SAP on SQL General Update for Customers & Partners September 2013

SAP on SQL General Update for Customers & Partners September 2013

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SAP and Microsoft are continuously adding new features and functionalities to the SAP on SQL Server platform. The key objective of the SAP on Windows SQL port is to deliver the best performance and availability at the lowest TCO. This blog includes updates, fixes, enhancements and best practice recommendations collated over recent months.

1.        New Windows release coming – Windows Server 2012 R2

The next version of Windows will be released by Microsoft on the 18th of October 2013.

More information will be announced in this blog later. 

Windows 2012 R2 includes new features for SAP customers:

1.      Hyper-V Replica can now be configured to replicate at intervals between 30 seconds and 15 minutes allowing customers to build a software based DR solution

2.      Live Migration traffic compression and Live Migration over RDMA – greatly improved Live Migration performance

3.      Shared nothing Live Migration – zero downtime migration between different Hyper-V clusters/storage

4.      Windows Storage Spaces now supports storage tiering

5.      Virtual Receive Side Scaling (vRSS) balances network processing CPU load across vCPUs within a VM

6.      Changes in quorum recalculation after “force quorum” command has been issued

Windows 2012 R2 will support 640 CPU (threads), 4TB RAM, 64 vCPU per VM, 1TB RAM per VM and 1024 powered on VMs per host/8,000 powered on VMs per cluster.

2.        New SQL Server release coming – SQL Server 2014

The next version of SQL Server will be released by Microsoft in 2014. 

SQL Server 2014 is already being tested by Microsoft and SAP.  More information will be announced in this blog later. 

SQL Server is currently in Customer Technology Preview (CTP 1), however this build of SQL Server is not to be used with SAP systems. 

SQL Server 2014 includes the following features:

1.      Hekaton In-memory engine

2.      Updatable Column Store

3.      Online Single partition indexing on partitioned tables

4.      Always On supports now 8 replicas (increased from 4)

5.      Statistics management at the partition level

6.      Resource Governor can control IO as well as CPU and Memory

7.      SQL Server buffer pool can be supplemented by adding a buffer pool extension on SSDs

8.      Backup to Azure Storage

9.      Always On replica in Azure

10.   Cluster Shared Volume support

Customers who wish to familiarize themselves with Windows 2012 R2  Preview and SQL 2014 CTP can do so by signing up for a free trial of Azure Cloud and select “SQL 2014 CTP Evaluation on Windows 2012 R2” from the Virtual Machine Gallery. 

3.        New Intel Processor coming – Intel Ivy Bridge

Intel has released the next generation Xeon processor based on Ivy Bridge.  The Ivy Bridge based processors are the successors to the current Sandybridge E5 26xx or 46xx series processor.  The new Ivy Bridge based processors will offer 6, 8, 10 or 12 cores (24 threads) per processor.  Hardware vendors have published SAP SD 2-Tier Benchmarks based on Ivy Bridge based processors.  

Summary of Results:

1.      2 processor commodity servers now benchmark 56,000 SAPS on Ivy Bridge based processors

2.      This is an increase from ~36,000 SAPS on previous generation SandyBridge based processors – an increase of ~55%

3.      Intel processors now benchmark well ahead of any proprietary UNIX processor (such as SPARC or Power7+) on the SAP SD 2 Tier benchmark for 2 processors servers

4.      The benchmarks show Windows and SQL Server benchmark well ahead of Linux and other DBMS

Please review the SAP SD benchmark site for full disclosure and information.  Intel server vendors such as Cisco, HP, Dell and IBM will start shipping these servers shortly.

4.        New SAP on SQL Server customer Case Studies

In the last year an increasing number of customers are migrating from UNIX platforms and standardizing on Intel commodity servers running Windows and SQL Server.  Many of these customers use Windows 2012 Hyper-V to virtualize both the SAP application server and the SQL Server database.

