How to Understand What is a Transalytical Database

Executive Summary

  • SAP has made several bizarre comments regarding transalytical databases.
  • Media entities are being paid by SAP to support SAP’s messaging, Forrester being one example.
  • Convergent IS also provides terrible quality and 100% promotional information on transalytical databases.

Introduction to the Transalytical Database (???)

SAP has made some amazing claims regarding a “new database category.” You will learn how a powerful software vendor can create a “new database category” when they have enough money to give a major brand in the research business.

SAP’s Transalytical Database Announcement

In the opening comments on the Q4 2017 SAP analyst call, Bill McDermott made the following statement.

“Back in 2010, we set bold ambitions for SAP. We focused on our customers to be a truly global business software market leader. We set out to reinvent the database industry.

Forrester has now defined the new market for translitical data platforms, and of course, they ranked SAP HANA as the clear number one. We led the market with intelligent ERP, built on an in-memory architecture.”

This simply means databases that are good for both transaction processing and analytics. However, it should be noted that there is far less of a need for this in the market than SAP states and than SAP predicted when they first came up with HANA in 2011.

Paid to Comply

But of course, TechTarget, like Forrester, another media entity that SAP pays to get the word out, has also written on transalytical databases. TechTarget is not an actual normal media entity. But it controls a series of outlets that have no other function than to capture email addresses to feed a giant marketing automation backend, as we covered in the article How ComputerWeekly is a Front for Marketing Automation.

“Transactional data and analytics can now interact in near-real time, opening up a wealth of new possibilities.

The vehicles for this digital business transformation are called translytical data platforms, according to a recent Forrester report, “The Forrester Wave: Translytical Data Platforms, Q4 2017.” The report defines translytical data platforms as emerging technologies that can “deliver faster access to business data to support various workloads and use cases,” which can then enable new business initiatives. These initiatives are driven by the availability of real-time data from transactional systems, like ERP, and analytical systems in the same platform.”

Forrester is Available for Whatever….

Forrester has a history of writing up research on command when paid the right amount of money. For instance, when SAP wanted an entity to find that HANA, which at the time had no go lives, had a lower TCO than any alternative, as we covered in the article How Accurate was Forrester’s Study into HANA’s TCO.

“The report assessed 12 vendors — Aerospike, DataStax, GigaSpaces, IBM, MemSQL, Microsoft, NuoDB, Oracle, Redis Labs, SAP, Splice Machine and VoltDB — that currently have translytical data platforms available, with SAP and Oracle identified as tops in the Leaders category. This was based on assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of the vendors’ current offerings, their overall strategy and their market presence.”

Notice what Forrester says about HANA.

“SAP HANA, which is the core of SAP’s translytical platform, according to the report, “crushes translytical workloads” and supports a variety of use cases, including real-time applications, analytics, translytical apps, systems of insight and advanced analytics.”

Looking Suspicious

Is that the way a supposed research entity should write about test results — that they “crush” workloads? Also, how would Forrester know this? Forrester does not employ technical resources and would not have any idea either way. Secondly, which workload? Transaction or analytic? It makes a difference, as our research into the area indicates that HANA is very poor at processing transactions, and is somewhat weak in long SQL queries, which we cover in the article HANA as a Mismatch for S/4HANA and ERP.

At this point in the TechTarget article, they go out to an “independent source,” which is Convergent IS, which is an SAP consulting partner. Therefore, nothing that Convergent IS says about SAP can be published without the approval of SAP, as explained in the SAP partnership agreement, as we covered in the article The Control on Display with the SAP Partnership Agreement.

Convergent IS Used to Provide Some Inaccurate and Highly Promotional Quotes

SAP as a translytical data platform opens up new business possibilities, according to Shaun Syvertsen, managing partner at Convergent IS, a firm based in Calgary, Alta., that provides consulting services for SAP systems, including SAP Fiori and S/4HANA. Convergent IS not only provides these SAP-related services but also runs its business on S/4HANA.

“We moved our business onto S/4HANA about two years ago, and what really appealed to me was that you have a database that you could ask a more difficult question to and you get the answer much more quickly,” Syvertsen said. “This effectively opens the door to asking questions that you could not previously ask and having access to that information more timely than previously possible.”

The question to ask is, why did a small consulting company, that had 35 employees at the time of the S/4HANA implementation choose this application? Did Convergent IS need S/4HANA? Of course not. Did they implement S/4HANA to use themselves as a reference account so they could get S/4HANA business?

Now we are getting warmer.

We called out Convergent IS’s S/4HANA implementation as a fake case study in the article Convergent IS Case Study, and it was one of many SAP consulting partners who are listed as case studies on SAP’s website.

Secondly, Convergent IS is a small consulting company. How complex are the questions that Convergent IS has to ask about its data?

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

Translytical is a made up term by Forrester that was most likely prompted by SAP, asking them to start up the category. This was facilitated by SAP paying Forrester money to do so. There is still little evidence of the real need for databases that combine transactions and analytics in one database. In fact, one cannot perform equally well in both in a single database due to the inherent trade-offs that come with having to try to design for both. It also means accepting more maintenance overhead. Something that both Forrester and SAP are sure never to bring up.

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.

What We Do and Research Access

Using the Diagram

Hover over each bullet or plus sign to see more explanation. To move to a different bullet point, just “hover off” and then hover over the new bullet.

 

Research Access

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References

https://searchsap.techtarget.com/feature/Translytical-data-platforms-emerge-with-SAP-HANA-as-a-leader

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4141369-saps-sap-ceo-william-mcdermott-q4-2017-results-earnings-call-transcript

How Accurate are SAP’s Arguments on Code Pushdown and CDS?

