Regular inquiries are received regarding the contents of Support Packages. Further, many questions are received regarding the consequences of applying different types of Support Packages and patches. This blog will provide clarification of these questions.
Generally speaking, a patch represents the correction of a single error. A support package consists of a set of error corrections of the corresponding software component since the previous support package delivery. The confusion with support package contents is primarily in regards to their make-up. Within the support packages there are two types: incremental and cumulative.
Java-based SPs are cumulative
In contrast, support packages for Java-based applications are cumulative. Every Java support package consists of all the develop objects (which are grouped as develop components) of the corresponding software component. Whether or not a particular component has been changed, the components are included in the support package. Thus, a Java support package always represents a complete software component which includes corrections and enhancements.
Simply put, only the target SP needed to update the system needs to be imported. This saves the time of searching and downloading all versions of the packages and applying each one sequentially.
Applying Java patches
Applying Java patches are delivered as full packages that include all objects of a particular software component. SAP has provided the Java Support Package Manager (JSPM) to apply Java and kernel updates to a system. Java based patches are delivered as software component archive files (SCA). These patches are downloaded from the Software Download Center (SWDC) from the SAP Service Market Place (SMP). Please see my Video Blog: Applying Support Packages Stacks with JSPM.
As mentioned, kernel updates can also be applied using JSPM. Please see my Video Blog: Updating the SAP Kernel using JSPM.
ABAP SPs are Incremental
Support packages for ABAP-based applications are incremental. The incremental nature means that only corrections since that last support package are included. If we consider several subsequent support packages of a certain software component, it’s likely that some corrections included in a later support package are developed based on changes in its predecessors. Therefore, if you want to update an ABAP system of a certain source Support Package (SP) level to a higher SP level, you must apply all SPs between source and target SP levels. The ABAP tool Support Package Manager (transaction SPAM) used for importing ABAP-based SPs manages the SP queue automatically. If support packages between the source and target SP level are missing, SPAM will not allow the queue to be defined. Another point to mention is that the longer the time between two maintenance dates of your system, the bigger is the number of SPs to be applied, and the longer the import run time. To assist with these runtime considerations, SPAM provides a downtime-minimized mode. Please see my Video Blog: Reducing downtime when applying ABAP Support Packages.
Applying single ABAP Correction (Patches)
There are times when an error occurs in the system where the guidance from SAP Active Global Support (AGS) is to implement a specific SAP Note which contains the solution to the problem. In most cases, SAP Notes contains correction instructions which can be processed by the system automatically. The simplest way to implement the correction is through the Note Assistant (transaction SNOTE). This tool will implement the prerequisites and code changes to the ABAP repository of the note. Code changes included in a note can be implemented on the basis of corrections included in other notes. In this case, all predecessor notes are considered as prerequisites. SNOTE will include all prerequisite notes so that they can be implemented consecutively.
Using the Note Assistant allows administrators to apply problem corrections quickly. In cases where system updates have not been executed for an extended period of time, the sequence of prerequisite notes an administrator would have to implement can be substantially long. Note Assistant may not be as fast because it has to process all the notes one by one. In this situation, the administrator should consider updating the system to the SP level which contains the required error correction by importing all SPs using SPAM.