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We are excited to participate in SAP SapphireNOW this year building on the momentum we have created with our expanded partnership with SAP announced earlier this year with new Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Teams integrations. At Microsoft Ignite last year, we shared a migration framework to help customers achieve a secure, reliable, and simplified path to the cloud. The expanded partnership with SAP and the migration framework are key components of our broader vision to build the best platform for mission-critical SAP applications for both customers and partners. As a Gold sponsor at SapphireNOW, we are participating in several sessions, including one in which Matt Ordish covers how customers can unlock value from their SAP data on Azure, and another in which Scott Guthrie joins SAP’s Thomas Saueressig in the Supply Chain keynote to discuss why supply chain resilience and agility are paramount to ensuring continual business operations and customer satisfaction.


Our platform continues to run some of the biggest SAP landscapes in the cloud across industries. Achmea, a leading insurer based in the Netherlands, is building a cloud strategy that aims to deliver flexibility, scalability, and speed across the business, with less intensive lifecycle management requirements for its IT team. With close collaboration between Microsoft and SUSE, Achmea has successfully moved some of its biggest SAP systems to Azure. Walgreens recently completed the 9,100 store roll out of their SAP S/4 Hana Retail system in the United States. The new solution enables Walgreens’ ambition for a digital and enhanced customer experience and replaces the legacy Retail, Supply Chain and Business Services back-end of the business with modern solutions and business processes.


 SAP on Azure Migration Framework


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We have continued our strong pace of innovation across our key product areas building on the updates we announced in our SAP TechEd blog last year. Across the migration framework, we have several new product updates to further simplify running SAP solutions on Microsoft Azure. Below is a summary of some of the key product updates:

  1. Lower TCO and improve dynamic handling of bursts in workloads We have added new SAP-certified compute and storage options and capabilities to help you right-size your infrastructure during the PREPARE phase of your migration.

  2. Cloud-native solutions for efficient and agile operations during the MIGRATE and RUN phases The new release of our deployment automation framework lays the foundation for repeatable SAP software install, OS and other configurations. We have added key improvements to Azure Monitor for SAP Solutions (AMS) and Azure Backup for HANA.

  3. Deeper integration with our partners to simplify customer journey to Azure: We are building our platform from the ground up for better integration with our managed services providers (MSP) and ISV partners. We are proud to share updates on the work we have done with Scheer GmbH and our preferred partnership announcements with SNP and Protera.

Let’s walk through these updates in more detail.


New SAP-certified Msv2 Medium Memory VM sizes will deliver a 20% increase in CPU performance, increased flexibility with local disks, and a new intermediate scale up-option

In response to customer feedback, we announced the Preview of new M-series VMs for memory-optimized workloads at Ignite. Today we are happy to announce the GA of these VMs with SAP certification. These new Msv2 medium memory VMs:

  • Run on Intel® Xeon® Platinum 8280 (Cascade Lake) processor offering a 20% performance increase compared to the previous version.

  • Are available in both disk and diskless offerings allowing customers the flexibility to choose the option that best meets their workload needs.

  • Provide new isolated VM sizes with more CPU and memory that go up to 192 vCPU with 4TiB of memory, so customers have an intermediate option to scale up before going to a 416 vCPU VM size.

For more details on specs, regional availability, and pricing, read the blog announcement.


Lower TCO, consolidate complex HA/DR landscapes, and achieve faster database restart times with SAP-certified SAP HANA Large Instances (HLI) with Intel Optane

We are excited to announce 12 new SAP certifications of SAP HLI with Intel Optane following the recent record benchmark on the massive S896om instance. SAP HLI with Intel Optane helps customers reduce costs, simplify complex HA/DR landscapes, and achieve 22x faster database restart times, significantly reducing planned and unplanned downtimes. These new certified instances enable customers to:

  • Reduce the cost of the SAP HLI Optane instances by 15%

  • Take advantage of the SAP HLI Optane high memory density offerings for OLTP and OLAP workloads to reduce platform complexity for scale-up and scale-out scenarios.

  • The SAP benchmark on 16 socket 24TB S896om HLI instance, is the first of its kind on a hyperscaler platform and also the highest recorded for Optane system. This is a testament to our commitment to deliver a high degree of performant, reliable, and innovative infrastructure for customers running mission-critical SAP workloads in Azure.

Please see, SAP HANA hardware directory for recent HLI certified Optane instances in Azure.


New Azure storage capabilities in public preview to simplify handling dynamic workloads

We have added several capabilities to Azure premium storage to improve operations and offer customers more flexibility in handling the dynamic nature of their workloads.

  1. For phases of increased I/O workload, we released the possibility of changing the premium storage performance tier of a disk last year. Building on that, we now have a public preview to change the performance tier for a disk online to a higher tier. This addresses scenarios in which you need higher IOPS or I/O throughput due to time-consuming operational tasks or seasonal workloads.

