Tutorial: Back up SAP HANA databases in an Azure VM

This tutorial shows you how to back up SAP HANA databases running on Azure VMs to an Azure Backup Recovery Services vault. In this article you'll learn how to:

  • Create and configure a vault
  • Discover databases
  • Configure backups

Here are all the scenarios that we currently support.


As of August 1st, 2020, SAP HANA backup for RHEL (7.4, 7.6, 7.7 & 8.1) is generally available.


Make sure you do the following before configuring backups:

  • Identify or create a Recovery Services vault in the same region and subscription as the VM running SAP HANA.
  • Allow connectivity from the VM to the internet, so that it can reach Azure, as described in the set up network connectivity procedure below.
  • Ensure that the combined length of the SAP HANA Server VM name and the Resource Group name doesn't exceed 84 characters for Azure Resource Manager (ARM_ VMs (and 77 characters for classic VMs). This limitation is because some characters are reserved by the service.
  • A key should exist in the hdbuserstore that fulfills the following criteria:
    • It should be present in the default hdbuserstore. The default is the <sid>adm account under which SAP HANA is installed.
    • For MDC, the key should point to the SQL port of NAMESERVER. In the case of SDC, it should point to the SQL port of INDEXSERVER
    • It should have credentials to add and delete users
    • Note that this key can be deleted after running the pre-registration script successfully
  • Run the SAP HANA backup configuration script (pre-registration script) in the virtual machine where HANA is installed, as the root user. This script gets the HANA system ready for backup. Refer to the What the pre-registration script does section to understand more about the pre-registration script.
  • If your HANA setup uses Private Endpoints, run the pre-registration script with the -sn or --skip-network-checks parameter.


The preregistration script installs the compat-unixODBC234 for SAP HANA workloads running on RHEL (7.4, 7.6 and 7.7) and unixODBC for RHEL 8.1. This package is located in the RHEL for SAP HANA (for RHEL 7 Server) Update Services for SAP Solutions (RPMs) repo. For an Azure Marketplace RHEL image the repo would be rhui-rhel-sap-hana-for-rhel-7-server-rhui-e4s-rpms.

Set up network connectivity

For all operations, an SAP HANA database running on an Azure VM requires connectivity to the Azure Backup service, Azure Storage, and Azure Active Directory. This can be achieved by using private endpoints or by allowing access to the required public IP addresses or FQDNs. Not allowing proper connectivity to the required Azure services may lead to failure in operations like database discovery, configuring backup, performing backups, and restoring data.

The following table lists the various alternatives you can use for establishing connectivity:

Option Advantages Disadvantages
Private endpoints Allow backups over private IPs inside the virtual network

Provide granular control on the network and vault side
Incurs standard private endpoint costs
NSG service tags Easier to manage as range changes are automatically merged

No additional costs
Can be used with NSGs only

Provides access to the entire service
Azure Firewall FQDN tags Easier to manage since the required FQDNs are automatically managed Can be used with Azure Firewall only
Allow access to service FQDNs/IPs No additional costs

Works with all network security appliances and firewalls
A broad set of IPs or FQDNs may be required to be accessed
Use an HTTP proxy Single point of internet access to VMs Additional costs to run a VM with the proxy software

More details around using these options are shared below:

Private endpoints

Private endpoints allow you to connect securely from servers inside a virtual network to your Recovery Services vault. The private endpoint uses an IP from the VNET address space for your vault. The network traffic between your resources inside the virtual network and the vault travels over your virtual network and a private link on the Microsoft backbone network. This eliminates exposure from the public internet. Read more on private endpoints for Azure Backup here.

NSG tags

If you use Network Security Groups (NSG), use the AzureBackup service tag to allow outbound access to Azure Backup. In addition to the Azure Backup tag, you also need to allow connectivity for authentication and data transfer by creating similar NSG rules for Azure AD (AzureActiveDirectory) and Azure Storage(Storage). The following steps describe the process to create a rule for the Azure Backup tag:

  1. In All Services, go to Network security groups and select the network security group.

  2. Select Outbound security rules under Settings.

  3. Select Add. Enter all the required details for creating a new rule as described in security rule settings. Ensure the option Destination is set to Service Tag and Destination service tag is set to AzureBackup.

