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SAP System Migration into the Cloud Using Cloud Volumes ONTAP

Bernd Herth

Listening to cloud evangelists and cloud providers, it sounds like moving SAP systems to the cloud should be an easy task. And in fact, customers have many options to move or copy a system to the cloud. For most customers, this move can involve significant changes in system configuration and daily operations, including intense testing and/or downtime. In this blog post we look at an example of how NetApp customers can migrate an SAP system from an on-premises location into a public cloud. We show how NetApp® Data Fabric technology helps minimize downtime while keeping the system configuration and IT service management processes unchanged.

System Migration Challenges

Most customers are running their SAP systems today using enterprise storage, either attaching Fibre Channel or iSCSI block devices or using network attached storage via the NFS or SMB protocol. Unfortunately, when moving to the cloud, the Fibre Channel protocol is no longer an option. Many customers need to change their SAP system configuration and operations when switching to the various cloud storage offerings such as Elastic Block Store from AWS (EBS) or Azure SSD Premium Managed Disks (Premium Disks). For EBS or Premium Disks, high availability is accomplished by multiple (typically three) redundant copies. Often these Premium Disks need to be combined at the client by using Logical Volume Manager (LVM) striping technology to meet capacity or performance requirements. For many customers, these requirements mean dramatic changes in operations, when used to administer enterprise-grade storage systems with all their integrated features to back up, tune, and resize.

Fortunately, NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP® (CVO), as a software-defined storage management solution for the cloud, offers the same enterprise data-management capabilities as physical NetApp hardware or ONTAP Select, a NetApp software-defined storage solution. For customers running their SAP systems on NFS shares, there is almost no change in features, manageability, and operation. All their proven workflows and data protection tools work with CVO the same way they do in their on-premises data center. And CVO provides resilience, high availability, and performance for many of the small to medium databases such as DB2, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and MaxDB, to name a few. CVO requires less adaption, less effort in testing, and less additional training when moving to the cloud

Simplify the Transfer with NetApp Data Fabric Technology

For customers who are required to change the architecture, a database backup or export is usually the only viable choice. This backup or export file, which contains all the data, needs to be transferred. Depending on the use case, time may not be critical, but for migrating a production system from on the premises to the cloud, time matters.

Many NetApp customers don’t face a lot of changes and challenges when moving their SAP systems to the cloud, because the architecture stays the same. NetApp Data Fabric can help to transfer the data and minimize downtime. NetApp Data Fabric and the NetApp SnapCenter® data protection suite can be used to transfer production systems and also for other use cases, such as regularly refreshing QA or training systems almost automatically.

The following figure shows our test setup. In the on-premises data center, we run a production SAP NetWeaver system using MaxDB as the database. The database is installed on Linux and a NetApp data and log volume is attached via NFS. The example would work as well if customers were using Fibre Channel in their on-premises data center, but in this case iSCSI needs to be used in the cloud to attach the block devices.

In the Azure cloud we installed a QA system on an Azure VM running Linux and using NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP as enterprise storage attached via NFS. The two data centers are connected via VPN using Express Route connectivity. To keep the QA system up to date, it needs to be refreshed based on data from the production system.

On the storage side, we configured the SnapMirror® relationship between the on-premises data volume and the data replica on CVO in Azure. With SnapCenter, every backup creates an application-consistent NetApp Snapshot™ copy, which takes only a few seconds. SnapCenter than automatically triggers the replication of the Snapshot copy, copying only those blocks that have been changed since the last backup or transfer.

After this storage-efficient replication, a SnapCenter “clone” workflow can be started, which creates a FlexClone clone of this backup. With the help of an integrated script, SnapCenter finishes the SAP system refresh based on the customer’s requirements, without manual interaction.

The whole process takes only a few minutes and benefits from the fast backup, efficient replication, and smart SnapCenter workflows that customers can use to automate the whole hybrid SAP system refresh.

The following video shows the complete workflow and demonstrates how the powerful NetApp Data Fabric can expedite and improve hybrid system migrations.

For more information, see the following technical reports and web pages:

SAP SAPPHIRE NOW, Orlando, May 7-9, 2019

Finally, don’t miss the chance to talk to me and my colleagues in person. NetApp will be at SAP SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, May 7 to May 9. Please visit us at booth #1031. We’ll be there to answer any questions and help you implement the best cloud strategy for SAP.

Bernd Herth

Bernd Herth architects and defines NetApp's SAP solutions as TME at the SAP Partner Port at SAP headquarters in Walldorf. He has over 25 years of experience in SAP software and in planning and architecting infrastructure solutions for SAP and has held various positions in the SAP ecosystem. Herth has published articles and books focused on SAP technology and virtualization. He holds a masters degree in physics and taught computer science classes as assistant professor.

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