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Author's profile photo Tom Slee

SAP HANA Cloud: new features for SAP ASE in the “QRC3” release

SAP HANA Cloud has a quarterly release cycle, and the 2021 “QRC3” release has now gone live across all public SAP HANA Cloud data centers. This blog post gives an overview of features of particular interest to SAP ASE users.

(SAP ASE is currently available on Azure-hosted SAP HANA Cloud data centers. Look for it to come to GCP and AWS data centers later this year.)

Setting the stage

Just to set the stage, here is a quick reminder about SAP ASE in HANA Cloud.

SAP HANA Cloud offers three database services: HANA DB of course, and Data Lake, both of which were made available in Spring 2020. This spring they were joined by SAP ASE, together with its data replication service. SAP ASE is a standards-based, disk-based relational database system. Like many relational databases it has evolved over the years to suit a specific set of needs. For SAP ASE, that is high-throughput OLTP applications.

In spring 2021, SAP introduced the first release of SAP ASE to HANA Cloud. As a first release running in Azure data centers and providing the basic benefits of a cloud service: consumption-based pricing, the ability to spin up and spin down servers, and add computing power and storage as needed. Data migration is carried out through a “backup and restore” process of migrating a backup instance, and ASE replication was supported between ASE instances in HANA Cloud so that people with expertise can implement a high-availability capabilities.

Here is a bird’s eye view of what we were offering. Later in this post you will see how this diagram becomes more rich with the QRC3 release.

Birds%20eye%20view%20of%20SAP%20HANA%20Cloud%2C%20ASE%3A%20April%202021

Birds eye view of SAP HANA Cloud, ASE: April 2021

I hope that sets some context for these new features.

Hybrid replication

The first new feature is hybrid replication: that is, you can use an on-premises replication server to replicate data from an on-premises SAP ASE database into an ASE instance running in HANA Cloud. This is going to be particularly useful for existing ASE customers of course. It provides a real-time method for moving data into the cloud, and — importantly — one that works independently of source operating system or of on-premises ASE version. The main prerequisite for this feature is that you have a Replication Server that is version 16.0 Service Pack 04 Patch Level 01 or later.

There are many different scenarios for data replication, and we expect to add more over time. This essential first step offers table-level replication, which is to say that you must define your replication definitions and subscriptions in terms of tables (not databases). It includes automatic materialization, which is rep-server speak for moving the data already in the source tables into the cloud. From the time we launched the SAP HANA Cloud ASE service we’ve been talking about enabling both “move” and “extend” scenarios, and this gives real substance to the “extend” part.

Here’s a bird’s eye view

Birds%20eye%20view%20of%20SAP%20HANA%20Cloud%20ASE%2C%20with%20hybrid%20replication

Birds eye view of SAP HANA Cloud ASE, with hybrid replication

For the details, including a command-by-command walkthrough, see the documentation here.

Virtualization and Smart Data Access

This release introduces virtualization or query federation from HANA Database and from Data Lake into ASE. The names used to describe this vary across the industry (virtualization / federation / proxy tables / remote servers), and in SAP HANA the feature is described as “smart data access”, but no matter the name, the basic feature is a same: from HANA or from Data Lake you can create a connection to an ASE instance and query a table in ASE by creating a “proxy table” or “virtual table” in HANA. It’s a window into the data of another database.

There are several possible use cases for query federation. For example, you can combine OLTP data in SAP ASE with additional data (like spatial data, for example) that you may not want to keep in the performance-focused OLTP database itself. For existing ASE users, the multi-model features of HANA database let you get more from your data. For existing HANA Cloud users, ASE now provides an additional optimized data source for HANA’s multi-model integration capabilities. This feature also means you can create SAP Analytics Cloud dashboards on SAP ASE data.

Like many of these integration features in the cloud that combine strengths of different database engines, it’s a very open-ended feature that has many possible uses for different customers.

For the details, see the documentation on creating remote servers and creating virtual tables.

You can do the same thing from Data Lake (IQ in HANA Cloud). For instructions on how to create remote servers in Data Lake, see the documentation here. But beyond that, you can pull the data from ASE into a Data Lake table for better performance, using the INSERT.. LOCATION statement on the remote server (syntax 3 in the INSERT statement documentation). In my own experiments with this statement I’ve seen IQ load data from ASE into a Data Lake table at speeds of over a hundred-thousand rows per second.