  4. Select Add to save the newly created outbound security rule.

You can similarly create NSG outbound security rules for Azure Storage and Azure AD. For more information on service tags, see this article.

Azure Firewall tags

If you're using Azure Firewall, create an application rule by using the AzureBackup Azure Firewall FQDN tag. This allows all outbound access to Azure Backup.

Allow access to service IP ranges

If you choose to allow access service IPs, refer to the IP ranges in the JSON file available here. You'll need to allow access to IPs corresponding to Azure Backup, Azure Storage, and Azure Active Directory.

Allow access to service FQDNs

You can also use the following FQDNs to allow access to the required services from your servers:

Service Domain names to be accessed
Azure Backup *.backup.windowsazure.com
Azure Storage *.blob.core.windows.net

Azure AD Allow access to FQDNs under sections 56 and 59 according to this article

Use an HTTP proxy server to route traffic

When you back up an SAP HANA database running on an Azure VM, the backup extension on the VM uses the HTTPS APIs to send management commands to Azure Backup and data to Azure Storage. The backup extension also uses Azure AD for authentication. Route the backup extension traffic for these three services through the HTTP proxy. Use the list of IPs and FQDNs mentioned above for allowing access to the required services. Authenticated proxy servers aren't supported.

Understanding backup and restore throughput performance

The backups (log and non-log) in SAP HANA Azure VMs provided via Backint are streams to Azure Recovery services vaults and so it is important to understand this streaming methodology.

The Backint component of HANA provides the 'pipes' (a pipe to read from and a pipe to write into), connected to underlying disks where database files reside, which are then read by the Azure Backup service and transported to Azure Recovery Services vault. The Azure Backup service also performs a checksum to validate the streams, in addition to the backint native validation checks. These validations will make sure that the data present in Azure Recovery Services vault is indeed reliable and recoverable.

Since the streams primarily deal with disks, you need to understand the disk performance to gauge the backup and restore performance. Refer to this article for an in-depth understanding of disk throughput and performance in Azure VMs. These are also applicable to backup and restore performance.

The Azure Backup service attempts to achieve upto ~420 MBps for non-log backups (such as full, differential and incremental) and upto 100 MBps for log backups for HANA. As mentioned above, these are not guaranteed speeds and depend on following factors:

  • Max Uncached disk throughput of the VM
  • Underlying disk type and its throughput
  • The number of processes which are trying to read and write into the same disk at the same time.


In smaller VMs, where the uncached disk throughput is very close to or lesser than 400 MBps, you may be concerned that the entire disk IOPS are consumed by the backup service which may affect SAP HANA's operations related to read/write from the disks. In that case, if you wishes to throttle or limit the backup service consumption to the maximum limit, you can refer to the next section.

Limiting backup throughput performance

If you want to throttle backup service disk IOPS consumption to a maximum value, then perform the following steps.

  1. Go to the "opt/msawb/bin" folder

  2. Create a new JSON file named "ExtensionSettingOverrides.JSON"

  3. Add a key-value pair to the JSON file as follows:

    "MaxUsableVMThroughputInMBPS": 200
  4. Change the permissions and ownership of the file as follows:

    chmod 750 ExtensionSettingsOverrides.json
    chown root:msawb ExtensionSettingsOverrides.json
  5. No restart of any service is required. The Azure Backup service will attempt to limit the throughput performance as mentioned in this file.