Saudi Electricity runs a large complex SAP landscape with more than 15,000 users logged into their core ECC system and 5,000 concurrent users running the SAP IS-Utility Suite of products.  The SAP landscape at Saudi Electricity is more than 700,000 SAPS and demonstrates how even the largest SAP customers can run on standard Intel servers and SQL Server.  The full case study is available here. 

Incitec Pivot is a large Australian Fertilizer and explosives manufacturer and have recently lowered costs and improved performance by migrating from IBM UNIX servers to Windows and SQL Server on commodity Intel servers.  Microsoft Gold Partner BNW performed the OS/DB Migration and then upgraded from SAP R/3 4.7 to ECC 6.0 EHP 5 and converted to Unicode.  The case study is available here. 

“The migration process has matured over the years to a point where we can migrate any customer to SQL Server in a weekend” says Warwick Chai, Principal and Founder of BNW Consulting

Homepro Thailand has lowered costs and improved their Supply Chain and Business Processes by moving off UNIX based solutions onto Windows and SQL Server.  A detailed case study can be here. 

By taking advantage of built-in product capabilities, HomePro is ensuring that its core SAP IS-RETAIL system is continuously available to serve customers and manage operations. Sudapa Chamod, Senior Vice President of Information and Communication Technology at HomePro says, “With Windows Server 2008 R2, we have a cost efficient and scalable platform that provides with the high-availability that is critical to our business.”

5.        SQL Server AlwaysOn Deployments – Synchronous Replication >120km

SQL Server 2012 introduces a new technology for high availability called AlwaysOn.  AlwaysOn does not rely on shared disk storage and uses the DBMS to replicate the database to multiple hosts. 

A typical customer deployment is shown below.  Within a single datacenter there is a local AlwaysOn primary instance and a replica instance.  This is to protect against HA events, such as the shutdown of a single server.  There is also a third replica in a DR site. In many cases there is a “Witness” in a third datacenter. 

With SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn customers are successfully deploying large busy systems with synchronous replication to DR site over distances greater than 120km with excellent performance. 

 120km alwayson

SQL Server AlwaysOn supports synchronous (no data loss) and asynchronous replication.

Complex customer landscapes with many interconnected SAP components risk application level inconsistencies between systems if asynchronous replication technologies are used.  Typically SAN based solutions cannot be deployed over distances of > 120km.  SQL Server replication traffic is IP based and compressed.  DBMS level replication is able intelligently handle some operations and only send metadata (several kilobytes) for operations that would require SAN to transmit gigabytes of data. 

There are some recommendations and guidance for deploying SQL AlwaysOn:

1.      SQL Server Transaction Logs must be placed on very high performance SAN or FusionIO card(s)

2.      Raw network latency over distances between 120km – 180km should be approximately 2ms Round Trip Time (RTT).  If values in excess of this are observed it is recommended to check with the Telco and check routing

3.      Prior to go live perform the following:

a.      Before establishing the AlwaysOn Availability Group run the SAP transaction SGEN for all objects 3-4 times and capture the runtime in the SGEN job log and wait statistics.  

b.      Setup the AlwaysOn Availability Group and establish an Asynchronous replica in the local data center and an Asynchronous replica in the DR data center.  Repeat the testing using SGEN.  Collect statistics

c.      Change the AlwaysOn Availability Group for the local data center to synchronous – leave the replica in the DR data center in asynchronous mode.  Repeat the testing using SGEN. Collect statistics

d.      Change both the local and DR data center replicas to synchronous.  Repeat the testing using SGEN.  Collect statistics

e.      Compare the results of the SGEN performance and the waitstats.  SGEN throughput should be around 1,000,000 objects per hour or more

Transaction ST04 -> Performance -> Wait Events.  The wait event that captures the overhead of sending a transaction from the Primary DB and hardening onto the Replica DB is HADR_SYNC_COMMIT.  The typical values that should be seen for HADR_SYNC_COMMIT is 2-4 milliseconds per request (Time/Request). 