Executive Summary

  • SAP has made bizarre proposals regarding code pushdown (aka stored procedures) and Core Data Services.
  • As with Oracle, SAP is using CDSs to restrict the options of its customers to better lock them into buying SAP.

Introduction: How Truthful is SAP Being on Code Pushdown?

SAP has made a lot of noise about how important its code pushdown (aka stored procedures) in HANA is. However, an issue that has begun to arise in how SAP has started to use the term to describe things that do not code pushdown. You will learn what is true regarding code pushdown.

What is Code Pushdown?

The first place to begin, of course, is “what is code pushdown.”

Code pushdown is an SAP term for putting code that was previously in the application layer into the database layer.

How SAP is Now Using the Term

As stated by a colleague.

“Code that was pushed down to the database becomes even more pushed down by “filter push down”, “limit push down” and “aggregation push down” This is plain old basic “anyDb” SQL wisdom. Reduce the amount of data as early as possible, especially before you join subqueries, that is at the “most inner” or “lowest” level of your SQL. “Filter push down”: filter each result set to be joined BEFORE you join them, do not join large sets and filter afterwards. I learned this in an “anyDb” administration and performance course about 15 years ago, and even then it wasn’t new.”

Multilevel Pushdown?

The first question that should arise when reading this is how is it that code has to be pushed down multiple levels in the database?

If the code is “pushed,” it is removed from the application layer and inserted into a table. Is there a level below a table? What is this quantum physics?

What SAP means is simply the reduction of data, not pushing code.

SAP on Core Data Services

SAP has published a document on ABAP Core Data Services of CDSs that can be found at this link.

But some of the things written in the document are required further elaboration.

For example, it states that Fiori apps are easy to create.

“Based on the OData exposure of CDS described above, it is then rather straightforward to create an SAP Fiori app using the development framework SAP WEB IDE (either locally or within SAP Cloud Platform). As depicted in Figure 4 the SAP Fiori User Interface connects to SAP Gateway using the OData services.”

The idea being the Fiori app will connect to the CDS view. The CDS is a database view with stored database functions that enable the retrieval of data. The idea is to improve on the limited ABAP dictionary views versus anyDB views have had for decades.

But instead of presenting CDSs as “catching up” with competing offerings, SAP decided to provide a deceptive explanation for the logic of CDSs. This is taken from the document ABAP Core Data Services on AnyDB.

“The CDS framework was introduced to leverage the computational power of HANA DB. Nevertheless, it can also be used with all other databases that support SAP NetWeaver (called anyDB in the following). This guide gives hands-on information on how to implement, run and optimize CDS based applications on anyDB.”

What is Core Data Service?

A core data service is an enhancement to SQL, which is a new data modeling infrastructure. This means the data models are defined and consumed in the database rather than the application.

How HANA Pushes Down CDS

However, there are those with considerable database expertise that suggest that HANA driven CDS enabled functionality pushed down to HANA will likely not end well in the longer term. This is not at all now. Oracle Retail used PL-SQL functionality to push down code into the database from the application. Similar to HANA, the logic was for performance reasons.

SAP IS Retail largely sustained more precise separation of duties between the SAP application, NetWeaver, and RDBMS tiers, which also enabled AnyDB choices. The issue with the Retek/Oracle approach which tightly linked together the application code as that any client facing customizations, and the application/database versions, made **future upgrades very complex and costly**.

Essentially vs. SAP, they became effectively “re-implementations” vs. supporting technology upgrades that were possible with SAP NetWeaver, and SAP IS Retail. And then comes the issue of lock-in.

The Lock In To HANA

One of these database experts stated the following about HANA’s CDS.

I’m personally nervous where the whole HANA driven application to database functional push down will take clients in the long term, for sure they become firmly locked into HANA and any aligned commercial terms.

Reinventing the Wheel?

That makes it sound like SAP is bringing something that did not exist before — both for HANA and AnyDB. The clear statement here is that other DBs can benefit from CDSs — making it appear as if CDSs are an innovation, not that they are bringing HANA to par (or attempting to do so) with AnyDB libraries.

That is one problem. The second is the phrasing.

“CDSs were designed to leverage the computation power of HANA, but nevertheless they can be used for other databases.”

This implies that other databases do not have HANA’s computational power. But let us leave that to the side for now.

The point we are emphasizing is the presentation by SAP of CDSs as if other databases do not already have what CDSs offer. It will take years for CDSs to reach parity with anyDatabaseViews.

Cost to Create Fiori Apps

Usually, Fiori apps are extremely expensive to create, as was even pointed out in the Forrester study that SAP paid for, where Forrester states that Fiori apps should be used standard. This was addressed in the article What is Actually in the Fiori Box?

And we have numerous stories of the costs of making custom Fiori apps. This is not happening on projects to any significant degree. Customers that are sufficiently misinformed to customize Fiori apps normally soon run out of money. But these are custom Fiori apps with some complexity. Other Fiori apps are much easier to create than others, as observed by our colleague.

“A simple Fiori app consisting of a drill-down table (filterable, sortable, groupable) and navigation to a detail form is quite easy to build as long as you do not need anything extra. Fiori provides “SmartTables” and “SmartForms” widgets, their behavior can be controlled by annotations/properties in the metadata of OData services (e.g. filterable, sortable, label). These annotations can be defined at the level of the CDS View already (@Filterable, @Sortable, @Label) and are propagated to the OData service that can be generated from CDS Views by some SAP magic. This works quite well for Fiori Apps with almost no UI logic (especially drill down tables with detail views, no edit) that are built once and never touched again. However if you modify the data model you usually are best of when you rebuild your Fiori App from scratch.”

