Automated Kernel Upgrade

Overview

The purpose of the Automated Kernel Upgrade feature is to automatically upgrade SAP kernels relieving SAP administrators of many tedious activities, such as:

  • connecting to the SAP server

  • stopping and restarting the SAP system

  • downloading files

  • putting the required packages into specific folders while using particular archiving programs for extracting

  • verifying that no users are connected to the system, no jobs are running and no other activities are being performed

  • making sure that the permissions are set correctly

  • checking if there is enough space

  • etc.

With this automation option, Avantra automatically performs all the checks and actions, like processing the files and folders, stopping and restarting SAP systems, running verifications, rolling back in case of errors and so on. Administrators only need to select the package to be applied and specify date and time for the system upgrade.

Prerequisites/Limitations

The following requirements must be met in order to run the Automated Kernel Upgrade:

  • SAPCPE is configured correctly

  • Avantra Start/Stop automation of the SAP System has been tested successfully

  • SAP Netweaver of version 7.10 or higher

  • Rolling Kernel Switch (RKS) is not supported yet

  • 32-bit kernels are not supported

  • For DB2, only UDB (DB6) is supported

  • Supported OS: Linux, AIX, Solaris

  • Windows x64 is not supported

  • sudo for saproot.sh must be provided

  • The following directories should be present on the server hosting the SAP system with the user running the Avantra Agent having access to them:

SAP Parameter

Description

Default (Kernel) Value

DIR_EXECUTABLE

Current directory for executable files and programs

$(DIR_INSTANCE)\exe e.g.: D:\USR\SAP\QAS\D00\exe

DIR_INSTANCE

Instance home directory

$(LOCALHOSTSIDPATH)$(SAPSYSTEMNAME)\$(INSTANCE_NAME) e.g.: D:\USR\SAP\QAS\D00

DIR_CT_RUN

Central directory for executable files and programs

$(DIR_EXE_ROOT)\$(OS_UNICODE)\NTAMD64 e.g.: D:\usr\sap\QAS\SYS\exe\uc\NTAMD64

Workflow

Before running the Automated Kernel Upgrade, the administrator needs to create an upgrade bundle and configure the update process, which are two independent processes that can be performed separately. For the workflow visibility, we will assume that the created bundle is used in the configuration process as well. After the upgrade bundle is created and the upgrade process is configured, you can monitor and manage the update jobs.

Creating Bundles

A bundle is a selection of archive files containing the upgrade files. The bundle must be put together by the administrator and later uploaded to the SAP system. To create a bundle:

  1. From the Configuration menu, select Automation.

  2. In the Automations tab, select SAP Kernel Upgrades.

    The Bundles tab is displayed by default. The tab is empty during the first launch; later it will contain all previously created bundles.

  3. Click New on the toolbar.

    The Create SAP Kernel Bundle dialog opens.

    Create SAP Kernel Bundle Dialog
  4. In the dialog, enter Name and Description, and select the Customer from the drop-down list.

  5. Click Create.

    The Bundle container is created and is now available in the Bundles table.

    Bundles Table

    You may notice that Release, Patch, OS and DB parameters are not filled for this new entry. This information will be passed to the system with the bundle files uploaded during the next step. Clicking Apply, however, will refresh the information and display the OS and DB version of the package.

  6. In the lower pane, under the SAP Kernel Bundle Files section, click Upload and navigate to the location where you have your files stored.

    Upload

    The system only accepts .SAR files. Usually, a default package consists of the SAPEXE and SAPEXEDB archives; nevertheless you can add other packages (for example disp+WORK, tp, etc). Also, you can define packages without the two main archives for for single or group of files updates. For instance, if you want to patch the disp+work components only, then you need to define a package with this single archive. The patch file can be uploaded separately after the main files have already been uploaded. However, there are some things to consider:

    • Avantra allows uploading a patch file with the Patch Version lower than the Patch Version of the main files, but in such a case the figures in the Patch column will be marked red, drawing attention to a possible discrepancy.

    • The system DOES NOT allow uploading a patch file with a Release version different from the main files’ versions. In such a case, the system will display a warning window and if the administrator still wants to add the file, he needs to provide an explanation in the corresponding field.

  7. Select the required files and click Open.

    The files are uploaded to the bundle. The process normally takes a few seconds to minutes (depending on the size of the packages and the network bandwidth) to complete. After the files are successfully uploaded, the SAP Kernel Bundle Files table is populated with files-related information.

SAP Kernel Bundle Files table

Configuring Upgrade Process

Once the upgrade bundle is uploaded, the upgrade process needs to be configured.

The process described below has no connection to the bundle created in the previous section. The configuration can be applied to any bundle created before.

To configure the SAP Kernel upgrade:

  1. On the SAP Kernel Upgrade page, click the Runs tab.

    Runs Tab
  2. In the toolbar, click New.

    The Configure SAP Kernel Upgrade dialog opens.

    Configure SAP Kernel Upgrade dialog
  3. In the dialog, specify the following parameters:

    1. Customer: from the drop-down list, select a customer to receive an upgrade.

    2. Select the SAP Kernel Bundle: from the drop-down list, select one of the existing bundles. It can be a bundle created in the previous section, or a completely different one.

    3. Select SAP Systems for the Kernel Upgrade: select the system in the left window and add it to the right window using the arrows. To view only the systems compatible with the kernel bundle selected above, select the Suggest only SAP Systems eligible to selected kernel bundle checkbox. At your discretion, you can select any SAP system(s) of the customer by clearing the checkbox. The search functionality allows you to quickly find the SAP system you need. You can select several items with CTRL or/and SHIFT keys. Selecting several SAP systems will initiate just as many upgrade processes in parallel.

