How to Apply Support Packages while Reducing Downtime
Customers have often commented about how long it takes to perform maintenance on SAP Systems. One of the key concerns is the impact that the required downtime will have on the operations of the business. The increasing nature of global businesses increases the impact that maintenance downtime periods have on organization. The main complications arise on dual stack system. This blog discusses ways to minimize the downtime required to apply Support Packages Stacks (SPS) to SAP systems.
When applying support package stacks, it is important to understand the types of support packages and the procedures for applying the stacks. My blog on Support Packages and Corrections is a good start for this discussion. Downloading support package stacks will include the necessary software components required to update a system to the targeted level.
Example: Update an SAP NetWeaver BI System from Service Release 3 (SPS 14) to the Support Package Stack 17.
To update the BI System, the following updates will be downloaded:
· SAP Kernel Updates
· ABAP Support Packages
· Java Support Packages
· Front End Patches
SAP provides an implementation guide for each stack to assist administrators with applying the updates. The guide for SPS17 provides a recommendation for a procedure for applying ABAP and Java support packages concurrently.
Reducing Downtime and Minimizing Manual Effort
When performing system updates, downtime consists of actual downtime and the period during which the system updates are deployed to the system. In response to concerns from customers, SAP has provided a process whereby the Java and ABAP support packages can be deployed in parallel. In addition, tools are available to minimize manual efforts expended by system administrators. Administrators can utilize the Java Support Package Manager (JSPM) to automate maintenance tasks.
The Java Support Package Manager has a number of uses. In this blog, JSPM is used to apply individual Java support packages and stacks. JSPM can also be used to update the SAP kernel on a dual stack system. Before initiating these tasks, the JSPM application itself needs to be updated. Please see my video blog that shows how to Patch the JSPM Application to the latest version. This process is non-disruptive to the system and can be applied during normal uptime.
Parallel Patching Procedure
The Support Package Stack guide for NetWeaver 7.0 (SPS17) lists the procedure for parallel patching as follows:
1. Prior to applying ABAP and Java Support Packages, use the Single Support Packages option in JSPM and select for update only the components SAP KERNEL and BC-FES-IGS.
Using JSPM automates the process of applying the kernel update. All SAP instances and services on the local system are stopped, patched, and restarted. My video blog on Applying SAP Kernel Updates with JSPM shows how to accomplish this task.
2. Import the Support Packages for the component SAP_BASIS into the ABAP stack using the ABAP Support Package Manager (SPAM).
The SPAM tool itself provides additional functionality to reduce downtime when applying ABAP support packages. SPAM has a reduced downtime mode that provides system administrators more control over the import process. System Administrators can execute a much of the update efforts during normal productive uptime and consolidate all downtime activities to a single phase. My video blog on Reducing downtime when applying ABAP Support Packages shows this process.
3. Import the remaining ABAP Support Packages with SPAM and in parallel; apply the Java Support Package Stack with JSPM.
While the downtime activities for the ABAP packages are running, system administrators can apply the Java support package stack at the same time. My video blog on Applying Support Packages Stacks with JSPM provides an example of deploying Java support packages.
These procedures provide administrators tools and processes that can reduce the amount of time it takes to apply support packages to a system. It should be noted that point in time recovery safeguards should be applied when performing any system maintenance. This blog provides a procedure that allows the application of both Java and ABAP support packages concurrently. In addition, the downtime minimized option for SPAM reduces the amount of downtime required to apply ABAP based support packages. Utilizing the tools and procedures in this blog reduces manual effort and addresses concerns raised by customers in regards to minimizing maintenance downtime.