SAP on SQL: General Update for Customers & Partners June 2016


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 Release of SQL Server Coming: SQL Server 2016

New features for the Database Engine are explained in What's New in Database Engine

Customers planning to upgrade to SQL Server 2016 should review:
2201059 - Release planning for Microsoft SQL Server 2016

SQL Server 2016 for SAP systems will only be supported on Windows 2012 and Windows 2012 R2.

Windows 2008 R2 will not be supported in combination with SAP applications and SQL Server 2016.

2. SQL Server Buffer Pool Extension

SQL Server 2014 and higher has the ability to leverage high speed SSD storage to create an additional data cache. This can greatly increase performance by increasing the effective amount of "RAM" available to SQL Server.

The feature is called SQL Server Buffer Pool Extension

SQL Server will create a file on the high speed storage that functions as a database bufferpool.

The size of the file can be at the most 32 times the size of SQL Server Max Memory setting, though it is generally recommended to keep to values between 4 to 8 times the size of SQL Server Max Memory.


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3. Important Update for SAP Customers Running ASCS on SIOS on Azure

Customers running SAP systems on Azure frequently use SIOS or other software solutions to create a Shared Disk on Azure.

The SAP ASCS requires a shared disk. The solution is documented in a whitepaper available on the main SAP on Azure documentation site.

In addition to following the instructions in the whitepaper it is recommended to do the following:

1.    Ensure that the Azure Internal Load Balancer is set with the correct ports, AND ensure that the ILBIdleTimeOut value is set to 30, as recommended in the whitepaper (Default value is 4).

2.    In the SIOS Whitepaper (Section 7.1.4), the Enqueue profile parameter enque/encni/set_so_keepalive = 1 but the SAP Engineer confirmed that the value needs to be a string, so it should be set to enque/encni/set_so_keepalive = TRUE. The value TRUE must be in upper case

3.    2 registry entries to change, TCP/IP KeepAliveTime and KeepAliveInterval set to 180000 (3 minutes)

4. Azure Site Recovery – Best Protection for SAP Systems

Many SAP customers run SAP systems on VMware.

Azure provides a DR capability integrated with VMware.

While the VMs are in sync mode only storage costs are charged making Azure Site Recovery much cheaper than any other DR solution

A whitepaper about setting up and testing Azure Site Recovery for VMware is now available.
Protecting SAP Systems Running on VMware with Azure Site Recovery

5. FusionIO Customer Should Update Firmware and Device Drivers

There have been some cases of FusionIO customers on device driver 3.2.8 to 3.2.10 experiencing BAD_POOL_CALLER bugcheck error (Bluescreen). This issue has been resolved with version 3.2.11 of the SanDisk / FusionIO driver.

Customers have reported the following scenario:

  1. A server is shutdown either normally or suddenly without a normal shutdown
  2. When the server restarts the FusionIO card might show a message during the POST / BIOS check that the FusionIO card needs to perform an integrity check
  3. After a timeout period the normal boot process will begin unless the integrity check is confirmed during the POST / BIOS check
  4. The FusionIO device driver version 3.2.10 or lower will hang when loading because the card cannot be accessed normally
  5. Windows will hit a timeout and bugcheck BAD_POOL_CALLER will be created

What to do if this problem happens?

On some rare occasions the FusionIO integrity check option may not be visible if remote terminal software such as HP iLO is used. It may be necessary to go to the actual console and run the integrity check. After the integrity check has been finished the Windows OS will boot normally.

Please update the FusionIO/SANDisk Firmware and Drivers to the latest available and this problem will not occur

6. New Faster Azure VMs Increase SAP Performance Significantly

New faster Azure D-Series v2 VMs are now available in most Azure regions with significantly faster 2.4 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2673v3 (Haswell) processors.

These virtual machines are significantly faster than D-Series VMs and a DS14v2 will benchmark much more than 20,000 SAPS.

SAP ABAP processes are single threaded and benefit from faster clock speed.

Customers moving SAP production systems to Azure are recommended to use D-Series v2 for SAP ABAP application servers.

These new D-Series v2 VMs should only be used in combination with Premium Storage for Database workloads and should not be used with Standard Storage.

The VM types that have Premium Storage are DSv2, the "S" denoting Premium Storage.

