Software-Defined Storage as the Cornerstone  for Growth and SAP HANA ERP Enablement
Case Study Increase Infrastructure Agility

Software-Defined Storage as the Cornerstone for Growth and SAP HANA ERP Enablement

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Evergreen Garden Care Ltd is a leading garden care company established 12 months ago as a new international company based in the UK, with interests across 8 countries in Europe and Australia and recognised household brands such as MiracleGro, RoundUp and Weedol in their portfolio.

THE CHALLENGE

Organising a new supporting inf rastructure for critical business systems that stretches across 10,000 miles without any negative impact to Evergreen’s constant sales trading or application usage for the 800 employees, can only be described as a mammoth IT challenge.

THE SOLUTION

Evergreen consulted a number of partners, including DataCore Gold Partner Waterstons, to submit recommendations on architecting and deployment of a new inf rastructure that could act as the cornerstone of digital agility serviced by a storage layer that would perform highly and without interruption but at a reasonable cost. Other partners recommended traditional hardware solutions, but these were dismissed as being both rigid and prohibitively expensive. Waterstons submitted a tried, tested and proven software-defined storage solution through DataCore’s SANsymphony platform – a tiered reference architecture that had previous extensive success with other installs.

THE RESULTS

Optimised and ready for SAP HANA Tailored Data Centre integration.

3 tiered, continuously available solution featuring Tier 1 NVMe > Tier 3 SAS and boosted by parallel caching.

Vastly exceeded performance requirements, from Australia to Europe. Millions of transactions secured.

The benefits: SAP HANA TDI Integration and Optimisation Key

With an initial requirement for 40TB of usable continuously available storage, Simon Birbeck, Principal Consultant and DataCore Master Certified Engineer at Waterstons, details the proposal to recommend a software-defined solution for Evergreen. “The proposal hinged on the need for the new Evergreen infrastructure to be flexible in its future growth strategy. It was also keen to pursue SAP HANA Tailored Data Centre Integration (TDI) – an alternative approach of deploying SAP HANA giving flexibility in selection of the hardware components for server and storage virtualisation. Whichever solution we detailed had to allow SAP HANA to run effectively and within certification and KPIs. DataCore’s software-defined approach matched their flexibility needs and offered a hybrid approach whilst boosting performance. It was proven, certified for SAP HANA and effortlessly capable of synchronously mirroring within the hosted data centre, and asynchronously replicating to Evergreen’s Disaster Recovery site in France.” Demonstrating extensive success with other ground-up installs such as Quorn Foods, DataCore’s software-defined approach and lower price/performance won the bid with the Evergreen board and Waterstons commencing rollout in a three phase approach.

Phase 1 - Discovery - DataCore exceeds SAP HANA Testing Requirements

With SAP HANA TDI centre stage in the install, SANsymphony had to quickly prove it could support the storage requirements of the VMware virtualised server farm. With a tight deployment schedule, there could be no margin of error with software meeting and exceeding SAP HANA HWCCT KPIs straight off the bat. Even though HANA is an in-memory database, it still relies on the performance of underlying storage for all database write operations.

In this respect, Evergreen’s write I/O are written to log first, then to memory, then to database – all to provide a persistent layer which can be used to roll transactions back and forward as necessary. Evergreen’s log disk performance is one of the most critical aspects to a responsive system. Baseline stats in testing showed 30% of the data sets proved compliance, and so deployment could begin.

Phase 2 - Preliminary Deployment over a Fibre Channel Fabric: 40% Migration achieved

The solution was engineered and deployed as a three tiered, continuously available solution with DataCore’s SANsymphony automatically allocating data blocks to the most appropriate and latest generation hardware, Tier 1 – NVMe read intensive, ultra fast response, enterprise class SSDs. Then came Tier 2, generously served Flash and lastly, Tier 3 SAS drives for the less frequently accessed data. Simon contemplated, “Operating internationally from Australia to Europe, Evergreen are constantly trading and processing using their SAP ERP system, so 24×7 fast access is required. Latest technologies were included in the Evergreen rollout, including NVMe (non-volatile memory express) and SSDs equipped to boost bandwidth and reduce latency. We complement DataCore’s software with NVMe to auto assign the hottest, most valued data blocks to this prized storage while increasing performance further still through Parallel I/O”.

Evergreen’s SAP TDI Benchmark figures

Block size Test Type Test KPI Actual Score
4KB/5GB Initial Write Test Ratio Trigger to I/O Time <0.1 0.0012 83x
Latency μs <1000 88 11x
Overwrite Test Throughput MB/s >30 535.05 18x
Ratio Trigger to I/O Time <0.1 0.0048 21x
Latency μs <1000 81 12x
Read Test Ratio Trigger to I/O Time <0.1 0.019 5x
Latency μs <1000 81 12x
1MB/16GB Initial Write Test Ratio Trigger to I/O Time <0.1 0.0000079 12658x
Overwrite Test Throughput MB/s >250 1013.35 4x
Ratio Trigger to I/O Time <0.1 0.00014 714x
Read Test Throughput MB/s >250 3140.35 13x
4kb Ratio Trigger to I/O Time <0.1 0.00039 256x

We were committed to developing an in-memory system to increase our performance capabilities, but we knew that we needed an equally highly performant underlying solution to apportion the data to these technology advances. To achieve that, we relied on the power of the software to auto migrate data to the most appropriate storage and boost it through parallel caching.

Steve Williams, Interim CIO Evergreen Garden Care Ltd

Phase 3 - Install and Production Go Live

Just 12 months after the sale to Exponent, Evergreen now have a fully functioning, optimised always-on inf rastructure that worked f rom the outset to support SAP HANA and other business critical applications after ingesting data f rom the original company, Scotts MiracleGro. Evergreen management believe that processes can only be improved if decisions are made in real-time, accessing data and applications without delay. This constant state of high availability has made Evergreen systems and data secure and durable in this vital transition time. Planning for a disaster scenario is also enabled with an asynchronously connected DR site in Lyon, France.

The benefits at a glance:

  • Seamless M&A driven software-defined storage infrastructure with constant trading time zones across the world allows for fast, accurate, data driven management decisions
  • Prized NVMe storage has Tier 1 valued data blocks assigned automatically while Parallel I/O speeds performance further still
  • Goals achieved within aggressive transition and enablement plan escalating IT internally to partners in business enablement•Offered optimised SAP HANA Tailored Data Centre Integration (TDI)

With divestment timescales as tight as we faced, we needed a tried and tested system that would work first time and would gain the necessary SAP accreditations. We found that in DataCore. Given our change success, we escalated the role of IT from being a supporting partner to a fundamental business enabler that exceeded timescales, performance and availability needs and using software as the key, we future-proofed the journey for future growth for Evergreen.

Steve Williams, Interim CIO Evergreen Garden Care Ltd