How Accurate Was John Appleby on What In-Memory Database for SAP BW?

Executive Summary

  • John Appleby made bold predictions on HANA.
  • We review how accurate he was in his article on What In-Memory Database for SAP BW?


John Appleby’s article on the SAP HANA blog was titled What In-Memory Database for SAP BW? A Comparison of the Major Vendors and was published on Nov 13, 2013.

The Quotations

Appleby Performs Research?

I get a lot of requests for how SAP HANA compares to IBM and Oracle in-memory databases for the SAP BW software stack. I thought that I’d share the insight that I have found from primary research on all three platforms. Here is a high-level view of my analysis:

The Appleby Papers make up analysis of over 12 of Appleby’s papers. From our analysis, we have concluded that Appleby does not perform research. See our analysis of his “TCO” study of HANA How Accurate Was John Appleby on HANA TCO for Cloud vs On-Premises? And How Accurate Was John Appleby on SAP BW-EML Benchmark? Appleby only rigs 1/2 baked “investigations” to promote HANA.

This graphic above is another example. It is easy to figure out why he has placed these vendors in this ranking. Of the database providers, Oracle has most of the database market for SAP. DB2 is less of a threat. Therefore, Appleby positions Oracle as having none of the abilities, where HANA has 100% of the capabilities.

HANA SP06 Has All of the Capabilities of a Mature RDBMS?

“SAP HANA SP06 is the 6th major release of SAP HANA over 3 years and it contains all the major features of a mature RDBMS. What’s more, there are also customers using it for mission-critical workloads like ERPs and there are hundreds of live customers for BW on HANA. It is the only in-memory database with full HA/DR and the only that massively simplifies operation of the system with a single store.”

This article was written at the end of 2013. In 2019, HANA still does not have the capabilities of a mature database. Back in 2013 HANA was highly unstable and still did not have its row oriented store implemented. The idea that the late 2013 version of HANA was as mature as DB2 or Oracle is truly laughable. At the time of this publication, HANA probably did have more “in memory capability” but this quickly changed. However, SAP’s HA lagged Oracle or DB2 at this time.

Oracle 12c provided the column-oriented store with the in-memory capability and (already) had HA by July 1, 2014, which is 8 months after this article is published. Later Appleby claims that the 12c release did not include a comparable column store functionality, and stated that the July 2014 date is when the true in-memory option was provided. 

Secondly, HANA does not simply the data environment, because companies did not at this time and have not since then installed multiple applications on a single data store (that is multiple applications on one HANA database).

BW on HANA Can be Hundreds of Times Faster than Other Databases?

“Most significantly for BW, SAP wrote an OLAP compiler for HANA within the BW product. This means that when you run a query in BW, it is translated to “calculation engine” operators and not to SQL. For complex queries like exception aggregation, HANA does not have to materialize millions of rows within the OLAP server like it does for any other database: instead, all of the calculations are pushed down into the database layer. Impact: BW on HANA is in many cases 100s of times faster than any other database.”

Every software vendor will state that their method of solving a problem technically is superior to their competition. But SAP has been unwilling to back up these claims by allowing competition in benchmarking against competitive databases as we covered in The Four Hidden Issues with SAP’s BW-EML Benchmark.

DB2 BLU Cannot Accelerate All of the Queries that HANA Can Accelerate?

“DB2 BLU accelerates some of the queries that BWA and HANA accelerate, but not all. Specifically, it accelerates simple query groupings that can be expressed in OpenSQL. However BLU will not accelerate complex queries which cannot be expressed in OpenSQL (e.g. exception aggregation) and this can cause a 100x performance degradation compared to BWA or HANA.”

As with the previous explanation of the complete lack of comparable benchmarks to databases other than HANA, SAP has made no evidence to support this claim and has deliberately rigged the benchmarks so this comparison could not be made. All we are left with is Appleby’s claims, and Appleby is a lying fire hydrant.

Oracle 12 In Memory

“Oracle talked up the “ungodly” speeds of their Oracle 12 in-memory option at Openworld 2014. But, it doesn’t exist yet and is unlikely to until some time in 2014 – there is no release date. Oracle are a smart company and they have decided to offer the in-memory columnar option as a complimentary option to the row store. Yes, it will keep a synchronized copy of row- and column-store data. This will cause massive inefficiencies and storage costs, which I’m sure is great for Oracle’s engineered systems, which they will no doubt try to sell with it. SAP will presumably support this once it is available, probably some time in 2015. I included an analysis of Oracle 12 in-memory, because Oracle keep telling people that it exists.”

Oracle caught up to HANA with its mid-July 2014 release. Oracle did not do this because it was truly a need on projects, but simply to catch up to SAP as SAP created a demand for this in the market. There is still, even in 2019, little need for a mixed OLAP/OLTP database. We covered this in the article How Accurate with Bloor Research on Oracle In Memory?

Both Bloor Research and our conclusion was that the “in-memory” capability that was added to SAP, to DB2, and to Oracle was a gimmick that increased the maintenance overhead of those databases.

Only 2 Years Ahead?

“In my opinion, SAP HANA is approximately 2 years ahead of all the other mainstream in-memory databases on the market. It is very clear that Oracle, Microsoft and IBM are very busy building their solutions and I believe they will be good solutions, in time. But in 2013 and probably through 2014, if you want to invest in an in-memory database for SAP BW, there is only one option: SAP HANA.”

Appleby clearly is trying to make the entirety of the database about the in-memory portion of functionality, which is the only area where HANA lead at this time. However, the rest of HANA entirely lagged competing databases in every other dimension. Oracle caught up to HANA in mid-2014, and DB2 did so at the end of 2014. This is not two years, roughly a year after Appleby made this prediction. Appleby wanted companies to completely turn over the database in order to gain between 6 months and 1 year of better functionality in one area of the database? And after companies did this they would not only have a more expensive database than either Oracle or DB2 but would have a far less mature database than Oracle or DB2 and would have a far higher maintenance database than Oracle or DB2. All of this to gain access

This demonstrates the extreme financial bias of Appleby. It is clear that the only thing Appleby cared about was getting his company more HANA business.


This article receives a .5 out of 10 for accuracy. This is an article that repeats inaccurate SAP and marketing material through a third party that makes it appear as if the information is not directly from SAP.

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