Analysis of John Appleby’s SAP Having No Future on Oracle Article

Executive Summary

  • John Appleby of Bluefin Solutions has been a provider of inaccurate information around HANA.
  • Questions surround many of Appleby’s claims around HANA, including that SAP has no future on HANA, how HANA will enable a new class of applications and whether HANA will somehow connect uniquely SAP Cloud Platform.

Video Introduction: Analysis of John Appleby’s SAP Having No Future on Oracle Article

Text Introduction (Skip if You Watched the Video)


John Appleby, along with Hasso Plattner, was probably the least accurate source of information around HANA and S/4HANA when these products were first introduced. As with most people in leadership at the SAP consulting partners, John Appleby provided false information about SAP products because it is the profit maximizing to do so. And because people don’t have good memories, they often give hype men like John Appleby a pass on things that end up being inaccurate. You will learn about John Appleby’s accuracy or inaccuracy in the article titled What Oracle won’t tell you about SAP HANA – Part 2.

Our References for This Article

If you want to see our references for this article and other related Brightwork articles, see this link.

Notice of Lack of Financial Bias: We have no financial ties to SAP or any other entity mentioned in this article.

  • This is published by a research entity, not some lowbrow entity that is part of the SAP ecosystem. 
  • Second, no one paid for this article to be written, and it is not pretending to inform you while being rigged to sell you software or consulting services. Unlike nearly every other article you will find from Google on this topic, it has had no input from any company's marketing or sales department. As you are reading this article, consider how rare this is. The vast majority of information on the Internet on SAP is provided by SAP, which is filled with false claims and sleazy consulting companies and SAP consultants who will tell any lie for personal benefit. Furthermore, SAP pays off all IT analysts -- who have the same concern for accuracy as SAP. Not one of these entities will disclose their pro-SAP financial bias to their readers. 

Quotes from John Appleby’s Article

“Three years ago, Steve Lucas wrote What Oracle won’t tell you about SAP HANA. Since then, a lot has changed in SAP-land, including the support of most SAP applications on HANA (including Business Suite) and the release of the next-generation ERP, SAP S/4HANA. We are in quite a different world now, and I thought that Steve’s blog was worth updating for 2015.”

I analyzed Steve Lucas’s article and found it to be one of the most misleading articles by an author who did not understand the subject matter of what they were writing. I covered it in the article Analysis of Steve Lucas’ Article on What Oracle will Not Tell You About HANA.

#1 – SAP HANA is less expensive than Oracle

“I don’t want to get into detailed pricing debates on a blog, but I help customers implement SAP HANA every day, and it’s less expensive than Oracle, period.

Firstly, it’s available at a lower % of your SAP software estate than Oracle – so you will actually get a license payback if you implement HANA. Sure, that’s different to ROI, but it’s a nice place to start. For any apps where you don’t want to implement HANA, SAP throw in SAP ASE included in the price. And remember that if you buy S/4HANA in 2015, you will get all the future innovation included for the price of the SAP Business Suite on HANA runtime license last year.”

This is an example of John Appleby deliberately misleading his readers.

HANA Pricing

HANA is priced per GB while Oracle 12, or now 12c, is not. HANA is the most expensive non-specialty database that one can purchase. There is no evidence that HANA is cheaper than Oracle. Once one placed any type of volume into HANA, the price goes up rapidly.

“Second, if you compare like-like for an application platform license cost, HANA comes out less expensive. The data reduction of HANA’s compression and simplified data models, easy to buy appliances and flexible license packages mean you can license HANA for less money than an equivalent Oracle database including all the features you need. Because SAP don’t charge extra for HA/DR, you are more likely to build a resilient solution!”

Appleby Making Any Sense?

The first part of this paragraph makes no sense, so there is nothing to address. The data compression with HANA was promoted by Hasso Plattner and has turned out to be completely inaccurate. SAP was telling customers they could compress their data by 98.5 percent. This was necessary to hide HANA’s actual cost. This type of paragraph brings up the question of how much Appleby knew when he wrote it. Fundamentally, Appleby did not think of this article or his articles about HANA but merely repeated marketing information direct from SAP. Appleby seems to know nothing of what he is writing, so one might propose that he is therefore not responsible for anything he is writing.