What the pre-registration script does

Running the pre-registration script performs the following functions:

  • Based on your Linux distribution, the script installs or updates any necessary packages required by the Azure Backup agent.
  • It performs outbound network connectivity checks with Azure Backup servers and dependent services like Azure Active Directory and Azure Storage.
  • It logs into your HANA system using the user key listed as part of the prerequisites. The user key is used to create a backup user (AZUREWLBACKUPHANAUSER) in the HANA system and the user key can be deleted after the pre-registration script runs successfully.
  • AZUREWLBACKUPHANAUSER is assigned these required roles and permissions:
    • For MDC: DATABASE ADMIN and BACKUP ADMIN (from HANA 2.0 SPS05 onwards): to create new databases during restore.
    • For SDC: BACKUP ADMIN: to create new databases during restore.
    • CATALOG READ: to read the backup catalog.
    • SAP_INTERNAL_HANA_SUPPORT: to access a few private tables. Only required for SDC and MDC versions below HANA 2.0 SPS04 Rev 46. This is not required for HANA 2.0 SPS04 Rev 46 and above since we are getting the required information from public tables now with the fix from HANA team.
  • The script adds a key to hdbuserstore for AZUREWLBACKUPHANAUSER for the HANA backup plug-in to handle all operations (database queries, restore operations, configuring and running backup).


You can explicitly pass the user key listed as part of the prerequisites as a parameter to the pre-registration script: -sk SYSTEM_KEY_NAME, --system-key SYSTEM_KEY_NAME

To learn what other parameters the script accepts, use the command bash msawb-plugin-config-com-sap-hana.sh --help

To confirm the key creation, run the HDBSQL command on the HANA machine with SIDADM credentials:

hdbuserstore list

The command output should display the {SID}{DBNAME} key, with the user shown as AZUREWLBACKUPHANAUSER.


Make sure you have a unique set of SSFS files under /usr/sap/{SID}/home/.hdb/. There should be only one folder in this path.

Here is a summary of steps required for completing the pre-registration script run.

Who From What to run Comments
<sid>adm (OS) HANA OS Read tutorial and download pre-registration script Read the pre-requisites above Download Pre-registration script from here
<sid>adm (OS) and SYSTEM user (HANA) HANA OS Run hdbuserstore Set command e.g. hdbuserstore Set SYSTEM hostname>:3<Instance#>13 SYSTEM <password> Note: Make sure to use hostname instead of IP address or FQDN
<sid>adm (OS) HANA OS Run hdbuserstore List command Check if the result includes the default store like below : KEY SYSTEM  ENV : <hostname>:3<Instance#>13  USER: SYSTEM
Root (OS) HANA OS Run Azure Backup HANA pre-registration script ./msawb-plugin-config-com-sap-hana.sh -a --sid <SID> -n <Instance#> --system-key SYSTEM
<sid>adm (OS) HANA OS Run hdbuserstore List command Check if result includes new lines as below :  KEY AZUREWLBACKUPHANAUSER  ENV : localhost: 3<Instance#>13   USER: AZUREWLBACKUPHANAUSER

After running the pre-registration script successfully and verifying, you can then proceed to check the connectivity requirements and then configure backup from Recovery services vault

Create a Recovery Services vault

A Recovery Services vault is an entity that stores the backups and recovery points created over time. The Recovery Services vault also contains the backup policies that are associated with the protected virtual machines.

To create a Recovery Services vault:

  1. Sign in to your subscription in the Azure portal.

  2. On the left menu, select All services

    Select All services

  3. In the All services dialog box, enter Recovery Services. The list of resources filters according to your input. In the list of resources, select Recovery Services vaults.

    Select Recovery Services vaults

  4. On the Recovery Services vaults dashboard, select Add.

    Add Recovery Services vault

    The Recovery Services vault dialog box opens. Provide values for the Name, Subscription, Resource group, and Location

    Create Recovery Services vault

    • Name: The name is used to identify the Recovery Services vault and must be unique to the Azure subscription. Specify a name that has at least two, but not more than 50 characters. The name must start with a letter and consist only of letters, numbers, and hyphens. For this tutorial, we've used the name SAPHanaVault.
    • Subscription: Choose the subscription to use. If you're a member of only one subscription, you'll see that name. If you're not sure which subscription to use, use the default (suggested) subscription. There are multiple choices only if your work or school account is associated with more than one Azure subscription. Here, we've used the SAP HANA solution lab subscription subscription.
    • Resource group: Use an existing resource group or create a new one. Here, we've used SAPHANADemo.
      To see the list of available resource groups in your subscription, select Use existing, and then select a resource from the drop-down list box. To create a new resource group, select Create new and enter the name. For complete information about resource groups, see Azure Resource Manager overview.
    • Location: Select the geographic region for the vault. The vault must be in the same region as the Virtual Machine running SAP HANA. We've used East US 2.
  5. Select Review + Create.

