Data protection in a virtualized data center: How ProMinent secures its SAP HANA migration

With regard to business continuity and compliance, always available, intact data is more important than ever. In addition to security, data protection is also gaining in importance, i.e. all processes related to storing, backing up, archiving and restoring data. Setting them up in the virtualized data center in such a way that they are easy to manage and minimize the risk of failure and data loss is demanding. Especially when companies want to introduce the in-memory, real-time and big data platform SAP HANA and therefore have to expand existing processes – including adequate performance and memory scalability.

What is the best way to do this? ProMinent, a well-known medium-sized manufacturer of system technology for fluid dosing, water treatment and water disinfection, has found a simple solution.

With around 50 branches and 11 production facilities, the ProMinent Group is active in over 100 countries on four continents. Almost all of the locations with the highest sales work with the SAP system, which the company maintains centrally at its headquarters in Heidelberg. The core IT team there has just five employees, which is why the data center landscape has to be robust and easy to use. “For this reason, you will primarily find Fujitsu hardware in uniform building blocks,” reveals Alexander Gaber, IT Director at ProMinent GmbH, and continues: “We also have to keep an eye on the costs and have the productive environment on VMware vSphere Virtualized in high density This brings challenges, especially since the SAP system has to be available 24/7/365 due to the global company structure.

Play it safe with VMware and SAP HANA
Relevant partnerships and certifications from Fujitsu and Veeam guarantee reliable solutions.

• Fujitsu-SAP partnership, for example for SAP HANA appliances
• VMware’s strategic partnership with Fujitsu and Veeam
• Fujitsu-Veeam partnership for storage-backup integrations
• SAP HANA certified hardware, e.g. B. Fujitsu ETERNUS AF250 S2
• Certified SAP HANA plug-in for Veeam backup and recovery

On the Heidelberg campus, ProMinent operates a data center and a backup data center (BRZ) in separate fire compartments. Before the project started, the infrastructure looked like this: In both data centers, there were several ESX hosts and storage: one for the frontend area, one for the SAP ERP world with an Oracle database under Microsoft Windows. Both front-end and SAP storages were clustered across data centers (sync mirror). In addition, each data center had various backup repositories. The backups were then put on tapes, and these in turn in an external safe. ProMinent thus complied with the 3 2 1 rule, which says for optimal protection against data failure and loss: make at least three copies, use two different media and keep one copy externally. Now it was time to fit data protection for SAP HANA into this infrastructure.

In its data center and backup data center, ProMinent operates several ESX hosts with associated storage in the frontend and in the SAP area, each clustered across data centers. The backups flow into various repositories and are still on tapes for external storage.
In its data center and backup data center, ProMinent operates several ESX hosts with associated storage in the frontend and in the SAP area, each clustered across data centers. The backups flow into various repositories and are still on tapes for external storage.
Photo: Fujitsu

Based on past experience, ProMinent tended to its long-term partners Fujitsu and Veeam, but took a closer look at other providers – for almost nine months. “We had many there,” said Gaber, “who did not convince us. It started with some advising iSCSI instead of Fiber Channel, where you have to frown and ask yourself: Can this really work well for us? ” In the end, ProMinent ended up at Fujitsu and Veeam again. In addition to performance, efficiency and scalability, issues such as snapshots and sandboxing were also decisive. “As a technology partner, Fujitsu and Veeam offer an end-to-end solution that seamlessly integrates such topics in the VMware and HANA environment,” Gaber emphasizes, conceding: “Other providers may have other advantages. For us, the concept of Fujitsu and Veeam fit perfectly. “

A key criterion was the Fujitsu Eternus AF 250 S2. Firstly, because this all-flash storage offers an integrated synchronous mirror with transparent failover, without volume costs. On the other hand, because it leads in terms of performance in the SAP benchmarks and also performs excellently in SAP HANA. ProMinent was expecting in-memory data of several TB, so snapshots can take some time. Keeping them as short as possible was desired and was successful – also thanks to the Eternus plug-in, which Veeam Availability Suite integrates with Fujitsu storage.

Integrated solutions from Fujitsu and Veeam enable backup, restore and sandboxing based on storage snapshots in addition to classic processes. This protects the productive environment, accelerates recoveries and minimizes data loss.
Integrated solutions from Fujitsu and Veeam enable backup, restore and sandboxing based on storage snapshots in addition to classic processes. This protects the productive environment, accelerates recoveries and minimizes data loss.
Photo: Fujitsu

Stefan Roth, Head of Storage Business Central Europe at Fujitsu: “Data protection starts with storage. Thanks to Veeam, we have a strong partner for joint solutions with real added value.” For example, companies can back up and replicate as often as they want – without any significant impact on the performance of their applications. “You can also create storage snapshots that can be used to create LAN-free backups or restore desired statuses within minutes,” explains Patric Hermann, Systems Engineer at Veeam.

For ProMinent, this means: minimal RTO / RPO with high 24/7 performance from SAP HANA. ProMinent also uses storage snapshots for sandboxing. “This has been elegantly solved with Datalabs and works just fine,” assures IT manager Gaber, who is pleased: “We can deploy on-demand labs in minutes and thus, for example, test the restore with productive backups with minimal storage requirements.”

Not least because a plug-in seamlessly connects the SAP HANA platform with Veeam Backup & Replication – which ProMinent also uses for log backups. “In the worst case, we would have 10 minutes of data loss,” says Gaber and notes: “You can push that up, but 10 minutes is okay for us.” In addition, Veeam backup targets of all kinds can be controlled, including a Veeam scale-out backup repository. A solution that ProMinent used to bundle its repositories into an easily scalable storage pool.

The data protection solution for SAP HANA fits seamlessly into the previous cluster and 3-2-1 architecture. End-to-end - thanks to Veeam's HANA plug-in, Fujitsu storages with sync mirror and failover, and the Veeam scale-out backup repository
The data protection solution for SAP HANA fits seamlessly into the previous cluster and 3-2-1 architecture. End-to-end – thanks to Veeam’s HANA plug-in, Fujitsu storages with sync mirror and failover, and the Veeam scale-out backup repository
Photo: Fujitsu

Similar to the old SAP world that still exists, there are now several ESX hosts and storage for SAP HANA in each data center. Only that the new environment runs on Linux. “Fujitsu has experts for this as well,” reports Gaber, adding: “We are now driving the HANA system on top as a third cluster. We built this into the middle of our landscape and fully integrated it with a simple scale-out.” Ultimately, ProMinent can monitor and manage its entire VMware or data protection environment with just one console.

IT manager Gaber is very satisfied. “Everything worked just fine,” he sums up and adds: “Fujitsu advised us well and was very committed. It was a huge advantage that we knew the hardware and software to a large extent, so we hardly needed any training.” Idicos, the local IT partner with whom ProMinent has been cooperating for years, was also able to support the project – and can continue to support the entire data center landscape in the long term. That was particularly important to Gaber, who is already thinking about the future: “Due to the high system and backup level, I am in good spirits that we can later run SAP S / 4 on HANA as well as SAP HANA.”

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