Getting Clear on SAP S/4HANA Simple Finance & Simple Logistics

Executive Summary

  • The reason that HANA in the name of S/4HANA tells us interesting things about what SAP is communicating to customers.
  • It is unheard of to place the database in the name of the application.
  • Simple Finance and Simple Logistics are immature applications.
  • S/4HANA’s Simple Logistics missed its release date.

Introduction to S/4HANA Naming

There has been quite a bit of marketing information written on SAP S/4HANA. It is hard to overstate how much.

The first introduction of SAP S/4HANA by SAP was quite confusing, and there has been another change since this first introduction. This article will (hopefully) help to explain what appears to be a moving target in SAP’s naming and strategy with its new ERP system.

Breaking Down the S/4 HANA Name

SAP S/4HANA is the new ERP system. The overall naming convention is strange and confusing all by itself. But this is the reason for its naming…according to Hasso Plattner.

  • The “S” is supposed to stand for simple.
  • “4” being what would follow “3” as in R/3. So this would translate to “Simple 4rth major incarnation of the SAP ERP system.”
  • HANA is the database
  • SAP S/4HANA is the ERP system, and HANA is the database is running on. Thus “S/4HANA.”

Why Put the Database as Part of the Name of the Application?

This is the first time that SAP has offered an application and then named the database within the name. SAP S/4HANA only runs on HANA (for now). However, it is either very uncommon or possibly unprecedented for any software vendor to declare the database that an application runs on as part of the name.

This would be like if Oracle only allowed JD Edwards EnterpriseOne ERP system only to run on Oracle, they would name it:

“JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Oracle 12C.”

SAP is naming things way because it is trying to emphasize how important HANA is to the new ERP system. In a future article, I will explain how this strategy is about to fall apart, but I will stick to the naming discussion for this article.

What is the State of Simple Finance?

For some time, the only part of SAP S/4HANA you could buy (i.e., that was released) was the finance area. It was referred to as “S/4 Simple Finance.” This is the first time that SAP released a module of the ERP system all by itself. All previous versions of SAP’s ERP system included the big four or SD, MM, PP & FI/CO. In fact, this integrated feature was SAP’s significant advantage when it came on the scene in the 1980’s and was it’s the main differentiator for many years.

S/4 Simple Finance represented the new version of what was the FI/CO module or financial and controlling in the ERP system.

With all the hype around S/4 Simple Finance, it has gone rather unobserved how strange it is for a vendor to bring out a single module of an ERP system all by itself. I have been scratching my head for over a year trying to figure out who would invest in a module of an ERP system, without getting the rest of it to connect to. With what I will explain, S/4 Simple Finance is now stranded due to development issues at SAP with the remainder of the S/4 suite.

Where Oh Where is Simple Logistics?

SAP has a bit of a problem that is not often discussed, but SAP as been telling companies to jump on board with S/4 Simple Finance because SAP S/4HANA Simple Logistics (which it would connect to) was coming right around the bend. Simple Logistics was the rest of the S/4 suite. SAP has historically put much more effort and functionality in finance than in the rest of the suite. But with Simple Finance and Simple Logistics, this is the first time they released the areas of their ERP application separately. That is with Simple Finance mostly done, and Simple Logistics still very much a work in process.

I was told by several people that I needed to jump on board with  Simple Finance because it was going to make everything so simple and it was of course SAP’s direction. After researching this, both reviewing statements around SAP S/4HANA’s proposed simplified data model as well as the supposedly simplified user interface in Fiori and found these proposals to be incorrect.

This is covered in two articles:

Missing S/4HANA Simple Logistics’ Release Date

The problem is that SAP has very significantly missed its release date on Simple Logistics.

Making so many changes at once to SAP S/4HANA was always risky with the timeline that SAP put out there. And now it is evident that SAP bit off more than they could chew.

Luckily, because so few companies implemented SAP S/4HANA, this will have little impact. Some German companies have implemented S/4 Simple Finance, but almost no companies outside of Germany. So for the vast majority of businesses, there will not be any impact. So it is a good thing that these companies passed on S/4 Simple Finance.

The Plot Thickens for S/4 HANA’s Name

As development has been doing its work, SAP marketing silently went through a change to the overall naming of the new ERP functionality. As I predicted the “simple” adjective is now gone. And S/4 HANA “overall” is now called S/4 HANA Enterprise Management.

SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Management now includes:

  • S/4HANA Finance (not “Simple Finance” mind you. Apparently finance is complicated once again!)
  • S/4HANA Human Resources (Success Factors) (I saw no mention of Old SAP HR so that module has likely and thankfully been removed)
  • SAP S/4HANA Sourcing & Procurement (Ariba) (I saw no mention of SRM or SAP’s pre-Ariba supplier product)
  • SAP S/4HANA Supply Chain (Production, Inventory & Warehousing) (Old PP, MM & WM)
  • SAP S/4HANA Manufacturing (Manufacturing Operations & Quality Management) (Old PP & QM)
  • SAP S/4HANA Sales (Order and Contract Management)

Can You Keep Up with SAP’s Terminology Changes on S/4HANA?

It is no easy feat keeping up with SAP’s S/4HANA terminology. SAP went through a period where they invested mightily in what was essentially a false marketing construct — that the new applications were somehow simple.

While little covered, SAP has a bumpy ride in trying to redo and introduce it’s new ERP system. Marketing is going through multiple name changes before the overall new ERP system is even ready to purchase. Simple Finance and Simple Logistics are now on their way out. SAP’s problems with its S/4HANA overall deadlines are a problem because SAP put so much of its credibility on the line that it would be able to bring out the rest of the S/4HANA suite, and it raises the question of when the real release date of the suite will be. And then, how much after the publication date will the application be ready for actual implementation.

Advice on Enjoying the S/4HANA Quiz

To see the full screen just select the lower right-hand corner and expand. Trust us, expanding makes the experience a whole lot more fun.

 

Conclusion

SAP’s problems with its S/4HANA overall deadlines are a problem because SAP put so much of its credibility on the line that it would be able to bring out the rest of the S/4HANA suite, and it raises the question of when the real release date of the suite will be. And then, how much after the publication date will the application be ready for actual implementation.

At this point, it seems that S/4 Simple Finance was rolled out far too early. I was part of a sales team that was proposing SAP S/4HANA Simple Finance last year. Good thing that the companies we pitched this to, did not purchase this as it is likely that a full functional SAP S/4ERP system (with all the standard modules released) is even now some time away.

Curious about the reality of S/4HANA implementations? See our The S/4HANA Implementation Study, for real story and details on actual S/4HANA implementations.

