Yesterday Microsoft and SAP announced, besides other areas of cooperation, the fact that the Microsoft Azure platform is going to be supported as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform for SAP NetWeaver based applications. The press release covering this subject can be read here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2014/may14/05-19microsoftsappr.aspx .

Azure as IaaS platform is leveraging services by Azure Virtual Machine Services together with Azure Networking and Azure Storage. Let’s take a look at each of the components and explain how it fits into the Azure IaaS story with SAP.

Azure Virtual Machine Services: Allows to deploy VMs of predefined sizes (Virtual CPUs and memory) on host nodes. The underlying technology used to run virtual machines in Azure in Windows Server Hyper-V. Means the virtualization technology used by Azure is the same as you use on-premise with Hyper-V. As a result, there is no conversion to a different hypervisor required when moving a VM from on-premise to Azure or from Azure to an on-premise private cloud built on base of Hyper-V. This makes transfers of VMs and data VHDs extremely frictionless. Within these VMs you can run SAP applications as those are getting certified to run on the Azure platform.

Azure Storage: Data VHDs as well as VHDs containing the operating system are stored on shared Azure storage. A VM is getting deployed from the related VHD on Azure Storage. You can attach additional VHDs stored on Azure Storage to a deployed VM. All the changes as those happen on the C:\ drive of the VM and in attached volumes/VHDs are persisted on Azure Storage. You will be using Azure storage to store the VMs and more important VHDs that hold the database files. Since Azure storage is keeping 3 images of the data, RAID5 or RAID1 are not necessary.

Azure Networking: Allows to create Virtual Private Networks in Azure. These Virtual private Networks can be used to isolate VMs deployed on Azure within the same subscription from each other. Azure Network also offers the ability to establish Hybrid-IT scenarios where the on-premise Active Directory and DNS are extended into Azure via:

  • A VPN connection between your datacenter assets and Azure, or
  • A private connection between your private datacenter and Azure through functionality called ExpressRoute.

As you can see, we are not mentioning SQL Azure in the list of components above. The SQL Server release supported with SAP in the IaaS scenario is the SQL Server product you all are familiar with from your on-premise deployments.

The scenarios we are going to support with SAP for productive systems will be Hybrid-IT scenarios where we assume that you have either a VPN connectivity or private connection between your own datacenters and Azure setup. Condition as well is that the VMs as they are getting deployed are members of the same on-premise domain as the on-premise SAP assets are.

This requirement points to our strategy around SAP landscapes and Azure. Our direction is to enable the usage of Azure as another (non-exclusive) deployment platform. We think that some parts of SAP landscapes will remain deployed on-premise out of various reasons for a while. Therefore the goal is to enable the usage of Azure as a public cloud platform for SAP applications in a most transparent way as possible as another infrastructure besides your infrastructure owned already.

As the press release announced we should have certification and support by SAP within Q2. We will keep you posted on the progress about Azure on this blog.

In order to get first ideas of Microsoft Azure and some of the areas mentioned above, you can start with the following links:

http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/

Documentation on Virtual Machines:

http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/services/virtual-machines/

Documentation on Azure Storage:

http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/services/storage/

Documentation on Azure Virtual Private Networks:

http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/services/virtual-network/

Documentation on Azure ExpressRoute:

http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/services/expressroute/

As you can see we also changed the title of the blog site a bit to reflect the content we published over the last years and the future under an adequate blog title.