Oracle Database for SAP: Status and Roadmap

The Oracle Database is the #1 database among SAP customers around the globe, with a large customer base that gains long-term cost benefits from the two companies’ integrated technologies. Organizations can run SAP applications with Oracle databases on the same code base on Unix, Linux, and Windows operating systems. Starting 2018, new releases of the Oracle Database software are provided annually. In addition, a new numbering schema has been implemented: Instead of the traditional version number (11g, 12c), the software versions are now designated by the year of their release (18c, 19c, etc.). These annual software releases will be made available to SAP on Oracle customers as well.

Oracle Database for SAP Strategy

General Information

Oracle will support SAP Business Suite and SAP BW as long as SAP will be supporting them. With every new release we will provide latest database technology and let customers make use of more and more SAP application optimizations.

Based on the new Oracle Database software release process and the Oracle Database roadmap, SAP plans to run certification tests of a new Oracle Database release when the Oracle Database software for on-premise platforms is available. The initial official certification of a new Oracle database release for SAP NetWeaver based systems will be based on the October Release Update (Release Update .4.0).

For latest information see SAP Note 2606828.

Version-specific Information

Oracle Database 11g

Standard maintenance for Oracle Database 11g ended on January 31, 2015, and free-of-charge extended support ended on December 31, 2018. Paid extended support is available until December 31, 2020.

For more information see SAP Note 2098258.

Oracle Database 12c

Standard maintenance for Oracle Database 12.1 (12.1.0.2) ended on July 31, 2018. Oracle is offering extended support at no additional cost until July 31, 2019, and paid extended support until July 31, 2021.

For more information see SAP Note 2428722

Standard maintenance for Oracle Database 12.2 (12.2.0.1) will end on November 20, 2020. No extended support is planned.

Oracle Database 18c

Oracle Database 18c has been certified for SAP in March 2019. Standard maintenance will end in Q2 2021. No extended support is planned.

Oracle Database 19c

Oracle Database 19c is the first long-term support release based on the new release strategy. SAP certification is planned for Q4 2019. Extended support is planned to end in March 2026.

[Please note: All dates given are as of April 2019. For latest updates see MOS Note 742060.1].

Oracle Database for SAP Features

Database In-Memory

Challenge: In more and more systems, meeting analytics performance requirements turns out to be a challenge. This is true for long-running queries in BW. However, it can also happen in OLTP systems, e.g. if a very flexible implementation of operational planning/reporting allows users to create many, slightly different query variants.

Value Proposition: Oracle Database 12c In-Memory allows administrators to dedicate a certain amount of database server memory to the Column Store – a memory structure that stores data in column format instead of in row format. Setup of the Column Store is fast and easy. Having data available in column format can improve query performance substantially.

Certification/Support: Unlike similar options offered by competitors, the use of Oracle Database In-Memory is not limited to SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW). It is supported for all SAP applications based on SAP NetWeaver, including typical OLTP applications.

Versions: Oracle Database 12c and higher.

Advanced Compression

Challenge: In more and more cases today the size and the expected future growth of the database becomes a problem. Aspects of this problem include: Storage cost, performance guarantees (SLAs), cloning and backup of database files within a reasonable time.

Value Proposition: Oracle Advanced Compression uses a different format for storing table data. Together with other compression technologies, which come with Oracle Database Enterprise Edition (e.g. Index Key Compression), it helps reduce the database size by 50% or more. This is the essential benefit in the sense that this is the effect Advanced Compression is designed for. The benefit from a smaller source database footprint is that the creation of backups and other copies will require less time. As an additional benefit customers using Advanced Compression may see a performance improvement. Additional (as opposed to essential) here means: It may, but it is not guaranteed to happen.

Oracle Database 12c Advanced Compression offers additional features (Heat Map, Automatic Data Optimization) that enable customers to implement deferred data compression and sophisticated Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) strategies.

Certification/Support: Oracle Advanced Compression is certified for all SAP NetWeaver applications. SAP provides the tool BRSPACE, which is aware of all SAP-specific requirements.

Versions: Oracle Database 11g and higher

Related Feature: Hybrid Columnar Compression (which is not included in Advanced Compression, but is a feature available on Oracle‘s Engineered Systems) provides stronger compression algorithms particularly suited for “cold” (i.e. historical) data. HCC (with row-level locking) can be used in SAP environments.

Multitenant

Challenge: Many SAP landscapes consist of a few large and a considerable number of small or very small systems. However, the existence of many small SAP systems based on as many independent database servers has several disadvantages:

  • Many small systems (even virtualized ones) use too many hardware resources (memory, CPU).
  • Too much time is spent for the administration of so many small database systems.

Value Proposition: Oracle Multitenant reduces resource consumption by separating “container” and “pluggable” databases. It simplifies administration by moving standard operations to the “container database” level.

Certification/Support: Oracle Multitenant can be used in SAP environments.

Versions: Oracle Database 12c and higher

Security and Compliance

Advanced Compression

Challenge: In order to read or update data in an Oracle Database that is the data store of an SAP application, the obvious and only choice for legitimate users is this particular application. Attackers, however, who want to bypass SAP‘s user management and access control, could use either a network sniffing tool to capture data in transit or some kind of file editor to read data at rest, i.e. in a database file copy.