SAP’s Inaccurate Messaging on S/4HANA as Communicated in SAP Videos

Fact-Checking SAP Information on S/4HANA

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

SAP Video Accuracy Mesurement

Appleby's StatementAccuracy % of the CommentExplanationLink to Analysis Article
S/4HANA is what allows key processes to be digitized.
0%
ECC was already fully digitized and digitized across key business functions.The Problem with Using the Term Digital Transformation on IT Projects
HANA is a Platform
0%
HANA is not a platform, it is a database.How to Deflect You Were Wrong About HANA
Fiori is a major advantage for S/4HANA.
10%
In S/4HANA implementations Fiori is infrequently used when S/4HANA. How Accurate Was SAP on the Number of Fiori Apps?
Fiori is far more efficient than what came before.
10%
In testing Fiori and S/4HANA, Sven Deneken's statements did not hold up. There was a particular weakness in actually making changes after noticing something needed to be changed, and we found the efficiency below that of ECC with of course SAPGUI.
S/4HANA is innovative as it brings "real time inventory."
0%
Sven Deneken brings up the topic of "real-time capabilities," however there is nothing particularly real-time or different in terms of a reaction than ECC. Whenever you make a change in ECC or any other ERP systems for that matter, the entry is real-time. Sven Deneken states that "the physical inventory is the same as the digital inventory." However, under what system would this not be true?What Happened to the Term Perpetual Inventory?
S/4HANA is innovative because it allows access to supplier information.
0%
Sven Deneken states that information about the supplier is "just a fingertip away." Sven Deneken may be familiar with ECC, where supplier data is also a fingertip, or say mouse click away. It called the Vendor Master in ECC.
Sven Deneken says that the cycle could be changed to daily or sub-daily.
0%
Why would that occur? This is a very strange scenario that is being laid out.
S/4HANA is innovative because it allows MRP to be rerun interactively for a product location.
0%
Sven Deneken is extremely confused when he states that S/4HANA allows a fresh MRP run to be performed for a specific product location and that this is a differentiator for S/4HANA. For a single product location, there is no ERP system that cannot run MRP for a single location. Secondly re-running MRP does not remove uncertainties. MRP can be re-run when something changes. For example, when the forecast changes.Performance Problems with HANA and MRP
Sven Deneken states this demo shows SAP has reimagined inventory management.
0%
However, all of this functionality, save for several of the graphics shown in the video have already been available in ECC for many years, in fact, decades.

The Problem: A Lack of Fact-Checking of S/4HANA

There are two fundamental problems around S/4HANA. The first is the exaggeration of S/4HANA, which means that companies that purchased S/4HANA 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.

The Necessity of Fact Checking

We ask a question that anyone working in enterprise software should ask.

Should decisions be made based on sales information from 100% financially biased parties like consulting firms, IT analysts, and vendors to companies that do not specialize in fact-checking?

If the answer is “No,” then perhaps there should be a change to the present approach to IT decision making.

In a market where inaccurate information is commonplace, our conclusion from our research is that software project problems and failures correlate to a lack of fact checking of the claims made by vendors and consulting firms. If you are worried that you don’t have the real story from your current sources, we offer the solution.

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.

S/4HANA Implementation Research

We offer the most accurate and detailed research into S/4HANA and its implementation history. It is information not available anywhere else and is critical correctly interpreting S/4HANA, as well as moderating against massive amounts of inaccurate information pushed by SAP and their financially biased consulting ecosystem.

Select the description that best matches you.

Option #1: Do You Work in Sales for a Vendor?

See this link for an explanation to sales teams.

Option #2: Do You Work for an Investment Entity that Covers SAP?

See this link for an explanation for investment entities. 

Option #3: Are You a Buyer Evaluating S/4HANA?

For companies evaluating S/4HANA for purchase. See this link for an explanation to software buyers

Search Our Other SAP S/4HANA Messaging Content

References

I cover how to interpret risk for IT projects in the following book.

The Risk Estimation Book

Rethinking Enterprise Software Risk: Controlling the Main Risk Factors on IT Projects

Better Managing Software Risk

The software implementation is risky business and success is not a certainty. But you can reduce risk with the strategies in this book. Undertaking software selection and implementation without approximating the project’s risk is a poor way to make decisions about either projects or software. But that’s the way many companies do business, even though 50 percent of IT implementations are deemed failures.

Finding What Works and What Doesn’t

In this book, you will review the strategies commonly used by most companies for mitigating software project risk–and learn why these plans don’t work–and then acquire practical and realistic strategies that will help you to maximize success on your software implementation.

Chapters

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Enterprise Software Risk Management
Chapter 3: The Basics of Enterprise Software Risk Management
Chapter 4: Understanding the Enterprise Software Market
Chapter 5: Software Sell-ability versus Implementability
Chapter 6: Selecting the Right IT Consultant
Chapter 7: How to Use the Reports of Analysts Like Gartner
Chapter 8: How to Interpret Vendor-Provided Information to Reduce Project Risk
Chapter 9: Evaluating Implementation Preparedness
Chapter 10: Using TCO for Decision Making
Chapter 11: The Software Decisions’ Risk Component Model

Risk Estimation and Calculation

Risk Estimation and Calculation

See our free project risk estimators that are available per application. The provide a method of risk analysis that is not available from other sources.

project_software_risk

How SAP HANA vs TeraData and Tableau Market Backend Technology

Executive Summary

  • SAP markets HANA far differently from Teradata or Tableau.
  • We evaluate these approaches.

Introduction

In a previous article, Has SAP’s Relentless SAP Push Paid Off? I cover whether SAP’s HANA major marketing push has provided the intended benefits? However, in this article, I provide several examples of how top competitors market their analytics.

How SAP HANA’s Competitors Market

A competitive analysis is important in this regard because my argument is that if a marketing concept is successful and it is eventually adopted by competitors.

However, focusing on in-memory computing has not been approved by competitors, at least nowhere near to the degree that SAP emphasizes the topic. That should tell SAP something. Let us take a look at two examples of leaders in the analytics space, which is the most relevant comparison to SAP HANA; the software vendors Teradata and Tableau.

Teradata

Teradata is the leader in data warehousing and is the record holder in substantial high-performance databases, however, while they use in-memory computing when it is beneficial, their marketing strategy is not so single-mindedly focused.

Tableau

Tableau’s success is very well known at this point, and it is the leader in its space. Tableau grew rapidly from a small base to become a dominant self-service BI vendor by taking business from larger BI software vendors. SAP purchased Lumia to compete with vendors like Tableau that are seeing most the growth in the BI market.

Look at these samples of how Tableau emphasizes their backend technology.

Here is one of Tableau’s main pages. I deliberately picked a page with the most emphasis on background technology. Most of Tableau’s web pages don’t bring up the backend technology at all.

However, even here, the background technology is a link — that is it is not the original pitch. If you want to select the link you can find out about the background technology. 

Upon clicking, this page comes up, and you can learn about their Visual Query Language for Data, etc…

It is available, but it is in the background. Tableau — as you can see if you visit their site, the user experience, flexibility and many other aspects are emphasized. Their underlying technology is there for those who want to know. However, they don’t lead with it.

Even the technical page discusses more about data than what database is used.

To go back to the first article, Has SAP’s Relentless SAP Push Paid Off?

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 HANA Content

References

I cover the topic of software selection and how to interpret information from different sources in the following book.

Software Selection Book

 

SELECTION

Enterprise Software Selection: How to Pinpoint the Perfect Software Solution Using Multiple Information Sources

Mastering Software Selection

Software selection is a form of forecasting, just as any another purchase decision is a forecast of how successfully the purchased item will meet expectations. Forecasting is necessary because it is not feasible to implement each application under consideration before it is purchased to see how it works in the business.

