High availability for SAP NetWeaver on Azure VMs on Windows with Azure Files Premium SMB for SAP applications

Introduction

Azure Files Premium SMB is now fully supported by Microsoft and SAP. SWPM 1.0 SP32 and SWPM 2.0 SP09 and above support Azure Files Premium SMB storage. There are special requirements for sizing Azure Files Premium SMB shares. This documentation contains specific recommendations on how to distribute workload on Azure Files Premium SMB, how to adequately size Azure Files Premium SMB and the minimum installation requirements for Azure Files Premium SMB.

High Availability SAP solutions need a highly available File share for hosting sapmnt, trans and interface directories. Azure Files Premium SMB is a simple Azure PaaS solution for Shared File Systems for SAP on Windows environments. Azure Files Premium SMB can be used in conjunction with Availability Sets and Availability Zones. Azure Files Premium SMB can also be used for Disaster Recovery scenarios to another region.

Sizing & Distribution of Azure Files Premium SMB for SAP Systems

The following points should be evaluated when planning the deployment of Azure Files Premium SMB:

  • The File share name sapmnt can be created once per storage account. It is possible to create additional SIDs as directories on the same /sapmnt share such as - /sapmnt/<SID1> and /sapmnt/<SID2>
  • Choose an appropriate size, IOPS and throughput. A suggested size for the share is 256GB per SID. The maximum size for a Share is 5120 GB
  • Azure Files Premium SMB may not perform optimally for very large sapmnt shares with more than 1-2 million files per storage account.  Customers that have millions of batch jobs creating millions of job log files should regularly reorganize them as per SAP Note 16083 If needed, old job logs may be moved/archived to another Azure Files Premium SMB.  If sapmnt is expected to be very large then alternate options (such as Azure ANF) should be considered.
  • It is recommended to use a Private Network Endpoint
  • Avoid consolidating too many SIDs to a single storage account and its file share.
  • As general guidance no more than between 2 to 4 non-prod SIDs can be consolidated together.
  • Do not consolidate the entire Development, QAS + Production landscape to one storage account and/or file share.  Failure of the share will lead to downtime of the entire SAP landscape.
  • It is not advisable to consolidate the sapmnt and transport directories on the same storage account except for very small systems. During the installation of the SAP PAS Instance, SAPInst will request a Transport Hostname. The FQDN of a different storage account should be entered <storage_account>.file.core.windows.net.
  • Do not consolidate the file system used for Interfaces onto the same storage account as /sapmnt/<SID>
  • The SAP users/groups must be added to the ‘sapmnt’ share and should have this permission set in the Azure portal: Storage File Data SMB Share Elevated Contributor.

There are important reasons for separating Transport, Interface and sapmnt onto separate storage accounts. Distributing these components onto separate storage accounts improves throughput, resiliency and simplifies the performance analysis. If many SIDs and other file systems are consolidated onto a single Azure Files Storage account and the storage account performance is poor due to hitting the throughput limits, it is extremely difficult to identify which SID or application is causing the problem.

Planning

Important

Installation of SAP High Availability Systems on Azure Files Premium SMB with Active Directory Integration requires cross team collaboration. It is highly recommended that the Basis Team, the Active Directory Team and the Azure Team work together to complete these tasks:

  • Azure Team – setup and configuration of Storage Account, Script Execution and AD Directory Synchronization.
  • Active Directory Team – Creation of User Accounts and Groups.
  • Basis Team – Run SWPM and set ACLs (if required).

Prerequisites for the installation of SAP NetWeaver High Availability Systems on Azure Files Premium SMB with Active Directory Integration.

  • The SAP servers must be joined to an Active Directory Domain.
  • The Active Directory Domain containing the SAP servers must be replicated to Azure Active Directory using Azure AD connect.
  • It is highly recommended that there is at least one Active Directory Domain controller in the Azure landscape to avoid traversing the Express Route to contact Domain Controllers on-premises.
  • The Azure support team should review the Azure Files SMB with Active Directory Integration documentation. The video shows additional configuration options which were modified (DNS) and skipped (DFS-N) for simplification reasons. Nevertheless these are valid configuration options.
  • The user executing the Azure Files PowerShell script must have permission to create objects in Active Directory.
  • SWPM version 1.0 SP32 and SWPM 2.0 SP09 or higher are required. SAPInst patch must be 749.0.91 or higher.
  • An up-to-date release of PowerShell should be installed on the Windows Server where the script is executed.

