When I first wrote this blog I didn’t realise a few things. First that it would become the reference location on the internet for HANA material, and Second that it would therefore require updating!
So here we are, some 9 months after the initial post, with a full revision of this information. Hardware Vendors – this is based on the publicly certified systems on SAP’s Product Availability Matrix. SAP update this regularly with new appliances and vendors.
SAP released the first version of their in-memory platform, SAP HANA 1.0 SP02, to the market on June 21st 2011. We are now at the release of SAP HANA 1.0 SP04 in May 2012 and things have moved on hugely. We now have High Availability, system monitoring and scale-out appliances: up to 16TB certified and 100TB in the lab.
SAP has now an open hardware platform, allowing multiple hardware vendors (currently 7), so that customers could choose who they want to procure from. This should theoretically produce a level playing field where the price becomes commoditised and customers get choice and value.
This article gets into the detail of what it looks like if you actually want to purchase an appliance and it’s based on my experience of working with the hardware vendors over the last 18 months.
Note that my high-level message is pretty clear: SAP HANA hardware is ready for the masses and stable for databases up to 16TB of HANA (equivalently 80TB of Oracle compressed data).
What is the SAP HANA Technical Architecture?
SAP HANA is pretty simple. It’s based on the following components:
- Server – based on Intel’s Nehalem EX or Westmere EX platforms – X7560 or E7-2870, 4870 or 8870 CPUs, respectively. These are big rack-mount systems that take up to 8 CPUs and 80 cores. It’s commodity hardware that you can buy off the web, but for example the Dell PowerEdge R910 with 1TB RAM is $65k list price on their website. I’ve now removed all the Nehalem hardware from this post because it’s no longer sold.
- RAM – lots of it, and matched to the CPUs. 20 cores allow 256GB RAM, leading to a maximum of 1TB of RAM with current CPUs. Think along the lines of $35k list price for 1TB RAM.
- Fast Log Storage – Sized to 1x RAM and usually the very expensive Fusion-io ioDrive Duo. These are $15-30k a pop for the 320Gb and 640GB drives, respectively. In some configurations, the log and data storage are shared. Fusion-io ioDrive2 is now released though I have yet to see certified hardware using it. It is half the price of the ioDrive for the same capacity and much faster too.
- Data Storage – 4x RAM. On all the certified single-node configurations this is cheap SAS direct storage. You need this so you can power down the appliance and do things like backups. Budget $15-20k for at 1TB storage system. For multi-node configurations it uses some form of shared storage – either a SAN or local storage replicated using IBM’s GPFS filesystem. Prices vary for scale-out.
So theoretically at least, you should be looking at $145-150k for a basic 1TB appliance, based on Dell’s website list prices. Note that this is hardware only – and all of the SAP HANA hardware partners offer a pre-built system with installation services and likely require a support contract. It may add up!
The other big difference since I first wrote this blog is that we now get scale-out appliances from Cisco, Fujitsu, HP and IBM from 1TB to 16TB. And in the lab, SAP have a 200-node 100TB test system which means about 1PB of uncompressed data. Things have moved on!
In addition, SAP have invested in a company called Violin, which uses Infiniband and SSD storage. This would be an awesome way to get compact scale-out HANA appliances when Intel’s Ivy Bridge server platform which enables 1TB HANA Blades to arrive.
IBM – remains the safe choice
There’s an adage: “no-one ever got fired for buying IBM”. I’m sure someone has been, but it’s good marketing. IBM sold by far the most of the last generation in-memory appliance from SAP called BIA/BWA and they currently have the greatest choice of SAP HANA appliances.
I have a total of 9 appliances on my list from 128GB to 16TB with various different configurations depending on the customer requirements. At the time of writing they are also the only vendor to scale out to 16TB – at least for now, IBM remain ahead of the game.
My colleagues also tell me that IBM promise any hardware configuration to be available in as little as 5 days. Certainly they provided a 200-node test system for SAP in less than 2 weeks!