The Importance of Software Selection

Software selection is the most important part of any software implementation because it is the best opportunity to match the software with the business requirements, which is the most important factor in determining the success of the project. This book explains how to get the right information from the right sources to perform software selection correctly.

What You Can Expect from the Book

Essential reading for success in your next software selection and implementation. Software selection is the most important tasks in a software implementation project, as it is your best (if not only) opportunity to make sure that the right software the software that matches the business requirements is being implemented. Choosing the software that is the best fit clears the way for a successful implementation, yet software selection is often fraught with issues, and many companies do not end up with the best software for their needs. However, the process can be greatly simplified by addressing the information sources that influence software selection.

This book is a how-to guide for improving the software selection process and is formulated around the idea that much like purchasing decisions for consumer products the end user and those with the domain expertise must be included. In addition to providing hints for refining the software selection process, this book delves into the often-overlooked topic of how consulting and IT analyst firms influence the purchasing decision and gives the reader an insider’s understanding of the enterprise software market. By reading this book you will:

  • Learn how to apply a scientific approach to the software selection process.
  • Interpret vendor-supplied information to your best advantage.
  • Understand what motivates a software vendor.
  • Learn how the institutional structure and biases of consulting firms affect the advice they give you, and understand how to interpret information from consulting companies correctly.
  • Make vendor demos work to your benefit.
  • Know the right questions to ask on topics such as integration with existing software, cloud versus on-premise vendors, and client references.
  • Differentiate what is important to know about software for improved “implement-ability” versus what the vendor thinks is important for improved “sell-ability.”
  • Better manage your software selection projects to ensure smoother implementations.

Chapters

  • Chapter 1: Introduction to Software Selection
  • Chapter 2: Understanding the Enterprise Software Market
  • Chapter 3: Software Sell-ability versus Implement-ability
  • Chapter 4: How to Use Consulting Advice on Software Selection
  • Chapter 5: How to Use the Reports of Analyst Firms Like Gartner
  • Chapter 6: How to Use Information Provided by Vendors
  • Chapter 7: How to Manage the Software Selection Process
  • Chapter 8: Conclusion
  • Appendix a: How to Use Independent Consultants for Software Selection

Which is Faster HANA or Oracle 12C?

Executive Summary

  • SAP proposes that HANA has advantages in performance versus all other databases with a database that runs 100,000 times faster than any other.
  • The confusion on HANA vs Oracle performance due to the commingling of hardware speed and database design.
  • SAPs strategy for using HANA to lock out other database vendors (as claimed Teradata).
  • SAP’s conflict of interest in not certifying Oracle 12c for S/4HANA.

Introduction: How HANA Compares to Oracle

HANA is a constant source of discussion on SAP projects. The claims by SAP are enormous, but how many are true. You will learn about the debate and the truth on HANA vs Oracle from an independent source and from the multiple dimensions that are claimed by SAP.

*Note: This article was originally written in April of 2016, and it refers to some articles by SAP earlier than this, however, the article has been updated as of August of 2019, and it is applicable several years later. 

The History of HANA

SAP has promoted HANA has run far faster than any alternative database, and this principally means HANA vs Oracle.

This has been the logic that it has used for why SAP would not port new applications, like S/4 (SAP’s new ERP system) to Oracle. (as Oracle has the largest market share of supporting SAP applications, although SAP also is targeting IBM and SQL Server)

This contention has few independent parties even investigating this issue.

A Recipe for Confusion on HANA vs Oracle: The Commingling of Hardware Speed and Database Design

One of the confusing aspects of HANA vs Oracle is that two different topics are commingled and communicated as if they are one topic.

  • One is the hardware issue, as SAP HANA requires moving the active database into memory.
  • A second aspect is the database design, which is the column-based database.

SAP discusses these two topics as if they are the same subject.

One could say that SAP has done a poor job of explaining the distinction. I don’t think SAP is trying to be clear in this area and is primarily hoping customers are confused.

  • The less clear SAP’s customers are on where the potential benefits are coming from, the more the advantage swings to SAP when it comes to negotiating.
  • The more ability it has to market SAP HANA vs Oracle as a differentiated offering.
  • The more it can position SAP HANA as worthy of a serious price premium.

Something which goes undiscussed by SAP is how SAP HANA is both a technology strategy and a targeted strategy to push Oracle out of SAP accounts.

Take the Queen: SAP’s Strategy for Locking Out Other Vendors

This is an extension of a strategy that SAP has used to great effect for decades, but with a slight twist. SAP kept other applications out of its customers by using the ERP system as a queen on the chessboard.

We refer to this as the “take the queen” software strategy.

By declaring that all other SAP applications would integrate better with the queen, SAP’s customers could have lower risk implementations. This ended up being false — and a primary reason for this was SAP’s applications have been far higher risk than the applications which they competed against. 

The Result of the “Take the Queen” Sales Strategy

This strategy has been enormously successful, even after most vendors have come very close to SAP’s integration with their adapters (only the ERP system is “fully integrated” in that all of the modules run off of the same database, all other SAP applications are connected through adapters, and many SAP acquired applications have worse adapters than non-SAP applications).

The account control features of ERP systems are covered in the article ERP Systems as a Trojan Horse, and ERP Became an Out of Control Octopus.

SAP does not just sell a company an ERP system. The ERP system is just the wedge, that breaks into the account. Like an octopus, SAP keeps hammering on different areas that must be made “SAP standard.” The development language used, the other applications must also be SAP. Now SAP has pushed into the database layer. Oracle, the primary vendor that SAP is trying to push out of SAP accounts with HANA functions the exact same way. 

Using Control of the Application Layer to Push into the Database Layer

One-Time horizontal competition — i.e., competition at the application layer. HANA is a twist on this block out strategy but takes it to the database layer. This is why SAP is so strongly positioning HANA vs Oracle. It is preventing Oracle (and other databases) from competing with S/4 by not certifying Oracle’s database. Even though there is no reason that Oracle, IBM and SQL Server cannot fully support S/4HANA. Further recall that none of the databases in the mix is open source — even though open source databases like PostgresSQL or MariaDB could easily support SAP. This is a battle between monopolistic high overhead and controlling software vendors.

Code Pushdown and Stored Procedures

SAP’s main arguments for why S/4HANA is restricted to HANA is that SAP has pushed some S/4HANA code into HANA, and it is not doing so for Oracle or other databases. The logic of the stored procedures placed into HANA is a cover for the fact that SAP is using S/4HANA’s exclusive certification to drive HANA sales, which we cover in the article SAP’s Arguments on Code Pushdown.

Let us be clear on this topic.

SAP does not care if performance increases for customers. SAP introduced HANA and says what it does about HANA for one reason, to increase its sales and to push Oracle out of accounts. SAP consultants at SAP consulting firms that repeat HANA talking points don’t themselves know if they are true, and also normally don’t care. They make statements in order to increase billing hours.

Finally, the general database knowledge inside of SAP, and inside of the consulting firms of SAP consulting firms is quite poor, and at Brightwork, we don’t pay attention to what SAP resources say about HANA because it never matches the data points we receive from SAP customers or the private benchmarking information that we have access to or the evidence and history around HANA performance that we have extensively researched.