Installation sequence

  1. The Active Directory administrator should create in advance 3 Domain users with Local Administrator rights and one global group in the local Windows AD: SAPCONT_ADMIN@SAPCONTOSO.local has Domain Admin rights and is used to run SAPInst, <sid>adm and SAPService<SID> as SAP system users and the SAP_<SAPSID>_GlobalAdmin group. The SAP Installation Guide contains the specific details required for these accounts. SAP user accounts should not be Domain Administrator. It is generally recommended not to use <sid>adm to run SAPInst.

  2. The Active Directory administrator or Azure Administrator should check Azure AD Connect Synchronization Service Manager. By default it takes approximately 30 minutes to replicate to the Azure Active Directory.

  3. The Azure administrator should complete the following tasks:

    1. Create a Storage Account with either Premium ZRS or LRS. Customers with Zonal deployment should choose ZRS. Here the choice between setting up a Standard or Premium Account needs to be made: Azure portal Screenshot for create storage account - Step 1Azure portal Screenshot for create storage account - Step 1

      Important

      For productive use the recommendation is using a Premium Account. For non-productive using a Standard Account will be sufficient.

      Azure portal Screenshot for create storage account - Step 2Azure portal Screenshot for create storage account - Step 2

      In this screen the default settings should be ok.

      Azure portal Screenshot for create storage account - Step 3Azure portal Screenshot for create storage account - Step 3

      In this step the decision to use a private endpoint is made.

    2. Select Private Network Endpoint for the storage account. If required add a DNS A-Record into Windows DNS for the <storage_account_name>.file.core.windows.net (this may need to be in a new DNS Zone). Discuss this topic with the DNS administrator. The new zone should not update outside of an organization.
      pivate-endpoint-creationAzure portal screenshot for the private endpoint definition. private-endpoint-dns-1DNS server screenshot for private endpoint DNS definition.

    3. Create the sapmnt File share with an appropriate size. The suggested size is 256GB which delivers 650 IOPS, 75 MB/sec Egress and 50 MB/sec Ingress. create-storage-account-5Azure portal screenshot for the SMB share definition.

    4. Download the Azure Files GitHub content and execute the script.
      This script will create either a Computer Account or Service Account in Active Directory. The user running the script must have the following properties:

      • The user running the script must have permission to create objects in the Active Directory Domain containing the SAP servers. Typically, a domain administrator account is used such as SAPCONT_ADMIN@SAPCONTOSO.local
      • Before executing the script confirm that this Active Directory Domain user account is synchronized with Azure Active Directory (AAD). An example of this would be to open the Azure portal and navigate to AAD users and check that the user SAPCONT_ADMIN@SAPCONTOSO.local exists and verify the AAD user account SAPCONT_ADMIN@SAPCONTOSO.onmicrosoft.com.
      • Grant the Contributor RBAC role to this Azure Active Directory user account for the Resource Group containing the storage account holding the File Share. In this example the user SAPCONT_ADMIN@SAPCONTOSO.onmicrosoft.com is granted Contributor Role to the respective Resource Group
      • The script should be executed while logged on to a Windows server using an Active Directory Domain user account with the permission as specified above, in this example the account SAPCONT_ADMIN@SAPCONTOSO.local would be used.

