SAP Beta Program for SQL Server 2008 started

First of all apologies for not having posted anything for 2 months. But looking back the last 8 weeks I realized I hardly was at home or in the office. I was at Sapphire US and Europe, worked out of the SAP HQ in Germany for a week, was at an offsite for 3 days and last but not least had a great vacation on Hawaii. Therefore there hardly was time to really get something together for my Blog site. Sorry about it! But now back in the office for at least 4 weeks, expect some more blogs. So let’s start with an announcement first.

We worked hard with our SAP counterparts to get the SAP Beta Program for SQL Server 2008 up and running. As you might remember for SQL server 2000 and SQL Server 2005, SAP allowed customers running their development systems and test systems on Beta or CTP builds of SQL Server 2000/2005. In some of the cases this program led to customers going productive on the final release of SQL Server before SAP officially certified the new SQL Server release. We succeeded to put a similar program in place for SQL Server 2008 now. The entry or anchor OSS note for the program is #1152240. From this OSS note you can branch into multiple OSS notes and get an installation document on how to get to SQL Server 2008. More information on the program can be found on https://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/mss. You’ll also find this link on site: SQL Server 2008 Technologies for SAP Solutions  It will bring you to a small paper I wrote about new features of SQL Server 2008 in combination with SAP. This paper is not meant as a replacement of the Best Practices Paper released in 2006, but just a small introduction of new features and changes for SQL Server 2008.

Some of the main pre-conditions to evaluate SQL Server 2008 with this SAP Beta program are:

  • Your SAP application needs to be based on Netweaver 7.0 (2004S)
  • We only support 64Bit SQL Server 2008 in combination with SAP. Means it either needs to be x64 or IA64
  • Upgrade is possible from SQL Server 2000 as well as from SQL Server 2005
  • SAP is not delivering SQL server 2008 DVDs at this point in time. You have to get the latest SQL Server 2008 build from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=35f53843-03f7-4ed5-8142-24a4c024ca05&DisplayLang=en  As you realize, we have Release Candidate 0 (RC0) posted. means we are pretty close to ship SQL Server 2008 already. It is highly recommended to use RC0 since we fixed a bug which prevented using table partitioning in combination with database compression in SAP BI.

The Beta Program usually also leads to the question what the quality of SQL Server 2008 is. Out of our experience running our own Microsoft SAP ERP system productive on SQL Server 2008 since beginning of February, it is amazing. We didn’t have any issues which were rooted in SQL Server 2008. Performance is equivalent to SQL Server 2005. New features like Backup Compression work very well and already led to cost savings because we could retire a third party application delivering backup compression. After our year end close in July, we will roll out Row Level Compression into production. In our sandbox system we could get the database down from 5.6TB to 3.8TB by just applying Row Level Compression. Honestly, our internal SAP basis folks are happy as they can be with SQL Server 2008.

The second question usually being asked is when SAP is certifying SQL Server 2008 for general usage. In opposite to the last 3 releases (SQL Server 7.0, 2000 and 2005), it will take a bit longer this time. It simply has to do with some overlap of release schedules on the SAP and SQL Server side. As most of you might know, SAP is planning to release their Business Suite 2008 towards the end of the year. Means SAP Final Assembly will be busy testing and certifying this new Business Suite with all platforms. SQL Server 2005 (64Bit only) and SQL Server 2008 (64Bit only) will be part of these tests. Means when SAP Business Suite 2008 will be released, one can run it on SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008. After these certification tests are finished (current plan around end of November), we should get a slot to backwards certify the Netweaver 7.0 based SAP products on SQL Server 2008. Therefore an official GA for Netweaver 7.0 is not expected before the beginning of next year. This is a bit unfortunate, but really no sign of bad intention on either side. Our release schedule happened to overlap in this unfortunate way and hence we need to make the best out of it. SAP in the past always proofed to be very cooperative and flexible in cases where customers wanted to go productive before their official support for a new SQL Server release was announced. Therefore we are looking forward to customers picking up SQL server 2008 and evaluating it. It is a great product with many features. You will read quite a bit about those features in my Blog in future.