New SAP SD 2-Tier and 3-Tier benchmarks for D-Series v2 will be published shortly on the SD Benchmark website

7. New Interesting Features in Windows 2016

There are too many New Features in Windows 2016 to describe in full. A summary of the more important features for Windows 2016 and Clustering are listed below:
Nano server – no GUI, no command line. WMI or Powershell only. Designed for Hyper-V or Scale Out File Server
Windows Containers – Windows & Hyper-V Containers (lightweight) isolate apps from their OS
Docker – Open Source implementation
AD Independent Clusters –Single Domain (current), Multi-Domain + Workgroup (using certificates)
Azure Cloud Witness – Cluster File Share Witness must be in a 3rd location with diverse network connections can now be in cloud
Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) –DAS solution. Datacenter SKU only. 4 nodes minimum.
Storage Replica – Async or Sync replication. Works with Hyper-V, Dedup, ReFS
Powershell 5.0 – Many new Powershell cmdlets for Networking and Hyper-V
Secure boot for Ubuntu 14.04+ and Suse 12+
Site Aware Cluster Failovers

Soft Restart – restarts just Operating system without resetting the motherboard leading to lengthy POST checks. In Powershell Restart-Computer -Soft

8. New Interesting Features in Windows 2016 Hyper-V

Azure Site Recovery can be used in combination with other Azure features and capabilities to protect against the total catastrophic loss of an on-premises datacenter and all the associated WAN connections to branch offices
Rolling upgrade for Hyper-V & Storage Clusters – A cluster can now be upgraded from Windows 2012 R2 to Windows 2016 without downtime. Win2012 R2 functional level during upgrade
Hot Add/Remove Virtual Memory & Virtual NIC on Hyper-V
Shielded VMs – Protected from Admins. Gen2, vTPM and File Copy blocked
Hyper-V Checkpoints – VSS application consistent checkpoints (Backups already work)
Nested Virtualization – VM within a VM
Online resize of Shared VHDX
Virtual Machine Resiliency – loss of storage pauses VM rather than crash the VM

Host level backups of clusters using Shared VHDX

Name individual Virtual Network Adapters in Hyper-V. Inside the guest you see this name automatically
Hyper-V Replica now works with cluster share disks (shared VHDX)
Powershell Direct to guest OS – must have guest credentials

Linux Guest Network Driver enhancements
Hyper-V Integration Services updates delivered via Windows Update

9. SQL Server Leads Gartner Magic Quadrant

The latest Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems places SQL Server in the lead.

The full report is linked and it is recommended to review the full details.

In addition Microsoft has released a Database Trade In Program that allows customers to obtain SQL Server licenses free of charge (conditions apply)

10. SAP Application Servers Running on Azure: Recommendations for Pagefile Configuration

Azure Virtual Machines have a local ultra-high speed SSD non-persistent disk.

The size and performance of the local SSD disk varies with different VM types and is documented here

The local SSD disk should be left as the default D: Drive although it is technically possible to change to a different drive letter.

The local SSD disk can be used for storing the Windows Server pagefile.

By default the pagefile is "System Managed". It is recommended to change to a fixed allocation as per the note

It is recommended to use a fixed pagefile and to follow the sizing calculator XLS attached to this note:

Only one pagefile should be required in almost all cases.
1518419 - Page file and virtual memory required by the SAP system

11. Using DFS-R for SAP Interface Directories

Windows Server includes a feature called Distributed File System Replication

DFS-R is a solution to provide High Availability for Interface File Systems on Azure.

DFS namespaces use the format \\DomainName\RootName and are typically too long for the SAP kernel to handle

An example might be \\\SAPInterface

To avoid this problem it is recommended to make a CNAME in Active Directory DNS

The CNAME maps the namespace to an alias the meets the maximum hostname length SAP support

For example:
\\\SAPInterface -> \\sapdfs\SAPInterface

Additional points:

  1. Typically Full Mesh replication mode is used.
  2. DFS-R is not synchronous replication
  3. Test 3rd party backup utilities with DFS file systems
  4. Carefully test the security and ACLs on DFS namespaces and resources
  5. DFS-R should not be used for high performance or high IOPS operations

12. SQL Server 2005 is End of Life & Recommended Kernels: 722 and 745

SQL Server 2005 is now more than 11 years old and is out of support.

SAP customers running SQL Server 2005 should upgrade to SQL Server 2014 or SQL Server 2016 (when certified by SAP)

The procedure for upgrading is:

  1. Review the required support packs for the SAP release Note (see below)
  2. Update the SAP Support Pack Stack (or SAP_BASIS support packs)
  3. Run DBCC Checkdb
  4. Ensure there are no SQL datafiles that are 100% full (there should be some freespace in every disk)
  5. Perform a full backup
  6. Either; run an in place upgrade – or detach the database and copy to a new server and attach
  7. Run SWPM and run the "Post DB upgrade completion" step

2201059 - Release planning for Microsoft SQL Server 2016 1966681 - Release planning for Microsoft SQL Server 2014 1651862 - Release planning for Microsoft SQL Server 2012 1076022 - Release planning for Microsoft SQL Server 2008 (R2) 905634 - Release planning for Microsoft SQL Server 2005 62988 - Service packs for MS SQL Server SQL Server 2005 end of life and upgrade options

