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1. Excellence in SAP Operations & Connecting SAP Systems to Azure Sentinel
SAP certified NetWeaver Applications running on Azure in 2014 and since this time thousands of customers have moved their SAP landscape to Azure. Many customers updated their SAP applications either to modern SAP Support Pack releases or migrated to S4 during the move to Azure.
Customers have also leveraged many of the features built into the Azure platform to improve Security, Monitoring, Patching, Backup, Configuration Management and achieve better overall “Operational Excellence”.
More information about Azure Automanage can be found Azure Automanage | Microsoft Azure
Azure Sentinel is an integrated scalable, cloud-native, security information event management (SIEM) and security orchestration automated response (SOAR) solution. A good overview of Azure Sentinel can be found What is Azure Sentinel? | Microsoft Docs
Azure Sentinel: SAP Threat Protection extends this capability to be able to monitor and analyze application level events from SAP systems. This feature is currently in Preview, registration is available https://aka.ms/sapsecsurvey
SAP Threat Protection uses a Docker to host a “connector” VM that interfaces SAP to Azure Sentinel
SAP Threat Protection is still in preview and the monitoring capabilities are still being defined. Below are some examples of events that can be monitored:
SAP Business Logic – transaction monitoring, User + Role management
SAP Application Layer – Authentication and Audit log
Database Layer (HANA) – user access and Backup/Restore
OS & Network Layer – file monitoring
More information about which events can be monitored is available to customers who join the Preview for SAP Threat Protection
- SAP Threat Protection can connect to SAP systems running on-prem, in private cloud, Azure or other public clouds
- The solution supports SAP NetWeaver ABAP systems with SAP_BASIS 740 and higher
- For optimal functionality please use SAP_BASIS versions 750 SP13 and higher .
- Make sure older systems have the following SAP Notes applied :
- SAP Note 2641084 – standardized read access for the Security Audit log data
- SAP Note 2173545 – CD: CHANGEDOCUMENT_READ_ALL
- SAP Note 2502336 – RSSCD100 – read only from archive, not from database
- Importing some SAP Transports may be required
- Each SAP system requires and each SAP client requires its own container instance
- The VM and Sentinel workspace can be in different Azure subscriptions and even different Azure AD tenants
- Each SAP connector instance (docker container) supports one SAP client
- The AuditLog file is across SAP clients (system wide) hence in a multi-client SAP system should only be enabled for one instance to avoid data duplication.
Sentinel Blog: Azure Sentinel – Microsoft Tech Community
Preview program at: https://aka.ms/SecurityPrP
Security community at: https://aka.ms/SecurityCommunity
Free public webinars series at: https://aka.ms/SecurityWebinars
Visit our YouTube channel: https://aka.ms/SecurityCommunityVideos
Sentinel Pricing: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/azure-sentinel/
Recommended training and certifications AZ-500(Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate) https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/certifications/exams/az-500
Thanks to Ravi Alwani for contributing this topic
Ross Sponholtz for contributing this topic
2. Azure Snapshot Backup for Oracle (including ASM) & Oracle News
This topic contains information for customers running SAP on Oracle systems on Azure:
- Oracle customers including ASM customers can use Azure Backup to take snapshots to Backup or Restore their databases Back up and recover an Oracle Database 19c database on an Azure Linux VM using Azure Backup – Azure Virtual Machines | Microsoft Docs
- The recommended versions are Oracle Linux (OL) 8.3 recommended OL Kernel patch is 5.4.17-2102.200.13.el8uek.x86_64 and Oracle Database 19.10 SBP
- The latest supported Oracle Database release is in 2799920 – Patches for 19c: Database
- When setting up Oracle DataGuard on Azure the tnsnames.ora file should be configured as explained in this document
- In all cases it is recommend to review this SAP Note if there are performance problems 1817553 – Checklist for performance problems in SAP Oracle Databases
3. Azure Storage Block Size Physical Constrains & DBMS Disk Storage Guidance
Several customers have encountered issues with DBMS server High Availability technologies and the different types of storage available on Azure. Software based DBMS replication technologies such as SQL Server AlwaysOn, Hana HSR and Oracle DataGuard may not function correctly if the Primary and Secondary(ies) Node are using Azure storage with a different sector size.
Most Enterprise DBMS storage engine logic detects the disk Sector Size and will align the Transaction Log File(s) metadata and internal boundaries to match the Sector Size (either 512 or 4096 bytes). When using SQL AlwaysOn, HSR or DataGuard with different Sector Sizes on Primary and Replica nodes alignment problems may occur. Some DBMS may handle this (such as SQL Server which will print a warning in the errorlog) and some may not.
