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How To Install an SAP HANA Express 2.0 SPS04 VM server for development (on the budget)

Introduction

I’m a software developer so from time to time I have some weird & geek activities at home. Last one  was to install my own SAP HANA Express virtual machine at home and I want to share the experience because I’m sure there is some interest about this.

Why SAP HANA 2.0 for development ? 

Because it’s the most easy way to have a running platform all-in-one for development with

  • In-memory database with persistency
  • Cloud Foundry landscape
  • Integrated Web-IDE as a running appliance
  • SAML2 identity provider for security
  • You can develop in any programming language supported by Cloud Foundry & CF community
  • You have a running Linux machine with bash shell

I downloaded the SAP HANA Express Virtual Appliance (hxexsa.ova file & gettting started pdf) using SAP download java program after registering minimal informations about myself (here) and I imported the appliance to my existing HP DL380 G5 server that was running VMWare ESXi 5.5 (free licence)

Following the provided “Getting Started” document I had errors on the first boot regarding some : missing instruction in the CPU.

Of course, I searched for help about this and I found some information about it but none of them solved my problem.

SAP HANA Express supported hardware

Searching the internet I found the official website for hardware compatibility here

Unfortunately the list does not provide information about CPU features used by SAP HANA and what is the minimum requirement for version 2.0 SPS04 to run.

Using CPU World database compare, I found out the differences between my CPU and the minimum Intel supported platform : SSE4.2 instruction set

Another important info that I learned is : SAP HANA is supported on minimum Intel E5-2600 v3 and Power 8 platforms only ! (no AMD processor is supported)

So I needed an complete new server with a supported CPU and as you may know servers are expensive and not really for home use as I needed for my development mahine.

I searched a lot of time until I found the most cost effective server that is able to run SAP HANA Express virtual appliance : Dell R630 with Intel E5-2630L v3 processors found on Ebay

For 590 GBP I got : Dell R630 with 2 x Intel E5-2630L-v3 (8 core) processors and 64 GB of RAM.

For HDDs I installed an NVMe SSD drive (HP EX920 512GB) using M.2 PCIe x4 adapter (from Delock) mounted in PCIe Riser 3 card and used for fast storage (HANA VM imported here) and fast datastore for OS made of 2 x Samsung Evo860 500GB SSD configured in RAID1, and really cheap refurbished 2 x Samsung 1TB 2.5″ 5400rpm drives configured in one RAID1 volume just for backup.

Host OS (VM Ware ESXi 6.7u3)

I choose the ESXi 6.7u3 because it’s free and it has no RAM limit in the latest version for 2 processor servers.

It has a very nice web interface, and most of all it has ready to use images with drivers by the hardware vendors (both Dell and HPE have for download pre-configured versions for their servers) which is great because they are easy to download and install.

It can be downloaded from the hardware support portal of your server supplier or directly from VMWare

Tips for new NVMe PCIe drives & ESXi 6.7u3

  • be sure that your PCIe lanes are configured properly (for Dell R630 the BIOS has PCIe bifurcation which needs to be set to “x4 x4 x4 x4” and the drive has to be in Riser 3 or 2)
  • not all NVMe drives are visible and accesible from boot, some of them work with OS level drivers (HP EX920 included)
  • If NVMe drive controller is not visible you might need to copy the nvme.v00 file from v6.5u2 iso to v6.7u3 iso after burning or flashing the OS install drive (more info here)

Importing VM with OVF Tool

Because the hxexsa.ova image file it has over 15GB, the best way to import the virtual machine is to use the command line OVF Tool

ovftool --disableVerification  --noSSLVerify --datastore=datasatoreName --network="VM Network" hxexsa.ova vi://root@esxi.yourdomain.com

Official OVF Tool help may be found here

Using HXE VM is easy

There is a pretty good start-up guide of almost 20 pages of how to start your HANA experience when you download the image, but there are a lot of example apps and tutorials published by SAP :

Conclusions

As a developer or an small ISV company you can have your own SAP HANA 2.0 SPS04 platform running on cheap hardware for play.

I managed to get up and running for development an SAP HANA Express Virtual Machine with less than 1,000 EUR budget for hardware & software.

Use Intel CPUs supported, minimum E5-2600 v3 family for server and at least 16GB or RAM (32GB will run better) even if the VM works on new i7 & i9 desktop & laptop machines.

Did I mentioned that SAP HANA Express Edition is available for free, for development and productive use, up to 32GB of RAM?

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