That said – IBM isn’t the cheapest of the vendors and there are some hidden costs like the licence cost of their high-performance GPFS filesystem. But as one CIO told me “We priced up SAP HANA appliances and the vendors seemed very varied in price. But as we got close to negotiations, the variance evaporated”.
HP – Solid Hardware, availability concerns?
Since Meg Whitman took the help at HP, things seem to have gotten better (though they could hardly have gotten worse!) and they have consolidated their hardware.
HP now have 5 certified appliances from 128GB to 1TB; they also have a scale-out appliance with up to 8TB. The amount of disk hardware required is concerning – 12 disks per node or 192 disks for a 16-node 8TB system.
The concerns I have heard with HP is that they are now very strict on loan hardware and have extremely long lead times. With Hitachi and IBM being aggressive on delivery schedules, this could put them at a disadvantage.
Dell – Services Provider or Channel Partner?
Dell now have 3 certified single-node appliances from 128GB to 512GB. I heard rumours that they have lost interest in SAP HANA and their services page says “ERP in the Cloud”. Certainly I tried to buy a SAP HANA appliance from them and summarily failed. They said:
With regards to SAP HANA, after a significant amount of research throughout Dell, I must advise that we are not in a position to supply these solutions at this time. While we at Dell strive to offer complete solutions to our customers, we will only do so when we have the capability to do so effectively.
In any case I haven’t seen Dell in any customers. Has anyone seen a Dell SAP HANA appliance in the wild? Let me know!
Fujitsu – Dark Horse
I’ve not had too many dealings with Fujitsu but they have been quick to respond and appear to know what they are doing from a sales-enablement perspective. They have the same 5 appliances as HP and 128Gb to 1TB appliance sizes – just the same.
They also have the same scale-out as HP with the same enormous amount of disks, up to 192 for a 16-node system using either NetApp or Eternus disk fabric.
Cisco – IKEA of HANA appliances?
Cisco have expanded their portfolio and I hear their blade business based on the UCS C260 and C460 blades is doing well in the enterprise. They now have 128, 256 and 512GB appliances as well as a 16-node 512GB (8TB) scale-out appliance like HP and IBM.
Their appliance requires even more disks! Up to 300 for the 16-node system. Wow!
Cisco guarantee fast delivery but your HANA appliance will arrive as a bag of parts that need assembling by a Cisco Services Partner. And then shipping to you.
Hitachi Data Systems
Hitachi used to call their appliance the Blade System 2000 or BS2000 for short. Thankfully they had the common sense to rename it the Compute Blade 2000 and it is available as a blade chassis from 256GB to 1TB, using their AMS2000 shared storage.
Theoretically this should allow them to build out a neat scale-out solution using their HDS storage arrays and 2TB per blade chassis but this has not been released yet.
One thing that is worth noting with Hitachi is that they have SAP HANA hardware on the shelf in standard configurations and have a promised ship time of 2-3 weeks.
NEC – New kid in town
NEC have arrived with a single appliance – a 1TB system using Virident SSD instead of the Fusion-IO. It is bigger than all the other vendors at a massive 7U which can accept 2TB of RAM (which has no value for HANA). I’m guessing NEC have plans to certify more hardware but I have not seen one in the wild.
As I predicted, the hardware market will increase in volume and consolidate and other vendors have indeed come on board. This will continue through 2012.
Scale-out: Scale-out is now a reality and there are systems running IBM’s X5 platform up to 200x512GB nodes or 100TB. The concern I have is that without IBM’s proprietary GPFS technology, a lot of shared storage is required to make HANA work. Can HP and others prove large scale-out capability?
Blades: Let’s face it – SAP HANA was meant to run on blades. But there’s no suitable blade platform yet because you can’t get 8 CPUs and 2TB RAM in a single blade. Plus, you are even more limited from an expansion (i.e. Fusion-io cards) and network bandwidth perspective, if you use a blade chassis. It now looks like when Intel’s Ivy Bridge platform arrives in late 2012, the hardware vendors will have designed high-density systems to run SAP HANA.
But to conclude, the SAP HANA hardware business has come a long way in the last 9 months. If it continues to scale at this rate, Teradata had better be concerned.