Information for Business from Lenovo
Data Centre + Big Data
Contributor: Iain Ferguson
Martin Bachmaier: Driving competition with SAP HANA

Need to know why Lenovo System x is the ideal platform for your SAP HANA relational database management system? Martin Bachmaier, an IT architect at the Lenovo development lab in Stuttgart, Germany, can answer your questions.

Martin developed the SAP HANA architecture for Lenovo’s current x6 models, which uses IBM GPFS (global parallel file system)-based synchronous replication solution for disaster recovery environments, and the network architecture for SAP HANA scale-out clusters with up to 448 TB of main memory. In Australia for the SAP Australian User Group (SAUG) National Summit 2015 this August, Martin took some time out to share his expertise.

What does SAP HANA offer to enterprises that is unique?

SAP went to market with SAP HANA – an in-memory, relational database management system – in 2011. Today, the company has a very big competitive advantage over the other database vendors. It also has all the SAP business applications available that it can accelerate and enrich with new functions.

What are the benefits to enterprises of running SAP HANA?

Speed and insight. They can analyse data they could not analyse previously. They are keeping more and more data as storage becomes cheaper and cheaper. They now have a very big treasure trove of data sitting in their business. SAP HANA provides a very fast database management system that allows them to find correlations and make business decisions at a fine-grained level that people only a few years ago would not have thought was possible. These decisions may be about issues such as supply chain management, stockkeeping or retail promotions.

What roles do Lenovo System x solutions play with SAP HANA?

Basically, we saw that IT landscapes based on SAP HANA will have to scale – first due to natural data growth in companies and second because companies that introduce HANA experience success that fuels further demand. We created unique scalability features for Lenovo System x to accommodate these needs. For example, we are the only hardware vendor certified off the shelf for clustered scale-out architectures of up to 94 nodes. Another cornerstone of our success is the fact that Lenovo System x6 servers are very modular and enable you to grow memory and CPU capacity on demand. The fact that most HANA deployments worldwide are running on System x shows we are doing something right.

Do you have examples of businesses that have derived a competitive advantage from running SAP HANA on Lenovo System x?

We have one business client in the retail sector that provides personalised offers to customers on their receipts, such as 10 per cent off a particular item. This client was able to personalise the promotion based on items individual customers had bought during their current or previous visit to a store. So the in-memory technology helped calculate the offers to customers in the time between the customer purchasing an item and receiving a receipt. Another retail client uses SAP HANA to identify which products are not selling well in certain stores so they can move them to other stores where they have a greater likelihood of selling.

In yet another case, Colgate-Palmolive put its business data warehouse on SAP HANA running on Lenovo System x. The company has seen the time it needs to complete one cost optimisation and profit analysis query fall from 77 minutes to 13 seconds, and another query from 500 minutes to 25 minutes.

A large European financial services client is using SAP HANA on Lenovo System x to personalise customers’ investment strategies. Customers previously had to visit a branch office and talk to a representative about their investment strategy, including volume, the level of risk they are comfortable with and relevant time frames. The client would then feed this information into a computer system and deliver a strategy over snail mail in a couple of days. Now, the representative can discuss the requirements with the customer, take them out for coffee and bring them back to the bank branch where the personalised investment strategy is waiting on the representative’s screen. This is a huge business advantage and benefit.

How mature is the Australian market in exploiting analytics and the capabilities of platforms such as SAP HANA?

In terms of adoption and maturity, the Australian market has caught up a lot in the last two years. There is a huge SAP customer base in Australia and New Zealand, and they are picking up on the advantages that in-memory technology provides.

Where do you see the improvements coming for SAP HANA running on Lenovo System x?

We are constantly looking at improving our solution, from a performance perspective to an operational perspective to a user-experience perspective. So we are constantly evaluating and trying to phase in new technologies that make the solution faster. We are also listening to our customers very closely and getting their feedback on operational aspects so we can come up with a solution that integrates better into customer environments.

Didn't make it to the SAUG National Summit 2015? Read our wrap-up for Lenovo’s insights from the day.

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