How Accurate Was John Appleby on 10 SAP HANA Customer Use Cases?

Executive Summary

  • John Appleby made bold predictions on HANA.
  • We review how accurate he was in his article on 10 SAP Customer Use Cases.


John Appleby’s article on the SAP HANA blog was titled 10 SAP HANA Customer Use Cases from SAPPHIRE NOW and was published on June 25, 2018.

The Quotations

SAP HANA is Less Expensive than Oracle?

This year was my tenth SAPPHIRE, and also the tenth time that Hasso started to talked about HANA. It was in the 2005/6 timeline when a senior executive at SAP Labs walked up to a whiteboard and wrote one number: 2010. The room of architects was puzzled – what did 2010 signify? This, he explained, was when Moore’s law predicted that server architecture would be able to run a typical large-scale database in-memory. The Hasso Plattner Institute had already completed initial prototypes of an in-memory database, and they knew the race was on to build a new database architecture: the clock was ticking.

No, it is 2019, and this still has not happened, secondly, it is irrelevant whether a database can be entirely stored in memory as there is as Pareto relationship between the data in a database and the data that is used. Even today when purchasing HANA SAP still discusses Hot, Warm and Cold storage.

Secondly, there is no clock ticking. Oracle, IBM and Microsoft have added column-oriented tables and “in memory” capabilities as contained in HANA, but these mixed designs are rarely used because the demand is not there. Specific databases like using a row-oriented table database like PostgresSQL and a specialized analytics database like Redis is far more effective than trying to perform multiple database processing in a single database. We covered this in the article How to Understand the AWS Multibase Versus HANA.

HANA and Digital Platform?

Bill Gates famously said “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years”. Another thing is for sure: SQL databases are hard to build. The main reason for this is that the ANSI SQL is really complicated. The SQL:1999 standard, for example, is over 1000 pages long. It has been 8 years since we released SAP HANA 1.0 to the market, and we just released HANA 2.0 SP03.

During these 8 years we added an incredible amount of functionality: HA, DR, integrated engines, for search, graph, spatial, text. We integrated the XS and XSA application servers, data quality, and streaming. We then added predictive and machine learning capabilities, and

We are now focused on building the Digital Platform for the Intelligent Enterprise, powered by the SAP HANA Data Management Suite and the Cloud Platform.

Why do I mention all of this? in SAPPHIRE 2018, I now see customers, at scale, doing the most incredible things with SAP HANA. I can’t show you all of them, because there were around 600 sessions at SAPPHIRE focused on HANA, but here are my personal favorites, in no particular order.

Appleby told an enormous number of lies about HANA since he first started writing about HANA in roughly 2013. It is amazing to still see him say the exact same things that have already been disproven. HANA is still just a database.

Gustave Roussy Cancer Research

This is one of the most incredible stories I have heard: Fabien Calvo, Chief Scientific Officer at French Cancer Research Center Gustave Roussy joined me on stage to discuss what they are doing with SAP HANA. They connect the biological, molecular, genomic, radiation, surgery and pharmaceutical treatment data generated at the center, and with SAP Connected Health platform running on SAP HANA and SAP Medical Research Insights, Gustave Roussy can integrate different data types: electronic medical reports, demographics, biological data; genomic data; text analysis; imaging, including (in the future) radiology and pathology.

Amazing work – no wonder they were a winner of a SAP HANA Innovation Award!

There is no reason to think that HANA is better than any other database at doing this work. We have covered this extensively, and there is also no evidence that this type of cancer research benefits from primarily an analytics database.

SAP promised running genetic algorithms and a health focused solution as we covered in the article How Accurate Was Vishal Sikka on the Future of HANA?

None of this came true.

Siemens PLM Software

Siemens realized that they needed a mechanism to allow their organization to build applications, whilst ensuring that data could be trusted. They used a Hybrid BW/4 and SQL data warehouse – using standard SAP Business Content extractors to pull in SAP data, and Smart Data Integration to bring data from other applications like Essbase.

