Has SAP HANA Become a MacGuffin?

Last Updated on March 3, 2021 by Shaun Snapp

Executive Summary

  • HANA is presented as a desirable item without understanding what HANA entails.
  • We observe that HANA may have become a MacGuffin for many customers.


We have spent years analyzing an enormous amount of marketing information on HANA. After receiving numerous emails about how both SAP and SAP consulting companies explain and pitch HANA to private customers. We recently observed that there are compelling similarities between HANA and a plot device called a MacGuffin.

Our References for This Article

If you want to see our references for this article and other 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 a MacGuffin?

In scriptwriting, there is a plot device called a MacGuffin. Wikipedia explains in the following way.

“In fiction, a MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin or maguffin) is a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or another motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation. The MacGuffin’s importance to the plot is not the object itself, but rather its effect on the characters and their motivations. The most common type of MacGuffin is a person, place, or thing (such as money or an object of value). Other more abstract types include victory, glory, survival, power, love, or some unexplained driving force.”

How SAP Uses HANA as a Controlling Concept or MacGuffin

Recently I began thinking about how SAP uses HANA. Recently I was told that SuccessFactors would be migrated to HANA. Here is the exact sentence.

Our first thought when I hear of a CRM system being ported to HANA is…


CRM has the lowest processing needs of enterprise applications. It does not need a database like HANA that is optimized for analytics and short query analytics.

SAP and its consulting partners advise their customers to use HANA in situations where it makes no sense to use it. This wastes the customer’s budgets on HANA implementations that will do very little except drive revenues to SAP and their consulting partners. They rely upon a series of unsubstantiated claims about HANA, claims that they cannot substantiate, and refuse to substantiate.

Mindless Recommendations Courtesy of SAP and SAP Consulting Partners

One of the incredibly prevalent factors with regards to HANA is that it has instilled a sort of mindlessness in SAP and SAP proponents.

  1. Get analytics and transactions optimally from the same database? Yes? Incur more maintenance or technical complications to do so, of course not!
  2. Apply unproven database performance benefits to an application that does not need it? Absolutely!
  3. Focus on HANA with SuccessFactors, when it is well known that SuccessFactors requires development focus in other areas, but of course!

Why think or provide any evidence of any kind or consider the benefits of using different databases to different applications when one can just work for uncritically analyzed assumptions and say HANA is the answer in 100% of cases!

This is the same unthinking approach that led companies to purchase ERP systems before ERP systems were ever proven to improve those companies’ condition that implemented them. We covered this feeding frenzy of exaggerated claims and misinformed decision making in the book The Real Story Behind ERP: Separating Fiction from Reality.

Placing SAP ByDesign on HANA

This is reminiscent of ByDesign being placed on HANA. Customers have all manner of complaints about ByDesign. The most common complaint customers have about ByDesign has nothing to do with database speed. But yet ByDesign was migrated to HANA with great fanfare.


The problem is that HANA has been presented as an item of unlimited virtue by SAP and SAP proponents. Yet SAP has been unable to substantiate its claims around HANA. But this has not stopped SAP from making these claims.