Laying Out Intelligent Fiori Usage

So if Fiori is laid out in terms of usage it is:

  • Use the standard Fiori apps, although those Fiori apps are quite limited (See the article, Strange Changes to the Number of Fiori Apps to find out how SAP has exploded and exaggerated the number of Fiori apps.
  • Potentially use the SmartTable or SmartForm Fiori widgets to develop reporting apps.
  • Do not customize any Fiori apps that have any complexity, so business logic, data complexity, etc.

The vision being pitched is to use the CDS and then do what you want in Fiori. There is a big question as to whether that will happen. If SAP was happy with customers using an efficient non-SAP app development environment, then maybe, but then, SAP will dissuade that from happening.

Secondly, another observation about the CDSs is from a colleague.

“This way offers you a clean layered application and the chance to write unit tests without database persistence. SAP are throwing away accepted architecture paradigms. CDS are OK to look at and analyze (join, aggregate, partly filter) data. That’s it. CDS is a framework, not new technology.”

This brings up the topic of whether CDS will ever really catch on, or if they will end up being just another item that SAP introduces that just falls to the wayside.

The Benefit to Stored Procedures / Code Pushdown

CDSs, as with stored procedures, is a form of code pushdown. However, overall, we are still lost as to why SPs are a good thing when the discussion of SPs is really about tradeoffs. This topic is actively debated among those with expertise in the area, and there is no one clear answer. We keep pointing out that HANA is not addressing the hardware it runs on very well. So if you aren’t even addressing the hardware correctly, why are we worried about SPs? Furthermore, SP’s bring up more portability overhead for different DBs. Also, if SP/CDSs are so effective, why won’t SAP publish any benchmarks on S/4HANA on ECC?

This gets into the topic if how most of SAP’s proposals, particularly since the introduction of HANA, where SAP took an abrupt turn from Netweaver as their primary marketing tentpole and transitioned to HANA, have been focused on making architecture arguments around performance. This is incongruous, as the performance was never an SAP selling point. Today the majority of SAP software performs worse in terms of speed and usability of that speed versus competing applications.

Previous points of emphasis on SAP were reliability and business process/functionality coverage. But first with Netweaver (which focused on integration) and then with HANA, SAP fundamentally changed its historical message and value proposition.

Oracle on SAP’s Code Push Down

In Oracle’s August 2019 paper Oracle for SAP Database Update, Oracle has the following to say on SAP’s innovation claim regarding code pushdown.

SAP used to think of a database as a dumb data store. Whenever a user wants to do something useful with the data, it must be transferred, because the intelligence sits in the SAP Application Server. The disadvantages of this approach are obvious: If the sum of 1 million values needs to be calculated and if those values represent money in different currencies, 1 million individual values are transferred from the database server to the application server – only to be thrown away after the calculation has been done. As a response to this insight, SAP developed the..

„Push down“ strategy: push down code that requires data-intensive computations from the application layer to the database layer. They developed a completely new programming model that allows ABAP code to (implicitly or explicitly) call procedures stored in the database. And they defined a library of standard procedures, called SAP NetWeaver Core Data Services (CDS).

20 years earlier, Oracle had already had the same idea and made the same decision. Since version 7 Oracle Database allows developers to create procedures and functions that can be stored and run within the database.(emphasis added) It was, therefore, possible to make CDS available for Oracle Database as well, and today SAP application developers can make use of it.

How can code pushdown be innovative if Oracle had been doing it 20 years before SAP?

Restricting Stored Procedures for Competitive Reasons

SAP restricting SPs of S/4HANA is the primary limitation of being able to port S/4HANA to AnyDB. SAP is allowing the CDSs to be ported, but not other SPs.

Code that was taken from the application layer in ECC and was pushed into the SPs used to belong to the customer when they purchased the ECC license. But with S/4HANA, that code did not transition to the customer. It was taken from the application layer in ECC and were pushed into the SPs used to belong to the customer when they purchased the ECC license. But with S/4HANA, that code did not transition to the customer.

SAP has proposed that this is all new code, but it could not be. Else, how did ECC do these things before?

The question that no one seems to be asking is why SAP has control over code that was previously in the application layer but was migrated to the DB layer as a stored procedure. These are codes that SAP supposes to deliver for their customers who paid for their software. This is code that the customer should be able to use as they wish under the license. That is, they should not be restricted by code that is in SPs that SAP controls how it is run.

The Proposed Logic of the Importance of the Code Pushdown

Now let us switch from one type of code pushdown (SPs) back to another type of code pushdown (CDSs)

Let’s look at SAP’s logic for the CDSs. Here was a recent argument made in favor of CDSs.

Without CDS (labeled as “Classic Approach” in Figure 1), intensive calculations are done on the application layer avoiding costly computations in the database. This results in rather simple SQL queries between application and database layer. The drawback is however that lots of data need to be transferred back and forth between those two layers. Often, this is very time-consuming. “

Is it? With 2018 hardware? (or 2014 hardware as not all hardware is new).

What does SAP think its applications do? SAP does not compete in high-performance computing applications. These are not scientific applications, massively parallel scientific processing, or even Big Data.

If there is a problem with transferring data between the two layers, then the entire application should be put in the database. Or most of it in the database. Is that such a good idea? We have software that performs much better than SAP on smaller hardware, and they do it with the standard division with application logic in the application layer and just storing data in the database.

SAP’s Arguments for CDSs

SAP has been communicating to customers that they should use HANA CDSs as a primary way to access SAP HANA data.  And that CDS views are the way SAP will go forward in the future, which are available through the OData interface.

