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Since SAP released the support for SQL Server 2016 to some products based on SAP NetWeaver – not all products are currently supported, see SAP Note 2201059 – I was preparing my test systems to upgrade to SQL Server 2016. I took me 2 days to complete all the necessary steps to upgrade the database to SQL Server 2016.

My system is a SAP NetWeaver 7.50 (initial shipment, no SPS), ABAP stack,running on SQL Server 2014 SP2, central system with DB and ASCS/DI installed on the same host.

Preparation

Before going forward I took some time to review the existing SAP documentation about SQL Server 2016. I started with the “Upgrade to and Installation of SQL Server 2016” guide. Another good reading I had was Seabastian’s blog post on MSDN “How to install or upgrade SAP Systems to SQL Server 2016“.

I used SPAM to apply the required SAP BASIS in my system, as it made no much sense to use SUM – be careful, if you’re doing a NEW installation on SQL Server 2016, you cannot use SPAM to apply the minimum required SPS for NetWeaver, you have to use SUM – see SAP Note 2201060. After the SPAM update and updating SAP_BASIS, SAP_ABA and SAP_BW packages to SPS 05 each of them (and other dependency packages like SAP_GWFND, SAP_UI and ST-PI), I was ready forthe upgrade, but I had to download the media.

Download of SQL Server 2016 and SWPM

As SAP employee I have access to such media for internal testing. But if you’re a customer or a partner, and acquired SQL Server from SAP, you would have to consider the changes in licensing terms of SQL Server described in SAP Note 2139358, before downloading the SQL Server you have to follow the steps described in the note. If you acquired SQL Server from Microsoft or any other re-seller, you cannot download the media from SAP, only the installation framework – see SAP Note 2313067.

So I’ve downloaded the DVD number 51051068 (consider always checking SAP Note SAP Note 2313067 for the most current DVD number). It already contains the CU1 for SQL Server 2016 RTM, which as of 16/10/2016 is the minimum supported by SAP (see SAP Note 62988), but I decided to go for CU2, which is the most recent available. Personally, I use this non-official blog for getting the SQL Server builds and versions, but if you’re more comfortable with official links, you can use the MS KB article 321185. I also downloaded the most recent version of SWPM available at http://support.sap.com/sltoolset.

Running the upgrade

I stopped the SAP system and took a FULL database backup from my system (I forgot to mention – I took other full backup before applying the SPAM and SPS updates). The SQL Server upgrade took just a few minutes to complete. The next step would run the SAP Tools for MS SQL Server to complete the upgrade (see SAP Note 683447). This is a very important (and mandatory step), as monitoring objects from DBACockpit are subject to change between different releases – and they’re maintained mostly based on SQL Server release. There are also basis and application component objects that are bound to SQL Server specific release and the database compatibility level, they are all adjusted by SWPM.

Conclusion and next steps

There were some interesting changes with SQL Server 2016. For example, the trace flag 2371 is no longer necessary – it is now part of SQL Server database engine by default (see SAP Note 2263545). Trace flags 1117 and 1118 were replaced by database configurations (see SAP Note 2294688). Interesting thing is that SWPM is not removing the trace flags 1117 and 1118 for now, only 2371 was removed, so I had to remove them from the startup parameters manually. Although they are no longer required, they will not cause any alert, error or harm to the system. The trace flag 9481 is still present, so I am still using the old Cardinality Estimation (see SAP Note 1961467).

Next, I have an identical hardware that I will install SQL Server 2016 and also implement AlwaysOn Availability Groups (see SAP Note 1772688). I will follow Jurgen’s blog post about the new features for AlwaysOn on SQL Server 2016 as I’m really excited about the new seeding option, and I also find very tedious to manually create them.

For a complete list about what is new in SQL Server 2016, check books online,

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7 Comments

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  1. Lars Breddemann

    Good write up!
    Appreciated the personal description of what you did and why and especially the sparing of screenshot walls (which are part of such a post far too often IMO).

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    1. Luis Darui Post author

      Hi Lars,
      Thanks for the feedback. Going into the new ~ SCN ~ vibe that blogs are more personal opinion, experiences, etc, I tried to mix that up. I also blogs with many screenshots, but I feel that they still have some kind of utility, specially when you want to highlight something.

