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It was 25 years ago that SAP and Microsoft started our great partnership based on the combination of our platforms: SAP R/3 and Microsoft SQL Server on Windows. We began with co-located development and support and have enhanced our partnership with each successive release of SAP software on Microsoft products.
Our joint projects started in small number 25 years ago. But it has grown continuously, and SQL Server remained and is still a very popular database platform with customers for SAP workload. And with the immense popularity of Microsoft Azure, we’re seeing more and more SAP customers move SAP NetWeaver systems to Azure and often combine this step with a migration to SQL Server. There are quite a few success stories of our joint customers. You can read about Malaysia Airlines or Mosaic implementation projects or how Microsoft IT runs Microsoft’s business on SAP products. Rio Tinto is another customer running very successfully with their SAP landscape hosted on Azure and using SQL Server as DBMS.
Microsoft and SAP continue to work together to release more functionalities, so, that SQL Server stays a great database platform to host SAP NetWeaver business processes and other SAP business processes that rely on SQL server as its DBMS platform. After past successes with features like Database Compression, Always On, Columnstore Indexes, we’ve continued working together with SQL Server 2019 and SAP NetWeaver. In SQL Server 2019, Microsoft has delivered performance improvements to the core database engine for further improvement to your SAP NetWeaver system which required no SAP code changes – simply upgrade your SQL Server version. Some of these improvements were:
- SQL Server Intelligent Query Processing further expands the database engine’s performance in all queries, with intelligence under the covers that will further improve your enterprise workload in parallel and under changing conditions.
- Scalar UDF Inlining: enhanced performance in inline user-defined functions for better performance in SAP Core Data Services
- Resumable Operations: make operations easier with improvements to online clustered columnstore index build and rebuild; as well as resumable online rowstore index build; as well as suspending and resuming the initial TDE encryption
- Mission Critical Enterprise High Availability and Disaster recovery with Always On: increases its spread by supporting up to 5 secondary replicas now, up from 3 in SQL Server 2017, along with further improvements coming.
For those customers already running their SAP NetWeaver based system on SQL Server, there will also be new important facts to learn before upgrading:
- The SAP SL Toolset tools will automatically enable the improved Cardinality Estimator first released with SQL Server 2014 when you either upgrade to SQL Server 2019 or you install it freshly. We did not enable it at the time of its original release since the effects are very system-specific and we wanted our customer base to experience enough testing before using it.
- Batch mode processing which, so far, was enabled on columnstore tables only, is working on rowstore tables with SQL Server 2019. This will improve operational analytics queries in SAP Business Suite for cases where additional columnstore indexes are not an option.
- CDS views that rely on User Defined Functions are expected to run faster as a result of new optimizations introduced with SQL Server 2019 based on feedback by SAP.
- Indirect Checkpoint as explained in SAP note # 2872557 got more scalability improvements to handle more challenging workload.
- Resumable Index Rebuild functionality got extended to resume initial index creation as well. This allows index rebuilds and index creation be distributed across time windows with low workload.
- To address even higher availability, SQL Server 2019 allows up to five synchronous replicas in an Availability Group, instead of 2 as before. This would allow you to run a High Availability configuration where you can distribute three synchronous replicas across three Azure Availability Zones in the same Azure region.
Our joint development team has worked diligently in recent years to try and lower the SAP Support Pack level barrier to upgrading to modern SQL Server versions. For example, in contrast to previous versions of SAP on SQL Server, the majority of SAP NetWeaver based systems on SQL Server can all upgrade to any of SQL Server 2016, or Server 2017 or SQL Server 2019 without having to apply any SAP Support Packs prior to the SQL Server upgrade. This way we reduce the upgrade and testing load of your operations teams when upgrading any SAP NetWeaver based system running on modern SQL Server versions.
Due to some pending development in SQL Server 2019, SAP only supports a minimum version of SQL Server 2019 CU3 for installation or deployment with SAP NetWeaver based systems. The reason CU3 is required at release for SQL Server 2019 is due to improvements made in SQL Server Always On and SQL Server Agent improvements.
The central SAP note for planning your SAP NetWeaver based system on SQL Server 2019 is note 2807743 . This note gives further details on which major versions of SAP NetWeaver based software can run on SQL Server 2019, the exact minimum SAP Support Packs required for specific SAP versions, etc. as well as further links to notes giving the software location, installation instructions, etc.
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