    Select Review & Create

The Recovery Services vault is now created.

Discover the databases

  1. In the vault, in Getting Started, select Backup. In Where is your workload running?, select SAP HANA in Azure VM.

  2. Select Start Discovery. This initiates discovery of unprotected Linux VMs in the vault region. You'll see the Azure VM that you want to protect.

  3. In Select Virtual Machines, select the link to download the script that provides permissions for the Azure Backup service to access the SAP HANA VMs for database discovery.

  4. Run the script on the VM hosting SAP HANA database(s) that you want to back up.

  5. After running the script on the VM, in Select Virtual Machines, select the VM. Then select Discover DBs.

  6. Azure Backup discovers all SAP HANA databases on the VM. During discovery, Azure Backup registers the VM with the vault, and installs an extension on the VM. No agent is installed on the database.

    Discover the databases

Configure backup

Now that the databases we want to back up are discovered, let's enable backup.

  1. Select Configure Backup.

    Configure backup

  2. In Select items to back up, select one or more databases that you want to protect, and then select OK.

    Select items to back up

  3. In Backup Policy > Choose backup policy, create a new backup policy for the database(s), in accordance with the instructions in the next section.

    Choose backup policy

  4. After creating the policy, on the Backup menu, select Enable backup.

    Select Enable backup

  5. Track the backup configuration progress in the Notifications area of the portal.

Creating a backup policy

A backup policy defines when backups are taken, and how long they're retained.

  • A policy is created at the vault level.
  • Multiple vaults can use the same backup policy, but you must apply the backup policy to each vault.

Specify the policy settings as follows:

  1. In Policy name, enter a name for the new policy. In this case, enter SAPHANA.

    Enter name for new policy

  2. In Full Backup policy, select a Backup Frequency. You can choose Daily or Weekly. For this tutorial, we chose the Daily backup.

    Select a backup frequency

  3. In Retention Range, configure retention settings for the full backup.

    • By default, all options are selected. Clear any retention range limits you don't want to use and set those that you do.
    • The minimum retention period for any type of backup (full/differential/log) is seven days.
    • Recovery points are tagged for retention based on their retention range. For example, if you select a daily full backup, only one full backup is triggered each day.
    • The backup for a specific day is tagged and retained based on the weekly retention range and setting.
    • The monthly and yearly retention ranges behave in a similar way.
  4. In the Full Backup policy menu, select OK to accept the settings.

  5. Then select Differential Backup to add a differential policy.

  6. In Differential Backup policy, select Enable to open the frequency and retention controls. We've enabled a differential backup every Sunday at 2:00 AM, which is retained for 30 days.

    Differential backup policy


    You can choose either a differential or an incremental as a daily backup but not both.

  7. In Incremental Backup policy, select Enable to open the frequency and retention controls.

    • At most, you can trigger one incremental backup per day.
    • Incremental backups can be retained for a maximum of 180 days. If you need longer retention, you must use full backups.

    Incremental backup policy

  8. Select OK to save the policy and return to the main Backup policy menu.

  9. Select Log Backup to add a transactional log backup policy,

    • Log Backup is by default set to Enable. This can't be disabled as SAP HANA manages all log backups.
    • We've set 2 hours as the Backup schedule and 15 days of retention period.

    Log backup policy


    Log backups only begin to flow after one successful full backup is completed.

  10. Select OK to save the policy and return to the main Backup policy menu.

  11. After you finish defining the backup policy, select OK.

You've now successfully configured backup(s) for your SAP HANA database(s).

Next Steps