  2. For short I/O workload bursts we released public preview of on-demand bursting for premium storage disks larger than 5132GiB. The on-demand bursting allows bursting of up to 30K IOPS and 1GB/sec throughput per disk. This addresses short-time bursts of I/O workload in regular or irregular intervals and avoids short-term throttling of I/O activity.

  3. For several Azure VM families that are SAP-certified, we released VM-level disk bursting. In smaller VM sizes such as the ones used in the SAP application layer, I/O peaks can easily reach the VM quota limits assigned for storage traffic. With the VM-level disk bursting functionality, VMs can handle such peaks without destabilizing the workload.

  4. Price reduction of Azure Ultra disk : As of April 1st, 2021, we reduced the price for the I/O throughput component of the Azure Ultra disk by 65%. This price reduction leads to better economics, especially with SAP workload triggered I/O load on the DBMS backend.

Accelerate deployment with the SAP on Azure Deployment Automation Framework

To help our customers effectively deploy SAP solutions on Azure, we offer the SAP Automation deployment framework, which includes Infrastructure as Code, and Configuration as Code, as open-source that is built on Terraform and Ansible. We are excited to have released the next version of the framework. In this release, we introduce capabilities to simplify the initial setup required to begin the deployment process for SAP systems. Other capabilities in this release include support for subnets as part of the Workload Zone, an Azure Firewall for outbound internet connectivity in isolated environments, and support for encryption using customer-managed keys.  A detailed list of capabilities is in the Release Note.

 A new feature becoming available in Private Preview at the end of June is the SAP Installation Framework. This feature will provide customers with a repeatable and consistent process to install an SAP product. To register for the Private Preview, please fill out the SAP Deployment Automation – private preview request form.


Seamlessly monitor SAP NetWeaver metrics with Azure Monitor for SAP Solutions (AMS)

Customers can now use AMS to monitor SAP NetWeaver systems in the Azure portal. In addition, customers can use the existing capabilities in AMS to monitor SAP HANA, Microsoft SQL Server, High-availability (pacemaker) Clusters, and Linux Operating System. The SAP BASIS and infrastructure teams within an organization can use AMS to collect, visualize and perform end-to-end SAP technical monitoring in one place within the Azure portal. Customers can get started with AMS without any license fee (consumption charges are applicable) in the following regions: US East, US East 2, US West 2, North Europe, and West Europe. 


Speed up backups with the latest updates to Azure Backup for SAP HANA

Now SAP HANA users can protect larger SAP HANA databases with a faster backup solution (up to 8 TB of full backup size and ~420 MBps speeds during backup and restore). Support for incremental backup is now generally available, enabling customers to assign cost-optimal backup policies such as weekly and daily incrementals. Customers can also secure their backups with HANA native keys or customer-managed keys in key vault for backup data at rest, and protect against regional outages by restoring to secondary paired region on-demand using the cross-region restore functionality. Customers can also monitor their entire Azure backup estate using Backup center, which is now generally available.


Strategic collaborations and product integrations with our partners will accelerate moving SAP solutions to Microsoft Azure

As we invest in building solutions that simplify the migration of SAP solutions to Azure, we closely collaborate with our global partners right from the design stage. One such design partner is Scheer GmbH. Scheer GmbH specializes in providing SAP consulting and managed services for customers in the EU region and has been one of our earliest design partners in the development process for products such as SAP automation deployment framework (available as open-source), Azure Monitor for SAP Solutions, and SAP HANA Backup solutions. Robert Mueller, Managing Director, Cloud Managed Services group Scheer says “With Microsoft Azure, we can offer our SAP customers the best and most secure cloud platform for their digital transformation ever. Through our partnership, we were able to incorporate our years of experience from operating SAP systems as well as the requirements of our customers into the Azure services. The Microsoft engineering team is an excellent and reliable partner who understands the needs of MSPs as well as their customers on an equal footing and implements them in an agile fashion. We look forward to continuing this partnership in the future and learn more from each other to create the best cloud to run SAP and business processes!”

Customers with complex SAP migration requirements can leverage our preferred partnership with SNP. SNPs BLUEFIELD™ approach helps customers migrate and upgrade to S/4 HANA in a single, non-disruptive go live. SNP’s Cloud Move for Azure provides rapid assessments, Azure target solutioning, and pricing. SNP’s CrystalBridge® offers automated migration capabilities in a cost-effective and secure fashion. Customers can also take advantage of data transformation capabilities of CrystalBridge® for selective data migration, mergers, and acquisitions.

We are happy to announce that we have also established a preferred partnership with Protera. Protera’s FlexBridge® helps customers accelerate SAP migrations to Azure by providing automated assessments, intelligent provisioning, and automated migrations. FlexBridge® also offers SAP management solutions on Azure providing a dashboard of operational metrics, service desk integration, cost analysis, and SAP maintenance optimization such as patching, system copies, and environment snoozing.


In addition to these updates, stay tuned for several exciting product announcements in the next few months. As we wrap this year, I also wanted to share why thousands of customers, including SAP, trust Azure to run their SAP solutions. We look forward to seeing you virtually at our sessions at SapphireNOW.


Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.