How HANA is Being Used by SAP to Block Out DB Other Vendors

Executive Summary

  • HANA is stated to benefit customers, but while the benefits are small, it is designed to block out other vendors.
  • We analyze how SAP does this.


SAP has put tremendous marketing muscle behind HANA. What is nearly uncovered in the IT media is how SAP has used HANA to block out other database vendors from getting business on SAP projects. In this article, we will delve into this little-covered topic.

Issues Reported from the Field

SAP has become simply challenging to work with databases for all the competing vendors. In cases where the client wanted to maintain a simplified approach to running on the databases that they already had (non-SAP), SAP has denied access to database vendors for compatibility of specific components. However, before HANA, these types of coordination between SAP and other database vendors were the norm.

It should be remembered that these customers already invested in competing database vendors, and by removing their cooperation with them, SAP is undermining the investment that their customers made into these databases.

Changing the OEM Licensing Fee When Competition Arose

SAP likes to present the idea that they are the only database vendor that has the capabilities of HANA. However, as we have covered in other articles, this is far from the case. Now IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft all have the ability to set up a column data store. And of course, they can use lots of memory (although no one has duplicated SAP’s approach of putting everything into memory, this is because it is wasteful).

As soon as SAP began to realize that the competing database vendors had excellent alternatives for precisely the capabilities that they had so promoted to customers, they then increased the SAP OEM ASL license fee for competing databases. This was increased from 8% of SAV (SAP application value) to 15% to match the cost of HANA.

When a database is “OEMed” through SAP, this means that it is sold through SAP. The OEM Application Specific Licensing or OEM ASL is the cost of that item.

This includes the following: 

  • IBM: Increases for DB2 under the OEM ASL from 8% to 15% for new transactions.
  • Oracle: Progressive increases for Oracle from 15 through 17, 19 to 21%+
  • Microsoft: Here SAP behaved differently. SAP left the OEM ASL fee for SQL Server at 8%. This is because SAP knows full well these are smaller clients that have either SQL Server or lower cost alternative ERP options, where it’s easier relatively speaking for a small to medium business to switch ERP systems. Therefore, SAP changed the OEM ASL fee only for those customers that they felt they had locked in.

Prices of Competing Databases

It must be understood that this increased the price of competing databases when sold through SAP. This was an anti-competitive move designed to make HANA more competitive, but only by increasing the costs of the competing databases!

We have repeatedly covered the fact that HANA has the highest TCO of the competing databases. However, HANA not only increases the TCO for HANA, but for all the other databases that have been raised to match HANA! Now before HANA, SAP had no motivation to do this. But with HANA, they now have every motivation. SAP is intent on altering the playing field as much as possible to favour HANA.

Threats Against Customers for Not Using HANA

Customers that don’t choose HANA also incur SAP’s wrath. We are aware that considerable commercial pressure is placed on SAP Business Suite clients, in particular with alternative database solutions to adopt SAP HANA both via license royalty “trade in offerings” and or reduced SAP discounts or increased in direct audit activity if SAP HANA is not adopted.

The timing of this reduction in discount was just as they were about to start a proof of concept between a competing database and HANA. One SAP customer was convinced to migrate BW to HANA (appliance) from a competing database, only to discover after 3-4 months effort, a simple deployment of the competing database delivered greater or similar throughput with one-half of the RAM for a fraction of the TCO and disruption and risk and implemented in 6 weeks.

And what drove this decision? The technology of HANA? No, a change in the commercial terms on the part of SAP.

How SAP Depreciates the Value of AnyDB

The SAP HANA development teams and a message from the Hasso Plattner seek to depreciate the value of alternative AnyDB choices graduallyThey do this by gradually restricting functional delivery and new application version enablement to HANA vs. AnyAnyDB before.

However, several years after HANA was introduced, other vendors also advanced their own column-oriented tables.

“In the meantime, database players like Oracle and Microsoft are offering their own in-memory switches while supporting the systems management and IT talent infrastructure most CIOs have built over the last few decades. So in a couple of years SAP may have to reverse source about database portability. SAP has already shared dates for continued support of the Oracle Database 12c in-memory switch and its Engineering Systems products like Exadata and the SPARC SuperCluster.”

Yet even in 2018, SAP continues to lie to prospects about the “uniqueness” of HANA. All while SAP knows that HANA underperforms other databases.


SAP is cheating to get as many HANA sales as possible. SAP does this in the shadows to keep its aggression towards competing databases from public view. SAP pretends that its HANA performance is superior to AnyDB, but that has been disproven through benchmarking and through reports from the field as is covered in the article What is the Actual Performance of HANA? What SAP won’t talk about is how it uses both commercial terms and a lack of cooperations with AnyDB vendors. What SAP cannot do is create a competitive database (at least not yet), however, what SAP can do is take the low road in blocking out other database vendors and increase the overall costs of other databases that it resells.

For every sale that SAP makes for HANA the pretense given to other customers and to Wall Street is that the database was selected because the customer freely chose it. However, under the covers, in many cases, the customers have been coerced into purchasing it.

SAP’s Inaccurate Messaging on HANA as Communicated in SAP Videos

Fact-Checking SAP’s HANA Information

This video is filled with extensive falsehoods. We will address them in the sequence they are stated in this video.

