SAP Fiori

Why is the SAP Fiori Cloud So Slow?

Executive Summary

  • In extensive Fiori testing, the first thing we observed is how slow the interface is.
  • This caused us to perform a speed test, which we published here.

Video Introduction: Why is the SAP Fiori Cloud So Slow?

Text Introduction (Skip if You Watched the Video)

The Fiori Cloud has received a strange introduction by SAP. When testing the Fiori Cloud, we found something even more strange about the speed of using the Fiori Cloud, which we have not seen anyone else comment upon. What we found contradicts SAP’s claims not only on Fiori but also on HANA. This highlights the highly censored information published on SAP and the problems of having virtually all of the information on SAP published by entities with a pro-SAP financial bias. You will learn about the Fiori Cloud and how accurate the claims are for the Fiori Cloud.

Our References for This Article

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

Lack of Financial Bias Notice: The vast majority of content available on the Internet about SAP is marketing fiddle-faddle published by SAP, SAP partners, or media entities paid by SAP to run their marketing on the media website. Each one of these entities tries to hide its financial bias from readers. The article below is very different.

  • First, it is published by a research entity.
  • 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.

What is the Fiori Cloud

The Fiori Cloud is one of those strange artifacts that SAP brought out a while ago. The Fiori Cloud is confusing because Fiori is just a UI, so you can’t have just a UI in the cloud. It has to be connected to an application layer and a database.

However, what the Fiori Cloud really is, is an online demonstration of Fiori with S/4HANA. Upon investigating this, we found something peculiar about Fiori’s Cloud’s speed, which is this article’s topic.

Poking Around The Fiori Cloud

The Fiori Cloud is easy to access.

Once you get into it, it brings up the well-recognized Fiori tiles or squares.

The Fiori “tiles” are the opposite of the SAPGUI, driven by transactions or navigating a huge tree structure.

With Fiori, the squares are selected to get into each transaction or screen. This demos nicely, but there are questions related to how well this design scales.

But Fiori has a nice search feature. This takes you directly to the item or the right square.

Once you select the item you want, often from several options that all meet the search criteria, you can be taken into the item or square. It has a very nice feel. But it is unclear to us if it is an efficient method. It much depends upon the search function working, which we are about to dive into. 

The item you highlight points to the right square, which you can then select. 

Fiori’s Hit and Miss Search

The search sometimes works great and is quite fast when it does work. But the search does not always work. 

But once you select the item, this is a typical response.

There is a square called Working Capital Analysis. But where is it in this search? It should have come up on the right as an option once any keywords were typed in. It was there one time we logged in. We know because we wrote down the time it took to open, but it disappeared the next time we logged in. That is a first. 

This repeatedly occurred when we tested different searchers. Some words worked, but others didn’t. But while the search worked intermittently, Working Capital Analysis was the only square to disappear from the UI. We checked by scrolling rather than using the search.

How does that happen?

The Best UI in Enterprise Software?

SAP has been carrying on about Fiori as the future. Hasso Plattner called it the best UI in enterprise software. But then why isn’t something basic like this fixed?

If there are many squared (not the 20 or so for the demo), how is the user supposed to find the square? Scroll the entire list of thousands of squares? That is not a feasible option.

SAP proposes that Fiori will eventually make the SAPGUI obsolete. That will not happen with the search still not working; squares decide to disappear, combined with such a small amount of coverage over SAP. We covered that second topic in the article The Strange Changes with the Count of Fiori Apps. 

Why are we the only ones to publish on this topic? The Fiori Cloud is available for anyone to go and check and test. But as we have pointed out in previous articles, all the money in consulting and IT media agrees with whatever SAP says. Fact checking is not a focus. Even if Deloitte or CIOs looked into this, they would never publish their findings.

The entirety of the information apparatus covering SAP is there to promote SAP, not to fact check SAP or to tell their clients and readers the real story on SAP.

It is challenging to get an SAP consultant who will tell companies the truth about SAP. Most SAP consultants value their relationship with SAP and other SAP consultants more than their relationship with their clients. Lying is rampant in SAP consulting. The objective is to make SAP look as good as possible; the truth is considered only within the context of a massaged narrative. 

Speed Tests for Fiori

After we got through the search problem, we were struck by how often we kept seeing Fiori’s wait page that looks like this.

We found this latency issue at several different locations, and therefore different Internet speeds. 

We did not notice any other latency issues using any other website that we accessed at these same locations. We checked the speed at one location with Speed Test, and here are the results.

So this was not a perfect Internet connection, but it was better than average, scoring four out of a possible five stars. 

When we found an even faster connection, one with five stars, we discovered that the Adjust Stock square/transaction took 4.49 seconds to open, 2.23 seconds longer than when tested at the slower Internet location (with four stars rather than five).

This slowness of Fiori is not a function of the Internet connection. It’s a function of the Fiori server, database, etc..)