“Third, if you want any kind of Enterprise solution, SAP HANA is available at a single cost for all features, including the equivalents of Enterprise, Multitenant, RAC, Active Data Guard, Partitioning, Advanced Compression, Advanced Security, OLAP, Advanced Analytics, Spatial and Graph, Database In-Memory, Diagnostics Pack, Tuning Pack, Database Lifecycle Management Pack and more. If you want to get the best out of Oracle, the cost is simply crippling.

The cost of RAC for a full-rack Exadata X5-2 is over $3m alone (don’t forget the extra $1m for the spare Exadata!). For this reason, most customers don’t use advanced Oracle functionality – it’s just too expensive.”

Why would you have to purchase Exadata X5-2? Is it a coincidence that Appleby, or should I say SAP selected one of Oracle’s most expensive databases/appliances?

#2 – SAP on Oracle has no future?

“This may be controversial, but in my opinion, SAP on Oracle has no future. Take a look at the April 2015 Roadmap Update if you want to see what I mean.

For example, if you put your SAP data workload on Oracle 12c, you aren’t currently able to update it (yes, seriously!). You can’t use any of the innovations Oracle invested in including Oracle Database 12c In-Memory, Oracle Database 12c Multitenant, Oracle Database 12c ADO/ILM or Hybrid Columnar Compression for Exadata. And that’s just the operational limitations.

In addition, SAP on Oracle will only be supported until 2025, and this has serious implications for SAP customers, many of which operate a 5-10 year roadmap. Systems are expensive to implement and maintain, and so customers need to plan ahead.

The replacement to SAP Business Suite 7.0, SAP S/4HANA, will only run on the HANA platform. SAP on Oracle has no future.”

Commingling Topics

This seems to commingle two topics into one.

  1. “First is whether S/4HANA has a future on Oracle. SAP has stated that it doesn’t. But this has nothing to do with what makes sense for customers; SAP decides to push customers off Oracle for S/4HANA. This is true even though HANA cannot compete with Oracle 12c, and SAP has provided no benchmarks to support any of its performance claims regarding its superiority. This is covered in the article What is HANA’s Performance. SAP may be successful at moving companies to HANA on S/4HANA, or they may not be. We don’t know. I have written previously that SAP needs to open S/4HANA to Oracle and probably will, as is covered in Why SAP Will Backtrack on HANA.
  2. Secondly, even if S/4HANA has no future on Oracle (because SAP dictates it), that does not mean that SAP has no future on Oracle. John Appleby should know that SAP has many applications, and just about all of them work with Oracle.”

Finally, John Appleby never addresses why SAP is planning only to run S/4HANA on HANA? Is this really because it is what is best for customers? John Appleby does not even discuss why he merely states that it is.

Towards the middle of the quotation, he strings together a paragraph that is difficult to parse. I would spend time parsing it if I thought John Appleby knew what he was talking about, but I don’t. But one question that arises is that just because SAP can’t leverage some of the “innovations” or new things in Oracle 12c, is that a reason not to keep purchasing Oracle?

#3 – SAP HANA enables a new class of application

“One of the things which is great about working with HANA is that innovation comes seamlessly and often. There was a time when HANA updates came too often, but that pace has slowed over the last 18 months with two major releases a year, verified for datacenter usage. There are some more frequent updates for early adopters or those testing new functionality, but for most, it’s now possible to get great innovation every 6 months with minimal disruption.

HANA SPS09 came in November (soon to be datacenter verified) and it provided a ton of innovation including integrated ETL and cleansing, Multitenancy, support for Big Data and IoT, Event Stream Processing and much more. Read What’s New in SAP HANA SPS09 for more details. SPS10 will be on us very soon and promises to continue that trend.”

That is quite misleading. HANA has so much “innovation” because HANA is still developing as a product and is still nowhere close to Oracle. John Appleby is taking what is an unstable product and spinning that into something positive. Or SAP is, and John Appleby merely is repeating it.

Appleby Misleads Again

Secondly, either John Appleby does not know or is misleading people by saying that innovation comes seamlessly, and there is minimal disruption. Reports from the field indicate that HANA is one of the most high maintenance databases that customers have. This is because, again, HANA is still developing as a product.

