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Automate Deployment & Governance on Application-Centric Infrastructure

SAP, Cisco, and Vnomic are collaborating to dramatically accelerate and simplify the deployment and operation of large scale SAP applications by using Cisco® Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI) including Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), ACI family of programmable switches and the Vnomic Declarative Deployment and Governance Platform.

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Challenges

The growing sophistication and deployment complexity of next-generation application landscapes means that traditional approaches to application deployment and management no longer meet business expectations.  In a competitive world, customers must deploy services quickly, then rapidly and safely add or remove resources from already running applications to meet the demands of users, based on service level requirements, time scheduling and cost factors, while adhering to the security and governance requirements.

SAP BW/HANA landscapes possess all the attributes of complex, dynamic applications that can benefit from Cisco ACI. These include distributed users, 24/7 global availability, highly variable performance and scale demands, virtual and physical resource requirements, various types of storage, and changing security and governance requirements. It can take weeks and months to provision, deploy and configure these landscapes and involves manual layout of new infrastructure, connectivity and configuration of L4-7 services, with potential for errors, further slowing deployment cycles. This leads to rigid IT environments, limiting agility of customers to respond to variable business demands.

Solution Overview

SAP BW/HANA landscapes consist of multiple application components across a multi-tier topology,  with  detailed requirements for how those tiers communicate. The data center network must be configured to enable this complex communication while still meeting business needs for security, compliance, and service levels. Any changes to a tier, such as supporting increasing demand, often requires extensive configuration changes to the network devices.

SAP and Vnomic used the Vnomic Modeling Framework to declaratively describe all the components, services, and their inter-relationships which comprise SAP BW/HANA landscapes. Using the Vnomic Service Designer, the components are architected into an infrastructure-independent Application Service Model representing suitable deployment topologies required in the SAP BW/HANA landscapes.

Cisco ACI provides the critical framework that enables these complex communication requirements of SAP BW on SAP HANA  to be implemented in real-world network installations. It provides:

  • A declarative model to provision and control the network through policy eliminating the need for special state dependent logic and sequencing during orchestration
  • A set of application-centric abstractions including application components, contexts, endpoints and contracts. Since these abstractions exist in both the application and network domains, the required semantics are fully communicated and thus upheld by the fabric

The joint solution brings together SAP BW on SAP HANA, Vnomic Declarative Deployment and Governance Platform, and Cisco ACI to simplify and accelerate deployment of SAP BW on SAP HANA.

Solution Components

SAP BW Powered by SAP HANA

The reporting, analysis, and interpretation of business data is of central importance to a company in guaranteeing its competitive edge, optimizing processes, and enabling it to react quickly and in line with the market.  To achieve these goals, the SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW) provides a business intelligence platform, data warehousing functionality, and a suite of business intelligence. It captures, stores, and consolidates customer vital information with the enterprise data warehouse platform. It allows customers, in real-time, to tightly integrate warehousing capabilities for a single version of the truth, decision-ready business intelligence, and accelerated operations.

SAP HANA, combines database, data processing, and application platform capabilities in-memory, with unparalleled performance. This new architecture enables converged OLTP and OLAP data processing within a single in-memory column-based data store with ACID compliance1, while eliminating data redundancy and latency. The SAP HANA platform provides libraries for predictive analytics, planning, text analytics, spatial processing, and business analytics. By providing such advanced capabilities all on the same architecture, it further simplifies application development and processing across big data sources and structures. This makes SAP HANA the most suitable platform for building and deploying next-generation, real-time applications and analytics.

SAP BW/HANA landscapes consist of multiple application components across a multi-tier topology. SAP Business Warehouse is deployed as a horizontally scalable application server tier with a coordinator node, which share configuration storage with specific compute, network and storage requirements. SAP HANA is a highly scalable in-memory database deployed as a multi-node cluster with specific high performance processor requirements, network connectivity and performance requirements, large memory requirements, and cluster shared state with specific storage requirements.

Vnomic Automation

Declarative Deployment and Governance is a recent technical breakthrough, tying the power of application modeling to the flexibility of programmable infrastructure.

The Vnomic Declarative Deployment and Governance Platform is an Application Centric Automation Solution capable of controlling the most sophisticated applications and infrastructures. The Vnomic Modeling Framework allows users to concisely express application components, their dependencies and inter-relationships and infrastructure requirements, as application building blocks. The Vnomic Service Designer allows service architects to snap together building blocks into error-free Application Service Models which describe sophisticated application landscapes, independent of infrastructure. Policies are used to expose and configure customization points. The Vnomic Desired State Controller interprets these Application Service Models as holistic desired state specifications and automatically computes a concrete topology and a correctly ordered sequence of infrastructure operations to provision compute, network and storage resources, with deployment operations to materialize software components and initialize their state, and configuration operations to ensure infrastructure, software components, and services are able to operate correctly.  

Cisco ACI

Cisco’s vision for ACI is to deploy and optimize complex, dynamic applications with exceptional agility and simplicity, in enterprise data centers. It provides flexible application policy and infrastructure control that can dramatically accelerate application deployment and operations through centralized configuration, testing, monitoring of the entire data center infrastructure including network connectivity, security and other L4-7 services.

APIC Application Network Profiles uniquely capture application connectivity and governance requirements in terms of application abstractions including application components, endpoints and contracts effectively bridging the traditional semantic gap between application requirements and network implementation. APIC uses a logical representation of application requirements, to automatically provision and continuously adapt the fabric for optimized application operation.

Integration: SAP BW on SAP HANA, Vnomic Declarative Deployment and Governance Platform, and Cisco ACI

The ACI integration consisted of Vnomic adding a plugin to programmatically build ACI Application Network Profiles from Vnomic Application Service Models and programming them into the ACI APIC using the APIC API. The preliminary integration was complete in only one week, which would not have been possible without the well-designed abstractions provided by ACI.

When an application is deployed, customers will need to configure the application so that it meets the communication requirements. For example, between the HANA tier and the Storage tier there are multiple connections, each with specific requirements for performance, security, and quality of service. The Vnomic Desired State Controller (DSC) computes an ACI Application Network Profile which assigns a unique Endpoint Group for each tier. Defining the connection characteristics between each of the Endpoint Groups in terms of application requirements is easily implemented using ACI contracts. Applications can now consume the resources, virtual or physical, that best fit their needs, independent of location. Because all application characteristics are fully specified, compliance is ensured across any changes in an agile environment. It is these important application-centric features which make ACI unique.

Vnomic DSC computes the Application Network Profile for the deployment topology

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Direct integration with the Cisco® Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) policy framework

 

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BW on HANA integrated with Cisco® Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) policy framework. BW on HANA policies reflected in Cisco® Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) policy framework.

 

 

Customer Benefits

Leveraging the power of Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure, and Vnomic  Declarative Deployment and Governance, SAP can deploy a complete SAP BW/HANA solution in hours with no manual errors.  ACI effectively removes the traditional semantic gap between application requirements and network implementation.  This results in order-of-magnitude faster deployment and operational control of dynamic applications.

  • Faster deployment and change velocity for sophisticated applications
  • Complex error-prone processes are eliminated
  • Network behavior is aligned with application requirements
  • Security and compliance are continuously assured

Conclusion

SAP and Vnomic’s work with APIC is a compelling validation of the transformational power of Application Centric Infrastructure.  Our joint integration of application policy and infrastructure control with SAP Business Warehouse powered by SAP HANA will dramatically accelerate application deployment and the optimization of application operational behavior.