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The benefits and challenges of running SAP in a Linux environment

Migrating your SAP environment to a new operating system can seem a daunting undertaking and one fraught with challenges, but moving to the Linux open source system offers organizations some real advantages as well. In this videocast with, Abe Iruegas, global practice director of SAP at CSC, outlines the benefits of moving to Linux, the time and risk involved with a migration and how to mitigate those risks. Iruegas also explains how SAP supports Linux and what a move to Linux might mean for virtualization.

Abe Iruegas is a senior consulting professional with over 13 years of experience in consulting operations, consulting project management His experience spans a variety of industries. Abe's core competencies include presales, consulting delivery management and operations, consulting practice development, project management, sales and business development, and architecting solutions to customers.

His deep technical expertise lies in the SAP Business Suite and NetWeaver (SAP ERP, HCM, CRM, BI, and PI). Abe has been pivotal in resonating the value of SAP to global clients.

Read the full transcript from this video below:

The benefits and challenges of running SAP in a Linux environment

Barney Beal: Hello, and welcome to a videocast
on running SAP on Linux. I am Barney Beal, News Director with Today we are talking with Abe Iruegas, who is
the Regional SAP Director at CSC, and he is going to tell us a
little bit about benefits and challenges of running SAP in Linux.

Abe, welcome.

Abe Iruegas: Thank you, thank you very much.

Barney Beal: Maybe you can start by telling us a little bit about the
benefits of running SAP on Linux.

Abe Iruegas: Yes, absolutely. There are several benefits that
customers can realize by migrating to a Linux platform. Some
of the most common and important ones are, first, the total cost
of ownership. SAP applications can be quite demanding on
compute power. Over the last several years, and even the last
decade, organizations have had to make heavy investments
into large UNIX based systems to provide that power to the
application. Customers, however, that migrated to Linux were
able to actually provide more compute power, scalability and
flexibility to power demanding applications such as supply
chain management, human capital management and business
intelligence at a fraction of the cost. More importantly, two, they
were able to realize some better independence. The key thing is
that now organizations were able to make an intelligent decision
over the appropriate technology platform for their organization,
for the long term.

Another benefit really, is around the support of their SAP
applications. The Linux platform provides a lot of different
options around configuration and administrative functions that
streamline the administrative function. If you couple that with
the SAP tools that are available within the Solution Manager,
customers were able to significantly reduce their administrative
overhead and their span month after month, and year after year
in maintaining their SAP applications. When you combine these
cost savings though, it contributes to, in my opinion, one of
the most important benefits. We all know that CIOs have been
pressured to cut their budgets but still provide some innovation
and differentiation for their organization. Leveraging Linux in
being able to reduce their costs and what they are having to do
in just maintaining their application, they were actually able
to refocus their efforts and their human capital into enabling
additional SAP functionality that drives mission-critical
business processes that can lead to some tangible business
values to your organization, ultimately increasing the
bottom line.

Barney Beal: Under what conditions might an organization
consider moving SAP from another operating system to Linux?

Abe Iruegas: Typically CIOs or SAP customers look to migrate over
to Linux to get those benefits that we discussed earlier. Opportunities
usually present themselves, usually as some critical milestone. They
might be reaching the end of life of their existing hardware, or
they might be entertaining looking to move to hosting their SAP
applications with a third-party provider that can actually
leverage Linux and pass the benefits to them.

Interestingly enough, we actually have some customers that have
migrated to Linux with their existing hardware, because Linux is
more efficient in leveraging the CPU power of hardware, they are
able to still realize their benefits and extend the life of
their existing hardware, maybe deferring some of those capital
expenditures down the road. Another thing to note is Linux can
also operate on a heterogeneous environment. We have seen some
customers that leverage a strategy of bringing on new
applications on a Linux platform. Say, you want to provide some
self-service function, or maybe some customer-facing portals on
the Netweaver portal. Some organizations enable that leveraging
in a Linux platform while maintaining their existing
applications on the existing platform, deferring that to the
appropriate time.