Third, HANA has nothing to do with and will never have anything to do with Big Data unless SAP changes HANA’s pricing. HANA is the most expensive database that one can purchase, and it is priced by GB. It is also not a NoSQL design or Hadoop design, so it is the wrong database for large amounts of unstructured data. IoT is not a thing SAP is doing very much of. This is covered in the article, Why SAP’s Leonardo seems so Fake. Also, a database does not need to be specially designed for IoT. And this falls into a common thread on the part of biased entities; they only declare that SAP “has” something but does not evaluate if that something is worth using. And these biased entities seek to influence decision makers and often do. No matter, there is so much wasted money in IT!

False Information About Oracle

“Oracle 12c has been out for 2 years and is only now even supported for SAP applications, and very few innovations have come even since Oracle 11g.

What this means is that HANA enables a new class of business application to be developed. In S/4HANA Logistics, SAP achieve over a 70% data reduction by removing redundancy. What happens if we now mix in spatial awareness of product and customers, how might we enable predictive maintenance and ensure stock is proactively in the right place?

I can tell you one thing for sure: you ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Hmmm..I would disagree with that. Oracle 12c contains an innovation that trumps SAP’s column-oriented table design and is far faster is a primary reason that even in analytic applications, HANA cannot match Oracle 12c.

Jumping to Conclusions

Right after the first paragraph, John Appleby jumps to the conclusion that.

HANA enables a new class of business applications to be developed.”

Why is this? Appleby does not explain why. The previous sentence does not support it, and the following sentence does not support the contention. What Appleby moves to is that the database footprint is reduced. However, that is only important if the database is priced per GB. Oracle isn’t priced that way, so literally, who cares? And secondly, SAP assumptions about compression are inaccurate, and I have verified this with multiple database experts. No company will ever see the reductions proposed by SAP.

Spatial Awareness

So let’s move to John’s next point, which has nothing to do with data reduction. John points to “spatial awareness and predictive maintenance to ensure stock is in the right place.” SAP may offer these items, but they are not explicitly HANA. These are other products. I am not sure about spatial awareness, but a fast database does not merely enable predictive maintenance. And SAP has no history of providing any of this. Actually, as a person who works in SAP forecasting and has strong service parts planning background, I can say that SAP is proposing that they will solve a problem that has been a tough nut to crack for decades. Appleby and his SAP scriptwriter are merely assuming that SAP will be successful with everything they introduce.

Overall, these paragraphs remove the emphasis from HANA and start talking about other products. This is a form of misdirection and is easy to do. John Appleby has learned quite well from Hasso Plattner (actually, this entire quotation sounds like Hasso Plattner wrote it, and it may well have been) to merely create a word salad of technology terms to overwhelm the reader. The strategy is to find a term that the listener is not familiar with to suspend belief and accept all of the contentions.

#4 – No Hardware Lock-In

“At the time of writing, there are 538 configurations in the Certified SAP HANA Hardware Directory and this number increases every day. You can run HANA on anything from a shared VMWare appliance with just a 64GB slither of memory, right the way up to a 112 TB cluster, and beyond. There are 22 Certified Enterprise Storage solutions if you want to reuse an existing hardware asset.

What’s more you can keep your vendor honest because hardware configurations are very easily compared, so you can decide what provides you with the right value for money and functionality.

By contrast, Oracle locks you in to 1/4, 1/2 and full rack solutions which you can see on the Oracle Engineered Systems Price List. Their $1m full-rack solution has a paltry 2TB of DRAM – that’s what you get in a $100k pizza box from any one of 11 SAP HANA vendors. And that SAP HANA 2TB appliance is big enough (and mission-critical enough) to run almost any SAP ERP system out there, apart from the very large enterprise.

Want HA? No problems, that will be another appliance and 2 clicks of the mouse to configure. No costly RAC licenses and complicated implementation.”

John Appleby is observing a lot of things but not observing the price of HANA. It easy to take this one-sided approach, and of course, John Appleby never explains that he makes money implementing SAP and not Oracle. John Appleby had HANA resources he wanted to sell to customers at the time of this publication. I believe he now heads consulting at Bluefin Solutions or what is now called MindTree.

#5 – SAP HANA is a Cloud Platform

“SAP HANA was always envisioned as a cloud platform, despite its beginnings as an analytics database. The HANA Cloud Platform brings the capabilities of a full-scale cloud application platform for developers and ISVs alike.”