The following is how long it took to get into the transaction screen by selecting the initial screen.

Fiori Transaction Speed Entry Test

A comparison of speed results.
Fiori TransactionLoad Speed in Seconds (Test 1)Load Speed in Seconds (Test 2)
Availability Check3.602.97
Order Products7.063.40
My Accounts5.345.22
My Spend4.243.65
Working Capital Analysis12.61N/A (Square Disappeared so We Could not Retest)
Global Cash Position3.854.15
Liquidity Forecast3.124.30
Track Sales Orders2.7934.25
Team Calendar3.6353.40
Adjust Stock1.8352.68

*All timings were taken using an Android stopwatch app. 

What About The Effect of HANA?

The presentation of HANA has been that it would enormously speed both analytics and transaction process. Hasso Plattner has stated that HANA will deliver zero latency to all applications. If we take Hasso Plattner at his word, this means that the Fiori Cloud squares/transactions should have been limited only in the Internet connection latency, like the web, database, and application server should have performed an instantaneous return. The total number of seconds should have been 0.00, exclusive of the Internet time.

We tested the fastest web page we know of, which is Google, at .486 seconds. But Google only returns text (we tested it searching for a word). Still, this would seem to be the rough latency of the Internet itself, .486, or roughly 1/2 of a second. So while Google is very close to zero latency, SAP is far off the reservation.

*At 1/2 a second, as one has to hit the return button and move one’s finger to hit the timer, verify the data populating the web page, and then re-hit the timer, a very accurate measurement is not possible.

However, the Fiori Cloud undoubtedly has HANA, yet the application transactions take an average of 4.33 seconds to load. 

Fiori Versus Our Website?

As a means of comparison, we checked the download time of one of our web pages at Brightwork Research & Analysis. We end up with a time of 3.09. However, our pages have images on them, which means the page is larger than the Fiori pages that are being rendered. The speed will depend upon how many photos the web page has (primarily). We have pages that will render more slowly than 4.33 seconds (the Fiori average), but this is a function of having quite a few images. Furthermore, we have far more text and formatting on a single page than on any Fiori screen that we tested.

SAP Fiori + HANA Losing to Open Source Products?

However, why are our larger web pages loading faster than the smaller Fiori pages that only render numbers and text? Are we using some super fast backend? Hardly. We like our web host, but it is no top-end setup. If we wanted to invest more money per month, we could get the speed faster, at a quite small cost. We could, for instance, move towards a dedicated server at our current host. That would increase the hardware available to fulfill requests.

What about the database? Is an advanced top-end database that the secret to our performance? Nope. Our web host uses MySQL. Oracle owns MySQL, but it is an open-source database. MySQL is free. Does MySQL have a column data store and “in memory architecture” as does HANA? Nope. HANA does not compete with MySQL.

SAP has stated that HANA is faster than Oracle, IBM, or Microsoft’s top-end databases. But they are certainly not referring to open source database projects. Open-source databases like MySQL, MariaDB, and PostgreSQL are not even part of the HANA conversation.

How about the application server? Must we be using a space-age application server, right?

No again.

Our host uses Apache. Once again, Apache is an open-source project and is free. Fiori uses the SAP Fiori Front-end Server. It is based on a NetWeaver Applications Server ABAP.

Conclusion

We did not start out trying to illustrate that the Fiori Cloud is slow or that the Fiori transaction search only works inconsistently. We discovered these while just taking the Fiori Cloud for a demo. We have spent a lot of time analyzing HANA and Fiori, which we have covered in articles like What is the Actual Performance of HANA? and What is in the Fiori Box. Even in basic analysis, like this one, we find that SAP’s claims regarding Fiori and HANA do not check out. If SAP’s “in memory architecture” is so great, why are Fiori and HANA outperformed by our combination of WordPress, Apache, and MySQL — all of which are open source and free products?

The issue that we see is that no one is fact-checking SAP and publishing the results. Therefore SAP marketing is sitting there proposing a virtually unlimited number of claims which go unchallenged. If SAP’s claims were true, it would be demolishing an open source configuration common for most websites. But it doesn’t; in fact, it loses to it.

Furthermore, the Fiori Cloud is supposed to showcase how superior Fiori is, and with SAP’s virtually unlimited resources, it should be configured for speed. Oh, and the search box should work, and it should work 100% of the time and without disappearing transactions.

Overall, SAP is presenting customers with a risky product in Fiori. I cover the topic of enterprise software risk in great detail in the book Rethinking Enterprise Software Risk: Controlling the Main Risk Factors on IT Projects. A large software vendor like SAP offers Fiori does not change these risks.

Fiori is much more involved than is commonly presented. SAP and their surrogates want to make the use of Fiori sound as painless as possible. But because Fiori is not technically baked and used to drive customers to HANA, it is often presented under pretenses.