Let’s explore the SAP HANA administrator persona and the tools at their disposal. In this post, we’ll briefly describe the job role and associated tools.
The SAP HANA Administrator
The system administrator’s responsibility is to make sure the system serves its users as best as possible. Each system will be different as will be most use cases. Many documented system parameters can be set (and an even larger number of undocumented ones). Default values cover the most common settings but might require adjustment for particular situations. You’ll rely on your system administrators to be familiar with these parameters. They’ll need to determine which parameters can be safely tweaked and adjusted and which would be best left alone.
Assuming initial system sizing was performed adequately, one job of the administrator is to manage system resources. Memory management—SAP HANA is an in-memory database, after all—is important, but if suddenly all your storage is full, you’ll be in trouble. Would you benefit by placing your log volume on solid-state drives (SSDs), and how should you configure the native storage extension optimally? Something may go wrong, which causes something else to fail, and the chain reaction continues (in other words, Murphy knocks on our door). Have we practiced database restore routines enough, or are our routines fully automated and can we trust they won’t fail?
Besides business continuity concerns, the system administrator is also responsible for keeping an eye on system performance. A system may be accessible, but if response times are not acceptable, the system does not serve its purpose well. Workload management provides a solution to separate different types of system usage. You don’t want long-running jobs to impact ad hoc queries. How can you manage peak loads? For this issue, the admission control feature presents several choices.
SAP HANA is both a database and a platform and includes application server runtimes. Like the database, the application server needs administration as well. You’ll need to manage system resources, provision users, address security, and troubleshoot issues. As the technology is quite distinct, you’ll be using different tools. The required skillset, however, is quite similar.
Depending on your organization and how the SAP HANA platform will be used, your administrator may also get involved for system maintenance. Executing server and client updates, adding additional components, and configuring the overall system landscape all need to be managed, generally referred to as platform lifecycle management. But the platform also contains the runtimes for hosting applications (“powered by HANA”), so you’ll also need to pay attention to the lifecycles of applications. Besides application installation, configuration, and updates, application lifecycle management also covers transporting content from development to production in a managed, staged approach.
Learn more about the daily activities of an SAP HANA administrator here.
SAP HANA Administration Tools
The principal tool for system administration for SAP HANA 2.0 is the SAP HANA cockpit, a web-based tool that integrates both application and platform lifecycle management tools. In addition, or as an alternative, other tools are available to administrators to address specific requirements. We’ll discuss each in the following sections.
Linux Command Line
The SAP HANA server runs on Linux. Thus, basic operating system administration skills and a certain familiarity with Linux administration tools would certainly benefit the administrator. You’ll have access Linux tools such as vi, secure shell, top, man, kill, and, for when you’re confused, whoami. To install the SAP HANA server, you’ll need root level access to the operating system, and for best performance, you’ll need to understand file systems, mount points, storage subsystems, and the configuration of the network interfaces.
Probably the most used SAP HANA command is HDB, which is actually a script that runs the commands to start and stop a local SAP HANA instance or that lists process information (from ps). Most of the actual commands are executed with the sapcontrol utility, the same program used with SAP NetWeaver.
As you can’t connect your screen and keyboard directly to the SAP HANA server (practically speaking), you’ll use a terminal program to connect to the system. When using a Linux client or macOS, you can use the Secure Shell (SSH) program. On the Windows platform, you can use PowerShell or a third-party program, like PuTTY, as shown in this figure.
Learn More: If you’re new to Linux and would like to learn more, look at the SAP on Linux topic in the SAP Community, where you’ll find relevant links, SAP Notes and knowledge base articles, the latest blogs, and Q&As on this topic.
SAP HANA runs on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) and on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Both SAP software partners for the operating system provide excellent training opportunities and documentation.
To learn more, visit:
SAP HANA Database Interactive Terminal
Every database understands SQL. The tool included with every SAP HANA server and client installation to enter SQL statements is the SAP HANA database interactive terminal (hdbsql), which is a command line tool used, for example, by the installation program to execute installation scripts.
To effectively work with the tool, you should keep a copy of the command line reference at hand or familiarize yourself with the help menu, since like most command line tools (vi, for example), hdbsql is not particularly user friendly. However, to automate script executions (housekeeping and backups, often in combination with the Linux cron scheduler), hdbsql can be quite useful. The complementary tool hdbuserstore enables you to put the connect string including password in a key stored safely in the user store file. Alternatives for hdbsql are the SQL console in SAP HANA studio and the database explorer (included in the SAP Web IDE and the SAP HANA cockpit), which we’ll discuss next.