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  2. Matt Fraser

    Luis,
    .
    Thanks for this write-up. It does seem that Microsoft is pushing out new versions of SQL Server fast and furious lately; a new version every two years? Whereas there was a (theoretical) four-year gap from 2008 to 2012, a five-year gap from 2000 to 2005, etc.
    .
    I’m glad you highlighted the licensing changes for customers with runtime licenses. I was aware of the licensing change, though hadn’t gone into specifics of it as we’re fine on 2012 for the time being. I suspect, however, that many customers may not be aware of the change in terms, and given how many organizations are pushing toward or considering cloud-based or hosted solutions, this could new a real gotcha.
    .
    Equally important, thank you for highlighting the Notes describing the various startup parameter changes, and what SWPM handled automatically and what you had to do manually.
    .
    I use and rely upon the same “non-official” blog of SQL Server versions myself; it’s the easiest way to keep track of and link to the latest cumulative update!
    .
    (p.s. trying a trick I just picked up from Steffi Warnecke about putting a period into my “between-paragraph” blank lines to see if the comment can retain some easier-to-read formatting).
    .
    Cheers,
    Matt

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    1. Luis Darui Post author

      Hi Matt,

      Yes, I too feel that Microsoft is pushing new versions, maybe too often, don’t you think? I was afraid that if with too often product releases there wouldn’t be adherence to the recent versions. Maybe the advantage of upgrading from 2012 to 2014 isn’t that much – speaking of SAP databases, but for BW with the Columnstore it is a huge upgrade. Now what is left to understand is how much benefits you would gain from 2012 to 2016 for non-BW. I’m still working and testing SAP NetWeaver on SQL Server 2016 to find out how some of the new features would work with SAP NetWeaver.

      I highlighted the startup changes because before SAP released the support for SQL Server 2016, I was testing SQL Server 2016 already and noticed those changes but I really didn’t know how it would end up.

      I really didn’t know the comments weren’t retaining the line break on the comments. I think such things will be improved in time (I really hope!).

      Cheers, Luis

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  3. Melanie Sheehan

    Luis,

    We are at a point where we need to upgrade the O/S (from 2008 R2 to 2012 R2) and SQL Server (from 2008 R2 to 2016).  Our shop is very new to SAP, and would like to know if you have any documents/comments/etc. about the strategy to do such an upgrade.  We are running several SAP modules (ECC, CRM, PI, BW, and Solman), and trying to work through a strategy to upgrade DEV, TEST, … PROD for all modules.  I’ve heard that you have to build a new duplicate environment in a bubble (isolated from the other servers), keep the same server names, SAP SIDs, etc.  This all seems very complicated, so i would appreciate any guidance you can offer.  Thank you for your time.

    Sincerely,

    Melanie

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    1. Luis Darui Post author

      Hello Melanie,

      SAP support Windows in-place upgrades. You might want to check SAP Note https://launchpad.support.sap.com/#/notes/1494740 for more information.
      When it comes to SQL Server, then it starts to get complicated.
      You have to met the minimum SAP NetWeaver SPS requirements to start with. After this, upgrade your Windows Server 2008 R2 to 2012 R2. Immediately, you will have to upgrade SQL Server 2008 R2 to SQL Server 2016, because the combination of Windows Server 2012 (R2) with SQL Server 2008 (R2) is not productively supported, but this won’t be a problem if you upgrade SQL Server immediately after upgrade Windows.

      Note that, even though you follow every recommendation, you might still have problems after upgrade Windows or during the upgrade of SQL Server. These problems are somehow unpredictable, e.g. missing DLL, DLL not registered, missing assembly… corrupted assembly, missing registry key, etc…

      With virtualization it become quite easy to create a new VM, install all required software and simply run a system copy. It might look more complicated than an in-place upgrade, but in the end of the day, it eliminates a lot of complexity and prevent so many unpredictable problems. And you can have both systems running for a while The option for in-place upgrade is quite challenging, but possible and as per you can see, supported.

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