Our Analysis

  •  The OData interface is both problematic and not as flexible as SQL.
  • SAP should not be defining how you consume of view the data. SAP offers CDSs. Customers can use them or not use them depending upon whether they find they fit their needs.
  • Business logic cannot be published to the CDSs.

Advice on Enjoying the HANA 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 needs to police its use of the term pushdown, or it will cease to have any meaning.

The evidence is how HANA has so vastly underperformed its performance hype, as is covered in the article HANA as a Mismatch for S/4HANA and ERP.

SAP is not focused on performance; it is using performance to push out other database vendors. What SAP cares about is using the idea of performance to push customers down the rat maze in a way that benefits SAP the most. SAP can use arguments about performance to make them accept that logic of the lack of S/4HANA portability to different databases because SAP’s help restricts that portability. That is at least to the laymen — if SAP wanted, they could share the S/4HANA SPs with Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft, and all of these companies would pay the cost of performing the porting of the SPs to their respective databases. But they do not want to do this. They want to block out other vendors and restrict choice. And they are doing it retroactively because of the previous versions of their ERP system was portable to different databases, and that was the assumption under which it was purchased.

Core Data Services is a mechanism of lock-in presented as a positive functionality for SAP customers. SAP calls them Core Data Services because they are trying to maintain the illusion that they are doing something very different and innovative from other database vendors. Usually, this functionality is called a stored procedure. Stored procedures are how Oracle increases the difficulty for companies in moving away from the Oracle database and how it reduces the portability between applications and databases.

But SAP still will not release the SPs because they don’t want S/4HANA ported. After all, they want to use S/4HANA as a wedge to get database sales that they would not otherwise get in an open competition. We cover SAP’s unwillingness to benchmark S/4HANA on HANA in the article The Hidden Issue with the SD HANA Benchmark.

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.

What We Do and Research Access

Using the Diagram

Hover over each bullet or plus sign to see more explanation. To move to a different bullet point, just “hover off” and then hover over the new bullet.

 

Research Access

  • Do You Need to Access Research in this Area?

    Put our independent analysis to work for you to improve your spend.

References

https://www.sap.com/documents/2018/02/de1db6cd-ee7c-0010-82c7-eda71af511fa.html

https://www.oracle.com/a/ocom/docs/ora4sap-dbupdate-5093030.pdf

**https://experience.sap.com/fiori-design-web/smart-table/

https://www.bluefinsolutions.com/insights/john-appleby/september-2012/building-the-business-case-for-sap-bw-on-hana

The Suspicious Timing of SAP’s Flip Flop on Processing in the Database

Executive Summary

  • Relational databases are oversimplified by the ERD diagram.
  • Complexities in relational databases mean that they are often not fully leveraged by applications.
  • SAP targets low information buyers and provides a steady stream of inaccurate information around databases.

The graphic above is a detailed explanation of SAP’s internal process of how SAP determines what is true, and what technical viewpoints they will hold. 

Introduction: How Amazing Are Databases

This article began as a discussion with some colleagues around the question of how much the application leverages the capabilities of a modern relational database. I observed that while developing a new application and going through the data modeling process required a discussion of how the database would process the data that we stored, and therefore how that would be represented. Some of the things that were explained to me regarding what the relational database could do, and what we could take advantage of seemed like magic.

If you are like me and you spend most your time in flat files and configuring SAP applications, its easy to forget how amazing databases are. Let us begin there.

Working in the SAP space is like being caught in a time capsule. And SAP does not leverage the capabilities of modern relational databases. All of their promotion about HANA does not change this.

Multi-Tenancy: The Foundational SaaS Functionality

For example, one of the fantastic features of modern relational databases is multi-tenancy. However, how many SAP applications that were not acquisitions are multitenant? How much experience does SAP have, in its homegrown products, in multitenancy? Not S/4HANA, while marketed to the hilt, it S/4HANA in the cloud not only has hugely few customers, it will just be multitenant for “baby customers,” (as is covered in the article is S/HANA Designed for the Cloud).

There is a segment of people who understand databases at the right level and can leverage their capabilities for new application development. That is, I am not talking about turning an existing database or creating structures to support reporting; I am talking about building entirely new applications.

This is a minority of the overall market for database skills. Naturally, most of the database work is for administrators, whose job is primarily to maintain existing databases.

Do Relational Databases Work as an ERD Diagram?

No. A relational database is far more complicated than can be represented by ERD diagrams. Our touchstone concerning how relational databases work is the ERD diagram; the ERD diagramming does not do a good enough job of expressing what is going on in the DB itself.

ERD is just what we have today. It allows us to organize the tables and the fields and tables and the relationships in the data model. But it only captures a few dimensions of what the relational database does.

Are Modern Relational Databases Well Leveraged by Applications?

It occurred to me that there is some type of drop off between application sophistication and database sophistication. That is, most of the applications that I have evaluated don’t leverage enough of the capabilities of the RDBMS. And here, I am referring to an open source RDBMS, not Oracle, which has more functionality. Of course, that what I am developing my application for.

Let me give one example of an application that does an excellent job of leveraging what the database to offer so you can see what I mean.

Oh, did you want something out of SAP BW? Well, roll up a sleeve. On SAP projects working in SAP BW is a bit like getting your blood drawn. 

SAP came out with the idea of placing the BW on HANA to improve performance. But lost in the hoopla around HANA was that I had been using an application for years that was able to blow BW and DP (DP uses the same data workbench as BW) away in performance. I could load up as many attributes as I wanted and create any hierarchy that I wanted. I was and am still able to perform forecast testing without any applying any of the complicated rules about data setup that are required in BW and DP. And my performance on a laptop was far higher than the company could attain with their more massive server.