Typical values seen on customer systems with synchronous replication to far distance (>80km) DR sites – these may be different than SAP EarlyWatch Report thresholds:

               HADR_SYNC_COMMIT   2-4 ms/request

               PAGEIOLATCH_SH         0.5-5 ms/request

               WRITELOG                     0.5-3 ms/request (less for FusionIO)

               ASYNC_NETWORK_IO    0.1 – 0.9 ms/request (values over 1ms/request indicate a problem)

 waitstats

6.        Recommended Hotfixes for Windows 2012 Hyper-V 3.0 

Microsoft publishes a collection of recommended hotfixes for Hyper-V 3.0 customers.

It is recommended to review these links periodically:

Hyper-V: Update List for Windows Server 2012

7.        Recommended Hotfixes for Windows 2012 Clustering

Microsoft publishes a collection of recommended hotfixes for Windows Cluster customers.

It is recommended to review these links periodically:

List of Failover Cluster Hotfixes for Windows Server 2012

The same list for Windows 2008 R2 can be found here:

Windows 2008 R2 SP1 http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2545685

Windows 2012 introduces regular “Cumulative Updates” for Windows Server.  Cumulative Updates are not the same as security patches, most of which should be mitigated by running the Security Configuration Wizard and proactive hardening such as removing Internet Explorer.  The latest September 2013 CU for Windows 2012 http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2876415

SQL Server Service Packs and Cumulative Updates are always posted to the SQL Server Release Services Blog. 

8.        Common Problem during SQL Server Cluster Installation

A large number of SAP customers have encountered the following problem while attempting to install a clustered SQL Server.  It is highly recommended to make these changes on Active Directory before installing SQL Server.

===================================================

Cluster network name resource 'SQL Network Name (xxxxxx)' failed to create its associated computer object in domain 'yyyyy' for the following reason: Unable to create computer account.

 

The text for the associated error code is: Your computer could not be joined to the domain. You have exceeded the maximum number of computer accounts you are allowed to create in this domain. Contact your system administrator to have this limit reset or increased.

 

Please work with your domain administrator to ensure that:

1. The cluster identity 'xxxxxxx$' can create computer objects. By default all computer objects are created in the 'Computers' container; consult the domain administrator if this location has been changed.

2. The quota for computer objects has not been reached.

3. If there is an existing computer object, verify the Cluster Identity 'xxxxxxxx$' has 'Full Control' permission to that computer object using the Active Directory Users and Computers tool.

====================================================.

AD container

9.        Solution to Common Problem on HP Blade servers with Broadcom NIC

Some customers may be experiencing a very rare and intermittent network issue.  The symptoms are non-specific and may range from batch jobs that hang or Java systems that hang. 

The good news is the issue has been traced and pinpointed to an issue handling TCPIP offload on certain Broadcom network cards.  The temporary workaround is to disable TCP Offload if the problem is suspected (this will reduce network throughput).  Within about 1 month a firmware and driver fix for some HP blade servers will be released and posted in this blog.  SAP will also release a note.  Some general guidance is listed below.

Note 1794178 - Network issues suspected on SQL Server systems

Note 1721482 - Hanging disp+work process on HP Proliant 460c G6

10.        SAP BASIS Releases & Which JDBC Driver should be used?

SAP ABAP and Java systems are built on a “BASIS” release.  In a very good blog on SCN the history of the code split and merge of 7.00 is shown. 

