Most notably, the applications are not assigned to a certain server, but can be shifted backwards and forwards to where free server capacities are, depending on need. Furthermore, SAP applications can be dynamically assigned to different servers.

Zimmermann adds, “This enables us to tap the existing resources and spread the load in an optimized and dynamic way.”

Decoupling brings greater flexibility

UCC replaced its previous classic infrastructure with the adaptive computing solution. UCC team lead André Faustmann outlines the reasons for the new approach: “We had to manage our SAP growth on the one hand, and on the other hand, we had to optimize our management of fluctuation in IT utilization to cater to future needs.

We were also required to consolidate – or modernize – our SAP infrastructure. It was important for resources to be used as optimally and flexibly as possible, and increasing cost efficiency played a role, too.”

Consultations and discussions with SAP and HP resulted in an adaptive computing solution concept with the following structure: use of version 7.1 of the Adaptive Computing Controller tool as a central point of control, a division into SAP instances and database instances (with the corresponding servers), and use of a SAN storage pool with the plug-in HP Storage Essentials Application Integration Software for SAP ACC. The concept includes the necessary storage pool mechanisms to make the SAP databases (currently totaling around 46 terabytes) for an SAP system available in the adaptive computing environment.

A worthwhile change of tack

For UCC Magdeburg, setting off on the path of virtualized application services has proven worth the effort. Infrastructure expert Zimmermann says, “The combination of the Adaptive Computing Controller tool from SAP and our new infrastructure enables us to react more easily, faster, and more flexibly to a wide range of requirements. What’s more, it’s demonstrably reduced our operating costs.”

He is convinced that “the whole new environment is a key instrument for managing SAP growth as cost-efficiently as possible.”

According to experiences so far, the UCC team now spends far less time managing the SAP solutions – which also means reduced administration costs. For example, task planning, is up to 70% more efficient with the new system. Similar improvements were made by replacing the kernel. Furthermore, backups are now more cost-effective, particularly for the adaptive computing nodes in the operating system.

Additional resources at peak times

memory capacities) can be released much faster at peak times – for example, when SAP systems are required for the SAP qualification course TERP10, which is offered by various institutes of higher education. Or if a multitude of students converge on SAP NetWeaver BW at certain times.

And so adaptive computing keeps the academic world connected.