Leveraging the Database

That is called leveraging the database. My hardware was tiny and my database was open source. It slew the performance and usability of SAP. SAP BW that I competed against was on Oracle. So no problem with the database. The problem is that SAP BW was unable to take advantage of Oracle properly. This must be well known within Oracle’s database development group, but SAP is quite poor at developing applications that leverage Oracle’s database. SAP’s primary product is still ERP, and ERP is not an unusually heavy performance application. ERP’s most intensive process is running MRP and DRP.

And let us get into that topic a bit as the details are essential.

Is MRP Processing a Big Deal?

MRP was first developed to run on systems that were a pre-hard disk. That is right; the first MRP systems ran on tape-based systems!

“For those that are old enough, remember the introductory sequence to the 1970s TV show the 6 Million Dollar Man, where there is a brief shot of a 1970s tape storage system in action.”

So MRP is not only a “pre-advanced database,” mathematical routine, it is a “pre random access” mathematical routine. And once again, I can run MRP faster on a laptop with a specialized application than huge companies can run MRP in SAP ECC.

So while David versus Goliath was a fable, it does exist in systems. And it exists when the designers of one “team” have an advantage over the designers of the other “team.” 

**DRP is a method similar to MRP but less processing intensive as only stock transfers are created, and by that stage, the production process is complete.

Most of the rest of what ERP systems to is transaction processing (updating that financial account, posting goods issue, bing bing bing — small database updates, all day long).

Modern ERP systems have their origins in banking systems. After the military, banks were the next major area to be computerized. And of course, when it comes to financial transactions, the movement of money into accounts must be 100% reliable. The focus on transaction processing is reliability, not performance.

How the Applications Beat SAP’s BW

This is because the application was so well written and knew how to leverage the database. SAP’s development team, with all of its resources, lacked the development capability of a small vendor with no more than five people working for them. CIO and ComputerWeekly don’t cover that kind of story — it’s terrible for their funding. If you want coverage in the major IT media outlets, don’t forget to bring a big wad of cash. 

So that is just leveraging the MySQL or PostgreSQL.

It occurred to me if, in the database community, there is a discussion and sentiment that goes something like this……

Can you believe that that is all the application was able to leverage from what we have to offer?”

To this point, one of my colleagues responded…

“Yep. The programmers will only use what he knows. That’s why we make it transparent to the programmers. The DBA will analyze which tables should be in memory and do it.”

Being Misinformed by SAP

Concerning SAP, we are going through a period of excellent database miseducation courtesy of SAP. Much of what SAP says about databases is for competitive reasons and is not true.

“Oh, my database compresses.”
“Oh, I can run the database faster.”(“100,000 times faster” – Bill McDermott,

“People will work between 10 and 10,000 faster because of HANA” – Steve Lucas.)(turns out not to be true, but was database performance a problem for SAP’s customers before they introduced HANA?), as covered in What is the Actual HANA Performance?

This was the problem when a company placed profit maximization before communicating what is true. Furthermore, what SAP is telling companies to focus on concerning databases is just plain wrong.

“Simplified data models lead to simplified business processes.”(covered in Does SAP S/4HANA Actually Have a Simplified Data Model & Faster Financial Reconciliation?)

There is far more exciting stuff in databases to emphasize. For example, multitenant functionality is fascinating. And all manner of decisions, with trade-offs to be made.

HANA’s Multitenancy?

Why doesn’t SAP emphasize HANA’s multitenancy capabilities? Because no software vendor would be stupid enough to develop with HANA.

**Actually, that is a question customers of SAP should ask. If HANA is so great, if HANA’s performance is so amazing, if its TCO is so low (lower than MySQL even?, so low that SAP pays you to use it?) why can’t you find software vendors that use HANA to develop anything? (Hint, to SAP customers, software vendors know more about software development than you do.)

How SAP Customizes its Messaging for Low Information Buyers

Let us face facts, HANA is for low information buyers, which means buyers that don’t work in software and which can be coerced and tricked into buying their database through their allegiance to SAP through career reasons, etc. That is those companies that allow themselves to be victimized……excuse me, I mean to write, “take guidance” from Deloitte or Accenture.

The upshot being, SAP does not emphasize multitenancy as multitenancy is functionality for software vendors. SAP can’t make money on the functionality, so who cares. One might expect an article on SAP as to why multitenancy is entirely overrated.

So Much False Information Being Spread

And the problem with having SAP spread so much false information about databases is that most of the people that repeat what SAP says have no idea if it is true. Many are..

  • Just looking for an excellent job with health insurance, and they don’t rock the boat. They have families and do not have time to research things for themselves.
  • Many will work in sales, who’s only real job requirement regarding information, is to relay what SAP says. If they don’t, they are in dereliction of their duty.
  • Deloitte and Accenture are consulting arms of SAP, and repeat what they say. They don’t care if it is true but has determined it is profit maximizing to do so (see the case study of how the major SAP consulting companies humiliated themselves lending their support for SAP’s ludicrous Run Simple campaign as we covered in the article Is SAP’s Running Simple Real?)
  • The IT media system employes mostly journalists with no technical background, and no editorial leeway to question what SAP says (SAP is the customer of IT media, the reader is the audience and increasingly contributes nothing financially to the content development process.)

Therefore, the entire system is based on the elite opinion, which is created by SAP, and then it is unthinkingly propagated throughout that system. These entities that what SAP says is true. Therefore, what SAP says is true, forms the basis of what is true for a large number of people and organizations.

Should One Process in the Application or the Database?

During this discussion, another colleague brought up the following point.

