DevOps for SAP – Driving Innovation and Lowering Costs
DevOps is the combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools that increase an organization’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity. This includes evolving and improving products at a faster pace than organizations using traditional software development and infrastructure management processes. This speed enables organizations to better serve their customers and compete more effectively in the market.
In this blog, we are going to discuss how DevOps for SAP brings innovation and automation for customers. We will explore the pillars of how SAP on AWS customers are achieving cost savings by leveraging these capabilities and innovating to meet business demands. We will then dive into the operational automation AWS provides with regards to starting/stopping, auto scaling, serverless refreshes, and automated patching.
SAP Build Automation:
Infrastructure as Code (IaC) for SAP – Automated, Consistent, and Repeatable SAP Deployments & SAP Operations
The first pillar of DevOps for SAP on AWS is Infrastructure as code. This practice enables customers to provision and manage their SAP using code (VCS) and software development techniques (CI/CD). This approach also entails using version control, continuous integration, and continuous deployment to deploy systems more quickly and with greater visibility.
So, you have decided that you want to describe and control your infrastructure as code. What language should you choose and why? Well, you have several options depending on your team’s background, skillset, or existing capabilities.
AWS CloudFormation and AWS Cloud Development Kit are again AWS IaC tools that you can use to automate the provisioning of the AWS resources. If your SAP Basis teams do not have an established DevOps practice and are looking for a guided experience, AWS Launch Wizard is the tool to use. It helps you right-size and configure AWS resources based on your SAP application requirements, then automates installation and configuration of the operating system and applications, all in accordance with AWS and SAP best practices. AWS Launch Wizard was built based on the popularity of our SAP Quick Starts, which are also still available.
If you have more advanced DevOps/Cloud practices and looking for additional customization capabilities, you should consider tools such as AWS CloudFormation or Hashicorp’s Terraform. AWS Professional Services has developed a set of Terraform modules that customers can adapt to their own needs to deploy the AWS resources for their SAP workloads. Customers can natively use our Terraform modules for deploying highly configurable SAP products on AWS.
Configuration Management (CM) – Process for maintaining computer systems, servers, and software in a desired, consistent state
The second pillar of DevOps for SAP on AWS, is answering the question around how you define and control drift on the underlying servers that SAP requires. It also addresses the workload specific configuration that you just deployed. CM enables customers to prepare, install, and keep SAP applications and databases in the required operational mode after the infrastructure has been deployed.
The attention to detail that CM enables, allows customers to tackle the unique operating system specific settings for HANA, the SAP ulimit configurations, Linux package management, and the endless list of ever-changing security requirements. With CM in place, customers are able to maintain higher SLAs by ensuring system performance meets expectations as changes are made over time.
In short, CM is a way to keep your servers from drifting from your standards. Those same standards that you know deliver the right performance profile for your workload.
So, you are ready to jump into CM as a way to add that additional layer of DevOps capability on top of IaC. What tools should you use? SAP on AWS customers are leveraging configuration management tools like AWS Systems Manager, Ansible, Chef, Puppet to maintain these configurations.
Just to give you an example, the AWS SAP Professional Services is helping customers implement these tools and seeing up to 90% time saving when provisioning a new SAP environment on AWS compared to on-premises or with manual processes. At CHS, the SAP server provisioning including application install was reduced from multiple days to less than 2 hours. At Phillips66, AWS SAP Professional Services helped decrease the time to build an SAP system from two weeks to twenty minutes by adopting an IaC approach. At Phillips 66, they have the ability to spin up new SAP environments using IAC via their existing ITSM solution ServiceNow within minutes.
SAP Operations Automation:
Following the DevOps mantra, we don’t lose sight of continuous innovation and the pursuit of automating all things SAP. AWS SAP Professional Services has developed solutions and tools that customers can use to further their operational efficiencies and continue to lower their TCO for SAP. This serves as the third pillar in our foundation for DevOps for SAP on AWS.
SAP Start/Stop Automation
Spending hours and hours starting and stopping SAP systems for maintenance windows, profile parameter changes, and other required activities during late nights or weekends? AWS Professional Services’ SAP Start/Stop Automation is an automated, consistent, and controlled process that automates your start and stop of SAP with significantly less human intervention.
