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SAP flies on flash

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Mitsubishi Power Systems' Americas (MPSA) says its SAP applications positively fly using flash arrays from an industry newbie – after being hamstrung on HP storage.

The company, based in Orlando, Florida, had a SAP SQL Server database implementation that was dragging its feet, so much so that the end users were resisting the idea of using SAP.

The system used an HP EVA 4400 storage array in a 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel SAN set-up.

MPSA's enterprise infrastructure architect Matt Wattles said that nightly SAP SQL Server database loads on the EVA from MPSA's existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application needed to complete within a one- to two-hour time frame, as there were up to five database loads that needed to complete each night. But Wattles said the loads were instead taking four to five hours to complete and overflowing into daytime production hours. Database backups were taking up to an hour-and-a-half to complete, and the end users were frustrated by slow SAP response times.

The performance of the EVA-based system, especially after a data load completed, was negatively impacting the perception of the new SAP implementation by MPSA’s users. Wattles said: “Users are by nature resistant to change. So as they trained on our new SAP system, they saw lags when switching between different functions and screens. This was not increasing their desire to work on the new system.”

Wattles and his CIO started looking for alternatives and came across S-Class flash arrays from Nimbus Data. They liked the performance profile as well as the possibility of starting small and growing larger – plus the all-in software licensing scheme. They ordered one for testing, plugged it in to the SAP system and moved the SAP SQL database to it.

SAP I/O started moving a lot more quickly, said Wattles. There was an improvement in write performance. Backup time decreased to 20 minutes or less. Read time was faster too. W

Looks like start-up flash arrays can do the business for I/O-bound database applications. Avoiding user rejection of some pretty costly application software might save firms a whole chunk of change too.

Mitsubishi is still using HP EVA and MSA systems for its main storage needs, however. Watch this space. ®

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