Learn More: You won’t find the hdbsql command line reference in the Reference section of the SAP HANA platform documentation on the SAP Help Portal; instead, you’ll need to refer to the SAP HANA Administration Guide. Those familiar with SAP MaxDB command line tools will enjoy an easy learning curve since both the SAP HANA interactive terminal and the SAP HANA user store originate from this database and share many of its flags and options.
SAP HANA Studio
SAP HANA studio has a lot of fans. The tool is a plugin for the open-source Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE). Eclipse has its origins in the Java world as an IDE client tool, so a Java runtime (JRE) is required, and database server connectivity is provided with Java Database Connectivity (JDBC).
At the outset, the focus for SAP HANA development has been the core in-memory computing engine and not on peripherals like tools for development and administration. Since Eclipse already provided a development environment for SAP NetWeaver Application Server for Java (SAP NetWeaver AS for Java), SAP development decided to create another plugin to add the required functionality for SAP HANA. Although the large number of menu items and perspectives related to Java development brought some clutter to the hdbstudio plugin, general familiarity with the Eclipse IDE among developers made the learning curve small, and SAP HANA studio quickly became an accepted and broadly used tool. Other SAP development tools, like ABAP Development Tools (ADT), SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW) modeling, and the SAP SDK) followed this direction and were also provided as Eclipse plugins.
SAP HANA studio is bundled with other SAP HANA components on the installation media. However, as a plugin, you can also add it to a regular Eclipse installation using the SAP HANA tools website (http://s-prs.co/v488414).
The next figure shows hdbstudio with the Systems view on the left and the administration perspective on the right. Additional perspectives exist for development and modeling.
Development for SAP HANA studio ended with the last SAP HANA 1.0 support package stack (SPS) 12 release in May 2016. SAP HANA studio is still included with the SAP HANA 2.0 releases but lacks the corresponding user interfaces (UIs) for the latest functionality. In 2017, a deprecation note was published for the repository, SAP HANA XS (the original implementation of the built-in application server), and related tools like SAP HANA studio. SAP HANA studio is no longer supported for use with the latest SAP HANA cloud edition (SAP HANA service for SAP BTP).
Learn More: SAP HANA studio is documented in the administration, modeling, and development guides for the SAP HANA platform, which you can read or download from the SAP Help Portal.
SAP Notes: For additional information, see the following SAP Notes:
- SAP Note 2073112 – FAQ: SAP HANA Studio
- SAP Note 2465027 – Deprecation of SAP HANA extended application services, classic model and SAP HANA Repository
- SAP Note 2693731 – Statement on SAP HANA Studio and SAP HANA service for SAP BTP
SAP HANA Cockpit and the Database Explorer
SAP HANA studio is a client tool that needs to be installed. To enable the SAP HANA administration tool for the web, the SAP HANA cockpit was added. The name references the DBA Cockpit tool from the SAP NetWeaver platform (DBA stands for database administration), just like the SAP HANA Web-Based Development Workbench echoed the ABAP Workbench.
The first version of the SAP HANA cockpit was developed for what is now called the “classic” SAP HANA XS runtime environment. Unlike with SAP HANA studio, to use SAP HANA cockpit, the database (and runtime) needs to be up and running. To support the kind of system administration activities exercised when the database was stopped or could not be reached (troubleshooting unresponsive systems), another tool was added: the SAP HANA cockpit for offline administration. A web application was added as well, this time hosted by the SAP host agent running on SAP HANA systems. Support for system landscape administration came from the SAP DB Control Center, another SAP HANA XS application.
For SAP HANA 2.0, the SAP HANA cockpit was completely redesigned and integrated the functionality of the offline cockpit and SAP DB Control Center to provide the following abilities:
- Monitoring and administration of SAP HANA system landscapes (aggregate monitoring)
- Monitoring and administration of individual SAP HANA systems and tenant databases, including resource and service management (start/stop), resource usage (CPU, memory, disk), alerts, and system properties
- Performance monitoring and analysis, including expensive statements, threads, sessions, blocked transactions, hints, SQL plan cache, and the SQL Analyzer
- System replication, including configuration, monitoring, takeovers, and failbacks
- Database user and role management
- Security administration, including monitoring critical settings managing server-side encryption, auditing, password policy configuration, and certificate management
- SAP HANA capture and replay
- Workload management
- Backup and recovery, including backup configuration, scheduling, recovery, and database copies
In addition, to execute SQL statements and to view database objects, the SAP HANA cockpit links to another web application, the database explorer. The database explorer has two views: the SQL prompt and the catalog browser, and these functionalities are also found in SAP HANA studio. The SAP HANA cockpit shares this application, technically referenced as SAP HANA runtime tools, with the SAP Web IDE for SAP HANA, superseding the SAP HANA Web-Based Development Workbench mentioned earlier.