For SAP Netweaver releases 7.00 – 7.31 please use the 722_EXT kernel. This kernel is fully compatible with all these SAP releases.
2133909 - SAP Kernel 722 (EXT): General Information and Usage 2115344 - Installation of Kernel 722 (EXT) 1744209 - SAP Kernel 720, 721 and 722: Versions and Kernel Patch Levels

For SAP Netweaver releases 7.40 and higher please use the 745 kernel 2083594 - SAP Kernel 740, 741, 742 and 745: Versions and Kernel Patch Levels 1969546 - Release Roadmap for Kernel 74x and 75x

It is worth to review this document on SAP kernel strategy:

13. New Cluster DLLs are Available

There are new Cluster DLLs available for SAP on Windows customers

There is only one release of the new Cluster DLLs that are compatible with all SAP kernel releases 7.00 and higher including 7.40 and 7.50
1596496 - How to update the SAP Resource Type DLLs for the Cluster Resource Monitor

Some additional information on Rolling Kernel support is contained here
2199317 - Support of Rolling Kernel Switch on Windows Failover Clusters

14. Very High Log Consumption

Some customers have reported very high transaction log usage on the SAP database.

The transaction log will continue to grow larger and a backup of the transaction log will not reduce the transaction log usage

The reason the transaction log does not reduce when a transaction log backup is run is that the transaction is still active (transaction log backups only remove inactive log entries that have already replicated to AlwaysOn replicas)

The cause of the high transaction log usage is a SAP user measurement report.

It is recommended to kill this job, review the note and if there are additional questions send a OSS Message to BC-DB-MSS
1901069 - System measurement: User measurement extremely long runtime

15. Cluster Timeout Parameters for AlwaysOn on Azure

Some customers have reported AlwaysOn failovers when running SAP systems on Azure.

The root cause was analyzed by Microsoft support and determined to be network timeouts.

It is therefore recommended to increase the network timeout values.

Further information is contained in this blog


Server 2012 Default

Recommended for Azure













16. Series VMs for Hana on Azure & Linux Support

Microsoft and SAP have announced support for Hana systems and SAP on Linux on Azure at Sapphire in May 2016

The official Certification Link is here

Links to Benchmarks are here.

Azure GS4 has benchmarked more than ~250,000 SAPS on SAP SD 3-Tier Benchmark

The following scenarios are supported:

SAP HANA on Azure with multi-node support for deployments capable of scaling up to 32 TBs of memory for SAP HANA Enterprise OLAP applications like SAP BW.

SAP HANA on Azure with single-node support up to 3 TB each of memory for SAP HANA Enterprise OLTP applications like S/4HANA or ERP.

SAP HANA One images in Azure Marketplace

Controlled Availability of SAP S/4HANA on Azure GS5

Additionally, the following new scenarios are available today:

SAP HANA Enterprise on Azure GS5 for OLAP (single node) in production and non-production scenarios

SAP HANA Enterprise on Azure GS5 for OLTP NetWeaver solutions for non-production scenarios

To deploy SAP Hana on Azure follow this process:

  1. Provision a GS5 VM with the SLES 12 Gallery image
  2. Deploy additional Linux packages and settings as detailed in SLES and SAP documentation
  3. Attach Azure Premium Storage as specified in this SAP document
  4. Install Hana
  5. Either; upload a Hana DB backup to Azure using AzCopy and install using SWPM

Review these OSS Notes
2316233 - SAP HANA on Microsoft Azure (Large Instances) 1928533 - SAP Applications on Azure: Supported Products and Azure VM types


SAP Notes

Severe Data Corruption, Performance and other Problems on VMWare

2237937 - Virtual Machines hanging with VMware ESXi 5.5 Update 3 and 6.0

2293740 - Performance degradation due to high network latency with vSphere 6

2229228 - VMware vSphere 6.0: possible data corruption

Intel has released new powerful CPUs: E5v4 for 2 socket servers are rated 115,000 SAPS and E7v4 for 4 socket servers are rated ~220,000 SAPS for Windows and SQL Server

1612283 - Hardware Configuration Standards and Guidance

1783528 - Migration path to Win2012/MSSQL2012 or MSSQL2014 for 4.6C and 6.20/6.40

30478 - Service Packs on Windows 2159227 - Windows Failover Cluster Log Configuration and Backup

2297283 - SQL Server end of Extended Maintenance from Microsoft in April 2016

1780433 - System copy of SAP systems to Windows Server 2012 (R2) : SQL Server

2235057 - Performance issues when running a SAP Upgrade with MS SQL Server

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