Dell Technologies VxRail HCI appliances receive SAP HANA certification for production environments

Certification on SAP HANA is exceedingly important for HCI vendors, because it validates that HCI will run in a demanding Tier One environment, and opens up a market where enormous pent-up demand exists, that has just been waiting for this validation.

Today, Dell Technologies is announcing that Dell EMC VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure [HCI] appliances, powered by VMware vSphere and VMware vSAN software, have been certified by SAP for SAP HANA production environments. The certification is effective now. The announcement was made in advance of the SAP TechEd Live event in Barcelona next week, where Dell Technologies is a featured exhibitor.

Dell Technologies’ HCI solutions had earlier been validated for the SAP NetWeaver data warehousing solution. However, SAP has tied its future to the HANA in-memory database, which will be the only supported database for all SAP applications by 2024. Validation on SAP HANA is thus essential for vendors going forward.

“This is critical for us, there’s no question about it,” said Chad Dunn, vice president, product management, Dell EMC VxRail and VxRack SDDC. “If you look at the strategic direction for SAP as a company, the in-memory database is critical to them. As a company, we respond to this. That’s the direction. That’s why we introduced the Intel Xeon Scalable Processors with high memory configurations  processors in VxRail, which have much higher memory density per socket.”

An SAP validation, which other HCI vendors are also completing, is well-known in the industry for its rigorousness, and so is critical to a vendor like Dell Technologies on several levels.

“SAP provides a rigorous backdrop of testing, which is a great independent validation for customers,” said Lee Caswell, vice president, storage marketing, VMware. “So it’s a great independent validation. SAP HANA is a very high performance workload, so certifying it on HCI speaks strongly to the issue of where HCI can be placed responsibly.”

“Three years ago, HCI was being used for point workloads and very isolated use cases,” Dunn noted. “Today, the pace of applications has picked up markedly compared to three years ago, and the issue with HCI has moved from what it SHOULDN’T be running on to what it CAN run on. The change in application pace has been significant here, because with HCI, you don’t have to re-architect the infrastructure to adapt to application changes.”

“HCO offers a new operational experience relative to the application pace,” Caswell added. “Reuniting the storage with servers makes applications run more quickly. It’s more of a quick-twitch response for infrastructure, because of the changing need of applications. So in this environment, bringing SAP HANA developers into the HCI fold is a big deal.”

Many vendor validations are basically a marketing tool, with the vendor’s imprimatur increasing confidence and making it easier to sell a validated solution. However, given the nature of SAP HANA deployments, the validation is basically a pre-requisite to sell the product at all for production environments.

“Absent the certification, it’s effectively unsupported, and it’s unlikely a customer would put it into production,” Dunn said. “Customers certainly experimented on their own, but no one would make a commitment for their business to HANA in production environments without this validation.”

Pent-up demand for SAP HANA in VxRail deployments and in VMware vSPhere and vSAN environments that has been waiting for this validation is extremely strong.

“It’s of particular importance for our channel partners, since VxRail is 75 per cent fulfilled by partners, but we have had frequent and high-volume requests for this from our own sales force as well as the channel,” Dunn said. “The fact that SAP has embraced HCI for Tier One workloads on HANA is so important, and is what has us so excited.”

The SAP certification process validates VMware vSphere and vSAN software in production environments for both Scale Up and Multi-VM deployment modes deploying the Intel Scalable Xeon Processor Family. Collaboration between VMware and Virtustream now allows vSphere to support SAP HANA environments with up to 6TB virtual machines on 4-socket server hardware.

“The evidence of the unique joint development between Dell EMC and VMware is reflected in the HCI storage element, but is also tied to our market share-leading hypervisor,” Caswell stated. “It really is a high-five between our two companies.”