Normal start/stop of SAP systems including the EC2 instances for any planned maintenance activity typically takes 10-15 minutes. This can become more and more time consuming with all the human intervention.
Let’s assume there are 100s of SAP systems spread across multiple accounts to start/stop each of them. This would take countless hours and your entire Basis team to complete. To address this, AWS Professional Services’ SAP Start/Stop Automation solution identifies EC2 instances using tags and starts/stops the SAP components installed (ASCS, SCS, ERS, APP, DB, DAA) in a sequenced manner including the EC2 instances. This automation can also be enhanced easily for OS patching, AWS CLI updates, SAP kernel updates, and any maintenance that requires an interruption of SAP service.
CHS, who continued their DevOps for SAP on AWS journey, leveraged this automation to shut down their non-production SAP systems after business hours all with no human intervention. CHS quickly saw a meaningful cost savings by keeping non-productions shutdown during non-business hours.
After seeing this capability, CHS furthered this automation enhancing it to include patching the operating systems that SAP relied on. What originally took 6-8 hours, now took ~1 hour. This automation patched ~150 SAP EC2 instances across 6 separate accounts. With a similar automation at Phillips 66, system resizing (vertical scaling) took minutes, cutting down processing time by as much as 12x resulting in cost savings and improved SLAs.
SAP Autoscaling Application Servers
This solution enables customers to automatically detect SAP application server consumption based on SAP-specific workload metrics and adjust application server capacity. It can adapt to spikes and dips for concurrent user logins, month-end close, payment runs, and a variety of both predictable and unpredictable workloads.
With this solution, customers running multiple application servers can reduce their RI purchases to their minimal footprint to support normal business operations and only pay for EC2 instances using the on-demand model saving them money. Customers see improved resiliency/ availability/uptime, which enables them to offer a higher SLA.
More details on this solution can be found here.
AWS SAP Serverless Refresh
If you are familiar with SAP, you know the time and effort it takes to refresh an SAP system to support testing and production operations. You also know teams are constantly looking at ways to reduce the time and effort it takes. AWS Professional Services has developed a solution based on this customer feedback.
The AWS SAP Serverless Refresh is a solution that consists of serverless AWS services that collectively perform the system refresh process. Customers can use this to refresh an SAP system to overwrite an existing system with the latest data from another system while maintaining the configuration with minimal downtime and significantly less human resource involvement and time. Today, this solution supports SAP systems based on the HANA database.
For context, the AWS SAP Serverless Refresh is helping customers reduce the SAP refresh process from 2-3 weeks to less than 1 day with a downtime of fewer than 30 mins. At Zalora, the SAP system refresh time reduced from 5 days to under 2 days and has improved refresh quality through it consistent and automated mechanisms. This allows business features and testing cycles to iterate within a shorter time window and enables business units to see value in production sooner when compared to a traditional refresh process. This translates to more efficiency, faster time to market for new features, and value to be realized sooner by the business.
Automated HANA DB patching
Anyone who has worked with the SAP HANA database lifecycle management tool or “hdblcm” knows it’s a very robust and efficient way to patch your HANA database. So why not take advantage of this robust package and scale it to your advantage across your landscape?
AWS SAP Professional Services created a tool just for that. This enables teams to patch HANA databases in an automated, consistent, and controlled process with significantly less human intervention. Similar to the SAP start/stop automation solution mentioned above, this automation document enables SAP Basis administrators to patch any number of HANA databases in parallel without human intervention. Customers are using this automation, have patched their entire HANA landscape (50+ HANA databases) in less than 1 hour. This saved time frees up your Basis team up to focus on delivering business value, helping you lower your TCO.
In this blog, we covered how DevOps for SAP through three major pillars: Infrastructure as Code, Configuration Management, and Operations Automation. We explored how SAP on AWS customers are leveraging these capabilities to reduce costs, innovate faster, and accomplish more in less time.
If you are looking for expert guidance and project support as you move your SAP systems to a DevOps model, the AWS Professional Services Global SAP Specialty Practice can help. Increasingly, SAP on AWS customers—including CHS and Phillips 66—are investing in engagements with our team to accelerate their SAP transformation. If you are interested in learning more about how we may be able to help, please contact us here.