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When it comes to choosing an infrastructure to support a big SAP HANA workload, you have choices. The right solution can act like an invisible workhorse, allowing your IT team to focus on more important things. But the wrong solution can bring your whole billing system to a grinding halt, upsetting everyone from customers who have to endure long wait times on the phone, to your CFO who can’t access the financial data when they need it.
UGI Utilities faced these challenges head-on. Founded in 1882, UGI has been operating natural gas and electric utilities services, mostly in Pennsylvania, for well over a century. They keep more than 70,000 residential and business customers happy by delivering reliable and affordable energy. But it’s hard to be more reliable when it takes three hours to restart the SAP HANA database that sits at the core of your business, supporting everything from your call centers to customer billing data.
UGI ultimately resolved their situation with four Lenovo ThinkSystem Enterprise servers and Lenovo V5030 storage. All of the servers run Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which UGI was already using in other areas of the data center. The Lenovo/Red Hat solution offered an integrated, easier to manage, more cost-effective option with support from a Lenovo team that is knowledgeable about how to manage this complex environment.
If your company faces a similar challenge, and you don’t want to end up with unhappy customers because you chose the wrong infrastructure for your SAP HANA database, keep these four things in mind as you shop for a solution:
1: Start with the architecture
You can choose from a variety of architecture models for your infrastructure, and they each have their own pros and cons. The most important thing is that the architecture will work for you and what you want your SAP HANA database to do. For UGI, scalability without having to replace systems was the most important factor.
2: Flexibility is important
As the old adage goes, "Change is inevitable. Progress is optional." How flexible is the solution you are considering? Baking flexibility and scalability into the design and configuration of your system can save you a lot of headaches down the road when things inevitably change. UGI’s original infrastructure wasn’t flexible enough to accommodate the additional workloads their business wanted to run. They were stuck in a dead end solution and facing a costly upgrade.
3: Will the vendor support it after installation?
The number one pain point of the previous infrastructure at UGI was the lack of customer support. When considering a new solution, Srinivasa Devarkonda, UGI’s Director of IT and Operations, wanted to make sure he would get the support he needed. "Delivering the infrastructure and the initial installation is one thing," he said. "The key differentiator is the managed services post installation. Once you have a solution delivered, how effectively do the vendors support and maintain it? How will you get support to manage changes? This was critical for UGI."
4: Look for a good track record
Like Srinivasa, at some point you will probably want help from the vendor. To help make sure you can get what you need in a timely manner, make sure the vendor you choose has a good customer support satisfaction rating. It helps if they can prove a track record of reliability, not only with their support, but with their hardware platform.
Srinivasa was looking for an operating system that would be easier to maintain and update, and a hardware platform that wouldn’t leave UGI’s employees and their customers in the lurch. Their new solution not only met these requirements, it increased the reliability of the system and allowed UGI to increase the number of workloads on SAP and run them at a faster rate.
This means UGI can access customer accounts faster, and respond more quickly after an outage. Thanks to Lenovo and Red Hat, UGI’s customers are better served. Their IT team is too. They spend less time on maintenance, which allows them to spend more time on security and patch updates, with proactive help from a supportive vendor. If your company is considering new infrastructure to support your SAP HANA database, we hope the advice in this article helps you make the right choice so that your customers and employees are better served too. And as always, we’re happy to chat if you need additional advice or guidance.