Global Advisory Firm Improves SAP BW Performance and Lowers Costs by Moving SAP Landscape to Windows & SQL Server on Azure and Hyper-V

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: Running SAP Applications on the Microsoft Platform articles.

First published on MSDN on Jul 16, 2015

The Australian subsidiary of a Global Advisory and Accounting Practice has migrated their SAP landscape from HPUX/Oracle running on Superdome UNIX servers to Windows and SQL Server running on Azure and Hyper-V.

At the same time SAP BW performance has improved greatly and SAP Business Warehouse Accelerator has been decommissioned and replaced with SQL Server 2014 in-memory Column Store technologies

Non-production SAP systems have been moved onto the Microsoft Azure cloud platform while production runs in a hosted data centre on Hyper-V.  Azure Site Recovery based on Hyper-V replica is used to synchronize the SAP landscape to Azure to provide Disaster Recovery services in a world class data centre at a reasonable cost.

1.        Business Problem & Technological Obsolescence

The customer required a flexible and cost effective solution to replace their existing UNIX/Oracle landscape that was end of life.  Rather than simply moving the existing SAP landscape from HPUX/Oracle to Windows and SQL Server, the customer wanted to lower TCO, improve performance and leverage new technologies.

The customer wanted to incorporate modern technologies into their solution to create a platform that will allow them to operate their SAP landscape into the future in a cost effective manner

2.        Deployment of New Technologies

BNW Consulting is a SAP cloud and migration partner based in Melbourne, Australia that has done some of the first SAP on Azure deployments.  The partner briefed the customer on several new technologies and how that could allow the customer to lower TCO and add value to the organization:

1. Move non-production SAP systems from on-premises to Azure.  This eliminates the need to buy servers and storage as well as the benefits of instant and elastic provisioning

2. Leverage SQL Server 2014 database compression.

3. Convert SAP BW cubes from Btree tables and indexes to SQL Server 2014 Column Store.  The performance gains and storage efficiency allowed the customer to terminate the use of SAP Business Warehouse Accelerator, a product that was found to be by the customer expensive and difficult to manage in cloud and hosted data centers

4. Run SAP on high performance low cost 2 socket Intel commodity servers and virtualize both the database servers and application servers with Windows 2012 R2 Hyper-V.  SAP on SQL Server is certified and supported by numerous different hardware vendors, on multiple hyper-visors and on at least two public cloud platforms.  SAP on SQL Server does not require any specialized appliances.

5. Deploy world class Disaster Recovery technologies based on Azure Site Recovery to replicate the production Virtual Machines to Azure

3.        SAP OS/DB Migration Process

BNW Consulting migrated the following systems from HPUX/Oracle to Windows 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014

·        SAP ECC 6.0 Ehp4

·        Enterprise Portal 7.01

·        Business Objects 14.0.5

·        Business Warehouse 7.30

·        Solution Manager 7.02

·        NWDI 7.01

·        PI 7.11

·        CRM 5.0

At the same time the following systems were converted from non-Unicode to Unicode

·        SAP ECC 6.0

·        Business Warehouse 7.30

·        CRM 5.0

The total end to end downtime for migrating ECC was 24 hours

The total end to end downtime for migrating BW was 12 hours

Entire Production landscape was migrated in one weekend including end user validation and verification and handover to business by 3PM on the Sunday of the migration.

SQL Server 2014 Page compression reduced the database sizes


Source Database Size

Target Database size


950 GB

496 GB

SAP Business Warehouse

1382 GB

648 GB ( 475 GB after cubes changed to Column Store)


281 GB

161 GB

Warwick Chai the Director of BNW said “Using the latest OS/DB Migration tools from SAP in combination with very powerful high performance Intel servers BNW is able to migrate any customer of virtually any size in a weekend.  We have done this for customers with database sizes more than 10TB and achieve a throughput of around 2TB per hour”.

4.        SAP BW on SQL Server 2014 in-memory Column Store – Performance Gains

SAP BW performance improved after migrating to SQL Server 2014 and the implementation of Column Store.  All cubes other than real time cubes were converted to Column Store.  Performance with the combination of SAP BW on SQL 2014 + Column Store has proved to be faster than the previous Oracle platform and SAP BW Accelerator.  Therefore SAP BW Accelerator has been discontinued from the customer landscape.

