SAP on AWS Innovation News: September 2021

SAP on Cloud Innovation

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 optimizations into SAP-Centric workloads on AWS.

Emerging from Covid hibernation and taking those tentative first steps back into the bright lights of office life has certainly been rather a cultural shock but has also taught us some valuable lessons on working more efficiently and flexibly. One such learning included embracing technical change more openly and the need to remain agile and elastic regardless of company size as we all scrambled to operate in “Pandemic mode”. The lock-down fuelled wave of updates over the last quarter has yielded some great optimizations, the most popular of these in our SAP-Centric universe are as follows:

  • By far the biggest news we’ve seen from AWS in the last quarter is the release & SAP certification of the new M6i EC2 instance. These are a big deal as they are also the first systems using the new 3rd gen Intel Ice Lake architecture which provide an all-core turbo frequency of 3.5GHz which boosts the SAPs density and the compute by ~15% vs the M5’s. Being in the “M” family they are actually in the general SAP “Sweet spot” which we use extensively for DB instances across SAP landscapes. A quick scan across our accounts shows it’s the most heavily used EC2 family in our business. These new instances leverage the Nitro hypervisor platform, have always-on memory encryption, come in 9 sizes from Large to 32xlarge (the 32x boasts 33% improvement over the largest M5 instance), and have improved network connection fabric speeds. I’d recommend every SAP on AWS customer take a look at the $ reduction they could enable in current managed landscapes.
  • Every procurement person loves a free SLA upgrade and in the last few months, we’ve seen two key ones released. Firstly, Transit Gateway (the engine room of our Landing Zones) is now a 99.99% Service- up .05%. It’s also an automatic update so, congratulations, your LZ is now operating at 4 9’s. Secondly, EC2 instance level SLA’s have now been introduced, a significant upgrade as single instance systems (e.g. a Dev VM) now carries an SLA of 99.5%. Previously only multi-AZ regional deployments carried an SLA. This means for the typical SAP landscape your non-production and non-clustered systems now benefit from an AWS SLA.
  • AWS, again accelerating on SAP-specific automation, released a great update enabling SAP Stop & Start using out-of-the-box AWS System Manager functionality. In fact, it takes only a few minutes to deploy using a simple Formation Template to enable an “Application-aware” to Stop/Start systems as needed. The template/play-books for this scheduling & notification framework are all published in Github, a recommended update to go check-out.
  • A new FinOps model landed recently called AWS Advance Pay. It’s exactly what it sounds like- a “Pre-pay credit card” for any AWS spend but without commitment terms as we see in RI’s or Savings plans. It’s an interesting idea for on-demand use for smaller activities where you only want to spend a certain amount with complete assurances to protect over-spending. This is a good fit for those SAP PoCs and Lab activities where people have a bad habit of leaving the lights on.
  • Another useful update we’ve leveraged is Simple File Manager for AWS EFS. In a nutshell, it’s a serverless solution providing a great UI for managing your data in AWS EFS volumes enabling access to view, upload, download or delete data across multiple volumes from any device. The big win here is that traditionally we always needed a small EC2 instance to manage files in EFS which we can now remove.
  • AWS recently released a new tier of EBS storage, Io2 Block Express. This new premium disk class adds a new top-tier storage tier with a 5×9’s durability. Most interestingly, it also now offers the highest volume size (up to 64GB), the largest IoPs performance at 256,000 (previously the fastest Block disk before was only 64,000), and a 4GB throughput speedup from the previous fastest of 1GBs) promising a sub-millisecond latency. This means for our very high-performance disk architectures we can avoid the need for excessive striping given the extreme performance of the disk.
  • With the launch a few weeks ago of the U-Metal hardware’s availability on-demand, AWS’s SAP Launch Wizard has had a quick tweak to make the most of the new On-Demand listing with 6, 9, and 12TB systems now available on-demand with SAP HANA & NetWeaver fully installed- and even on a clustered OS across multiple AZ’s if wanted. Just keep an eye on the costs for these monsters when they run on-demand for too long!
  • Managing EFS volumes as part of migrations can be quite manual, the new AWS EFS utilities toolset (amazon-efs-utils) inside SSM Quick Setup enables EFS clients to be set up across all instances within an organization in addition to installing and configuring the EFS client. It even checks and updates the client version.
  • Backups! BackInt 1.04 was released recently as the new standard in AWS. This update brings some great new features: S3 Bucket owner control access and Instance Metadata Service (IMDS v2). The even better news (and an item we had a feature request open on) is that BackInt now also supports intelligent tiering to move backups directly to cheaper disk tiers in addition to the ability to send log and backup data to separate folders. It’s also Ansible compatible.
  • Lastly, an update that we beta tested and got quite excited about as an organization, SAP-Centric Data Lakes on AWS technology. Appflow now has native integration to OData in ECC, BW as well as S4 & BW4HANA so historically complex customized architectures that were needed to pull data from SAP (PY RFCs, BAPIs or 3PL solutions, etc.) can now in some scenarios be retired. As an example, pulling master data from SAP into S3 for onward use in Data Lake or other scenarios can now all be done via an easy wizard-driven UI.

It’s getting increasingly tricky to cherry-pick the updates to share given the amount of them over the last few months, but we hope a few of the above piqued your interest. If you’ve seen others we missed or are interested in chatting over any of the ones we’ve found useful please do get in touch.

Keep safe, but do keep on innovating.

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