“Just an anecdote: at the beginning of this millennium I worked in an PL/SQL Oracle project. The whole business logic in PL/SQL stored procedures. Some UI logic in Oracle Forms. Our leading company SAP ABAP architect told us that letting the database do the job is a bad idea. Let the powerful highly scalable application server do the work for you. Load the database table records into an internal ABAP table, sort, sum, do work, etc. and write the result back to the database. Now SAP has its “Code Pushdown” and sells it like their “innovation” that business logic is (partly – when needed) running in the database layer. Great to know that I was working with 2017 bleeding edge technology 15 years ago.”

I thought this was a great anecdote.

Getting A Real Understanding of How SAP Formulates Technical Opinions

SAP does not make decisions based on technical reasons. So if they have all applications and no DB, then their “technical” opinion is that the application should do the work, and the DB just a container for data. But then when they develop a DB, and they can use the DB for marketing reasons, and if by using stored procedures they have an excuse not to port to other DBs, then they are in favor of doing the work in the DB!

SAP’s Flip Flop on Advanced Planning Systems

I witness this same flip-flop in that late 1990s. At that time, I was working for a supply chain planning vendor.

SAP’s position was that all supply chain planning should be done in its ERP system. Then SAP developed APO. And at that exact point, SAP began to extoll the virtues of performing planning outside of ERP.

It’s all about “what is good for us,” and has zero to do with what is true technically!

The present economic theory holds that technical accuracy is a distant second to profit maximization. This means that the technology must follow profit maximization, and to not do so is a great insult to shareholders. And according to the US court system, there lying in commercial settings is not lying. It is “puffery,” as explained in the court decision of San Marin County versus Deloitte.

Additionally, the promotion of what is true over what is profit maximizing will cause Tinkerbell’s light to go out.

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

It is complicated to learn something from an entity that is completely lacking any integrity, and merely intent on pushing you down a path that makes them money.

This is what taking information from SAP is like.

One must listen with extreme skepticism and verify every statement, particularly given SAP’s track record for accuracy, which we have evaluated in the article A Study into SAP’s Accuracy.

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.

What We Do and Research Access

Using the Diagram

Hover over each bullet or plus sign to see more explanation. To move to a different bullet point, just “hover off” and then hover over the new bullet.

 

Research Access

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References

https://www.bluefinsolutions.com/insights/john-appleby/september-2012/building-the-business-case-for-sap-bw-on-hana

How Accurate is SAP on Only HANA Being an ACID Database?

Executive Summary

  • SAP proposes that the fact HANA is an ACID compliant database is a new thing for databases.
  • SAP is attempting to trick customers regarding fundamental concepts regarding databases.

Introduction

SAP has a long history of using the terms inaccurately, and they mostly never get called out in IT media outlets. In this article, we will evaluate the accuracy of this usage of something called ACID for databases.

The Statements About HANA and ACID Compliance

This is from SAP’s website.

ACID Compliance?

ACID stands for (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability). They are fundamental requirements of a database.

Every single one of the databases that HANA competes with is ACID compliant! And they have been for decades. This is equivalent to General Motors saying that its cars are better than competitors because they use spark plugs.

Why would SAP say such a thing? Most likely because their readers do not know what ACID compliance is, and therefore they think it is some type of differentiator.

Ding Ding Ding!

We award SAP a Golden Pinocchio for making this proposal.

The comment is so divorced from reality and so false that there is no other conclusion than to say SAP is undoubtedly aware they are deceiving readers by publishing these statements.

Advice on Enjoying the Quiz

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Conclusion

This is one of many statements meant to deceive readers about HANA. HANA is ACID compliant, but none of SAP’s competitors aren’t, and ACID stopped being an area of competition in databases decades ago. SAP goes further to imply that only HANA is ACID compliant. It depends upon the reading, but it is certainly intended to make it appear as if it is a differentiator.

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.

What We Do and Research Access

Using the Diagram

Hover over each bullet or plus sign to see more explanation. To move to a different bullet point, just “hover off” and then hover over the new bullet.

 

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References

https://www.sap.com/cmp/ppc/crm-xm16-gam-it-bd/index.html

Has SAP HANA Become a MacGuffin?

Executive Summary

  • HANA is presented as a desirable item without understanding what HANA entails.
  • We observe that HANA may have become a MacGuffin for many customers.

Introduction

We have spent years analyzing an enormous amount of marketing information on HANA and, after receiving numerous emails about how both SAP and SAP consulting companies explain and pitch HANA to customers in private. We recently observed that there are compelling similarities between HANA and a plot device called a MacGuffin.

What is a MacGuffin?

In scriptwriting, there is a plot device called a MacGuffin. Wikipedia explains in the following way.

“In fiction, a MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin or maguffin) is a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or another motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation. The MacGuffin’s importance to the plot is not the object itself, but rather its effect on the characters and their motivations. The most common type of MacGuffin is a person, place, or thing (such as money or an object of value). Other more abstract types include victory, glory, survival, power, love, or some unexplained driving force.”

How SAP Uses HANA as a Controlling Concept or MacGuffin

Recently I began thinking about how SAP uses HANA. Recently I was told that SuccessFactors would be migrated to HANA. Here is the exact sentence.

Our first thought when I hear of a CRM system being ported to HANA is…

Why?

CRM has the lowest processing needs of enterprise applications. It does not need a database like HANA that is optimized for analytics, and for short query analytics at that.

SAP and its consulting partners are advising their customers to use HANA in situations where it makes no sense to use it. This is wasting the customer’s budgets on HANA implementations that will do very little except drive revenues to SAP and their consulting partners. They are relying upon a series of unsubstantiated claims about HANA, claims that they cannot substantiate, and refuse to substantiate.

Mindless Recommendations Courtesy of SAP and SAP Consulting Partners

One of the factors that are incredibly prevalent with regards, so HANA is that it has instilled a sort of mindlessness in SAP and SAP proponents.