On top of that, they built a Logical Data Warehouse using the Data Warehouse Foundation, which means they keep a single copy of the data, and all the models are built on top of that, connecting the various data sources into one version of the truth.

They then allow their business units to self-serve by building their own SAP Web IDE-based applications within the HANA platform. This is all integrated with Githib, Jira and Bamboo for application development and testing.

Bryan Hunter from Siemens explains how they did this and how it dramatically simplifies application development.

This case study makes little sense. Any type of development in SAP is quite inefficient.


adidas CIO Michael Voegele describes how they are using sport to change people’s lives. He talks about increasing the speed of the supply chain and building direct relationship with the consumers with SAP Board Member, Adaire Fox-Martin. This is a very business-focused keynote where Michael describes technology as the enabler, and it is of course powered by SAP HANA.”

HANA is an analytics database, how does it speed the supply chain and build a direct relationship with consumers?

This is the presentation that Appleby is referring to at SAPPHIRE. There are virtually no technical details referred to, which is what Appleby considers “business focusing keynote.” 

Suiker Unie – Smart Farming

This customer is not only a SAP Innovation Award Winner, but also Huub Watervaal, Chief Executive Officer at Nextview, who joined me on stage, is a member of our Startup Focus program, which provides access to SAP HANA for free, engagement with our 340k customers, support from our experts, all with no financial commitment.

Huub explained to me all about how Suiker Unie was looking for ways to improve sugar beet production. A small increase in production is a dramatic increase in efficiency and therefore margin. They use the HANA Rules Framework to plant the right beet, IoT sensors to predict crop diseases and reduce pesticides, they have an alerting system and are now looking to satellite imagery to further improve production.

We have been studying HANA since 2016 and have never heard of the HANA Rules Framework. Again, no matter what was done with HANA, one could have done it at far lower cost using open source databases, and if one desires, bringing them up on GCP or AWS. When custom development is to be performed, one should disengage entirely from SAP or the costs will spiral and the outcome will be far worse than using open source options. Open source databases like PostgreSQL work far better in the cloud than does HANA.


Itron are a manufacturer of Smart Meters, and they have partnered with us to deliver the Itron Enterprise Edition Meter Data Management (IEE MDM) powered by SAP HANA. Senior Program Director Moustafa Nazif joined me on stage to discuss their solution. Two things about Itron fascinate me in particular.

First, this is a fully functional translytical application (OLTP and OLAP), streaming data from millions of smart meters in real time. There are direct benefits to the solution, in simplicity of application design, and improved analytic capabilities.

Second, I have written about the second derivative effects of technology before, which is the unexpected benefits of technology (Henry Ford could not have predicted the success of Loves Travel Stops, for example, because it is a second derivative effect – highways being the first derivative). This is playing out with Itron – they are just starting to think about the second derivative effects. For example, could you link smart meters to healthcare: we know the customer is elderly, and the lights don’t turn on in the morning, should we call emergency services?

We don’t have a comment on this case study. The provided link is blocked and there just isn’t enough information to analyze.


SVP and Head of Fresh Foods at Costco, Jeff Lyons joins SAP Board Member Jen Morgan to tell the story of how Costco are using SAP technologies to reduce waste and predict demand. How do they do that? Of course, with the advanced analytic capabilities and machine learning algorithms using SAP HANA.

This video is filled with aphorisms without any detail, that seems to be an advertisement from Costco. Jeff Lyons is told at the end of the video that he is a class act. 


When E*TRADE sought to re-platform their system for online trading, they looked to a next-generation DBMS like SAP HANA to solve the problem of application complexity and performance. Director of Operations Technology, Adam Yuan, joined me on stage to discuss how there really wasn’t an alternative to using HANA from his perspective: it was the only enterprise system which was able to dramatically simplify the application.