Value Proposition: Network Encryption, which can be used to protect data in transit, is provided by the Oracle Database free of charge. Oracle Advanced Security is a bundle of additional encryption features that allow administrators to encrypt data at rest and make it harder for attackers to understand what they see. Transparent Data Encryption protects data in the production database, while Backup Set Encryption protects backup copies.

Certification/Support: Oracle Advanced Security is certified for all SAP NetWeaver applications.

Versions: Oracle Database 11g and higher

Database Vault

Challenge: Data encryption does not help, if attackers do not use third-party tools, but Oracle tools and Oracle Database accounts to bypass the SAP applications. This is particularly dangerous in the case of privileged database users (database administrators). And it is particularly relevant, if database administration is outsourced or data are stored in the cloud.

Value Proposition: Oracle Database Vault replaces the traditional database privilege management strategy with a new, more flexible and more powerful one. It goes far beyond traditional user–privilege or user–role correlations. Oracle Database Vault allows companies to implement and enforce concepts such as the segregation of duties or the four eyes principle.

Certification/Support: Oracle Database Vault is certified for all SAP NetWeaver applications.

Versions: Oracle Database 11g and higher

Table and Index Partitioning

Challenge: In more and more situations today the distribution of the data on disk turns out to be a problem:

  • Single queries or complex batch jobs accessing a certain subset of the table data need too much time to complete.
  • Data load (SAP BW) is either slow, because it must update many indexes; or indexes are dropped and rebuilt, in order to reduce load time, but this slows down user queries.
  • Data archiving results in heavily fragmented databases.
  • Customer wants to implement information lifecycle management Advanced Compression (Oracle Database 12c).

Value Proposition: Oracle Partitioning divides tables and indexes into smaller units (called partitions) and forces all data to be stored in the appropriate unit. Partitions can be accessed and managed individually and independently from each other. Therefore:

  • Ideally a query now finds all relevant data in one single partition and can ignore all other partitions („partition pruning“). This can reduce the runtime considerably.
  • If the indexes defined on a partitioned table are partitioned as well, individual index partitions can be dropped and rebuilt while all other partitions remain untouched.
  • The data archiving strategy can be based on the partition structure, and this can avoid disk space fragmentation.
  • Partitioning is one of the basis technologies for information lifecycle management.

Certification/Support: Oracle Partitioning is certified for all SAP NetWeaver applications.

Partitioning (range partitioning) is configured and used by default in SAP BW on Oracle. In SAP OLTP systems, it can either be implemented using the SAP Partitioning Engine (which covers the data archiving issue) or by Oracle ACS for SAP

Versions: Oracle Database 11g and higher

Scalability, High Availability, Disaster Recovery

Real Application Clusters (RAC)

Challenge: When the workload on a database server increases (due to new application versions, additional applications, or more users), the traditional solution is to replace the existing server with a bigger one (scale-up). Big servers, however, are very expensive.

In order to guarantee high availability of the database server, traditionally a failover cluster is implemented. Such a solution, however, has at least two disadvantages:

  • A failover cluster relies on the concept that, at any given moment, only one database instance running on one machine can be active. The other machine (most probably an expensive server, too) is always idle.
  • When a problem on the primary machine is detected, an Oracle Database Server instance needs to be started on the secondary machine. In this particular situation, startup can take up to 30 minutes – which means: up to 30 minutes unplanned downtime.

Value Proposition: Real Application Clusters (RAC) allows multiple instances to be up and running and to access the same database at the same time. As these instances can and in most cases do run on different machines, customers have the option to implement a scale-out approach: 4, 6, or 8 small servers can handle the same workload as one big server. However, they are much cheaper. And they can be added as needed.

In this architecture, all Oracle instances are up and running at the same time. Therefore no restart is required. If one of the RAC servers fails, the other instances can take over. A reconnect of the affected users is a matter of seconds, not of minutes.

To summarize all this in a few words: The value proposition of Oracle Real Application Clusters combines workload distribution, scalability, high availability, better manageability, and cost savings.

Certification/Support: Oracle Real Application Clusters is certified for all SAP NetWeaver applications.

Versions: Oracle Database 11g and higher

Data Guard and Active Data Guard

Challenge: RAC provides high availability by multiplying the number of Oracle instances. Such high availability, however, is restricted to the instance level. Even in a RAC-based system, the database remains a single point of failure. This means that DBA errors, data corruption, server or data center failures can make the whole system unavailable.

Value Proposition: Data Guard removes this single point of failure. The technology allows customers to set up a standby (shadow) database as a copy of the primary (production) database and then keep the two databases synchronized. Please note that Data Guard is included in Oracle Database Enterprise Edition. It is not an option.

However, Active Data Guard is an option. In Oracle Database 11g (and higher) it offers additional features such as Automatic Block Repair and Fast Incremental Backup.

Active Data Guard Far Sync, the main new feature with Oracle Database 12c, allows customers to combine high performance (a characteristic of asynchronous data shipping) and zero data loss (a characteristic of synchronous data shipping).

Certification/Support: Oracle Data Guard is certified for all SAP NetWeaver applications. However, only physical standby databases are supported, logical standby databases are not.

Oracle Active Data Guard is certified for all SAP NetWeaver applications. However, Real-Time Query is not possible in SAP environments, because even report generation is not a read-only operation.

Versions: Oracle Database 11g and higher