    4. Extract archives to: by default, archives are extracted in the SAP directory DIR_CT_RUN, but you can also specify a different one if needed.

    5. SAP restart options: select between the following options:

      1. ignore logged in users: the automation will proceed regardless of any users still logged in

      2. halt automation if users are logged in: if specified users are logged in, the automation process will pause (the automation will NOT resume automatically once the users log out). Use comma to separate multiple users, wildcard * supported. …​ignore active jobs: the automation will proceed regardless of any jobs still running

      3. halt automation if jobs are active: if specified jobs are running, the automation process will pause (the automation will NOT resume automatically once the users log out). Use comma to separate multiple jobs, wildcard * supported

    6. Configure downtime: select the set downtime for the restart (e.g. during nighttime) checkbox to specify the time during which the system will be stopped for upgrading. Leaving the checkbox cleared will start the upgrade process right after the configuration is finished.

    7. Rollback on failure: select the checkbox to execute a rollback if the kernel upgrade fails.

    8. Delete backup after: specify the number of days after which the copy of the current kernel (kept for rollback purposes) will be deleted. Filling in “0” or leaving the field empty means immediate removal of the backup after upgrading is complete.

    9. Schedule Start time: select one of the following options:

      1. Start the SAP Kernel Upgrade now: start the process immediately

      2. Start SAP Kernel Upgrade manually later: saves the configuration for later use

      3. Start the SAP Kernel Upgrade at: specify the date and time for the upgrade process to start

        Starting the Kernel Upgrade initiates the preparation phase (extracting files, etc.) only: the SAP system is not stopped and users can still connect and work with it. The upgrade process itself will start at the date and time specified in the Configure downtime parameter.

  4. Click OK.

With the configuration process fulfilled, you can proceed to the upgrade management phase.

Managing the Upgrade

When the upgrade process (i.e. the automation job) starts, you can view its progress and manage its phases on the Runs tab. Double-click on the upgrade process in the table to see and manage the job’s parameters.

Runs Tab Details

The upgrade process consists of the following phases which are displayed as column headers in the table:

  • PREREQUISITES PREPARE: Avantra checks that all prerequisites are fulfilled (i.e. kernel and patch versions are the same, the upgrade files are present, the agent has access to kernel files, the download locations are available and have enough space, etc.)

  • USERS_INFO: the system sends information to the connected users at the specified date/time

  • DOWNTIME: the system stops the SAP system, performs the upgrade and starts the system

  • POST: the system checks the new Kernel version, verifies that the SAP system is up and running and that connected instances have the same kernel level and active status

  • ROLLBACK: if a rollback is needed, the system activates a maintenance window, stops SAP Instances, copies all files from Kernel_backup_folder to DIR_CT_RUN, starts the SAP system and deactivates the maintenance window

  • CLEANUP: the system deletes the backup folder. If the retention period was specified during the configuration step, this phase will only be processed after that period is over. The phase will be marked with a grey flag until that date.

The table also provides information on the upgrade status.

You can select which column to display by clicking the down arrow next to a header title and selecting the required option.

Filters

If configured correctly, the automation job should successfully finish all the phases and mark each phase with a green flag. In case of an error, the erroneous phase is marked with the red flag and the upgrade process is stopped. However, the administrator can manually confirm the phase as completed and resume the process using the toolbar buttons:

  • Confirm: if administrators want to continue with the upgrade process despite the error in one of the phases, they can click this button. A confirmation window is displayed where an explanation can be entered. The erroneous phase is then marked with a red flag with a check mark inside. The process then needs to be manually resumed with one of the options below.

  • Run/Resume: resumes the entire upgrade process.

  • Resume Step: resumes only the next step of the upgrade process and the process will be halted after the step is executed.

  • Stop: stops the upgrade process.

  • Reset: resets the kernel upgrade.

  • Rollback: rolls back the upgrade process to backup the SAP Kernel in its previous state.

  • Configure: opens the configuration window where you can override certain parameters specified during the process configuration step:

    • Ignore logged in users

    • Ignore running jobs

    • Planned downtime

    • Rollback on failure

    • Keep backup

  • Download sapcpe.log: downloads the sapcpe.log where you can review all the information on the upgrade process. The system also uses the very same file during the POST phase.

Double-clicking the upgrade process opens the details pane with the Job Definition and Job Executions tabs. On the Job Definition tab,you can do the following:

  • Change the Name, Description and Customer for the upgrade process

  • View and edit the upgrade job’s steps. By default, only the automatically defined steps are displayed, however, you can add supplementary automation steps if needed. To do so, select the step and click the button in the toolbar. In the opened dialog window, select one of the predefined automation steps from the Action drop-down list.

    Configure Automation Step

    Also, you can activate/deactivate this additional step, give it a description and choose what to do in case of a failure.

    The step is added to the list of job steps and can be executed, moved up or down the execution queue and deleted using the correspondent buttons on the toolbar.

    Job Steps
  • Schedule the job execution by selecting the Activate Schedule checkbox in the Job Schedule section.

  • Specify the recipients for the email notifications about job completion or step failure.

On the Job Executions tab you can view the detailed execution information on a selected upgrade process.

Job Executions Tab

The table provides information on the name of the job, the customer the upgrade was done for, the start time of the job and the user that initiated the process. It also shows the message with additional information about the execution. By selecting a single row in the table, you can view the extended information about the step and view the log entry. You can also select several items in the list and delete them or download the .CSV file containing the displayed information.