IBM DB2 BLU and/or DB2 10.5 Optimization for SAP – Platform Evolution vs Revolution

In blog section 2 consequently – Let us briefly review the benefits of DB2 BLU and/or DB2 10.5 for typical SAP NetWeaver Business Suite workloads.

In blog section 1 we highlighted the complex choice IBM SAP Enterprise IT Clients face if you are already happily running often customized SAP Business Suite / SAP NetWeaver over DB2 (with z, p, i and/or LUW) over your preferred and/or virtualized IBM SAP platform choice (z, p, i Series, Linux, VMware ESX, widows / Intel + DB2 LUW etc).

Then very careful analysis of the TCO, Functional and cost / benefits and risks associated with SAP HANA with SAP BW and/or Suite on HANA (SoH) or indeed starting again with a new S/4 HANA Digital Core S/4 HANA Enterprise Management (at the 1511 release vs the prior 1503 code path before) is then required.

This helps to ensure the claimed or indicated benefits actually align to your business and IT priorities over SAP SE’s natural desire to increase their share of your IT spend, in terms of the required HANA rdbms license, support and/or HANA remediation consulting revenues vs prior AnyDB platform choices.

This has to considered and balanced vs the continued deployment of viable, mature and proven SAP IBM DB2 NetWeaver optimised AnyDB alternatives that have and continue to be progressively developed and optimized over many years jointly with SAP DB2 development teams in Walldorf, IBM’s Boeblingen and/or the IBM’s DB2 Development Labs in Toronto, Canada.

Unfortunately there are no joint development labs in the Scottish Highlands, never mind !

(Whilst also not forgetting that 2 or more IBMers invented relational database platforms, many, many years ago following on from IBM’s IMS which was used by NASA for the Apollo programme etc) .

In particular where Client and/or more recent joint IBM DB2 / Systems Group Lab testing indicates for more complex and concurrent SAP BW Analytical (OLAP) workloads, IBM’s DB2 10.5 BLU (and/or DB2 11.1 with BLU + MPP – Massively Parallel Processing which is now certified with SAP BW) often match or significantly exceeds the throughput of SAP HANA with SAP BW for OLAP / Complex SQL BW Reporting workloads with less than half of the configured system memory.

Also typically using significantly fewer multi-threaded cpu cores, whilst providing rapid, incremental and non-disruptive speed to value without having to re-engineer or optimize the Clients SAP BW configuration and/or Business Objects (or Cognos etc) reporting tiers.

With SAP BW 7.0x (and above up to BW 7.4) and DB2 10.5 BLU, this is normally combined with a relatively simple, quick and largely non disruptive targeted row to columnar DB2 SAP BW table conversion using the latest version of the DB6CONV tool typically targeted at the SAP BW reporting tier (InfoProviders, InfoCubes).

DB2 10.5 BLU includes enablement and optimization of SAP HANA derived “Flat InfoCubes” support at SAP BW 7.40 (with SAP NetWeaver 7.40 or 7.50) with DB2 10.5 FP5S or above.

This diagram below indicates the relative speed up typically observed between DB2 10.5 LUW with SAP BW in a row relational form, then in a columnar “in-memory” organization and/or columnar “in-memory” with SAP BW “Flat InfoCubes” (at BW 7.40) or a representative sample set of BW / SQL queries and reports.

BLU Relative Throughput Flat Infocubes
Over a range of queries excellent throughput improvements are observed with relatively modest increases in the allocated DB2 memory (GB Ram) and server CPU core capacity.

Personally I’m not a great fan of the prior x100 or x1000 HANA speed up claims that seemed to be features of prior SAPPHIRE and/or SAP TechEd conferences with respect to SAP HANA.

Whilst these maybe true for individual queries when comparing older row based rdbms systems (often on prior generations of hardware) with SAP HANA on the most current Intel hardware, these from my PoV are often “apples & pears” comparisons that make good marketing charts, but are likely not so representative for many clients real life mixed SAP BW OLAP reporting and/or batch / ETL (Extract Transform Load) workload scenarios.

The table above simply highlights the benefits of leveraging prior proven and mature DB2 LUW (Linux Unix Windows) rdbms technology, combined with proven query optimization and/or buffer pools deployed to leverage a columnar, autonomic (automatic to me & you) modern tiered data platform.

With DB2 v11.1 we also now combine prior proven DB2 Data Partitioning Features (DPF) that effectively manages, distribute and optimise both queries and data placement over a scale out n+1 architecture for the very largest clients (10-100’s of TB of adaptively compressed DB2 SAP BW data) to enable DB2 BLU with MPP (Massively Parallel Processing) – This also fully leverages prior DB2 BLU “in-memory” columnar and prior SAP BW 7.x optimizations, with an expected GA and/or SAP certification in Q3 / Q4 2016.