Netweaver Code Split

 

As a result of the split and merge there are a now many OS, DB, JVM and Kernel combinations.  Some customers have found this confusing.  The table below provides a summary of the support matrix for Windows 2012 and SQL 2012

SAP BASIS

Recommended OS/DB

JDBC Driver

Recommended JVM

Recommend Kernel

7.00

Win2012/SQL2012

MS JDBC 1.2**

SAP JVM 4

7.21_EXT

7.01

Win2012/SQL2012

MS JDBC 1.2**

SAP JVM 4

7.21_EXT

7.02

Win2012/SQL2012

MS JDBC 1.2**

SAP JVM 4

7.21_EXT

7.03

Win2012/SQL2012

MS JDBC 1.2**

SAP JVM 4

7.21_EXT

7.10

Win2012*/SQL2012

MS JDBC 4.0****

SAP JVM 5.1

7.21_EXT

7.11

Win2012*/SQL2012

MS JDBC 4.0

SAP JVM 5.1

7.21_EXT

7.30

Win2012/SQL2012

MS JDBC 4.0

SAP JVM 6

7.21_EXT

7.31

Win2012/SQL2012

MS JDBC 4.0

SAP JVM 6

7.21_EXT

7.40

Win2012/SQL2012

MS JDBC 4.0

SAP JVM 6

7.38/7.40/7.41***

*Win2012 SAP Support Q4 2013

**No support for SQL Server AlwaysOn automatic failover

***7.41 still in development  ****No Support of Itanium (recommend immediate migration to x64)

Note 1398807 - Microsoft SQL Server: JDBC driver support matrix

Note 1745895 - Available Microsoft JDBC drivers

Note 639702 - JDBC Driver for Microsoft SQL Server

11.        The Importance of Running CHECKDB 

SQL Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 2 or higher and subsequent releases of SQL Server have two traceflags that can significantly speed up Check Database.  This feature is discussed in this blog here.  These features allow customers with databases > 10TB to run CHECKDB WITH PHYSICAL_ONLY in less than ~16 hours. 

There are several factors that influence CHECKDB throughput:

1.      Max Degree of Parallelism

2.      Trace flags 2562 & 2549

3.      SAN performance

4.      Tempdb performance

5.      CPU power

A subsequent Blog and SAP Note will discuss CHECKDB in detail but as a general recommendation it is highly advisable to run CHECKDB at least once per month on the production database or a copy of the production database. 

SQL Server resource governor can be configured to have a MAXDOP > 1 for a specific pool that is used by CHECKDB. The Global MAXDOP for SAP on SQL Server must always be set to 1.

SQL 14 RM

12.        SQL Server TDE Implementation & Feedback 

Increasing number of SAP on SQL Server customers are using Transparent Data Encryption.  Unfortunately many of the customers that have successfully deployed SAP on SQL Server are Government, Law Enforcement, Security or Financial customers that do not participate in Microsoft’s Case Study program.  Therefore there are very few customer case studies about TDE.

Based on our experiences so far we can summarize:

1.      The most common configuration is TDE with AES-256 encryption

2.      No measurable increase in CPU or memory has been observed in productive systems (lab tests have shown some overhead under extreme testing conditions)

3.      DBA activities such as extending datafiles and log files, backups and restores take somewhat longer

4.      Backup Compression is of no benefit on TDE databases

5.      SQL Server PAGE compression and TDE can be combined and will result in same compression factor as without TDE

6.      The use of a hardware based Key Management devices or systems is strongly recommended (loss of Keys will result in the loss of the database)

7.      Some customers have combined TDE with features such as BitLocker to protect the “at rest” state of the Operating System disk

In summary customers of any size should feel free to implement more advanced security features such as TDE, SSL and BitLocker

Important Notes, Blogs, Whitepapers and Links

A new central Backup Strategies Note has been released. It is recommended to review Note 1878886 - Backup Strategies for SQL Server

A new BI Whitepaper describing integrating SAP BW to Microsoft BI is available in this blog

Migrations to SQL Server from Oracle and DB2 very often benefit from unsorted exports.  Unsorted exports to SQL Server have been supported for many years, however some versions of SAPInst/SWPM did not allow the “Unsorted” tick box to be selected.  The latest versions of SWPM support unsorted export with the target DB set to SQL Server.  See Note 1054852 - Recommendations for migrations to MS SQL Server for more information.