Once you can access SAP ASE data from HANA, there are many possible uses. For example, you can build data visualizations in SAP Analytics Cloud, and you can build anonymized views over ASE data so that these visualizations (or other purposes) maintain the privacy of data in your ASE data while enabling it for analytics and visualization purposes.

BBirds%20eye%20view%20of%20SAP%20HANA%20Cloud%20ASE%20with%20federation%20support

Birds eye view of SAP HANA Cloud ASE with federation support

Single Sign-On with JWT and LDAP

The initial release of SAP HANA Cloud ASE provided basic username / password authentication. With this release we have two flavours of single sign-on support: JavaScript Web Tokens and LDAP. In each case, importing a certificate from your enterprise identity provider into the SAP ASE catalog lets you authenticate users by a token (also coming from your identity provider) rather than by a user name and password. Each token is mapped to a distinct database user.

For the specifics of JWT single sign-on, see the documentation here. For LDAP support, see the documentation here.

More affordable instances

You now have more options when you provision an ASE instance in SAP HANA Cloud. The smallest instance is now two vCPUs with 8 GB RAM (compared to 4 vCPU + 16GB RAM previously). Also, for those using a database for development purposes or other “transient” use cases, you can now choose to not have backups. Of course, for any production or other permanent case, you should absolutely configure backups. But for transient use cases, “zero backup” avoids the unnecessary use of resources (and lowers your cost).

Summary

Put all these features together and we hope you can see the richness of use cases for ASE users in HANA Cloud is now filling out. Here’s the “after” bird’s eye picture (the “wallet” arrow is supposed to show cost savings from the new low-cost instances), which is much more extensive than the “before” at the top of this post.

Before%20and%20After

Before and After

 

There are other things too. For a list of all the features in this release, go here.

We look forward to sharing more features with you in future releases.

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      5 Comments
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      Author's profile photo Mark A Parsons
      Mark A Parsons

      Could you expand on::

      (prerequisite) SRS 16.0 SP04 PL01:

      (limitation) table-level replication:

      • why would other forms of replication (Warm Standby, MSA) not be supported, especially if on-premise-to-cloud connectivity works for table-level replication?
      • nothing jumps out at me from the New Features guide nor sample SRS commands (see previously mentioned links) that says 'this is cloud specific syntax'
      • is this just a case of 'we haven't tested WS or MSA, yet'?

      Thanks,

      Mark

      NOTE: Yes, I understand a fully functioning, switchable WS setup is likely not doable at the moment due to possible connectivity issues from the cloud ASE instance (back) to the on-premise SRS instance, but that shouldn't affect the ability to create a logical connection and the associated active/standby connections ... ??

      Author's profile photo Tom Slee
      Tom Slee
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Mark, I believe it's because SP04 PL01 is the first to include the client that can talk to the cloud servers, which required a new protocol to handle redirection through the edge servers (the protocol name slips my mind).

      For the other points you raise: excellent questions. I *think* it's mainly testing and network connectivity issues but others will know better. I'll prompt them to comment.

      Author's profile photo Chris Baker
      Chris Baker

      To address your 'expanded prerequisite' questions:

      First, second and fifth point: SAP Replication Server 16.0 SP04PL01 was released before the QRC3 release of HANA Cloud, Adaptive Server Enterprise.  Both products required changes.  As SRS 16.0 SP04PL01 was released first, documentation changes to RCL can now be released in an upcoming SAPNote.

      Third and fourth point: SAP Replication Server 16.0 SP04PL01 is the minimum release required to enable parsing and SSL usage of the cloud address for the interfaces file for the outbound DSI TDS  connection to the HANA Cloud, Adaptive Server Enterprise instance.  Older releases cannot perform this parsing or provide the secure connection capabilities.

      To address your 'limitation' questions:

      Other forms of replication are being discussed, scoped and planned.  One of the primary issues needing to be addressed for some of them is the need to communicate from HANA Cloud back to on-premise instances.  This would require a customer allow communication into their environment from the cloud.  In today's environments, secure communications is a must. SAP will not compromise a customer's security requirements, so we must first redesign how such connections can be performed and managed.

      Chris

       

      Author's profile photo Mark A Parsons
      Mark A Parsons

      What aspect of a MSA setup would require the cloud ASE instance to communicate back to the on-premise SRS instance?

      Author's profile photo Cathy Lanigan
      Cathy Lanigan

      Thanks for this,  Tom, great blog!