In the following text, “Content Server” always refers to both Content Server and Cache Server.
After a long period of little development, the successor of SAP Content Server 6.50 has been released end of 2019: Content Server 7.53.
The major difference to previous releases is that Content Server 7.53 is now a stand-alone server that no longer depends on Microsoft IIS Server (Windows) or Apache HTTP Server (Unix) as the web engine. Otherwise, the Content Server HTTP protocol remains the same, including the well-known integration with KPRO (CSADMIN, OAC0, etc.) and the support for MaxDB and file system based repository storage. Thanks to the stability of the HTTP protocol, the Content Server release is independent of any application release (e.g. NetWeaver ABAP application server or S/4HANA) and the Content Server can be upgraded at any time without implications on the applications. Content Server 7.53 is currently available for AIX, Linux, Solaris (SPARC) and Windows.
The dependency to third-party software has always been a weak point of Content Server. For example, since the Apache HTTP Server Project discontinued support for Apache 2.2 in July 2017, customers are asked to upgrade to Apache 2.4 although the functionality of Content Server itself has not changed.
Under the hood, Content Server now ships with its own web engine, which is the functionality that was previously provided by the IIS Server or the Apache HTTP Server. The release of Content Server 7.53 as a stand-alone server has a multitude of advantages and – at least in my opinion – only one drawback
Here are some of the advantages:
- SAP Content Server is now fully integrated into the SAP landscape (with SID and instance number). For example, within one system (SID), multiple Content and Cache Servers could be installed with different instance numbers.
- Administrators and partners no longer need to acquire skills in the management of IIS Server or Apache HTTP Server. Instead, they can apply their already available skills in managing SAP instances (Solution Manager, SAPmmc, SAP Start Service, sapcontrol, etc.).
- The same is true for SAP support engineers: skills for troubleshooting the fully owned SAP product are readily available, whereas skills to support third-party products may not.
- The installation is fully supported by SAP Software Provisioning Manager (SWPM), no more extra tasks are necessary (such as the installation of IIS, or the compilation of Apache HTTP Server).
- HTTPS is now configured out-of-the-box (with a self-signed certificate).
- New “stopped” mode: Using the Start/Stop buttons in CSADMIN it is now possible to put single repositories or the entire Content Server into a stopped mode. While in stopped mode, all requests other than serverInfo and adminContRep will return HTTP error “503 Stopped”.
- A lot of useful functionality has been “inherited” from SAP Web Dispatcher which is now the underlying web engine, e.g. the Web Admin UI for basic monitoring and administration tasks (in addition to CSADMIN), HTTP logging, much more detailed tracing facilities, etc.
The drawback is that due to the new architecture of Content Server 7.53, it is not possible to perform in-place upgrades of existing Content Server installations of lower releases and patch levels. This applies to the program only, not the data. The repositories themselves do not have to change.
The upgrade process therefore requires a little more effort than usual and consists of the following steps:
- Create a new installation of Content Server 7.53
- Migrate the configuration of the existing Content Server to the new installation
- Stop the existing Content Server and start the new one
- Verify the availability of the new Content Server
- Archive and remove the old installation
SAP Note 2786364 – SAP Content Server and Cache Server 7.5 (and higher) describes each of these steps in more detail and provides all the information to get started with Content Server 7.53, including some of the important changes between Content Server 6.50 and 7.53.
There are even advantages in this kind of out-of-place upgrade: since old installation and new installation are independent from each other and could run in parallel (as long as they don’t share the same host and port), it is easy to set up an initial test installation of Content Server 7.53, or to migrate the existing repositories one at a time.
In fact, customers are encouraged to use the opportunity to “clean up” their Content Server installations, e.g. by removing stale repositories from configuration files (something not uncommon) or deleting repositories that are no longer in use. It could also be a good idea to split up a single Content Server that serves both test and productive systems into multiple instances.
Since the release of Content Server 7.53 end of 2019, many customers already made the plunge, and – so far – nobody hit any major roadblock during or after the upgrade.
If – for whatever reason – it is necessary to move the repositories themselves, KPRO offers various ways to migrate them, even across releases, platforms and storage types (see Sagar’s excellent Blog series “Content Repository Migration in mind ?“).
As usual, Content Server is part of the S/4HANA onPremise with the same support strategy. Since Content Server 7.53 is fully downward-compatible, no new development will be delivered in Content Server 6.50 and earlier releases, and patches will be limited to security relevant notes and corrections only.
Whenever you install a new Content Server or upgrade older Content Server installations, do not stop at 6.50, go directly to SAP Content Server 7.53.
SAP Installation Guide: Installation of SAP Content Server 7.5 and Higher on UNIX
SAP Installation Guide: Installation of SAP Content Server 7.5 and Higher on Windows
Community Blog: Content Repository Migration in mind ?