Well, that would show how little Adam Yuan knows. Secondly, as we covered in How Much Has HANA Really Been Simplified, HANA increases the complexity of databases. HANA is the highest overhead database that we track.


Dan Exley from MemorialCare joins our GM and Global Head of Platform & Data Management, Irfan Khan, to discuss how MemorialCare used SAP HANA to meet the demands of modern requirements in healthcare, especially in an age where patients expect to have access to data.

This presentation is not from a Dan Exley as stated but from Ifran Khan, from SAP sales, and what follows is a typically content free sales presentation.


Ignacio Garcia, CTO of Vodafone Shared Services, joined me on stage to discuss what the British multinational telecommunications conglomerate is doing with SAP HANA. What is remarkable about this is the sheer breadth and depth of their deployment. They have specific LoB solutions like Fraud Management and Margin Assurance, and they are also in the process of moving their SAP estate onto HANA. Like many SAP application customers, they started with analytics, and are now moving onto the core transactional systems.

There is also very little detail in this case study with a CTO providing such high-level coverage that it is difficult to know what happened with this case study.

Swiss Federal Railways

Last, but not least, SBB produces its own energy to power its trains. To intelligently manage power demand in its railway system, SBB collaborated with SAP Innovative Business Solutions to develop a unique solution, powered by SAP HANA streaming analytics. Monitoring data points in real time throughout the energy network, it identifies peaks when they occur, determines which loads should optimally be switched off, and conveys this information to other systems that automatically turn off heaters in train cars and on railroad switches.

Markus Halder, Head of Power Demand Management Program joined me on stage to discuss how this enables SBB to better utilize its existing power capacity, postponing the need to build new energy infrastructure. Another winner of a SAP Innovation Award.

As SFR likely made a poor decision here and wasted a lot of money and time on HANA when there were far lower cost and more capable alternatives, but as so little information was shared about this case study, we can’t get into more detail than this.


This article makes is sound like there is significant information in these case studies when there isn’t. Interestingly, these are only Appleby’s top ten, which means even the best case studies he showcased still had so little information about them. And many of the companies are only discussing their HANA case study into order to promote their own companies.

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.

Search Our Other John Appleby Fact Checking Content


TCO Book



Enterprise Software TCO: Calculating and Using Total Cost of Ownership for Decision Making

Getting to the Detail of TCO

One aspect of making a software purchasing decision is to compare the Total Cost of Ownership, or TCO, of the applications under consideration: what will the software cost you over its lifespan? But most companies don’t understand what dollar amounts to include in the TCO analysis or where to source these figures, or, if using TCO studies produced by consulting and IT analyst firms, how the TCO amounts were calculated and how to compare TCO across applications.

The Mechanics of TCO

Not only will this book help you appreciate the mechanics of TCO, but you will also gain insight as to the importance of TCO and understand how to strip away the biases and outside influences to make a real TCO comparison between applications.
By reading this book you will:
  • Understand why you need to look at TCO and not just ROI when making your purchasing decision.
  • Discover how an application, which at first glance may seem inexpensive when compared to its competition, could end up being more costly in the long run.
  • Gain an in-depth understanding of the cost, categories to include in an accurate and complete TCO analysis.
  • Learn why ERP systems are not a significant investment, based on their TCO.
  • Find out how to recognize and avoid superficial, incomplete or incorrect TCO analyses that could negatively impact your software purchase decision.
  • Appreciate the importance and cost-effectiveness of a TCO audit.
  • Learn how SCM Focus can provide you with unbiased and well-researched TCO analyses to assist you in your software selection.
  • Chapter 1:  Introduction
  • Chapter 2:  The Basics of TCO
  • Chapter 3:  The State of Enterprise TCO
  • Chapter 4:  ERP: The Multi-Billion Dollar TCO Analysis Failure
  • Chapter 5:  The TCO Method Used by Software Decisions
  • Chapter 6:  Using TCO for Better Decision Making