The SAP on Azure storage guidance has been updated to include a recommendation to ensure the sector size is the same between HA nodes. Depending on the DBMS and the type of replication technology used the same constraints around Disk Sector size may exist for Disaster Recovery nodes as well.
“Bytes Per Sector”
“Bytes per Physical Sector”
Advanced Format (also known as 512E)
The Linux command fdisk -l or Windows command fsutil ntfsinfo
The diagram below illustrates the benefits of 4K Native.
Additional information for SQL Server can be found here Message misaligned log IOs which required falling back to synchronous IO in SQL Server Error Log – Microsoft Tech Community
4. Linux Cluster Updates – Redhat & Suse
Customers running on Suse 15 may experience an issue similar to the below – Failed: ‘ServicePrincipalCredentials’ object has no attribute ‘get_token’, if using Azure Fence Agent.
This problem was introduced with package version python3-azure-mgmt-compute-17.0.0-6.7.1 and may occur on any of the SLES 15.X images. The problem can be resolved by downgrading the “python3-azure-mgmt-compute” package
To downgrade the package run this command (two hyphens in front of oldpackage)
#zypper install –oldpackage python3-azure-mgmt-compute=4.6.2-6.3.1
After downgrading it is possible to prevent upgrades of this package with this command:
#zypper addlock python3-azure-mgmt-compute
Customers running Redhat 7.x and 8.x with Pacemaker clusters are recommended to review this Redhat article
This blog will be updated with more information about this issue shortly.
5. Moving Job Logs from Filesystem to Database
In SAP Basis release SAP_BASIS 7.51 it is possible to move Job Logs from the file system to the database. As of SAP_BASIS 7.52 this behavior is defaulted (though it is possible to switch to file system via parameters).
This topic is explained in SAP Note 2360818 – Job log in the database
Instead of storing job log data on the file system this information will be stored in a number of tables TBTCJOBLOG0-9
Very large global single instance SAP systems can have millions and in some cases tens of millions of files in /sapmnt. The majority of these files are usually Job Logs. Customer moving very large systems to Azure with more than 200,000-300,000 files in the /sapmnt file system should test carefully.
Microsoft delivers a tool called diskspd for Windows and Linux that can be used to test disk performance.
It is recommended to follow the process below when moving a large system with a very large /sapmnt to Azure:
- Monitor the total number of files on /sapmnt. Determine if Job Logs comprise the majority of the files
- If possible switch to storing the Job Logs in the database
- If possible clean up Job Log files more regularly
- Use sysstat/SAR, Perfmon or SAN specific tools to monitor the IO patterns on the storage sharing /sapmnt
- Create a /sapmnt on Azure with the same performance capability as measured in step #4
- Run diskspd on this empty file system
- Copy the contents of /sapmnt to the /sapmnt file system on Azure
- Rerun diskspd on the file system on Azure with many files – compare the results to #6
A sample command line that would stress a disk is below
Download Diskspd for Windows and Linux
6. Optimizing DMO Migrations to Azure – Some Basic Infrastructure Tools
SAP DMO can be used to directly migrate from AnyDB -> SQL Server or to Hana, perform an upgrade and migrate to another datacenter such as Azure. DMO offers a number of different “Zero Downtime” options. These are explained very well in this blog:
This blog explains how to feed a DMO test cycle with the results of a previous test cycle thereby automatically optimizing table splitting – MIGRATE_UT_DUR.XML and MIGRATE_DT_DUR.XML
There are two tools that are very useful to isolate and determine the source of resource constraints during a DMO test cycle. During the DMO process writing to the Transaction Log and the DBMS Checkpoint/Savepoint processes in may become a critical gating factor. Another possible problem that is easily identified with these tools is asymmetric CPU load (one CPU core pegged at 100% for long periods of time while other CPUs are at 0%). NMON and SAR allow very clear instant and historical visualization of key performance metrics.
On the Hana DB server and the VM(s) running DMO it is highly recommended to install nmon and sysstat(SAR).
- Unfortunately NMON is not available in any respository such as zypper, apt, yum and must be downloaded http://nmon.sourceforge.net/pmwiki.php
- sysstat or SAR may or may not be installed and activated by default. Typically most Suse gallery images have SAR running by default. Check the directory /var/log/sa. If the directory does not exist or does not contain recent sarXX files then follow the steps below
- KSAR is a graphical tool that presents system performance information in a simple and easy to interpret way. This tool requires a runtime JVM https://github.com/vlsi/ksar
If sysstat needs to be installed follow the steps below
# sudo yum install sysstat
# sudo service sysstat restart
Redirecting to /bin/systemctl restart sysstat.service
The /var/log/sa/sarXX files can be copied onto a Windows PC with sftp
sftp -i <keyfilename>.pem azureuser@<xx.xx.xx.xx>
Run “Java -jar C:sap_mediaksar.jar“
7. Windows Cluster Across Azure Regions
Recently some customers and partners have asked about Azure Cross Region clusters.