SQL Server 2012 first introduced a read only Column Store.  SAP integrated the read only Column Store index to the SAP BW E Fact cube object some years ago and shipped this functionality in SAP Support Packages.

SQL Server 2014 extended the capabilities of the Column Store to include writable scenarios including:

-Column Store on E Fact cube

-Column Store on F Fact cube

-Column Store on SAP BW Flat Cube

Storing data in Column Store format reduces the amount of storage needed and greatly improves performance.  SQL Server Column Store technologies also accelerate performance by storing data in-memory in a dedicated buffer.  This buffer has a much larger object size than the conventional 8kb disk block cache that the core SQL Server engine uses.

The performance gains for a sample of BW reports ranged from 1% - 90% faster with BWA decommissioned and no longer in use.  BW Admin activities such as loading also speed up.

5.        Business Benefits

The customer was able to migrate their entire landscape in 4 months and with minimal to no disruption to their business operations.

Unlike moving BW Systems to HANA, SQL Server Column Store technologies are available on all releases of SAP BW starting from BW 7.0 up to BW 7.4.

Warwick Chai said “BNW wanted to deliver a modern and flexible platform for the customer, leveraging the best of new technologies rather than just doing a like-for-like swap from UNIX/Oracle to Windows and SQL Server. This provides them with a platform for the future, utilizing the latest Microsoft technologies and allows them to take advantage of the features and functionality the products provide”.

6.        Technical Details

In order to support SQL Server 2014 and enable the Column Store features for BW some SAP support packages were applied.  Some minor BW Administration settings had to be changed to decommission and remove SAP Business Warehouse Accelerator from the landscape.

Entire target  customer environment listed below.  Always check the relevant SAP Notes to determine the required support packs and notes

SAP Software




Windows  2012 R2

SQL 2012 required patches

SQL 2014 required patches

SAP Product


7.01 SP13

7.01 SP13



SP 11

7.01 SP15




7.01 SP14



jdbc upgrade

jdbc upgrade













Replace with SQL 2014 column store


7.30 SP10

7.30 SP10



SP 7 / BW 7

SP10 (BW SP11)



7.02 SP15

7.02 SP15



SP 11

SP14 (BW SP15)







jdbc upgrade





Yes 7.1 SP60+


column store


7.11 SP12

7.11 SP12



SP 10




7.00 SP29

7.00 SP28





Local Redundant storage is used for the database and Geo Redundant for backups

Azure Site-2-Site VPN has been used to seamlessly link the Azure VNET to the customer network.

VM sizes = D13 for database server and A5 SAP application servers

30 x VMs protected via Azure Site Recovery

8 x databases synchronized with Azure via SQL Server AlwaysOn (asynchronous mode)

All systems are virtualized using Microsoft Hyper-V 3.0 / Windows 2012 R2 on two socket commodity Intel servers each with 384GB of RAM and rated approximately 55,000 SAPS.

The databases are backed up using the SQL Server 2014 Backup to URL feature. SQL Server Transparent Data Encryption has been used to protect at rest data and backups.   There has been a considerable reduction in the amount of storage and the cost of storage as Azure storage is very reasonably priced.

The Azure VMs running SQL Server are storing SQL Server datafiles directly onto Azure blob storage.

The latest version of SAP Solution Manager was installed and configured as this was more cost effective than migrating the previous Solution Manager.  The latest SAP Business Objects release was installed and the configuration migrated using the BOE “Promotion Management” tool.


SAP Migration Partner

SAP OS/DB Migration to SQL Server–FAQ v5.3 April 2015

Protecting SAP Solutions with Azure Site Recovery

Columnstore Optimized Flat Cube in SAP BW

Concepts of SQL Server 2014 Columnstore

SQL Server 2014 Columnstore: Released for SAP BW

SQL Server 2014 now released by SAP for SAP NetWeaver 7.xx

SQL Server Column-Store for SAP BW: Status and Release Planning

1969259 - LCM CLI Master Note - How to promote thousands of objects across BI4 environments?

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