SAP on AWS Innovation News: November 2020

Posted 03 November 2020 by Ben Lingwood

Welcome to this quarter’s edition of our SAP on AWS Innovation Newsletter, Lemongrass’s regular communication detailing the new features, capabilities, and market updates that drive new innovations and optimisations into SAP-Centric workloads on AWS.

It’s far too easy these days to focus on the negative aspects of the last 8 months so, as somebody who’s always preferred his glass half-full, I prefer favour focus on the main SAP on AWS beneficial updates that have come to pass over the last quarter. Productivity has crescendoed in our sector, meetings are more concise, and the use of digital channels are now the main arteries of business. The net result of this behavioural change has been a recent surge in new technology innovation, one upside of this screen intensive lockdown. They say that necessity is the mother of invention and these unprecedented times have delivered the proverbial motherlode.

Below are the main updates from our SAP on AWS universe that have helped refill the glass:

  • A big update last quarter was the announcement that AWS is now GA with the next-gen of provisioned IOPs SSD volumes for EBS. The updated Io2 volume types are now backed up with a vastly improved durability SLA, now cranked up to 5×9’s from the original 3 we are used to working with. They’ve also hiked up the throughput rates through the newer storage NIC speeds in some of the newer EC2 machines as well, with a 10x improvement. This was great news for our customers as it’s an upgrade at no additional cost. It also means our SLA’s are even more shored up by the improvements to speed and durability for this heavily used storage class.
  • AWS launched the AWS Migration Evaluator in late July, building on the technology from the TSO-Logic acquisition. If you’ve not come across the tool before, it’s a powerful solution that discovers systems inside existing landscapes. It does this intelligently as it detects CPU generations, disk type, utilisation etc, and builds a suggested target state config & price in AWS complete with a TCO summary. This is very useful in business development and has been very helpful in validating landscape discovery activities.
  • One update Lemongrass has been eagerly awaiting is AWS Backup finally supporting cross-account management. This means the native tooling can now manage and monitor backups across accounts and regions. It’s perfect if you are running a DR account strategy across accounts and regions as it protects from account compromise.
  • Another key update from the last quarter, on the technology side, was the certification update on the AWS EC2 i3en family now being supported for SAP use in 7 additional sizes, ranging from 2-96 vCPU and including a bare-metal option. This is great for some licensing restrictions. Just a reminder that Microsoft has changed the rules on how SQL will be licensed in AWS at the end of 2021 so, do remember to check that out if you’re a SQL user or get in touch with us if you need a hand. Bang for buck, we see these as one of the best EC2 types for SAP workloads.
  • Lemongrass where one of the first organisations to pilot and use the AWS SAP Wizard, complete with a launch reference. The service is continuing to be developed and, in the last quarter, SLES12 SP5, SLES15 SP1 & RHEL 8.1 are all now live in the tool and certified for HANA deployments (plus RHEL 8.2 although SAP only certify this for NetWeaver presently). Whilst on the topic of the Launch Wizard, the service received a key update recently to take advantage of the SAP-Certified backup & restore capability with BackInt. This feature is now built into the guided procedure in the Wizard UI and is linked to the encryption key store & S3 assets as part of the Wizard workflow and the multiple supported deployment architectures including SAP NetWeaver.
  • Now, here’s an update that anyone in the Tech Arch / Basis space will like. If, like me, you burn a lot of time messing about in Visio, Draw.io, Lucid, etc, maintaining diagrams of deployed landscapes, this becomes a real admin overhead. AWS have just helped resolve that with AWS Perspective, a new solution that helps build live diagrams from the deployed assets in the AWS account and will even read financial data from AWS metadata on cost/resourcing.
  • Another innovative release that’s been very useful is AWS Cost Anomaly Detection which deploys AWS’s considerable AI firepower to learn spend patterns over time and is aware of monthly, seasonal and organic platform growth trends. It also learns from the Compute/Storage deployed and reports back (in a rather nice UI) as part of the AWS Cost Management suite. This is perfect input for the monthly landscape optimisations we run in all customers.
  • If you missed the update, EC2 now supports tagging on Spot instances which changes things quite a bit. Historically, we didn’t use Spot so much, but with ~90% price saving and now the ability to tag, it’s making it very attractive now for SBX / training events. If you have any ephemeral systems, which are non-critical and compatible with Spot instances, it is well worth considering. (It’s also perfect for training whilst locked in the home office.) As an added bonus, AWS Marketplace AMIs are also now supported on Spot instances, opening up their use for third party supported solutions.
  • A big update for us this quarter has been AWS moving all the key RDS services over to Graviton kit which hikes performance ~35% whilst enabling a ~52% price/performance ratio vs the original platform. Looking at the pricing in the console enables an RDS on an M6g / R6g vs its nearest Intel EC2 spec’d VM and the difference is roughly half the cost. For our Data-lake, SAP BOBI on RDS, and other customer workloads that leverage an RDS, this was great news and an easy cost reduction to pass back.

As usual, there are always more updates than we can fit in one newsletter, so these are the ones that were the most relevant for our customers and specialism. As AWS re:Invent is almost upon us and history has shown that AWS always saves the best updates for their keynotes so, expect an innovation-fest at the back end of the year. To capture these for you, we’ll run a more digestible and concise summary of the SAP-Centric updates on week 3 of the event.

Keep safe, but do keep on innovating …

Ben