How to Interpret False Information on SAP HANA

What This Article Covers

  • False Information on HANA
  • Larry Ellison’s Fallacious Swipes at HANA?
  • A Big Promise Begins to Pay Off
  • Big Data, No Interruptions
  • IoT + Machine Learning to Build Things Better
  • Not 100% In Memory Computing?
  • Make Data Cents
  • Simply Irresistible?


SAP pushes out a lot of inaccurate information through paid placement into various IT media entities. In this article, we will cover just one such paid placement in the article titled SAP’s HANA Bet Seems to be Paying Off.

Larry Ellison’s Fallacious Swipes at HANA?

There’s a reason that Larry Ellison keeps taking swipes at SAP when he talks about databases in public.

In fact there’s more than one reason — there are 1300. That’s how many enterprises have adopted SAP HANA S/4, the super-fast, in-memory database, since it was made generally available only five years ago.

These are companies who, if not for HANA, might be using Oracle today. And given the rapid pace of innovation on HANA — it’s grown beyond a database and into a platform, beyond an on prem solution to one that has its own cloud, beyond its analytics roots to one that blends Analytics insights into ERP … we could keep going —the list of benefits it offers to companies digitizing for the new economy keeps growing.

Larry Ellison takes swipes at anything that is not pro-Oracle. However, the number of companies that have adopted HANA, say 1300 in this case, does not necessarily mean that HANA is a good choice. SAP, because of its market power has the ability to push HANA into accounts.

HANA is not a platform, it is a database. I cover this topic in the article How to Deflect That You Were Wrong About HANA. HANA is described as a database in its own pricing list and technically HANA is a database. HANA has a new table structure, and what has a table structure? That is right a database.

HANA is not a particularly innovative product. HANA’s column-oriented design was developed back in the 1970s. SAP purchased Sybase IQ, which is a database of a similar design to HANA. Sybase IQ (SAP IQ) has been around for more than 15 years and was habitually a low selling database. In fact, according to DB-Engines, SAP IQ is only the 49th most popular database in the world.

Secondly, Oracle 12c has a superior implementation of a column-oriented design which is covered in the article Which is Faster HANA or Oracle 12c?

HANA is currently almost exclusively sold on premises. Outside of SAP’s acquired applications, SAP does very little cloud, and companies are better off hosting SAP applications on something like AWS or Azure rather than using SAP for hosting. SAP actually relies on its consulting partners for a lot of its hosting. SAP’s lack of capabilities in the cloud was described in the book SAP Nation 2 by Vinnie Mirchandani. It should be noted that this statement regarding the supposed flexibility of the offering of HANA (on-premises, public cloud, private cloud) is a standard SAP talking point. Already at this point in the article, it is clear that SAP, not CMS actually wrote this article.

HANA has performance problems processing standard transaction processing, which is the vast majority of what any ERP system does. HANA is best at read performance, and this is illustrated by the fact that SAP stopped performing transaction processing benchmarking on HANA. This is covered in the article What is the Actual Performance of HANA? 

Digitizing in the new economy is a standard SAP marketing phrase, but it is meaningless. This is covered in the article The Problem with Using the Term Digital Transformation for IT Projects.

A Big Promise Begins to Pay Off

During his Sapphire World keynote in 2013, SAP CEO Bill McDermott told an audience of more than 100,000 in person and online listeners that the company was betting the farm on the new database.

“Let’s be clear on HANA,” he said. “HANA not only represents the intellectual renewal of SAP (SAP was founded in 1972), it is now the platform for every single thing the SAP company will do going forward.”

When you consider that more than 293,500 companies use SAP to run their businesses, and that only a fraction of them use HANA, it was, and still is, a big bet.

But it’s beginning to pay dividends.

Marie Goodell, head of HANA platform marketing at SAP told CMSWire that HANA’s momentum continues to build and that it keeps finding new heights. In fact, it has become the fastest growing product in SAP’s 43 year history.

Bill McDermott is not a reliable source of information about SAP.

HANA is not the platform for every single thing moving forward. In fact, years after this quotation, SAP is finally reducing its emphasis on HANA. For example, SuccessFactors and Ariba are not moving to HANA. Most of SAP’s applications will continue to use non-SAP databases.

Marie Goodell is incorrect. If HANA were actually the fastest growing product in SAP’s 43-year history it would exceed SAP’s R/3 system, which was, in fact, the fastest growing SAP application ever. Also, if HANA was so fast growing, why 4 years after that statement is HANA still only the 19th most popular database in the world, and why does it only have a 6.14% growth rate?

A truly fast growing database, such as Microsoft SQ Server, has a 33% growth rate. PostgreSQL has a 58.28% growth rate.

Big Data, No Interruptions

While SAP HANA’s new or improved database features — like high availability, disaster recovery, hot standby, hardened security and unified administration for cloud and on premises deployments — may not seem all that interesting, how’s this?

It’s the end of the year (like it is now), you’re trying to close out your business and the system keeps crashing. The breakdown doesn’t happen at the beginning, or in the middle, but just as it’s about to finish. Over and over again, kind of like an IT version of Groundhog Day.

This actually happened at a company which Goodell didn’t have permission to name. That company wasn’t able to close out the year. There was too much data, not enough horsepower. Needless to say, it moved to SAP HANA to solve the problem (Goodell wouldn’t have told us the story if that wasn’t the case).

What’s important to note is that SAP HANA’s latest release includes a new hot standby feature to prevent problems like the one that company encountered. It promises to help customers regain faster access to data by switching over to a standby database that is continuously updated with log replays from the primary data source. When problems occur, an enhanced SAP HANA cockpit can be used for offline administration and diagnosis.