SAP Video Accuracy Measurement

SAP's Statement
Brightwork Fact Check
Link to Analysis Article
HANA is a Platform
HANA is not a platform, it is a database.How to Deflect You Were Wrong About HANA
HANA runs more "in-memory" than other databases.
HANA uses a lot of memory, but the entire database is not loaded into memory.How to Understand the In-Memory Myth
S/4HANA Simplifies the Data Model
HANA does not simplify the data model from ECC. There are significant questions as to the benefit of the S/4HANA data model over ECC.Does HANA Have a Simplified Data Model?
Databases that are not HANA are legacy.
There is zero basis for SAP to call all databases that are not HANA legacy.SAP Calling All Non-HANA DBs Legacy.
Aggregates should be removed and replaced with real time recalculation.
Aggregates are very valuable, and all RDBMS have them (including HANA) and they should not be removed or minimized in importance.Is Hasso Plattner Correct on Database Aggregates?
Reducing the number of tables reduces database complexity.
Reducing the number of tables does not necessarily decrease the complexity of a database. The fewer tables in HANA are more complicated than the larger number of tables pre-HANA.Why Pressure SAP to Port S/4HANA to AnyDB?
HANA is 100% columnar tables.
HANA does not run entirely with columnar tables. HANA has many row-oriented tables, as much as 1/3 of the database.Why Pressure SAP to Port S/4HANA to AnyDB?
S/4HANA eliminates reconciliation.
S/4HANA does not eliminate reconciliation or reduce the time to perform reconciliation to any significant degree.Does HANA Have a Simplified Data Model and Faster Reconciliation?
HANA outperforms all other databases.
Our research shows that not only can competing databases do more than HANA, but they are also a better fit for ERP systems.How to Understand the Mismatch Between HANA and S/4HANA and ECC.

The Problem: A Lack of Fact-Checking of HANA

There are two fundamental problems around HANA. The first is the exaggeration of HANA, which means that companies that purchased HANA end up getting far less than they were promised. The second is that the SAP consulting companies simply repeat whatever SAP says. This means that on virtually all accounts there is no independent entity that can contradict statements by SAP.

Being Part of the Solution: What to Do About HANA

We can provide feedback from multiple HANA accounts that provide realistic information around HANA — and this reduces the dependence on biased entities like SAP and all of the large SAP consulting firms that parrot what SAP says. We offer fact-checking services that are entirely research-based and that can stop inaccurate information dead in its tracks. SAP and the consulting firms rely on providing information without any fact-checking entity to contradict the information they provide. This is how companies end up paying for a database which is exorbitantly priced, exorbitantly expensive to implement and exorbitantly expensive to maintain. When SAP or their consulting firm are asked to explain these discrepancies, we have found that they further lie to the customer/client and often turn the issue around on the account, as we covered in the article How SAP Will Gaslight You When Their Software Does Not Work as Promised.

If you need independent advice and fact-checking that is outside of the SAP and SAP consulting system, reach out to us with the form below or with the messenger to the bottom right of the page.

The major problem with companies that bought HANA is that they made the investment without seeking any entity independent of SAP. SAP does not pay Gartner and Forrester the amount of money that they do so these entities can be independent as we covered in the article How Accurate Was The Forrester HANA TCO Study?

If you need independent advice and fact-checking that is outside of the SAP and SAP consulting system, reach out to us with the form below or with the messenger to the bottom right of the page.

Inaccurate Messaging on HANA as Communicated in SAP Consulting Firm Videos

For those interested in the accuracy level of information communicated by consulting firms on HANA, see our analysis of the following video by IBM. SAP consulting firms are unreliable sources of information about SAP and primarily serve to simply repeat what SAP says, without any concern for accuracy. The lying in this video is brazen and shows that as a matter of normal course, the consulting firms are happy to provide false information around SAP.

SAP Video Accuracy Measurement

SAP's Statement
Brightwork Fact Check
Link to Analysis Article
HANA runs more "in-memory" than other databases.
HANA uses a lot of memory, but the entire database is not loaded into memory.How to Understand the In-Memory Myth
HANA is orders of magnitude faster than other databases.
Our research shows that not only can competing databases do more than HANA, but they are also a better fit for ERP systems.How to Understand the Mismatch Between HANA and S/4HANA and ECC.
HANA runs faster because it does not use disks like other databases.
Other databases also use SSDs in addition to disk.Why Did SAP Pivot the Explanation of HANA In Memory?
HANA holds "business data" and "UX data" and "mobile data" and "machine learning data" and "IoT data."
HANA is not a unifying database. HANA is only a database that supports a particular application, it is not for supporting data lakes.
SRM and CRM are part of S/4HANA.
SRM and CRM are not part of S/4HANA. They are separate and separately sold applications. SAP C/4HANA is not yet ready for sale. How Accurate Was Bluefin Solutions on C-4HANA?
Netweaver is critical as a platform and is related to HANA.
Netweaver is not relevant for this discussion. Secondly Netweaver is not an efficient environment from which to develop.
HANA works with Business Objects
It is very rare to even hear about HANA and Business Objects. There are few Buisness Objects implementations that use HANA.SAP Business Objects Rating
Leonardo is an important application on SAP accounts.
Leonardo is dead, therefore its discussion here is both misleading and irrelevant.Our 2019 Observation: SAP Leonardo is Dead
IBM Watson is an important application on SAP accounts.
Watson is dead, therefore its discussion here is both misleading and irrelevant.How IBM is Distracting from the Watson Failure to Sell More AI and Machine Learning
Digital Boardroom is an important application on SAP accounts.
SAP Digital Boardroom is another SAP item that has never been implemented many places.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

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