Solving the ROI/TCO equation
Digitally transforming one’s environment can be costly, but new technologies can be exploited to deliver the best ROI at the lowest TCO.
Digital transformation and the fourth industrial revolution is top of mind for most organisations at present, and those that utilise SAP will know that SAP S/4HANA sits at the heart of this transformation strategy. This is because if you use SAP’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, and you haven’t migrated to SAP S/4HANA, you have until 2025 to do so. Clearly, those companies undertaking digital transformation journeys will have to be aware of this when planning their strategies.
Of course, suggests Shawn Jubber, senior system architect for SAP & Integrated Systems at Fujitsu, this transformation can be a costly process, and enterprise IT departments will need to be able to justify such a move. One of the simpler way to do so, he continues, is to seek the implementation that affords the best return on investment (ROI), coupled with the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO).
“In essence, any enterprise undertaking a digital transformation journey, with a view to running S/4HANA as the end result, will want to balance the ROI/TCO equation, and this can best be done by taking advantage of the latest available technologies. These could include hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI), hybrid cloud and new technology developments like persistent memory,” says Jubber.
“HCI, for example, lowers operational expenses by taking a lot of the complexities out of the traditional converged solutions and through simplification and automation, while offering the additional benefit of a single management layer for the infrastructure stack. Good examples of HCI solutions certified to run S/4HANA include VMWare V-SAN and Nutanix.”
He explains that when it comes to hybrid cloud, this offers the best of both worlds to many businesses that want to leverage the benefits offered by the cloud, but either cannot or will not move all their workloads into a public-cloud environment. With the hybrid-cloud approach, success is based on the ability to enable both the public and private cloud operations to work together efficiently by keeping complexity low.
“Finally, at the hardware level, enterprises can implement persistent memory in order to obtain greater benefits from their HANA-capable infrastructure investments. Unlike traditional memory, persistent memory is capable of retaining data, even if power is lost, ensuring ongoing data access for high-performance and in-memory computing. Thus, it offers the speed of traditional memory, coupled with the data retention usually offered only by storage.
“Persistent memory is a game changer as far as HANA is concerned, as this is an in-memory database, meaning that if power is lost, it can take hours to reload all the data back into memory. Persistent memory eliminates this concern, while offering faster speeds and additional cost benefits.
“HANA, too, is viewed as a game changer, because of how it has shifted the landscape from batch-driven to real-time data processing. This does, however, introduce new challenges around the cost associated with running all the data in-memory, not to mention the slower start-up times if the server is unexpectedly shut down. Persistent memory, of course, goes some way to help solve both these challenges, massively reducing start-up times as the data is persisted in memory, while also offering double the capacity at the same cost.
“The importance of this is demonstrated by the fact that both vSAN and Nutanix are already HANA-certified. Meanwhile, Microsoft has begun setting records by taking advantage of persistent memory. Using this, the company has achieved a record of 13.7 million input/output operations per second (IOPS) in its HCI solution. If this is what Microsoft is achieving, and we know that the competition isn’t far behind, then we know that enterprises that take the plunge and start running HANA on HCI will have access to these kinds of speeds, which should significantly alter the way they are able to do business,” concludes Jubber.