The Real Opportunity with HANA vs Oracle?

It has been proposed to me that the real chance with HANA is for the company to place ERP and all other SAP applications on HANA. Then the analytics engine can sit right on the same hardware. And now no integration or transformation is necessary, and now analytics reports right off of the application tables.

Cognitive

However, wait one second. I know that is feeling mighty big in its britches after over five years of breathless conferences about the brave new world of analytics, and the new Big Data and overall analysts obsession (which has lead to far fewer benefits than originally proposed). However, are we now going to transform all of the hardware to be optimized for analytics?

  • Also, what about non-SAP applications? They won’t sit on HANA, so they do have to be integrated and transformed.
  • Will SAP now make the argument that those applications are legacy because they don’t sit on the “strategic platform” for the company?

Secondly, using HANA is expensive. Even more expensive than Oracle which is already very expensive, and exorbitant if one follows Oracle’s “advice” and activates the higher-end functionality.

HANA is Not Expensive…Hasso?

Hasso Plattner has routinely argued that SAP HANA is not expensive.

Typically Hasso Plattner will use the example of compression that is available in column-based databases to reduce the footprint. Hasso has so frequently talked about compression because HANA is priced per GB, which is strange for a database as most commercial databases are priced per CPU. If Hasso or the SAP account rep can make the database sound like it will be smaller than it is, SAP can get more sales.

However, if you talk to SAP account executives, they will tell you that SAP HANA is expensive. Furthermore, they will inform you that HANA is very hard to position for this reason, once the price tag comes back, the customer balks. We have routinely priced HANA for customers and there is simply no getting around the fact that HANA is the most expensive database among the competiting options.

We cover HANA pricing in the article How to Understand S/4HANA and HANA Pricing.

It is a simple thing for Hasso Plattner to propose in interviews how SAP HANA could in some hypothetical sense be not too expensive. But all other sources point to HANA being quite expensive. And you will not be buying HANA from Hasso but an SAP account executive.

Hasso Plattner’s Constant Inaccuracy

Something important to consider is that Hasso’s accuracy historically is quite poor, and I don’t see analysts or the traditional IT media outlets recording this inaccuracy or commenting upon it.

I have performed a detailed analysis of Hasso’s statements on HANA and when Hasso says something, he is normally wrong.

Hasso considers himself a professor and highly technical visionary. However, his accuracy puts him close to a salesperson as we cover in the article Thomas Edison, Elizabeth Holmes and Hasso Plattner. and How Much Should Hasso Plattner Be Cut Slack for Lying?

As we cover in a few paragraphs, SAP will never allow a fair competition against Oracle or other databases, because SAP knows it will lose. SAP is both the gunfighter in this scenario and also the entity supervising the gunfight, as it is the certifying entity. SAP also has the power to block any database provider from publishing any benchmark under the partnership agreement. 

The Fastest Database in the West (HANA vs Oracle)?

There is evidence building that HANA is not the speed champion that SAP says that it is. One of the primary performance weaknesses of HANA is very rarely addressed. HANA as a column-based database is not the correct database design for non-analytic applications. SAP has said that it is, but this is from the computer science perspective, not true.

Although SAP obscures the fact that HANA cannot be 100% column-based or column-oriented in design.

As I pointed out in the article Where HANA Gets it’s Speed, for inserts, deletes or updates — which what a transactions processing system does all the time, the column-based table is slower than the row-based.

Row-oriented databases are what is known as the relational database, but which is a row-based database.

The Great Database Speed Debate

John Soat is a writer that works for Oracle, and like Hasso is not an independent source on this topic. However, John’s article in Forbes makes some good points on the topic of HANA vs Oracle. One that stuck out was SAP’s demurring on releasing HANA performance benchmarks for transaction processing.

“..SAP has not published a single benchmark result for any of its transaction processing applications running on HANA. Why Not?”

And I would say it is quite obvious why not. And that is for transaction processing systems like ERP systems these benchmarks won’t be particularly fast.

Vinnie Mirchandani, who was an independent source of the SAP HANA/Oracle 12C debate at the time of publication of SAP Nation 2.0, in his book SAP Nation 2.0 reinforces John Soat’s point on benchmarks.

“It has not helped matters that SAP has been opaque about HANA benchmarks. For two decades, its SD benchmark, which measures SAP customer order lines processed in its Sales and Distribution (SD) module, has been the gold standard for measuring new hardware and software infrastructure. It has not released those metrics using a HANA database.”

Misdirection from John Appleby

Is it possible that SAP performed the benchmarking but it was poor, so it simply stopped reporting the result?

John Appleby, the Global Head of HANA at Bluefin Consulting and a well known HANA advocate and someone who has provided an enormous amount of false information about HANA has this to say about the topic — which is also documented in SAP Nation 2.0.

“The answer for the SAP Business Suite is simple right now: you have to scale-up. This advice might change in the future, but even an 8-socket 6TB system will fit 95% of SAP customers, and the biggest Business Suite installations in the world can fit in a SGI 32-socket with 24TB — and that is before considering Simple Finance or Data Aging, both of which decrease memory footprint dramatically.”

I can’t tell if this is in direct response to the lack of transparency on transaction benchmarks, but if it is, it is an inadequate response. In fact, it looks to me that John Appleby is changing the topic in his answer.

We tracked John Appleby’s accuracy and displayed the article The Appleby Accuracy Checker: A Study into John Appleby’s Accuracy on HANA. Back in 2013 Appleby was aggressively and falsely promoting HANA in order to get his company ready to sell to Mindtree as we covered in the article Appleby’s False HANA Statements and the Mindtree Acquisitions.

The Appleby (Formerly Known as the Hasso) Pivot

The question is related to a performance of a transaction processing system on HANA vs Oracle, and John Appleby quickly moves to a discussion of how much companies should only buy more hardware and not worry about it. What is John Appleby talking about here?

He states that “for the SAP Business Suite.” and then goes on to declare the answer for this suite.

Well, the only part of the SAP Business Suite that is ready for HANA (at the time of this quotation) was S/4 Finance. There is lots of debate as to how implementable S/4 Finance was at this time.

Secondly, the rest of the suite, now called SAP HANA Enterprise Management, as I stated, was not available for purchase at this time. John Appleby is phrasing his response to what should be the future tense as if it is the present tense.

Is it, in fact, critical to scale up for something that does not yet exist?

Is Oracle Monkeying with the S/4 Certification?

John Soat also points out that while Oracle performed very well on one particular benchmark, but SAP will not certify the result as SAP states that Oracle manipulated the test.

Now I was not at the trial, so I am in no position to say what Oracle did or did not do. Oracle has their story, and SAP has theirs. John Soat has a good explanation of each side’s position in his article.

Also, Stephan Kohler, an Oracle performance database consultant had the following to say on this topic.

“SAP already answered why they do not accept the benchmark results (you also find this in the mentioned article – Copy & Paste: “Oracle manipulated its BW-EML benchmark by using a custom setup involving database functions known as triggers and materialized views that can lead to hard-to-spot data inconsistencies and aren’t supported in real-world production environments.”). The reason was the use of triggers and materialized views, which are supposed to be not supported. However if SAP would have checked their own SAPnotes – you can see that it is clearly supported and also used in SAP ECO Space. SAPnote #105047: “Materialized Views – Use permitted.