  1. Get analytics and transactions optimally from the same database? Yes? Incur more maintenance or technical complications to do so, of course not!
  2. Apply unproven database performance benefits to an application that does not need it? Absolutely!
  3. Focus on HANA with SuccessFactors, when it is well known that SuccessFactors requires development focus in other areas, but of course!

Why think or provide any evidence of any kind or consider the benefits of the uses of different databases to different applications when one can just work for uncritically analyzed assumptions and say HANA is the answer in 100% of cases!

This is the same unthinking approach that led companies to purchase ERP systems before ERP systems were ever proven to improve the condition of those companies that implemented them. We covered this feeding frenzy of exaggerated claims and misinformed decision making in the book The Real Story Behind ERP: Separating Fiction from Reality.

Placing SAP ByDesign on HANA

This is reminiscent of ByDesign being placed on HANA. Customers have all manner of complaints about ByDesign. The most common complaint customers have about ByDesign has nothing to do with database speed. But yet ByDesign was migrated to HANA with great fanfare.

Advice on Enjoying the HANA 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

The problem is that HANA has been presented as an item of unlimited virtue by SAP and SAP proponents. Yet SAP has been unable to substantiate their claims around HANA. But this has not stopped SAP from making these claims.

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.

What We Do and Research Access

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References

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

How to Understand Why In Memory Computing is a Myth

Executive Summary

  • AWS covers HANA’s in memory nature. Placing a database 100% put into memory is simply not a good thing.
  • We cover the long history of database memory optimization.

Introduction to In Memory Computing

SAP has been one of the major proponents of something called “in memory computing.” Hasso Plattner has written four books on the topic. You will learn how in memory for databases works.

Hasso Plattner has been pushing the importance of in-memory computing for many years. Hasso Plattner’s books aren’t books in the traditional sense but they are sales material for SAP. The books we have read by Hasso Plattner uniformly contain exaggerations as to the benefits one can expect from “in memory computing.”

If you read any of Hasso’s books or read his interviews, he is continually jumping from one topic to the next. People that are programmers are aware of a series of sequential and unending goto statements. But after two days of running an infinite loop, eventually, people will figure out “hey, these goto statements are not doing anything.” Programmatic goto statements run too quickly to be useful in tricking people, but it appears that evidence-free assertions can last a very long time.

There have been some inaccuracies concerning the specific topic of memory management with HANA.

In an article titled SAP’s HANA Deployment Leapfrog’s Oracle, IBM and Microsoft published in Readwrite. The following quote reiterates this popularity.

In-Memory Databases

Many companies today offer in-memory databases for a variety of tasks. The databases are much faster than traditional technology because all data is stored in system memory where it can be accessed quickly. Standard relational databases write and read to disks, which is a much slower process.

This may be rock ReadWrite’s world, but other databases use memory as well. They load tables into memory that are needed by the application. There is a debate as to whether one should load all tables into memory, which is how SAP does it. However, the benefits of doing this are not demonstrated in any benchmark, which is covered in the article What is the Actual Performance of SAP HANA? SAP has made so many statements about the benefits of HANA, but in their entirety, they are nothing more than unverifiable anecdotes provided to them about mostly anonymous customers.

In the absence of evidence, SAP’s proposal that they have the best way of dealing with memory and databases should be considered conjecture. But ReadWrite seems to treat it as if it is a natural law, as established as gravity.

What is Non In Memory Computing?

So all computing occurs in memory, no form of computing is performed without memory because the results would be unacceptable. Computing has been using more and more memory as anyone who purchases a computer can see for themselves. While at one time a personal computer might sell with 4 GB of memory (or RAM), 16 GB is now quite common on new computers.

The Problem with the Term In Memory Computing

SAP took a shortcut when they used the phrase “in memory” computing. The computer I am typing on has loaded the program into memory. So the term “in-memory computing” is meaningless.

Instead, what makes HANA different is it requires more of the database to be loaded into memory. And HANA is the only database I cover that works that way. With this in mind, the term should have been

“more database in memory computing.”

**There is a debate as to how may tables are loaded into memory. Not the large tables and not the column-oriented tables. This is the opposite of what SAP has said about HANA. The reason for this debate is SAP has provided contradictory information on this topic. 

That is accurate. SAP’s term may roll off the tongue better, but it has the unfortunate consequence of being inaccurate.

And it can’t be argued that it is correct.

Here is a quote from AWS’s guide on SAP HANA, which is going to tend to be more accurate than anything SAP says about HANA.

“Storage Configuration for SAP HANA: SAP HANA stores and processes all or most of its data in memory, and provides protection against data loss by saving the data in persistent storage locations. To achieve optimal performance, the storage solution used for SAP HANA data and log volumes should meet SAP’s storage KPI.”

However, interestingly, the following statement by AWS on HANA’s sizing is incorrect.

“Before you begin deployment, please consult the SAP documentation listed in this section to determine memory sizing for your needs. This evaluation will help you choose Amazon EC2 instances during deployment. (Note that the links in this section require SAP support portal credentials.)”

Yet it is likely, not feasible for AWS to observe that SAP’s sizing documentation will cause the customer to undersize the database. So that the customer will purchase HANA licenses on pretenses and then have to go back to buy more HANA licenses after the decision to go with HANA has already been made.

Bullet Based Guns?

Calling HANA “in-memory computing” is the same as saying “bullet based shooting,” when discussing firearms.

Let us ask the question: How would one shoot a firearm without using a bullet?

If someone were to say their gun was better than your gun (which in essence SAP does regarding its in-memory computing) and the reason they give is that they used “with bullet shooting technology,” you would be justified in asking what they are smoking. A gun is a bullet based technology.