Barney Beal: What costs are generally involved, and how does that
compare to other platforms?

Abe Iruegas: What we realize is that there is not a lot of difference
in cost between migrating to Linux and any other platform. Where you
really get your cost reduction is in the capital expenditure and
obviously, leveraging more cost effective hardware. Then of
course, once you have migrated over to a Linux platform, the
total cost of ownership of maintaining the applications.

Barney Beal: Are there some costs that organizations generally
fail to take into account when doing a migration to Linux?

Abe Iruegas: Typically, not hardware or hard costs, I should say,
more around soft costs in the migration process itself, maybe
focused on the people-aspect of it. More specifically, maybe
around the training aspect of it, or appropriately staffing for the
migration effort. Of course, migration is a project unto itself
that actually has to be planned for, so if you do not take those
into consideration, the training and the people-aspect of it,
sometimes it can lead to some extended migrations.

Barney Beal: What are the possible risks involved in migrating SAP
to Linux, and how can you mitigate those risks?

Abe Iruegas: From a technical perspective, there is very little risk.
Typically,  you are able to realize some performance improvements
and cost savings right from the get-go. However, like I mentioned
before, a migration to Linux is no different than a migration to any
other technology or hardware platform. It requires appropriate
planning that looks at it, from not only the technology
perspective, but also from the people in the process
perspective. For example, a customer that is migrating from a
UNIX-based system to a Linux- based system may assume that their
SAP IT staff can administer a new environment right from the get-

However, they may not realize that they have very basic UNIX
skills, which can lead to some problems in that they will have
some trial and error approaches throughout the migration
project, which can lead to some business disruption; of course,
we want to avoid that. Again, some of these risks can be easily
mitigated by having an appropriate project plan, or even
bringing an external expertise to make sure that the migration
process is successful.

Barney Beal: How long could a migration to Linux take for an
organization, and what might that mean to the business side?

Abe Iruegas: Linux migration is not a complete transformation of
their architecture and their system environment. Depending on the
volume, the amount of servers, and SAP applications, the
migration can be done in a matter of weeks.

Barney Beal: How does SAP support companies running on Linux?

Abe Iruegas: SAP is an early adopter of interoperability to the
Linux platform. They have been doing it for nearly 13, 14 years,
and SAP applications that run on Linux have gone through astringent
quality assurance process and certification process to ensure
that interoperability on Linux, and they provide the same level
of support that they do for other operating systems, as well.

Barney Beal: What is the SAP Linux Lab, and what does it offer
companies running on Linux?

Abe Iruegas: It is actually a very valuable tool for SAP customers
that are looking to migrate to Linux, or are currently running on Linux.
They are really responsible for assisting and deploying SAP
solutions on Linux, and ensuring the proper porting of new
technology platforms that run on Linux. They are also there to
make sure during the software development cycle that solutions
that are built for and on Linux work appropriately and also take
a leading position in ensuring that the issues or support issues
that arise in customer leveraging the Linux platform are
resolved in timely fashion.

Barney Beal: How does running SAP on Linux affect an organization's
decisions when it comes to things like databases and virtualization?

Abe Iruegas: Interestingly enough, it actually expands their choices.
There is a theme, obviously, of going to Linux to get to vendor
independence. That also applies on a virtualization and database
perspective. A key thing to note though, on the virtualization
side, obviously, this is kind of a groundbreaking area that has
also impacted the SAP ecosystem recently, but customers that
have migrated over to Linux have been able to experience even
increased benefits, everything that we have talked about, but
even increased further from the perspective of, not only are we
able to do more with less, we are actually able to support
multiple applications, leveraging the same hardware and really
ramping up and ramping down resources according to the usage of
the SAP application, and across the lines of the different
components of SAP.

Barney Beal: That wraps up our videocast on the benefits and
the challenges of running SAP on Linux. We would like to thank
Abe for joining us. We also like to thank you for joining us. For
additional videos, please go to
and thank you. Abe, thank you.

Abe Iruegas: Thank you very much.

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