For more information, see SAP Note 741478.” SAPnote #105047: “Trigger – Use permitted as part of the SAP standard system (for example, BW trigger /BI0/05* in accordance with SAP Note 449891, incremental conversion ICNV). Use of Logon Trigger permitted in accordance with SAP Note 712777. Implicit use as part of Oracle features permitted (for example, online reorganisation, materialized views, GridControl/Enterprise Manager). Use in connection with materialized views in an SAP BW system is permitted as long as no flat cubes are available as an alternative. There is no SAP Integration and SAP does not offer support for this.” Flat cubes are available in Beta since Q1/2016 – so nothing relevant to the Oracle benchmark from 2015.”

And this leads to the next topic, and it is a big one.

SAP’s Conflict of Interest in Not Certifying Oracle 12c

The issue that SAP now completes with all of the hardware vendors places SAP in a conflict of interest when certifying databases; this is a conflict of interest that before its investment into HANA it did not have. What was once a straightforward process is now rife with political intrigue where one now has to parse the statements by SAP and Oracle to see who is telling the truth.

How can SAP certify Oracle, that is give them a fair hearing, if, by certifying Oracle, SAP cut’s into their market share for HANA?

The Mode Switching of Oracle 12c, a New Wrinkle in HANA vs Oracle

Oracle 12c can switch between “modes” displaying either in memory rows or memory columns. That is a serious advantage. IBM BLU has a similar ability. Although there is not that much evidence that there is a major need for a database that does both OLTP and OLAP — and it may not be feasible to design one that does each type of database processing equally well. In fact, the trend in databases is the opposite of this, with specialized database designs such as NoSQL, indexing databases flourishing.

However, getting back to the HANA versus Oracle 12c discussion:

  • Oracle’s flexible design should beat SAP HANA in performance for all but pure analytic applications. 
  • The logic presented by SAP that the entire database should be columnar never made sense because few tables are used in analytics. Therefore does it make sense to use analytics-optimized tables (the columnar design) for every single application table?
  • There is a debate as to how mature Oracle’s in-memory database is. SAP lists 7,000 SAP HANA customers. However, most of these customers are known to either not use the software at all (i.e., it is shelf-ware) or to be test systems, not live systems. As a consequence, SAP HANA skills are still quite hard to find.

Furthermore, Oracle’s in-memory modal switch adds to the price of Oracle 12c both in license and in maintenance.

SAP’s Rigged Benchmarks

SAP has had ample opportunity to prove their claims of superiority around HANA, but have never done so. SAP has never allowed a comparative benchmark in transaction processing, as is covered in the article The Hidden Issue with the SD HANA Benchmark. And because HANA performed so poorly in the transaction process benchmark, it created a new benchmark that attempts to cover up this fact, but the benchmark they provided is designed around analytics which is covered in the article The Four Hidden Issues with SAP’s BW-EML Benchmark. This overall topic has come to a head, as numerous companies have complained about HANA’s transaction processing performance, which brings up the question of how well HANA can support an ERP system as is covered in the article HANA as a Mismatch for S/4HANA and ERP.

Advice on Enjoying the Quiz

To see the full screen just select the lower right-hand corner and expand. Trust us, expanding makes the experience a whole lot more fun.

 

Conclusion

With Oracle 12c, Oracle 12c can switch between row-based and column-based tables and switch for the same table, which is a new capability.

As far as I can tell, just about all of the SAP marketing documentation on HANA has preceded this development. If I were heading up HANA marketing at SAP, I would not want to address Oracle 12c, because I would not have a good answer for it. This is because Oracle 12c undermines lots of effort expended on the part of SAP to get SAP customers to think that SAP HANA technology is unique to SAP to position SAP HANA as unique and better.

The new capabilities of Oracle 12c undermine some SAP contentions that have been proposed over the years. SAP has not addressed Oracle 12c, and most of the material created on SAP HANA was developed before Oracle 12c was released. IBM and MS SQL Server have similar column store capabilities. Not because there was a big reason to develop them, but because SAP, through its enormous marketing placed the focus on this type of database functionality.

First, SAP now does not have a good reason — or should I say a good idea if it puts its customer’s interests first, to only port new SAP applications (like S/4) to SAP HANA.

Dictating the Database to the Customers?

The previous argument that only SAP could provide a fast enough database is most likely untrue. It was always a poor argument because regardless of the reason. No application vendor should be dictating the data layer to its customers. However, repeatedly that is what SAP has said that it wants to do.

“SAP still believes in running the new system in the cloud and on premise, but it will be only SAP S/4HANA with which we can achieve this in one software version going forward. This will reduce the TCO and speed up the so much needed step into the future. Every single application area like data entry, standard reporting, analytics and predictions, the digital boardroom or the multi-channel customer interaction, to name a few, becomes a world class component  in its own right. This alone is a reason to consider an earlier migration to SAP S/4HANA.” – Hasso Plattner

SAP’s Interest in Sending the IT Industry Back in Time

At the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, there is an exhibit that explains that at one time the software was proprietary to the hardware vendor. At that point software was not an “industry,” and a program released by IBM could only run on IBM hardware. The software was not charged for separately, so there was no competition at the software level.

The software industry we know it today only came into its own after it was decoupled from the hardware. And this was only done by the threat of the US enforcing anti-trust legislation against the proprietary software model and hardware vendors. HANA as a coupling between the applications and database layer — controlled by a single vendor, takes us back in time.

This creates what amounts to a proprietary application/database combination.

  • SAP’s argument that only column-based databases have a future is also untrue.
  • Finally, unsurprisingly to those who know the database vendors and their history, the idea that only SAP can develop a high-performance database that meets the speed capabilities of HANA is untrue.

SAP’s argument has not been that they are simply the equal of every other database vendor. With HANA they are superior to every other database vendor. That, of course, includes HANA vs Oracle or anyone else for that matter.

SAP certainly can and will keep selling HANA vs Oracle. But the exclusivity argument that SAP has been proposing is no longer a possible position to believe.

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
Accuracy
Brightwork Fact Check
Link to Analysis Article
HANA is a Platform
0%
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.
10%
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
0%
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.
0%
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.
0%
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.
0%
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.
0%
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.
0%
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.
0%
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 that 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.

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.

The Necessity of Fact Checking

We ask a question that anyone working in enterprise software should ask.

Should decisions be made based on sales information from 100% financially biased parties like consulting firms, IT analysts, and vendors to companies that do not specialize in fact-checking?

If the answer is “No,” then perhaps there should be a change to the present approach to IT decision making.

In a market where inaccurate information is commonplace, our conclusion from our research is that software project problems and failures correlate to a lack of fact checking of the claims made by vendors and consulting firms. If you are worried that you don’t have the real story from your current sources, we offer the solution.