For folks that are interested a summary review of the DB2 11.1 LUW “Hybrid Cloud enabling” capabilities can be found in the following paper by Philip Howard from Bloor Research and/or a summary from a recent DB2 11.1 announcement web link.

Insert web link here – Re Bloor Research

A link to a news wire on the DB2 v11.1 announcements is enclosed, or for the IBM web site formal announcement below.

IBM Targets Developers with Powerful In-Memory Database in the Cloud

DB2 on Cloud makes hybrid cloud development easier

Now let’s consider the OLTP / Transactional workloads vs OLAP / Analytical scenarios.

The next statement may sound relatively harsh, but in many cases is true in the cold light of day when the relative costs, risks and real benefits of migrating an existing “read / write” optimized customized SAP NetWeaver ABAP / SAP ECC OLTP (and/or prior BW 7.X OLAP) template to a “Suite on HANA” and/or a new S/4 HANA Digital Core are considered, it may or may not stack up in cost / benefit terms exactly as previously suggested and marketed by SAP SE.

This is naturally back to my technical and solution architect “it depends” disposition, we also have to consider the relative strategic competitive and business into IT benefits of various IT and strategic platform investment choices (S/4 HANA Digital Core, IBM’s Watson / IoT, Bluemix etc) for competitive advantage over prior COTS or packaged application deployment strategies.

The next key question becomes is your business aligned IT investment priority focussed on front office IT enablement and differentiation in the System of Engagement, Systems of Insight, Systems of Innovation / IoT area, for competitive advantage vs remediation of existing customized SAP ERP NetWeaver “Back Office” “System of Record” configurations to enable what might initially appear to be a commercially driven SoH OS/DB SAP HANA platform migration ?

For me individually I view SoH (Suite on HANA) as essentially a “zero sum” game (not an ideal combination of the two worlds) in real delivered IT benefits terms, where for example IBM DB2 SAP Clients can already fully leverage the throughput, scalability, TCO reduction, adaptive data compression, many years of SAP DB2 optimizations and maturity of DB2 over SAP ERP 6.0 / SAP NetWeaver including support through to 2025 with SAP NetWeaver 7.40 and/or 7.50.

For these Clients there are also clear benefits from the SAP Core Data Services (CDS) HANA aligned application database functional push down optimization enablement over DB2 10.5 (and above) with SAP NetWeaver 7.40 and 7.50 in addition to FIORI Transactional application user interface enhancements (vs Fiori analytical optimization with, for BW + HANA  and/or SAP S/4 HANA).

In the following diagram we describe examples the detailed mapping of aligned IBM DB2 10.5 functionality to SAP Core Data Services (CDS) aligned rdbms function calls and optimizations:

DB2 CDS 10.5 Optimisations

I believe a number of mutual IBM SAP Enterprise clients will decide to sustain a “functionality stable” SAP NetWeaver ERP 6.0 “System of Record” Core (ECC, BW, APO/SCM, PI, PLM etc).

Essentially they will adopt a let’s “wait & see” strategy on future S/4 HANA Digital Core adoption.

A number of them may also decide to switch from a prior SAP 1st back office (SoR) strategy to selecting and integrating “Best of Breed” front office alternative SaaS / Cloud / IoT solutions from vendors like (CRM), NetSuite (Financials / ERP) Workday (HR) and/or Anaplan (S&OP), IBM’s own Watson IoT / Bluemix etc.

Where this “Best of Breed / SaaS / Hybrid Cloud strategy is then integrated back to this stable SAP ERP 6.0 / SAP NetWeaver core via SOA (service-orientated architecture) API (application programming interfaces) standards, leveraging existing deployed Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) messaging / integration buses or indeed various “Application Integration as a Service” (AIaaS) offerings (which may include for example SAP PI/PO or IBM’s WBI, IBM’s WebSphere CastIron * / IBM’s Data Power etc).

* Indeed IBM’s WebSphere CastIron integration appliance was often previously used to integrate SuccessFactors with SAP ERP NetWeaver solutions prior to SAP’s acquisition of SuccessFactors and is also typically used to help integrate via a “Drag & Drop” simplified template (TIPs) driven integration strategy CRM solutions with SAP NetWeaver / ERP 6.0 solutions.

Some time ago, in February 2012 Forbes published the following item on Cloud computing:

6 Shining Examples of Cloud Computing in Action, Joe McKendrick.

Cloud computing means more than simply saving on IT implementation costs. Cloud offers enormous opportunity for new innovation, and even disruption of entire industries.

Which provides a natural segue into my section 3 topic

Section 3 –SAP NetWeaver Core + Best of Breed / SAAS Strategic IT Alternative Investment Choices



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