Technically this is possible, though this deployment pattern has not been tested or validated on Azure so far.
The SAP note 1425520 – Disable NI cache for host and service names prevents the SAP application server from caching hostname to IP address lookups. This forces more calls to DNS which in turn may need tuning to lower the TTL (Time to Live).
The blog below and attached video are essential reading for any customer considering such a solution.
Cross region geoclusters for SQL Server are already supported and documented
8. Update on Support Matrix for SAP on Azure
In recent months many new features have become available for SAP customers. The list below is a very brief overview of recommended features and updated documentation
- New VM types certified for Hana & NetWeaver!
These new VMs based on Intel® Xeon® Platinum 8280 (Cascade Lake) processor with an all core base frequency of 2.7 GHz and 4.0 GHz single core turbo frequency deliver an increase from 134,000 SAPS to 170,000 SAPS for 128 cpu configurations. A new 192 cpu VM delivers 256,000 SAPS. Note the restrictions on OS versions. Check this link for Hana Certifications
SAP Note 1928533 already shows Msv2/Mdsv2 in the chapter “Supported Azure VM types for SAP products on Windows and Linux”
- Azure Hana Large Instances now support a 12TB DRAM + 12TB Intel Optane configuration, improving TCO and performance. A new benchmark result has been published here
- Azure offers the ability to run IBM pSeries and Nutanix environments. The certification and support of SAP NetWeaver and Hana on these solutions is handled by the respective vendor.
- Multiple Hana datafile support for ANF. There is a 16TB maximum file size limit on NFS therefore multiple Hana datafiles are required for large customers. HANA Data File Partitioning – Installation – Microsoft Tech Community
- It is now possible to backup Azure Files in Azure Backup Back up Azure file shares in the Azure portal – Azure Backup | Microsoft Docs
9. Gen2 Azure VM Does Not Reboot After Suse 15.x Upgrade
Customers running Suse 15 on Generation2 VMs may notice that a VM fails to reboot after an in-place service pack upgrade.
The problem may occur during any upgrade vector such as from the original SLES 15 RTM release to SLES SP1 or SLES SP1 upgrading to SLES SP2.
Service Pack upgrades on Suse Pacemaker systems are generally not recommended so this problem is so far confined to SAP Application servers or surrounding VMs such as Webdispatcher. The issue exclusively applies to Generation2 Virtual Machines and does not apply to Generation1. SLES released a TID with the way to get out of the situation after an unsuccessful post-upgrade reboot or what to do after the upgrade finished before you reboot the VM in this article: grub2 error: symbol `grub_file_filters’ not found | Support | SUSE
Customers planning to upgrade their SLES 15.x versions to a more recent service pack please review this TID.
Linux Rescue VM for Suse Chroot environment in a Linux Rescue VM. – Virtual Machines | Microsoft Docs
10. Windows & SQL Server Topics
There are several new and important Windows and SQL Server topics:
SQL Server 2012 is nearing end of life and in addition to end of life there may be some licensing changes for 3rd party cloud deployments
Azure Backup for SQL Server now fully supports nearly all SQL Server Backup & Restore Restore SQL Server databases on an Azure VM – Azure Backup | Microsoft Docs
More features for SQL Server can be found here SQL Server – Microsoft Tech Community
More features for Azure Backup can be found here Azure Backup (@AzureBackup) / Twitter
Customers with hardened Active Directory (“RestrictRemoteSam” security feature) may observe this error in the SAPInst errorlog – OS message 1332 (No mapping between account names and security IDs was done). Use the latest version of SWPM
SWPM now fully supports hardened Domain controllers
Additional Links & Notes
Azure Certification and Training courses
SAP on Azure Free Online Training Course. Exam AZ-120: Planning and Administering Microsoft Azure for SAP Workloads
A free Certification Exam offer is here https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/certifications/microsoft-build-cloud-skills-challenge-2020-free-certification-exam-offer
The main SAP on Azure site https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/solutions/sap/
SAP on Azure Resources https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/solutions/sap/resources/
SAP on Azure Updates on the main Azure site https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/updates/?query=sap
SAP on Azure Documentation “Getting Started” https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/virtual-machines/workloads/sap/get-started
Azure Charts – Your Cloud Radar https://azurecharts.com/
https://www.azurenotes.tech allows you to filter the very large number of new features, updates and documentation references for a given Azure feature (in the example below ASR)
3rd party content in this blog is used under “fair use” copyright exception for promoting scholarship, discussion, research, learning and education
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