SAP.info: What prompted HP to set up an SAP Competence Center dedicated to virtualization?
Berle: The great interest of SAP users for virtualization triggered this move. Customers would ask us again and again: How can we integrate our existing SAP infrastructure with an overall virtualization concept? Which of the available virtualization solutions best fits our SAP environment? What are the specific advantages of a virtualization solution? At our Virtualization Competence Center – or VCC – we bundle our entire expertise related to these questions centrally and make it available to customers and other interested parties. As well as providing consulting, the VCC handles virtualization projects – with all services from a single source.
SAP.info: The Virtualization Competence Center regards itself as a neutral advisor for all SAP customers. What exactly do you mean by “neutral”?
Berle: One of our main goals is to give SAP customers a clear view of the different virtualization solutions. What’s more, we demonstrate what virtualization means in the SAP environment and what operating concepts look like for a virtualized SAP landscape. Here, we adopt a standardized and product-independent approach with defined use cases. We take these use cases to demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of the different solutions and operating concepts. Then we give a recommendation about which of the solutions best meets the customer’s individual requirements. Basically, we see ourselves as a kind of compass, setting the course for successful virtualization in the SAP environment.
SAP.info: And what are these use cases all about?
Derichsweiler: Typical use cases on which virtualization projects focus are consolidation, high availability, and increased flexibility. We meet with customers in a customer workshop to discuss which use cases are most important to them. The use cases are always based on how SAP is deployed at the organization, the infrastructure environment used, and the operating concepts.
SAP.info: How well are customers informed about virtualization?
Berle: Most of the customers who contact us already have a good knowledge of the general virtualization options. They’re often looking for information about topics such as SAP support, operating a virtualized system landscape, and deploying a needs-based solution in line with their individual requirements. Here, we are happy to give advice to SAP customers. What’s more, SAP and HP jointly provide general and basic information about virtualization in the SAP world through webinars and road shows. And by the way, a new road show on this topic started visiting various German cities in May this year.
SAP.info: Which virtualization solutions are installed in the Virtualization Competence Center?
Derichsweiler: We run the virtualization solutions from VMware, Hyper-V from Microsoft, the Xen solution, and the VSE Virtual Server Environment Suite from HP for our UNIX solutions, plus the Adaptive Computing Controller tool from SAP, including our own enhancement HP VIS for SAP. Recent new additions are PolyServe and LeftHand, which provide added value for customers in the area of virtualization.
SAP.info: Can the benefits of deploying a virtualization solution be measured in hard currency?
Derichsweiler: There are many customer-specific influence factors and circumstances. That’s why it’s not generally possible to measure the exact savings in dollars or euros. We accompany SAP customers on the path to an infrastructure environment that is as optimal as possible for the SAP products they use. That is our highest priority.
But we can give an average percentage figure for the benefits of virtualization at the end of the day. Savings of around 30% are very realistic.
SAP.info: What happens if an evaluation in the Virtualization Competence Center reveals that virtualization would not lead to any tangible benefits?
Berle: If no advantages can be identified after an analysis based on the use cases and taking account of all the solutions, we present customers with an optimized classic system environment from which they can profit. Currently, performance limitations are one of the main reasons why virtualization is not an option for some companies – but these limitations are constantly changing. That’s why we recommend that all customers seek sound and detailed advice before embarking on a virtualization project.