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 HANA Performance Content

References

https://www.forbes.com/sites/oracle/2015/12/18/oracle-challenges-sap-on-in-memory-database-claims/

*https://www.amazon.com/SAP-Nation-2-0-empire-disarray-ebook/dp/B013F5BKJQ

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proprietary_software

Why SAP HANA Is Fast Database For Analytics

Executive Summary

  • We explain what the HANA database is at the most basic level.
  • We then explain the primary beneficial usage of HANA, and then its limitations.

Introduction

SAP has made many proposals around HANA’s performance, but the majority of people that discuss HANA do not appear to understand the logic of the performance claims or whether they are true. You will learn the truth around HANA’s capabilities.

Understanding SAP’s Marketing Around HANA

As I explained in this previous article titled Has SAP’s Relentless HANA Push Paid Off?, I brought up the fact that SAP has redirected its marketing efforts to focus to a very significant degree on SAP HANA. However…

  • What is SAP HANA
  • What are the actual SAP HANA technology underpinnings to SAP HANA?
  • That is what makes SAP HANA go so fast?

In this article, you will learn what is SAP HANA. This will be explained in a way that should be accessible to anyone from executives to users to anyone interested in understanding the parts about HANA that is real.

What is SAP HANA Database at the Most Basic Level (What is SAP HANA)

SAP HANA is the name SAP uses to describe its offering that combines software and hardware for enhancing speed, principally based upon leveraging hardware performance improvements and cost reductions in random access memory and solid-state memory, and then changing data management software that interacts with this hardware.

SAP HANA must be simplified for decision-makers to be able to move beyond the marketing hype and simplistic platitudes in their determinations of how and when to use HANA.

The first thing to understand is that SAP HANA is simply the branding of some technologies. These are not technologies on which SAP has a monopoly. The two principal technologies are the following:

  1. Storing a Databases in Memory (in RAM or SSD) Versus on Disk
  2. The Columnar Database

I should also point out that SAP is a relative newcomer to databases — they have had some small database projects like SAPDB/MaxDB, and they made a quite large acquisition of Sybase back in 2010. However, for almost all of SAP’s history their software has resided on the databases of other software vendors. This is a long way of me saying that there is not a lot of databases that SAP knows that other software vendors do not also know. SAP is simply the most important and aggressive marketer of this approach.

SAP HANA Database Overview: Improvements to Storage Hardware and the Corresponding Changes to HANA Database Queries

As is explained quite nicely by Professor Sam Madden at MIT, data queries change when a database is moved from spinning hard disks to either random access memory or solid-state memory.

How Data Access Works

  • When a spinning disk is used, even if a query requires only three fields within a 10-field table, the software must read all ten fields.
  • If the table is 1,000,000 records and 100 megabytes, then the entire table must be read to complete the query.

And in fact, this is not even the worst part. This is because questions often involve multiple tables.

A query which pulls three fields, but which are distributed in 3 tables, must read every single one of those tables to completion.

This is a function of how the data is accessed on a spinning disk.

However, this is not the case when data is stored in random access memory or solid-state memory. Here, a query that uses only three fields is only required to read three fields, regardless of the number of fields in that table.

The Elimination of Swapping

Traditional database systems stored on a disk spend lots of time in an activity known as swapping. Swapping is where data is read into memory from the disk. It is processed, written back to disk, purged, and a new cycle is begun.

In memory, databases remove this swapping because all of the data that is manipulated in loaded into storage. As previously stated, disks within a HANA implementation are not used for primary processing, but for offline data backup.

SAP HANA is often justified by performance. It is important to consider that performance does not correlate directly with business benefit. SAP wants companies to make this error as it puts them in the driver’s seat.

SAP is not interested in the sticky questions related to actual business benefits of SAP HANA, because then the story begins to be much less impressive.

Compression

Why is Compression So Effective in HANA Database?

Column-based databases like a SAP HANA database have a significant advantage when it comes to data compression. This is because once placed into columns; files can be compressed very easily.

This is because there are often so many duplicates in any particular column.

A good example of this is a column that contains the color of a product.

  • If the column has 1000 records…
  • and there are five colors that are possible…
  • then, of course, most of the fields are duplicates…
  • so 200 white, 300 blue, 250 red, etc.…

This means less data redundancy to begin, in addition to the compression — which comes from having fewer unique combinations.

The Importance of the Commonality of the Data Type

This compression is possible because all of the data in a table/column is the same data type. And in many cases, the compression is very significant. It is common to be able to compress columnar databases in the 80% and up range. This process of moving from a standard “row oriented” relational database to a columnar (every table is one column of data) is called horizontal partitioning.

This is because the normal relational table is broken into columns or partitioned.

SAP’s Proposed Reasons for Its Position

SAP has presented HANA as so unique that customers should be prepared only to run the new ERP system — S/4HANA on HANA, and that S/4HANA will not ever be ported to any other database platform. As the vast majority of SAP ERP systems currently run on Oracle, that is quite a bold stance.

SAP proposes that the reason for taking this position is the following:

  • No other database vendor can match SAP’s performance.
  • SAP has moved code — called stored procedures — into the HANA database, and by implication, that the application is now tied to the database.
  • SAP has been more obscure about other applications outside of ERP, but SAP desired state is only to replace other databases with HANA so that it’s applications and its databases are tied at the hip.

What is HANA and Is the Technology Unique to SAP?

What is HANA? Well, HANA is a columnar oriented database. But what SAP does not explain is that all the other major database vendors have some similar design available. In fact, columnar databases have been in existence since the 1970s. What changed was that the price and capacity of random access memory or solid-state memory had improved so significantly that the database design can now be better leveraged. Interestingly with Oracle 12c, a competitive database can not only match HANA in analytics, but it can switch between row based and column based tables and change for the same table.

Now that SAP has a competitive product with Oracle’s database, the issue of SAP not issuing the certification to Oracle has arisen, something that is explained in the article Which is Faster, HANA or Oracle 12C?

Columnar databases have their advantages. However, they are not universal benefits. SAP HANA is presented by SAP as a universally advantageous combination of database design combined with faster memory/storage. The less one knows about databases, the more this seems credible.

What Improves with the Columnar Database?

While it is true that a columnar database is a radically different a row-based table database, and the differences do not stop at the configuration of the tables – it also means the use of fewer indexes. This is a positive development for database cost because building indexes for analytical purposes is a source of overhead and rework for companies that use standard relational databases for analytics.

This means that by breaking the table into one file per column, the database stored in random access memory or solid-state memory can access only the fields that are part of the query.

Now queries that only pull two fields, perform much faster than queries that pull four areas. And this example has been when a table contains ten fields or columns. However, tables much larger than this are very common.

It is not at all uncommon to find tables with 100 fields/columns. On average, a query will have between 3 to 5 fields/columns.

An Important Lesson on SAP HANA Benefits

As I explained in this previous article titled Has SAP’s Relentless HANA Push Paid Off?, I brought up the fact that SAP has redirected its marketing efforts to focus to a very significant degree on SAP HANA

SAP HANA does not benefit every business function equally, because not all functions of activity are a bottleneck due to speed limitations, and SAP HANA does not work the same way regarding its speed for every application.

  • To understand the benefits of SAP HANA, as well as its limitations, it is necessary to get into the computer science of what makes up SAP HANA.
  • A solution like SAP HANA allows businesses to do things that it could not do before, so some forecasting or projection is required to fully leverage SAP HANA because merely doing the same things one is currently doing faster is not where the opportunities with SAP HANA lay.

