Tips for developers using SAP BW/4HANA on AWS

13 December 2016

Jan van Ansem

Jan van Ansem

Principal consultant SAP Data Warehousing

Having discovered the easy accessibility and low cost of the developer’s version of SAP BW/4HANA (BW/4) on Amazon Web Services (AWS) as explained in his previous insight, Jan van Ansem couldn’t wait to get stuck into BW/4, but there was a glitch. Here, Jan shares his experiences so your discovery of BW/4 is as smooth as possible.

Things are looking a little different? 

Once I was up and running on the BW/4 system, I was so excited I immediately started up SAP GUI, went to RSA1 and… got a bit of a shock! I realised I couldn’t even see a place for InfoProviders anymore. In order to do the fun stuff on BW/4, you need more than just SAP GUI and although it is not difficult to connect to an Eclipse environment, there are a four key things you need to know. Set these up correctly from the start and hopefully you’ll save time and energies further down the line: 

  1. Assign a static IP address.
  2. Open ports to allow applications to connect.
  3. Understand which password for Windows Administrator account to use.
  4. Configure the Host file on your local machine.

1. Static IP address for BW/4 Instance

By default, a BW/4 instance will be assigned a new IP address every time it is activated. This means that all applications connecting to the instance (such as SAP GUI, Host file and Data Provisioning Agent) need to be pointed to the correct IP address again. This soon gets tiresome. There is an option to assign a permanent IP address to your instance. There is a message that the cloud provider might charge additional costs for this. Personally, I have not seen this on my bill yet so I assume (and hope) that it’s a very small charge, if any at all.

Navigate to cal.sap.com and click on your instance to see the details. On the ‘Info’ tab, you see the IP addresses on the right hand side (highlighted in green in the screenshot below). The tick box you need to set for your static IP address is the one highlighted in yellow in the screenshot below.

It will take a few minutes for this change to take effect.

2. Opening Ports

When connecting local applications (like HANA Studio) or other remote applications to your instance, you will need to open some ports. I am not an expert on this but I have knowledgeable colleagues who told me which ports to open. Refer to the screenshot below for details – I have manually added the ones highlighted in yellow.

Jan-tips-for-developers-using-BW4HANA-content-2.jpg

3. Windows Administrator password

You will need a Windows Administrator password to use Windows Remote Desktop or when you want to connect to Windows at Operating System level. I had some problems with using the right password, as the password you need seems to depend on how you created the instance. The first time I created a BW/4 instance, I had to use the password which I retrieved by de-encrypting the key in the ‘.pem’ file which was issued when the instance was created.

After a few weeks I created a new instance (to get Update 19) and this time I could not log on with the decrypted key. I was getting really frustrated and sought help from my colleagues but they were equally puzzled. Thinking it might be a problem with the instance, I decided to terminate the instance and create a new one again. When the logon failed again I was getting quite desperate but this time some help was at hand.  A colleague who had patiently listened to my frustrated rant asked me why I was not just using the default system password, which I provided at the time of creation. To my relief, this worked straight away.

I am puzzled as to why I had to use the encrypted password on my first instance and not on my subsequent systems. Perhaps I will find out when I try and create a new instance again. For now, I am just happy to know that I can use the standard password for Windows Remote Desktop and I can also retrieve the encrypted password if and when I need it, as explained below:

  • Navigate to your instance on AWS (console.aws.com). 
  • Right-click on the instance for SAP Front End (not Linux) and choose: Get Windows Password.
    Jan-tips-for-developers-using-BW4HANA-content-3.jpg
  • A pop-up appears explaining about the key pair which was created during instance creation. Click on ‘Choose File’: 
    Jan-tips-for-developers-using-BW4HANA-content-4.jpg
  • The file you need to locate now is the ‘.pem’ file which was issued during the instance creation process. This text file contains a long key, which together with the key name enables you to decrypt the Administrator password. Once you have pointed to the right location/file simply click ‘Decrypt Password’. You can now use this password to logon to the Remote Desktop.

4. Configuring the host file on your local machine

Applications on your local machine use domain names to connect to the BW/4 instance. As the BW/4 instance on a cloud provider is by definition not on the same domain as your local computer, the domain name needs to be translated in an IP address. Your computer uses the ‘Hosts’ file to do this translation. The pieces of information you need to add to your hosts file are:

  • The full domain address declaration local application are using to connect to BW/4.
  • The IP address of your BW/4 instance.

Hosts files on most Windows systems are located at: C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts

The steps to follow are:  

  • Copy the lines from the Hosts file from Windows Remote Desktop. They will look like this: 

    10.0.15.21 frontend frontend.dummy.nodomain 

    10.0.15.22 vhcala4hcs vhcala4hcs.dummy.nodomain vhcala4hci vhcala4hci.dummy.nodomain vhcalhdbdb vhcalhdbdb.dummy.nodomain 

    Only copy the lines, make sure not to change the Hosts file on your Remote Desktop.
    [Image]
     
  • Add the files to your Hosts file on your local machine. Jan-tips-for-developers-using-BW4HANA-content-5.jpg
  • Modify the IP addresses in the Hosts file on your local machine. The IP addresses to put in can be found on cal.sap.com.

    The first IP address (frontend frontend.dummy.nodomain) has to point to the IP Address of the SAP Frontend External IP Address.

    The second IP address (vhcala4hcs vhcala4hcs.dummy.nodomain vhcala4hci vhcala4hci.dummy.nodomain vhcalhdbdb vhcalhdbdb.dummy.nodomain ) has to point to the Linux External IP Address.

Having followed the four steps above, you are all set up to use your local SAP GUI, HANA Studio, Lumira and any other tools you want to connect to BW/4.

Enjoy your first steps on the BW/4 platform!

Note on security and costs

I hope this insight helps others to get started on the BW/4 platform; using it as a Sandpit environment to explore all the amazing stuff BW/4 has to offer. Readers should note, however, that this is not a complete ‘best practise’ approach to run and configure a BW/4 environment. I would expect you to continue to be prudent and follow usual ‘best practise’ guidelines including changing passwords, disabling default accounts, restrict the ports you open by specific IP’s and use two factor authentication provided by AWS.

Last but not least I would like to point out that AWS is a paid service and you will get charged based on usage. I have been regularly using BW/4 for the last four weeks and my current bill shows a total of US $85. To me this seems a bargain price for access to the latest kit, running great demos and having hours of fun discovering the new and exciting world of HANA. I hope you enjoy your journey too.

 

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