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What is most valuable?
Upon implementation, we found that its stability, performance, and speed, plus HP's on-demand support, were really important to us. Our organization is relatively new in this space, and we needed a process that involved hand-holding.
We also found a scalability in the product of increasing economy, such that as our footprint increases, our cost goes down significantly.
These were all important factors in our decision making.
How has it helped my organization?
For example, in healthcare data, there’s a large volume of data variety and velocity which requires processing as it impacts the care we deliver to our patients. We need to process and analyze easily terabytes of data and, at times, close to a petabyte.
Previously, with a traditional extract transform load process, it would take us three hours to load our large volume tables. Now, it takes us about ten minutes on SAP HANA on a ConvergedSystem platform. The speed with which we can process and deliver insights is of value to us within the patient care model.
What needs improvement?
The issue with scalability is, at some point, the hardware infrastructure. Discussions involve your current array or rack, whether it must be completely removed, and whether you must bring in a new structure.
With ConvergedSystem, we'd like to see just how portable and scalable HP can make it. Is it really just an add-on each time and not a complete redesign? HANA requires an upgrade as the number of units increases. We're hoping that HP can make scalability easier over time.
For how long have I used the solution?
This solution has been in use for well over a year and we have derived real performance and business benefits.
What was my experience with deployment of the solution?
We're contemplating a two-part upgrade. We must decide whether to move our data center to a private hybrid-cloud environment. From there, we'd assess scalability and see how quickly HP and SAP can create a scalable solution. For example, if we expand from 100 to 200 units, will processes take half as long or eight times as long? These are the types of differentiations we want to understand.
We're now seeing the capabilities of HANA and customers around our ecosystem are very excited by the possibilities.
We see continued expansion, but expansion with cost in mind. Affordability is going to be a key part of the equation and we’re interested in how ConvergedSystem platforms become affordable over time, not just as an incremental cost.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Stability for us is a three-part factor.
First, with implementation, we ask, how smooth is the process? How meticulous and prepared is the implementer? Have they accounted for everything specific to our environment?
Second factor is the post-implementation hand-off. How does the implementer transfer control such that our team is confident and comfortable with being able to take ownership of the environment?
Finally, once implementation is complete and data is downloaded, are there periodic issues and how frequently must there by patches, upgrades, and maintenance?
These are all components of stability and, for us, ConvergedSystem has been very reliable and stable.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We initially implemented a very small, 2-3 terabyte, 10-unit SAP HANA. Now, we’re going to scale to about 10 terabytes.
During scaling, it’s very important to know if the implementation partner has accounted for scalability during the initial process.
As we worked with HP, we found that they were very proactive about our scalability, how to construct the racks, and what kind of hardware peripherals you would need to ensure scalability.
For us, adding a unit each time is elementary as we're able to deploy it quickly. Within 15 to 20 days, we can have a new unit up on the ConvergedSystem platform, which is incredible. We need not have lengthy, time-consuming hardware implementation processes.
How are customer service and technical support?
Customer service is very important as you have constantly weigh your expansion needs with the right platform. It requires a constant engagement with the sales and technical teams and we have found the HP enterprise to be a great partner. Technical Support
It's important that when things go badly, the very first call to tech support gets us to the right resources to discover the root cause of the issue.
That said, HP has been especially supportive on the ConvergedSystem platform. This differentiates them from SAP on the HANA side.
HP tech support has always been available quickly and forthcoming with what they can do and how they can implement it.
We evolved our support model over time, but I think even the basic support that you get has been really helpful and has met our expectations.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We moved away from traditional data management and started focusing on big data ecosystems.
As we evaluated big data ecosystems, we knew we wanted a hybrid approach, both an open source and an appliance-based architecture. And that drove us to look at HP and other solutions as part of that ecosystem.
How was the initial setup?
When we put together our strategy for data and the big data platforms, we included our infrastructure, technical services, and legal teams at the table. Because of that, everyone was aware of any required contractual issues or negotiations.
We were able to get our SAP HANA implementation partnership with HP in under 45 days, from going with absolutely a blank slate to having it implemented in production.
That’s a pretty incredible timeline when you think about it, in an organization that’s not conducive to accepting brand new technologies on the fly. We were able to do that and I think that is the key differentiator for us.
In that sense, we have delivered value. We are now able to maximize the value.
What about the implementation team?
We also were able to get HP to own the project more as a project management aspect of implementation. Because they had come in with that approach, we were able to account for all the parts and create a responsibility matrix for each component. It was incredibly smooth for a brand new platform to be in.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
At that time, we were an HP preferred customer, so we looked at HP, Cisco, and other vendors. But then we decided that the more logical choice would be to integrate the solution into our data center, so we evaluated our preferred vendor options.
In our evaluation, we discovered that Cisco was relatively brand new to the marketplace with their HANA integration. SAP, as a partner with HP, recommended HP to us as a solution.
We found that HP had more integrated support and implementation teams so that we did not have to rely heavily on our own technical teams to learn and implement something new.
We had a very nice relationship leveraging our technical expertise with HP’s SAP expertise, so we chose HP.
What other advice do I have?
Given that it’s a new system and technology, it was critical that we found a vendor with experience and a strategic partnership with SAP.
Speedy implementation was very important for us because we were moving the paradigm. You can’t do a big data implementation and have it be slower than your traditional approach to data.
We wanted to showcase speed and acceleration and quicker time-to-market and value. That was a very important differentiator for us.
We also tried to understand the right business use cases in which ConvergedSystem is a differentiator. Prior to discussions about SAP HANA or big data, we asked ourselves, “What kind of capabilities is the organization interested in and is speed an important component of those capabilities?”
If speed and access are two important components and the answer becomes a big data ecosystem, then you say, “What are the right platforms to bring in?”
My advice to most organizations is, understand what your value propositions are, what your use cases are, where big data is a good enabler of those values, and then work from there, because that’s an easier business case to build. Rather than saying, “We just want to go from technology A to technology B.” People ask, “Why?” and you need to have the answer.