The Limitations of HANA’s Performance Even Within Analytics

For some time we have been saying that HANA’s only beneficial area of performance is for analytics, which is called a read operation in database speak.

However, there is a level below this in detail. HANA’s primary beneficial area is for short SQL queries. A good example of a short SQL query would be a query for BW.

Long Versus Short SQL Queries

HANA’s performance degrades for longer queries.

A good example of a longer query is within ECC or S/4HANA. This is where the data is less prepared.

However, in SAP’s marketing material, they propose that HANA is excellent for reporting on ERP systems. There is no evidence of this up to this point. In fact, the evidence points in the opposite direction quite strongly as we cover in the article Why HANA is a Mismatch for S/4HANA and ERP.

Ironically, we have had many people tell us that once reports can be run from the ERP system, there will be no reason to have a centralized BI system. But the performance of HANA does not support this vision.

What Happened to SAP’s Row Store Performance?

This following quotation can be found in Oracle’s “Analysis of HANA HA” document.

“The SAP HANA database consists of two database engines:

The column-based store, storing relational data in columns, optimized for holding data mart tables with large amounts of data, which are aggregated and used in analytical operations.

The row-based store, storing relational data in rows.

This row store is optimized for write operations and  has a lower compression rate, and its query performance is much lower compared to the column-based store”

Apparently, not all row-based stores are created equal, as HANA’s performance for ECC is worse for transactions than ECC on Oracle or IBM’s pre-column store databasesThis explained the performance differences between Oracle DB, DB2, SQL server, MaxDB and Sybase ASE even though all are row based by default. 

One thing to remember is that HANA is still a relatively new database. When discussing this with a very experience database resource, the pointed out the following observation.

“That’s is no way a brand new row based DB can beat all these databases above which are optimised over so many years especially Oracle DB.”

Stupid Uses for SAP HANA

SAP is feverishly pitching HANA for all types of inappropriate and wasteful uses and uses which have nothing to do with what it actually does well. I am getting information about SAP CRM being placed on HANA. for what reason?

Let us stop to think. Who would put CRM on HANA?

HANA For CRM?

This is just about one of the silliest uses of HANA. CRM systems have very low requirements. Honestly, one can barely justify even using a CRM system versus a spreadsheet. Why would one need such fast read access for a CRM system?

HANA for Big Data?

So SAP has HANA to offer in the Big Data space, but HANA can’t possibly be a good use for Big Data because it is not for unstructured data and it is quite expensive, and it is priced per GB or TB. This topic is covered in the article The Secret to Not Talking About HANA Pricing. SAP’s argument is that HANA can be connected to Hadoop using Vora, but why would Hadoop need HANA? And is it really a Big Data database if it just connects to a real Big Data database that does all the heavy lifting?

On G2Crowd, SAP is not even listed on Big Data processing ratings, in which Hadoop, Cloudera, HortonWorks, and DataBricks are the top rated.

HANA for the Enterprise Data Warehouse?

None of this background has stopped SAP from proposing companies use HANA as the EDW. And when SAP proposes using HANA for the EDW, they also mean using an SAP data application to sit on top of HANA.

  • Expense: The first problem is that HANA is still so expensive that it is not financially feasible in most cases to push so much data inside of it. HANA’s high TCO is not merely related to its license cost, but to its hardware requirements, its high implementation and maintenance overhead, the difficulty in finding experienced skills and its immaturity.
  • 100% In Memory for an EDW?: Much of the data in an EDW does not require the performance capabilities of an in-memory database. In memory databases really only make sense for supporting databases that have a high query volume, not data stores that are used to feed the queried database.
  • Migrating All Data to Column Oriented Tables for Storage?: Most data in companies is not stored in the column-oriented tables that are used in HANA. For this reason, moving data into a HANA “powered” Enterprise Data Warehouse would mean changing the data from its original storage structure into the HANA structures. This is an unnecessary and overcomplicated amount of work and overhead to maintain before one even gets to the question of what SAP product should be used. SAP BW is too high in overhead to be an effective EDW tool, and Business Objects has been so starved of development by SAP, that it is no longer an application that companies should be considered for investment due to competitiveness and support issues. And once one eliminates these two data applications, there is nothing else that SAP offers that could fill this role to interoperate with HANA, even if HANA were a good choice for being the EDW database.

The Problems with Finding Uses Cases for SAP HANA Technology

It is also well known it is difficult to come up with use cases for HANA, and that is a problem for closing a HANA sale. So once we get past the presentations about HANA’s capabilities, there are real issues with customer interest and adoption.

This should be acknowledged when discussing the continuation of the HANA marketing strategy.

Who is Measuring the Benefits of SAP HANA Technology

HANA is slated to be the infrastructure of all SAP applications eventually. Let me first address one of the most common implementations of HANA.

This is porting SAP’s BI/BW onto HANA, which is considered one of the most straightforward implementations of HANA that can be performed. However, at companies where I have seen this accomplished, while the reports do run faster, the major bottleneck, which is the backlog of reports that have yet to be created does not change.

Noting this is the difference between simply observing a performance improvement versus understanding the overall benefits of implementing a technology.

SAP Applications on Top of SAP HANA

In other cases where HANA is proposed, such as Simple Finance (where FI/CO is ported to HANA with a new user interface called Fiori), being able to quickly process finance transactions has not been a constraint in ERP systems for many years. In this case, there is an extra complexity. This is because the front end of Finance is different than ECC. It does operate more efficiently than the SAPGUI. That is not HANA – that is it is not the infrastructure change out that is the major differentiating factor.

This is another common problem with HANA, the descriptions of what it improves often morphs into discussions of other new SAP products that are not in fact HANA.

Therefore a discussion that starts off with SAP HANA technology ends up with as a discussion on some other technology.

SAP HANA Warning

It is about as easy to get incorrect information on SAP HANA as it is to get it on Big Data. 

This issue with the excessive hyperbole on SAP HANA is a serious problem concerning understanding what it can do and how it should be used. It was developed to help cut through the hyperbole on HANA and provide a basis for which to analyze SAP HANA statements.

However, this is of course only one dimension of understanding SAP HANA. None of the consulting companies will touch this issue and have served primarily as sales arms of SAP since — well since they started partnering with SAP. The vast majority of analysts either have a conflict of interest in bringing this up, don’t understand databases well enough to know what part of the SAP HANA story is real and what part is smoke. One perfect example of this inaccuracy that flows through the HANA explanations is the following:

“Relational databases typically use row-based data storage. However Column-based storage is more suitable for many business applications. SAP HANA supports both row-based and column-based storage, and is particularly optimized for column-based storage.” – SAP HANA Tutorial

SAP and their consulting network continue to present all other databases as “traditional.” However, Oracle, DB2 and SQL Server all have column stores. And because each company is better at databases than SAP (a newbie to DBs), the evidence indicates is that both Oracle, DB2 and SQL Server are better that HANA at even the column/analytics processing. However, SAP is not updating the information it first began distributing back when these other vendors were further back than SAP on column oriented processing. SAP wants to freeze all of their competing database vendors back in 2011. Here is another quote that continues the inaccuracy that only SAP has columnal storage.

