We’ve been using SAP ASE on AWS, want to know what we think? Then read on…

This is a really compelling offering from SAP and AWS, with the promise of superb flexibility and significant reductions in licensing, infrastructure and administration costs.   But is it the right move for everyone?

How easy is it to use?

Our initial test shows great ease of use – the solution is well designed and we were up and running in minutes.  It is currently available in London (EU) and USA (East and West).

We used the m4.4xlarge (‘Vendor Recommended’) server. This is an 8 core 64Gb server. The operating system is Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server 7.4. The installation allowed for configuration of a user database as part of the installation process.  

ASE configuration ‘out of the box’ is very good with the key parameters set to reasonable values with well designed caches (note we’ve not had time yet to review the other sizings so cannot comment at this time whether they are as optimally configured). Configuration changes will be required for many implementations however it seems SAP have provided, at the very least, an excellent starting point.  And let’s not forget that most (if not, all) customers moving to this solution will also upgrade ASE in the process so we’d expect at least some configuration changes.

SAP DBA Cockpit is started automatically. SAP ASE has a rich set of performance metrics but we aren’t that keen on SAP’s GUI interface so we tend to use a third party solution.  Asemon is our prefered solution for customers (note – it’s free and we will be reviewing Asemon online shortly).  For detailed SQL monitoring we recommend iWatch which, sitting outside of the database, has the dual benefit of being able to capture the true origin of problem (whether it’s db centric, or not) whilst not eating up valuable CPU power.

So what are the advantages?

We are all aware of the generic benefits of moving to the cloud – flexibility, scalability, quicker implementations, lower TCO… and cost reduction is certainly a big benefit here. For the 8 core m4.4xlarge instance we used, licensing is $4 an hour (50 cents a core). Infrastructure costs for an M4.4xlarge is priced $1.058 an hour, giving a total hourly cost of $5.058 per hour. This appears to be extremely good value, even more so when you consider that you only pay for the system when it’s switched on.  And of course, this fee also includes the costs of hardware and software ongoing maintenance.

However to my mind, the flexibility of this approach is the biggest benefit. This is a true “pay as you go” model with no caveats. You switch off the system and you stop paying immediately.  Flexibility of usage is incredible – in a matter of minutes the system can be scaled up or down, allowing you to react quickly to your business requirements with no cost penalty.

So should you move?

The answer to this question is of course complex. Yes, on paper SAP ASE on AWS is a very workable financial no-brainer, at least for a one server setup. But cost is just one of the factors that you need consider here: what is your current landscape, what are your current needs, where do you want to be, what are your drivers, what is practical for your organisation? For some SAP ASE users, AWS will be ideal but the reality is that every customer’s needs are different – and requirements have a habit of changing through time…  

What is certain is that this is a very welcome new model from SAP, offering its customers yet another level of business agility.  SAP Licensing is already agile, offering a wealth of benefits e.g. all use outside of production is free, global usage, sub capacity licensing and of course there’s the very flexible ASE Platform Edition model which allows interchange between ASE, IQ and Rep Server, as requirements dictate.  It is worth noting that ASE Platform Edition can also be delivered on AWS under a BYOL model.  

All said, SAP ASE on AWS is well engineered and very well priced and definitely worthy of consideration. However, in my opinion, we need to think of as another feather in the bow of SAP’s already comprehensive suite of licensing options, rather than purely as a replacement. Some customers will move completely to the cloud but I see others, in the short term at least, exploiting the model’s flexibility to the full, using AWS to complement their existing SAP licenses as and when required.

Get in touch if you’d like to chat through your requirements.