EMC World: vSphere Becomes The First Hypervisor To Virtualise SAP’s HANA

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VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger kicks off EMC World with a pitch for software defined data centres, and news that SAP’s HANA in-memory database will run on vSphere

VMware, a subsidiary of EMC, has made the SAP HANA in-memory database platform available as part of virtualised environments based on vSphere 5.5.

After three years of extensive testing, vSphere has become the first hypervisor to offer a production-ready version of HANA. The company says that this new capability simultaneously reduces complexity and the cost of infrastructure, while making sure that business-critical applications experience zero downtime.

The announcement was made by VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger during his keynote at EMC World 2014 conference in Las Vegas.

Virtual HANA

Gelsinger started his keynote with a short history lesson: in 1989, as the Berlin wall came down and Tiananmen Square protests took place in Beijing, US-based Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) was the second largest technology company in the world. Its downfall began after CEO Ken Olsen famously refused to restructure the business around PCs, dismissing them as “toys”.

IMAG0688Shortly thereafter, DEC started reporting heavy losses and in 1998, what remained of the giant was sold to Compaq for $9.6 billion. For comparison, Facebook recently paid $19 billion for WhatsApp – a tiny messaging start-up that employed just 55 people.

According to popular belief, DEC didn’t survive because it wasn’t prepared for the major shift in the IT market, and Gelsinger suggested that a similar shift was happening today with the arrival of the software-defined data centre. “It will redefine the industry for the next 25 years,” he said.

The newly announced SAP HANA capability in vSphere 5.5 is meant to ease the transition towards software-defined infrastructure. It extends the benefits of virtualised environments such as automation and live migration to the popular analytics platform.

The new vSphere components accelerate provisioning of HANA instances, and the platform is now fully integrated with a range of VMware tools such as vMotion, Distributed Resource Scheduler and VMware High Availability.

According to Gelsinger, 54 percent of the world’s governments run on SAP, and 60 percent of the world’s transactional revenue goes through the company’s software. The CEO also humorously noted that more than 72 percent of the world’s beer producers, and about 70 percent of chocolate makers rely on SAP.

“But to date, production has been limited to physical environments only. Today, all of that changes,” he said.

Gelsinger added that VMware’s goal is to virtualise 100 percent of applications, and the new vSphere capability goes a long way towards this target. “We see that the value proposition is shifting from hardware to software, and for a guy who spent 20 years in silicon and hardware, it’s a hard thing to say,” he added.

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