Does SAP support the most recent SQL Server Service Packs and Hotfixes?

Out of actual reasons of having gotten 3 such questions over the last two weeks and one customer escalation, let’s go through this discussion briefly again of what the SAP Service Pack policy for SQL Server is. It also coincides with SAP overhauling the SAP OSS note which defines the SQL Server Service Packs and builds supported by SAP.

The principles of SAP and Microsoft in defining the supported builds of SQL Server Releases with SAP are:

·         SAP supporting SQL Server Service Packs only which Microsoft still supports with QFEs. Microsoft usually supports the last two Service Packs out for a SQL Server release with QFEs as long as the main SQL Server Release is in normal maintenance. Means at the moment (in July 2007) Microsoft is closing down on QFE support of SQL Server 2005 in the RTM version and will provide QFE support for SQL Server 2005 SP1 and SP2 only.

·         SAP and our common customers benefiting from the latest corrections in SQL Server Service Packs

·         SAP and Microsoft don’t want to get too large of a matrix of different builds/ Service Pack releases of SQL Server being supported with SAP applications. The more common the usage of a certain Service Pack for a major SQL Server release, the easier and less complex is the support and maintenance for SAP and Microsoft engineers.

Since years, SAP keeps the information of which builds of SQL Server are supported around in OSS note #62988. The basic statements in this OSS notes are:

·         SAP always supports the latest SQL Server Service Pack release. Reason for SAP stating so is that SAP is testing new Service Pack releases of SQL Server in advance before Microsoft releases these Service Packs. Means Microsoft would not release a SQL Server Service Pack which does show severe flaws in the tests conducted by SAP. Microsoft also will run Beta releases of Service Packs productive in their own SAP ERP system in order to give the SQL Server Service Pack code a real hard test bed.

·         SAP also supports eventual SQL Server Security Updates. Something which didn’t release for a long time fortunately. But even if, SAP is fully supporting these security updates. Again testing will be conducted by Microsoft and SAP in order to make sure that these security updates are not breaking functionality of SAP.

·         SAP also supports other SQL Server hotfixes. Such hotfixes might be very specific addressing a very specific issue of a small number of customers or a single customer. SAP doesn’t mention any of those SQL Server hotfixes in OSS note #62988 unless there were very specific fixes, required by SAP in general or by a wide base of SAP customers. Currently this is not the case with any of the supported main releases of SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2005. Nevertheless might the situation occur at a customer where a very specific SQL Server fix is needed, the customer can apply this SQL Server hotfix. However since these fixes are not getting tested in advance by SAP and Microsoft on impact on SAP functionality, it is highly recommended, that customers using such a SQL Server build are testing the build very thoroughly before deploying it in production systems. We have customers running such builds successfully with full support by SAP.

·         SAP names minimum builds our common customers should be on with each of the major releases. This only is a snapshot that reflects the most recent situation. These minimum releases will change as more Service Packs will be released with a major SQL server release. As July 2007, we would like to see all customers using SQL Server 2000 on a minimum level of Service Pack4. With SQL Server 2005, we would like to see all our customers as minimum on Service Pack1. As mentioned this will change over time. Once a Service Pack 3 is released for SQL Server 2005, the minimum requirement SAP will have will highly likely go up. Therefore checking OSS note #62988 from time to time makes sense, especially when release cycles with changes of SAP Support packages or kernels are due.

All in all it means that SAP always is extremely close in time supporting new SQL Server Service Pack releases.  There is no reason to hang back in Service Pack release of SQL Server for a long time.