AWS' Most Memory-Laden Instances Cleared To Run Memory-Intensive SAP HANA Clusters

Amazon Web Services' powerful high-memory instances became ready Monday to run larger SAP clusters in the cloud than previously possible. The public cloud leader also revealed that it's preparing to introduce even more memory-laden virtual servers, both later this year and into the next.

SAP's latest certification for AWS X1 instances (specifically x1.32xlarge) will enable scaling out HANA clusters to 17 nodes, delivering to those database workloads 34 TB of memory. The previous limit was seven nodes delivering 14 TB.

The X1 family, introduced at Amazon's re:Invent conference in October 2015, is optimized for running in-memory applications. With 2 TB of RAM, the instances offer eight times more memory than any other EC2 instance.

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HANA, SAP's popular in-memory database-management platform, thrives in high-memory conditions. But there's a tightly controlled process for validating the software used by some of the world's largest companies for specific cloud environments, and that's delayed the scale-out capabilities of AWS X1s.

"Because SAP installations are unfailingly mission-critical, SAP certifies their products for use on certain EC2 instance types and sizes," said Jeff Barr, AWS' chief evangelist, on the company's blog.

"We work directly with SAP in order to achieve certification and to make AWS a robust and reliable host for their products," Barr said.

Amazon's ability to scale out to 17 nodes, with 2 TB per node, delivers far more memory to a HANA database than any other cloud provider can, according to Barr.

AWS rival Microsoft once advertised its Azure G-Series servers as capable of creating the largest memory environment for HANA in the cloud. But those virtual machines can only scale out to a half terabyte of RAM, only going beyond that – up to 32 TB – when leveraging purpose-configured bare-metal hardware.

Enterprises running SAP HANA workloads can expect to access even more cloud resources from Amazon in the future.

AWS is extending the X1 family, Barr said. Later in the year, the public cloud kingpin will release across several regions new X1 instances, both for On-Demand and Reserved consumption, that will offer 4 TB of DDR4 memory, and can support 128 virtual CPUs.

Looking further down the road, Amazon is working on bulking up the X1s even more.

"Throughout 2017 and 2018, we plan to launch EC2 instances with between 8 TB and 16 TB of memory. These upcoming instances," Barr said, "will allow you to create larger single-node SAP installations and multi-node SAP HANA clusters, and to run other memory-intensive applications and services."