      Important

      When executing the PowerShell script command Connect-AzAccount, it is highly recommended to enter the Azure Active Directory user account that corresponds and maps to the Active Directory Domain user account used to logon to a Windows Server, in this example this is the user account SAPCONT_ADMIN@SAPCONTOSO.onmicrosoft.com

      In this example scenario the Active Directory Administrator would logon to the Windows Server as SAPCONT_ADMIN@SAPCONTOSO.local and when using the PS command Connect-AzAccount connect as user SAPCONT_ADMIN@SAPCONTOSO.onmicrosoft.com. Ideally the Active Directory Administrator and the Azure Administrator should work together on this task. powershell-script-1Screenshot of the PowerShell script creating local AD account.

      smb-configured-screenshotAzure portal screenshot after successful PowerShell script execution.

      The following should appear as “Configured”
      Storage -> Files Shares “Active Directory: Configured”

    5. Assign SAP users <sid>adm, SAPService<SID> and the SAP_<SAPSID>_GlobalAdmin group to the Azure Files Premium SMB File Share with Role Storage File Data SMB Share Elevated Contributor in the Azure portal

    6. Check the ACL on the sapmnt file share after the installation and add DOMAIN\CLUSTER_NAME$ account, DOMAIN\<sid>adm, DOMAIN\SAPService<SID> and the Group SAP_<SID>_GlobalAdmin. These accounts and group should have full control of sapmnt directory.

      Important

      This step must be completed before the SAPInst installation or it will be difficult or impossible to change ACLs after SAPInst has created directories and files on the File Share

      ACL PropertiesWindows Explorer screenshot of the assigned user rights.

      The following screenshots show how to add Computer machine accounts by selecting the Object Types -> Computers Windows Server screenshot of adding the cluster name to the local ADWindows Server screenshot of adding the cluster name to the local AD.

      The DOMAIN\CLUSTER_NAME$ can be found by selecting “Computers” from the “Object Types”
      Screenshot of adding AD computer account - Step 2Screenshot of adding AD computer account - Step 2 Screenshot of adding AD computer account - Step 3Screenshot of adding AD computer account - Step 3 Screenshot of computer account access propertiesScreenshot of computer account access properties.

    7. If required move the Computer Account created for Azure Files to an Active Directory Container that does not have account expiry. The name of the Computer Account will be the short name of the storage account

    Important

    In order to initialize the Windows ACL for the SMB share the share needs to be mounted once to a drive letter.

    The storage key is the password and the user is Azure\<SMB share name> as shown here: one time net use mountWindows screenshot of the net use one-time mount of the SMB share.

  4. Basis administrator should complete the tasks below:

    1. Install the Windows Cluster on ASCS/ERS Nodes and add the Cloud witness
    2. The first Cluster Node installation will ask for the Azure Files SMB storage account name. Enter the FQDN <storage_account_name>.file.core.windows.net. If SAPInst does not accept >13 characters then the SWPM version is too old.
    3. Modify the SAP Profile of the ASCS/SCS Instance
    4. Update the Probe Port for the SAP <SID> role in WSFC
    5. Continue with SWPM Installation for the second ASCS/ERS Node. SWPM will only require path of profile directory. Enter the full UNC path to the profile directory.
    6. Enter the UNC profile path for the DB and PAS/AAS Installation.
    7. PAS Installation will ask for Transport hostname. Provide the FQDN of a separate storage account name for transport directory.
    8. Verify the ACLs on the SID and trans directory.

Disaster Recovery setup

Disaster Recovery scenarios or Cross-Region Replication scenarios are supported with Azure Files Premium SMB. All data in Azure Files Premium SMB directories can be continuously synchronized to a DR region storage account using this link. After a Disaster Recovery event and failover of the ASCS instance to the DR region, change the SAPGLOBALHOST profile parameter to the point to Azure Files SMB in the DR region. The same preparation steps should be performed on the DR storage account to join the storage account to Active Directory and assign RBAC roles for SAP users and groups.

Troubleshooting

The PowerShell scripts downloaded in step 3.c contain a debug script to conduct some basic checks to validate the configuration.

Debug-AzStorageAccountAuth -StorageAccountName $StorageAccountName -ResourceGroupName $ResourceGroupName -Verbose

Powershell-script-outputPowerShell screenshot of the debug script output.

Powershell-script-technical-infoThe following screen shows the technical information to validate a successful domain join.