I have covered the HANA Cloud Platform in the article, Was the HANA Cloud Platform Designed for Cloud Washing? Even years later, very few people use the HANA Cloud Platform or the renamed SAP Cloud Platform. And this is the common problem of John Appleby’s predictions. None of them come true. And they are not predictions as much as they are biased fueled conjectures of what SAP would like to happen. SAP has waved the white flag of surrender on SAP Cloud, although they attempted to put a happy face on the development. This is covered in the article How to Best Understand SAP’s Multicloud Announcement.

False Information About the HANA Enterprise Cloud

“The HANA Enterprise Cloud brings managed-cloud-as-a-services capabilities for businesses who would previously buy on-premises databases, and includes a partnership with IBM SoftLayer.”

No, that never happened and did not look likely to happen.

“SAP S/4HANA will be available in the public or private cloud, depending on your requirements – or indeed on-premise. One thing is worth noting: S/4HANA is cloud-first, and on-premise second. Cloud users are first-class citizens in S/4-land.”

No, that is also misleading. S/4HANA is available in either the public or private Cloud, but SAP has very few customers using the public Cloud. This is because most S/4HANA customers will require customization, and that eliminates the public Cloud. And in fact, SAP also has few customers on the private Cloud. There is no reason to use SAP to host on anything but the acquired applications (SuccessFactors, Ariba, Fieldglass, etc.) The vast majority of S/4HANA implementations have been on premises.

“This doesn’t diminish from the fact that many enterprise software customers still want to put their database on-premise – that will continue, especially in regulated industries for the foreseeable future, but it is a nod to the fact that cloud software is the future, even in the Enterprise.”

This is true because S/4HANA is an inferior fit for the Cloud. This is covered in the article Why S/4HANA is a Poor Fit for the Cloud.

Final Words

“When Steve wrote his blog in 2012, the FUD from Oracle was focussed around how HANA wasn’t mission critical, how it didn’t work and didn’t scale. Looking back at this in 2015 it’s clear that HANA has come through that FUD unscathed, and Steve’s points were spot on – in fact just as valid as they were back then, which is why I didn’t repeat them.”

I don’t know why this is considered FUD. HANA was very new at that time and was unstable. I have no association with Oracle, but Oracle’s statements check out. SAP has a problem bringing out new products. This was true of SPP, EWM, PLM and has been true of S/4HANA. SAP brings out products before they are ready and then uses customers as guinea pigs.

HANA, even in 2017, continues to be a very high maintenance database. And it is all of this with no advantage over Oracle 12c. So the question that one should raise is why anyone would buy it, especially when one considers all of the indirect access liabilities, as is discussed in the article The HANA Police and Indirect Access Charges.

False Statement About Oracle Standing Still

“What’s even more interesting is how Oracle has stood still since 2012 whilst HANA has delivered more and more capability. Now, hundreds of the world’s biggest businesses are running their transactional systems on SAP HANA and new business applications like S/4HANA have arrived that do things that Oracle cannot do.”

I have addressed this. Oracle 12c was a significant upgrade with many improvements. This paragraph is entirely false.

“The conversation we are having around the Oracle FUD is distinctly different from the one we had in 2012. Now, Oracle are saying that SAP HANA isn’t actually as fast as Oracle (benchmark it yourself if you doubt that), that SAP doesn’t understand the cloud and that SAP on Oracle is the smart choice.”

Why doesn’t SAP produce a benchmark that supports what John Appleby is saying? So customers must now benchmark HANA? Will SAP provide a free copy of HANA and assist with the tuning and provide that tuning for free? Is this a joke? Does Appleby have experience with how database benchmarking works?

SAP Gets the Cloud?

And SAP does not understand the Cloud for S/4HANA. SAP only has had success in the Cloud in applications that they acquired. So this statement is true. Oracle is not that cloud-oriented either, but that is another question.

“I look forward eagerly to revisiting this conversation in 2018 and seeing how the world has changed once again. My sense is we will be living in a very different world then!”

It’s 1/2 of the year until 2018. And everything listed by John Appleby has proved to be incorrect. We live in mostly the same world regarding SAP as we were living in back in 2015.


Unlike John Appleby and all Bluefin Solutions writers, Brightwork Research & Analysis has no relationship with SAP. It is not distributing false information for SAP, Oracle, or any other vendor.

John Appleby should have declared that he was releasing SAP marketing information to get business for HANA implementations.