All new applications run on the SAP HANA XS Advanced platform and not on SAP HANA XS. The SAP HANA cockpit is no longer a delivery unit shipped with the SAP HANA database but is provided instead as a totally separate component. A number of SAP HANA cockpit applications (webapps and services) are included, as is a dedicated SAP HANA, express edition system. The development and release cycles of the component are separate from the main platform. SAP HANA cockpit updates are released as support packs (SPs) at an accelerated pace. When SPS 04 was released for the SAP HANA platform, the SAP HANA cockpit was already on SP 10. As you can use the SAP HANA cockpit to administer any SAP HANA system version 1.0 SPS 12 and later, SAP recommends you always upgrade to the latest SAP HANA cockpit version to take advantage of the latest functionalities.
Learn More: The SAP HANA cockpit has its own area separate from the SAP HANA platform on the SAP Help Portal (SAP HANA Cockpit, where you’ll find the What’s New guide, the Installation and Update Guide, Administration Guide, and the guide for the Database Explorer.
A good introduction to the SAP HANA cockpit is provided by the openSAP course Introduction to SAP HANA Administration.” Visit the https://opensap.com/ website for updates.
SAP Notes: For additional information, see the following SAP Notes:
- SAP Note 2380291 – SAP HANA 2.0 Cockpit Central Release Note
- SAP Note 2433181 – SAP HANA 2.0 Cockpit Revision and Maintenance Strategy
Platform Lifecycle Management
To install or update the SAP HANA server and the client, and to add components like SAP HANA dynamic tiering, we use hdblcm, the SAP HANA Lifecycle Management tool. You can interact via a command line, a graphical interface, and web interface that all work the same way. Technically, hdblcm is a wrapper tool, which provides a common UI for a number of command line tools. When you install a component with hdblcm, in the background, another command line tool will be called: hdbinst for installations, and hdbupd for updates. In other words, the actual execution will always be command line.
Using the command line interface (CLI) is appropriate when you need to automate installations since this option allows for scripting and batch processing. For a one-off installation of the SAP HANA client, for example, the graphical installer is convenient, while for cloud-based environments, you can use the web version of the installer. With the web-based UI, you can also connect to the Software Downloads area on the SAP ONE Support Launchpad and directly download updates to your SAP HANA system.
Application Lifecycle Management
To install or update applications running on SAP HANA (“powered by HANA”), you’ll use SAP HANA application lifecycle management tools. For the classic SAP HANA XS runtime, these tools are appropriately called ALM (hdbalm on the command line), which works with delivery units. For the SAP HANA XS Advanced runtime, you’ll be working with multitarget applications (MTAs) in the form of MTAR zip files. The application lifecycle management functionality for SAP HANA XS Advanced is integrated in the SAP Web IDE and no longer available as a separate tool. Application lifecycle management for SAP HANA XS also covers transporting content from development environments to test and production.
SAP HANA XS Advanced Admin Tool and SAP HANA XS Advanced Cockpit
For administering both SAP HANA XS, classic model and SAP HANA XS, advanced model application server runtimes, you’ll use the SAP HANA XS Admin tool and the SAP HANA XS Advanced cockpit, respectively. As the runtimes are different, the functionalities provided by the tools differ as well, but both include menus to configure certificates and the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), for example.
Basis administrators can use the SAP NetWeaver-based DBA Cockpit tool for database administration (often described as AnyDB in SAP publications). With the DBA cockpit, you can stop and start databases, configure system parameters, schedule backups, monitor operations, and troubleshoot performance issues. Support for SAP HANA was provided early on, and for some time, the DBA Cockpit was the only tool you could use to schedule backups. The advantage of using this tool is at the same time its main disadvantage: The DBA Cockpit works great for generic database functionality but less so for specific feature support.
Learn More: The DBA Cockpit for SAP HANA is documented in the SAP NetWeaver documentation on the SAP Help Portal.
SAP Notes: For additional information, see SAP Note 2222220 – FAQ: SAP HANA DBACOCKPIT.
SAP Solution Manager
SAP Solution Manager is an application management platform for SAP business applications, not limited to SAP HANA. In fact, it’s much older and runs on SAP NetWeaver Application Server for ABAP.
SAP Landscape Management
SAP Landscape Management is a tool used to automate system operations. Again, it’s not a tool specific to SAP HANA, but SAP Landscape Management does support automation of SAP HANA system replication (takeovers), for example. SAP Landscape Management runs on SAP NetWeaver AS for Java.
Learn more about being an SAP HANA administrator in this post.
Editor’s note: This post has been adapted from a section of the book SAP HANA 2.0: An Introduction by Denys van Kempen.