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Thursday, March 03, 2016

SAP on ASE (Sybase) - 10 Positive Points

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Having been part of a major programme of work to move a complete SAP landscape from an Oracle based platform onto an SAP ASE (formerly Sybase) database based platform, I experienced running SAP on ASE for the first time.
My main experience with SAP has been on Oracle, SQL Server, DB2 and HANA.
So it was a new experience seeing it run on ASE.
There were a lot of pain points (a future blog article, I’ll link back here), and yet there are always some positive points.
Below I have documented 10 of what I feel are the positive points of running SAP on the ASE database platform in comparison with other database solutions (I’m not including HANA as it is far more expensive).  This may or may not help you make your own decision.

1 License Cost
There is undoubtedly an incentive provided by SAP for migration from rival database vendors such as Oracle or IBM.
The cost of running SAP ASE is much reduced by aggressive discounting by SAP in return for eradicating these vendors from the SAP landscape.
You should therefore ensure that you seek to reap the best deal if you’re considering migrating to SAP ASE.

2 No Archive Logs
Unlike an Oracle database, the SAP ASE database does not have an archive log function.
This means, in simple terms, that there are only 2 parts to the database to worry about; the database data files and the transaction logs (equivalent to redo logs).
Whilst this may be considered to be additional risk to some, the advances in storage technology only help to negate the need for an additional process for transactional integrity.
This may not be clear cut to some (myself included) but to others, this represents a removal of added complication in the system architecture.

3 No Separate Connection Listener
Out of the box, the SAP ASE database software, when started, initiates only 3 server processes.  The dataserver, the backupserver and the job scheduler.
The dataserver provides the database functionality and also listens on the required ports for incoming database connections.
For an SAP system this is the standard tcp/4901 port.
Unlike an Oracle database platform, there is no need for a standalone network connection listener.
The entire database software stack is started and stopped in one go.

4 Small Codebase
The SAP ASE software is small compared to IBM DB2 or Oracle.  The download is roughly 1.3GB in size and the deployed (on disk) size is typically 2 to 3GB.
This means less demand for disk space for software binaries in an ASE environment.  Typically this diskspace in an SAP landscape is replicated many many times for each SAP system type.
e.g. 3x ERP (dev, qa & production) would all required separate disk storage areas.
In a typical support environment, you would also be looking to retain the last 2 revisions of the database software binaries in your software repository.

5 Integrated Install
The mechanism for installing SAP ASE (recommended by SAP) is to use the SAP software provisioning manager (SWPM).
Part of the SAP Software Toolset, the SWPM provides a client-server based, common graphical user interface, for installing a multitude of SAP software.
The SAP ASE software is installed using the SWPM onto Windows, Unix or Linux and typically can be done in under 3 minutes depending on the initial database datafile size required.

6 Simple Patching
Routine patching of SAP software is well known in the industry for being a complete chore; although crucial.
There is complete underestimation, in my experience, of the fundamental effort required to successfully patch an SAP system and test it.
Often the decision is left until there is no other option.
Patching of SAP ASE is performed in 3 simple steps: 1, Download the patched software. 2, Using SAPControl install the patch. 3, Test.
There are no minor patches or binary only fixes in SAP ASE.  An entire software stack is re-delivered (it’s small).
The database changes (DML and DDL) are applied as part of the patching process, but it’s all initiated from one command line string.

7 SAPControl Integration
Starting and stopping of the SAP ASE software can be performed in at least three different ways.
However, SAP have tried to make this as transparent as possible by integrating the ASE startup into the SAPControl framework.
This allows “startsap” to bring the entire SAP system up, including the database.
It also allows slightly more complex situation whereby the database can be completely started / stopped using the additional tools within the SAP software library, such as Landscape Virtualisation Management (LVM).
Incidentally, the SAPControl mechanism is also the method for initiating the SAP ASE software patching process.

8 DBACockpit Integration
Over the years SAP have standardised and massively improved the database management interface transaction DBACOCKPIT.
From this transaction, you can interactively manage the SAP ASE database through functions such as:
- Parameter configuration.
- Database space management.
- Performance measurement and analysis.
- Database maintenance and housekeeping tasks.

The benefit of the DBACOCKPIT is that for the past few years it is now configured automatically in SAP Solution Manager, so you can see all databases in the entire SAP landscape from within one transaction.
Some of the newer features of DBACOCKPIT (in Netweaver 7.02 SPS15+) are automated parameter configuration according to SAP recommended values.
This reduces the need to extract the recommended parameters and compare with you database’s configuration.

9 Solution Manager Integration
Along with DBACOCKPIT, the SAP ASE software is integrated into Solution Manager end-to-end monitoring.
SAP ASE database extractors pull database performance data into the SAP Solution Manager’s SAP BW module, for analysis by the BASIS team.
Tracking of database storage capacity can be easily measured and alerted on from within the built-in Solution Manager technical monitoring capability.

10 Published SAP Ntes
Unlike other database vendors, the details of issues within SAP ASE are published within the SAP notes system.
This means that accessing information on software bugs or issues, or finding information on performing technical administrative tasks, can be found within the SAP support portal.

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