“Can we just increase the memory of the traditional database (like Oracle) to 1 TB and get similar performance?

NO. You might have performance gains due to more memory available for your current Oracle/Microsoft/Teradata database, but HANA is not just a database with bigger RAM. It is a combination of a lot of hardware and software technologies. The way data is stored and processed by the In-Memory data base is the true differentiator. Having that data available in RAM is just the icing on the cake.” – SAP HANA Tutorial

But in fact, HANA does memory optimize. The curious thing is that SAP does not seem to have the same capabilities to optimize memory, so it has to brute force the solution with very large hardware specs. Benchmarks by a vendor shared with me illustrate that the hardware that HANA has is not addressed properly. So a lot of the hardware ends up being wasted.

HANA as a Major Marketing Tentpole

SAP HANA has been a marketing tentpole of SAP for over 4.5 years. Still, the knowledge of SAP HANA is still fragile. Secondly, few people have implemented a HANA system, and shockingly few have implemented any SAP HANA once one gets past the most common implementation, which is porting the SAP BW to SAP HANA. SAP has seen little return on its SAP HANA investment, but SAP HANA is still rising as a topic of interest — perhaps not among those that work in close collaboration with SAP, but overall. This was verified by web metrics and was a surprise.

There are a lot of interesting storylines to cover on SAP HANA, and we will cover as much as we have the time and the information and understanding to cover.

Advice on Enjoying the Quiz

To see the full screen just select the lower right-hand corner and expand. Trust us, expanding makes the experience a whole lot more fun.

 

Conclusion

This article was designed as a SAP HANA technology overview. Columnar databases have speed advantages. However, they are not universal benefits.

A columnar database like SAP HANA is not at all new. Most of what I have written above was true decades ago. However, the difference is that columnar databases have a particular advantage when used with memory versus disks. This is due to how the media is read, and it turns out that a database with “narrow” tables — (the narrowest being 1 column) combined with that database being stored in memory makes for very fast retrieval. However, this is an analytics purpose. And not all computational functions are analytical.

While all data actions improve with faster hardware, specific actions are better or worse depending on the type of action taken. Therefore, it should be specified that the column based database is only optimized for the data retrieval action.

HANA’s underlying technologies — in-memory databases and the column-based database (as opposed to the row based) were not invented by SAP, and the techniques are not unique to SAP.

  1. It is incorrect to propose columnar databases as a newer design since both columnar and row-based databases have been around for about the same amount of time — it is merely that columnar databases were never accessible or attractive.
  2. With the ability to use more significant amounts of memory, columnar databases, or emulated columnar databases have begun to receive more attention, but outside of SAP, this attention has been almost entirely for use in analytics. SAP is the only software vendor that proposes that columnar databases are better for all applications.

Compression is an advantage of column-based databases — and this has been true since column based database was invented. However, column-based databases represent only a small fraction of the overall database market. Why? Well, there is much more to database design than compression. SAP will most often bring up a positive aspect of HANA — or a column based database, but leave out the negatives.

HANA is presented by SAP as a universally advantageous combination of database design combined with faster memory/storage. The less one knows about databases, the more this seems credible. The article Mismatch Between HANA and S/4HANA and ECC explains why SAP HANA’s speed benefits do not hold true for this type of application.

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
Accuracy
Brightwork Fact Check
Link to Analysis Article
HANA is a Platform
0%
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.
10%
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
0%
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.
0%
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.
0%
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.
0%
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.
0%
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.
0%
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.
0%
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.

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.

The Necessity of Fact Checking

We ask a question that anyone working in enterprise software should ask.

Should decisions be made based on sales information from 100% financially biased parties like consulting firms, IT analysts, and vendors to companies that do not specialize in fact-checking?

If the answer is “No,” then perhaps there should be a change to the present approach to IT decision making.

In a market where inaccurate information is commonplace, our conclusion from our research is that software project problems and failures correlate to a lack of fact checking of the claims made by vendors and consulting firms. If you are worried that you don’t have the real story from your current sources, we offer the solution.

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
Accuracy
Brightwork Fact Check
Link to Analysis Article
HANA runs more "in-memory" than other databases.
10%
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.
0%
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.
0%
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."
0%
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.
0%
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.
0%
Netweaver is not relevant for this discussion. Secondly Netweaver is not an efficient environment from which to develop.
HANA works with Business Objects
10%
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.
0%
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.
0%
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.
0%
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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References

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRvkikVuojU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRvkikVuojU

https://www.datasciencecentral.com/profiles/blogs/row-vs-columnar-vs-nosql-databases

*https://gigaom.com/2010/05/12/analysis-why-sap-bought-sybase-for-5-8-billion/

https://searchdatamanagement.techtarget.com/definition/columnar-database

https://docs.aws.amazon.com/redshift/latest/dg/c_columnar_storage_disk_mem_mgmnt.html

https://docs.aws.amazon.com/redshift/latest/dg/t_Creating_tables.html

https://www.oracle.com/technetwork/database/in-memory/overview/twp-oracle-database-in-memory-2245633.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/oracle/2015/12/18/oracle-challenges-sap-on-in-memory-database-claims/#4206580e177f

https://saphanatutorial.com/sap-hana-online-courses/

It should be noted that spinning disks are still used in HANA installation, but they are now primarily relegated to backup and archival, so their reduced speed does not interfere with the processing time of queries.

Compression is its area of specialty within database design. Database administrators can choose from different approaches or compression algorithms.

Regarding hardware, overall hardware advances have been benefiting all computer users for some time, and the rightful claimants to these benefits are the hardware manufacturers, not the software vendors. This is a typical progression in computer technology.

I cover how to interpret risk for IT projects in the following book.

The Risk Estimation Book

Rethinking Enterprise Software Risk: Controlling the Main Risk Factors on IT Projects

Better Managing Software Risk

The software implementation is risky business and success is not a certainty. But you can reduce risk with the strategies in this book. Undertaking software selection and implementation without approximating the project’s risk is a poor way to make decisions about either projects or software. But that’s the way many companies do business, even though 50 percent of IT implementations are deemed failures.

Finding What Works and What Doesn’t

In this book, you will review the strategies commonly used by most companies for mitigating software project risk–and learn why these plans don’t work–and then acquire practical and realistic strategies that will help you to maximize success on your software implementation.

Chapters

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Enterprise Software Risk Management
Chapter 3: The Basics of Enterprise Software Risk Management
Chapter 4: Understanding the Enterprise Software Market
Chapter 5: Software Sell-ability versus Implementability
Chapter 6: Selecting the Right IT Consultant
Chapter 7: How to Use the Reports of Analysts Like Gartner
Chapter 8: How to Interpret Vendor-Provided Information to Reduce Project Risk
Chapter 9: Evaluating Implementation Preparedness
Chapter 10: Using TCO for Decision Making
Chapter 11: The Software Decisions’ Risk Component Model

Risk Estimation and Calculation

Risk Estimation and Calculation

See our free project risk estimators that are available per application. The provide a method of risk analysis that is not available from other sources.

project_software_risk