Why wouldn’t Goodell have told this story if it wasn’t the case? Heads of marketing tell fibs all the time. Goodell started off in the previous paragraph stating that HANA was growing faster than R/3 back in the late 1980’s, so Goodell’s credibility is not high.

SAP has proposed that S/4HANA processes end of year close much faster than using ECC on Oracle, but Brightwork has analyzed this claim and found it to be false. This is covered in the article Analysis of SAP Provided Information on S/4HANA.

The statement regarding hot standby is unlikely to be as advertised. So far we have seen no innovation that stands out from HANA versus other databases, and unlike SAP’s proposals, HANA is actually more problematic due to maturity issues that more established databases.

Data Points to Dangerous Places

The more data, the better the insights. We’ve all heard this one before. But it’s not always easy to blend vast quantities of different types of data — structured, unstructured, semi structured, IoT, geospatial — to understand relationships between them and to discover new insights and/or anomalies.

That’s what Prescient Traveler uses SAP HANA to do in order to help keep travelers who go to sensitive, and sometimes dangerous places, safe.

Prescient leverages its own proprietary data from high-stakes intelligent operations, irregular warfare and threat analysis systems, blends  it with sentiment analysis gleaned from high volumes of social media and news articles, and then parses it with geospatial data to identify and immediately alert its subscribers who are in proximity of a danger.

SAP’s newest HANA release provides the enhanced text analytic capabilities needed for the job. More specifically, the ability to identify relationships among the elements of a sentence and improved language support for text mining algorithms to produce insights from unstructured content. The release also includes new spatial features, such as clustering and the ability to partition spatial data, to help accelerate analysis and enrich location intelligence. Reverse coding capability has also been added to help pinpoint a location’s latitude and longitude and display specific addresses within a given radius which can help assess the impact of disaster or health care risk.

What does this look like in the real world? Prescient users can receive alerts before they walk into the epicenter of danger. As we’re increasingly learning, insights gleaned from places like Twitter and Facebook might lead to saving lives.

SAP’s 1.1 release for the SAP HANA platform has been certified by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OCG) which helps make it easier to exchange data between third party spatial solutions. SAP will also announce its intention to deeply integrate advanced Esri ArcGIS geospatial capabilities and content across the entire SAP application portfolio.

If Prescient Traveler does this, they have made a poor decision. HANA is not a leader in any of the things mentioned in this article. Just because a customer is using SAP for something does not mean that they are getting value of out of. One has to analyze the implementation, as an independent party to say for sure.

IoT + Machine Learning to Build Things Better

The ability to handle IoT data is quickly becoming a “must have” in the database world, and we’re just beginning to see how sensor data can be leveraged to create new efficiencies. Mercedes Benz, for example, combines sensor data from automobiles in production with ERP systems hosted on HANA and then applies machine learning analytics to improve development and reduce production costs.

This isn’t easy to do from scratch — and that’s where SAP’s new release provides big wins. It offers 70 predictive algorithms out-of-the-box including those that run on live streaming, series and spatial data. These algorithms learn and self-improve to facilitate machine learning.

SAP has been trying hard to co-opt IoT and Machine Learning, but has next to nothing to do with IoT and Machine Learning, as is covered in the article, Why SAP’s Leonardo Seems so Fake.

Make Data Cents

Keeping all of your data in memory isn’t practical or feasible. That’s where SAP’s Hadoop integration comes in. It allows for large data volumes to be managed transparently with policy-based data movement from memory to disk and Hadoop using the data lifecycle management capability. This allows organizations to fully optimize performance-price considerations based on business needs.

Not 100% In Memory Computing?

If putting all data into memory isn’t feasible, then why is SAP pushing so hard on “in-memory computing?” and telling people that everything should be placed into memory?

SAP has been pushing hard to get companies to use HANA with Hadoop, but if we look at the leaders in Big Data, they don’t use HANA. Hortonworks, for example, does not use HANA. Neither does Cloudera. AWS’s Big Data offering does also not offer HANA (but offers HANA for other things) The only people who use HANA with Hadoop are companies that know little about Hadoop, and have been most likely tricked into using it by one of the large consulting companies.

Simply Irresistible?

Yesterday’s databases can’t solve modern problems, SAP HANA can. That’s the message that SAP will keep repeating as its Spotlight Tour travels the world. The business users will no doubt be eager to hear about how digitizing their enterprises will unleash new opportunities. The geeks in the audience will want to get their hands on cool, new tools. But someone is going to need to do the work and pay the tab.

In a world of open source, and what may appear to be cheaper solutions, getting the C-suite, IT and accountants on the same page may not be an easy job. But SAP has a huge customer base and more than four decades of marketing experience to rely on and, so far, it seems to be doing something right.

Oracle 12c, MySQL, Microsft SQL Server, PostgreSQL are not yesterday’s databases. This is a titanically inaccurate statement which would only be made by someone intent on misleading the reader. HANA does really only one thing well, and cannot beat out databases that are also designed to do that one thing (read access for reporting). SAP does keep repeating this message, but it just happens to be false.

Enterprises are already digitized. This occurred decades ago. Digitization means when information is placed into ones and zeros. Who this statement is tricking is a mystery to us.

The clear direction in databases is towards open source. Google built its infrastructure on open source. AWS is mostly open source. HANA is the most expensive database we track and has been relentlessly exaggerated by SAP and their surrogates since its introduction, as covered in the article When Articles Exaggerate the Benefits of HANA.


This was a paid placement and the article is entirely inaccurate.