Some customers have noticed ST04 data is missing. This is due to an overflow in the SAP kernel and is described and fixed in the two notes below

Note 1880067 - ST04 screen is missing some data

Note 1887175 - UPSERT using MERGE and a correction for ADBC

ST04 Overflow

 

ST05 SQL traces should display the actual parameters used during the execution of each individual query. If these are missing apply Note 1426265 - ST05 Traces show only '?' and no literal values

Many customers have noticed that “SAP Tools for SQL Server” is no longer available for download.  SAP Tools for SQL Server was necessary post DB upgrade (such as upgrading from SQL 2008 to SQL 2012) and system copies (such as refreshing QAS from Production).  The features that were bundled in SAP Tools for SQL Server are now part of SWPM for 7.3x systems but they are fully compatible with 7.00 and all 7.x systems. More information can be found in Note 1890950 - Generic Installation Options

SAP on Hyper-V 3.0 is very popular. We will release several customer case studies in the coming months. 

A new series of blogs on SAP on Hyper-V private cloud can be found: How to Deploy SAP on Microsoft Private Cloud with Hyper-V 3.0

Note 1843134 - Microsoft Hyper-V connector for SAP LVM

Note 1580509 - Windows Server Editions supported by SAP

Note 1753578 - Windows Server 2012 in Virtual Environments

Note 1721575 - SAP system migration to Windows Server 2012

Note 1841151 - Windows Server 2012 running in a VM - different NIC order

Note 1246467 - Hyper-V Configuration Guideline

Note 1365796 - Local host name resolution fails in Windows Failover Cluster

 

OS07/ST06 Monitoring standalone SQL Server cluster or AlwaysOn hosts 1893490 - How to get the OS data from standalone database host to SAP

 

Internet Explorer (and any other non-essential software) should always be removed from every SAP DB or Application server.  The following command line removes IE from Windows 2008 R2, Windows 2012 and Windows 2012 R2: Open command prompt as an Administrator ->  dism /online /Disable-Feature /FeatureName:Internet-Explorer-Optional-amd64

 

Blogs from http://www.aidanfinn.com/

A Converged Networks Design For SMB 3.0 Storage & SMB Direct Live Migration

Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V – Cross-Version Live Migration

Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V – Live Migration Improvements (Compression and SMB 3.0)

 

Links and content in this blog are used under Fair Use guidelines

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  • Hi,

    This is a great source of technical information.

    The only comment I have is to be weary of the MAXDOP setting.

    You currently say "The Global MAXDOP for SAP on SQL Server must always be set to 1", but as I point out in my blog post (here:  darrylgriffiths.blogspot.com/.../sap-unicode-conversion-maxdop.html), this is not a hard rule from SAP.

    Thanks again,

    Darryl

  • We have Netweaver systems running 7.0x and on SQL 2012 AGs.  I see the note above that states JDBC 1.2 does not support AG automatic failover.  What are the restrictions or implications of using this setup?  And, is it possible to use JDBC 4.0 with a 7.0x system for SQL 2012 AG support?

  • Thanks for a great source of outlook for SQL server. Maybe you can enlighten me on the outlook for SQL 2014 supporting Fiori Analytical Aps ? It is great if SQL server can be an alternative to HANA, but if it leaves out some of the functionality it is less great.

    Thanks again

    Niels

  • Hello Darryl,

    SAP OS/DB Migration or Unicode conversion are very atypical activities.  I would not consider these activities to be part of normal day to day operation of an SAP system.  But you raise a good point, there are rare cases where a global MAXDOP could be considered.

    Hello Chuck,

    Unfortunately NW 7.0x only supports JDBC 1.2.  there is no support for automatic failover.  I would upgrade to NW 7.3 or higher to allow a modern JVM/JDBC driver.  

    Hello Niels,

    SQL 2014 integration with SAP products is currently in progress.  We will release more details after SQL 2014 is officially released and RTM by Microsoft.

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