How to Use a Term to Create Confusion Automatically

This has also lead to a great deal of confusion about how memory is used by computers among those that don’t spend their days focusing on these types of issues. And this is not exclusive to SAP. Oracle now uses the term in-memory computing as do many IT entities. Oracle references the term also as can be seen in the following screenshot taken from their website.

Is 100% of the database Placed into Memory a Good Thing?

However, the question is whether it is a good or necessary thing. And it is difficult to see how it is.

It means that with S/4HANA, even though only a small fraction of the tables are part of a query or transaction, the entire database of tables is in memory at all times.

Now, let us consider the implications of what this means for a moment. Just think for a moment how many tables SAP’s applications have, and how many are in use at any one time.

Why do tables not involved in the present activity, even tables that are very rarely accessed need to be in memory at all times?

Oracle’s Explanation on This

In August 2019, Oracle published the Oracle for SAP Database Update document. In this document, Oracle made the following statement about HANA versus Oracle.

Oracle Database 12c comes with a Database In-Memory option, however it is not an in-memory database. Support-ers of the in-memory database approach believe that a database should not be stored on disk, but (completely) in memory, and that all data should be stored in columnar format. It is easy to see that for several reasons (among them data persistency and data manipulation via OLTP applications) a pure in-memory database in this sense is not possible. Therefore, components and features not compatible with the original concept have silently been added to in-memory databases such as HANA.

Here Oracle is calling out SAP for lying. Furthermore, we agree with this. SAP’s proposal about placing all data into memory was always based upon ignorance and ignorance on the part of primarily Hasso Plattner.

If SAP had followed Oracle’s design approach, companies would not have to perform extensive code remediation — as we covered in the article SAP’s Advice on S/4HANA Code Remediation.

The Long History of Database Memory Optimization

People should be aware that IBM and Oracle and Microsoft all have specialists that focus on something called memory optimization.

Microsoft has documents on this topic at this link.

Outsystems, which is a PaaS development environment that connects exclusively to SQL Server, has its page on memory optimization to the database, which you can see at this link.

The specialists that work in this area figure out how to program the database to have the right table in memory to meet the demands of the system, and there has been quite a lot of work in this area for quite a long time. Outside of SAP, there is little dispute that this is the logical way to design the relationship between the database and the hardware’s memory.

Advice on Enjoying the HANA 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

In summary, if a person says “in-memory computing,” the response should be “can we be more specific.” Clear thinking requires the use of accurate terms as a logical beginning point.

SAP’s assertion the entire database must be loaded into memory is unproven. A statement cannot be accepted if it both has no meaning and if what it actually means (as in the entire database in memory) is unproven.

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.

What We Do and Research Access

Using the Diagram

Hover over each bullet or plus sign to see more explanation. To move to a different bullet point, just “hover off” and then hover over the new bullet.

 

Research Access

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References

https://www.oracle.com/a/ocom/docs/ora4sap-dbupdate-5093030.pdf

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

*https://readwrite.com/2013/01/10/saps-hana-deployment-leapfrogs-oracle-ibm-and-microsoft/

https://www.ibm.com/blogs/research/2017/10/ibm-scientists-demonstrate-memory-computing-1-million-devices-applications-ai/

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/sql-database/sql-database-in-memory

https://s3.amazonaws.com/quickstart-reference/sap/hana/latest/doc/SAP+HANA+Quick+Start.pdf

Is it True That Few SAP Customers Care About Databases?

Executive Summary

  • Should SAP’s Claims About HANA Not be Verified Because Most People Don’t Care About Database Performance?
  • How SAP Uses HANA’s Performance Claims to Push for Customers to Switch Databases
  • SAP’s HANA Claims Fact-Checked

Introduction

In a recent article titled SAP HANA as a Mismatch for ERP and S/4HANA,

we received a response that seemed to minimize the importance of our verification of the claims made by SAP about HANA, as the commenter put it..

“…no one cares about the db outside of a very small tech bubble – it’s all about people and process.”

This statement seems to be an attempt to pivot away from the question of whether SAP’s claims regarding SAP are true.

How SAP Uses HANA’s Performance Claims to Push for Customers to Switch Databases

SAP has very aggressively promoting customers to move to HANA under the logic that the database is incredibly essential.

Here are a few examples.

  1. Restricting S/4HANA to HANA has been justified on the basis that no other database can offer acceptable performance versus HANA. SAP has stated that they need to design or optimize S/4HANA around a single database for performance reasons. According to Jon Appleby, who is a proxy for SAP, due to HANA’s capabilities in innovation and unparalleled performance advantage over all other databases that SAP is finished Oracle DB, as is covered in the article Why Jon Appleby Was So Wrong In His HANA Predictions.
  2. SAP is proposing, and SAP consulting companies are relaying the message word for word (I have many of the emails that are forwarded to me from the recipients of this advice). That solutions ranging from TPM to CRM need to have HANA, or the applications will not properly support the application’s functionality.

This is suspicious. It is dubious because other vendors that I track do restrict the database options of their customers in this way.

SAP’s HANA Claims Fact-Checked

Secondly, SAP’s performance claims for HANA are not only not holding up; every data point we obtain works in the opposite direction from SAP’s claims. One performance claim for HANA is true.

HANA will outperform a non-column data store database for analytics (but only within a data warehouse environment).

For all other database processing, the performance is worse. That is a serious issue that I am not sure how any pivot or alteration of the point of discussion can change what are now quite a few observations of this fact. We are not tracking performance issues with S/4HANA on multiple accounts. These observations tell a story of S/4HANA’s performance negatively impacting the project.

SAP is using the argument of HANA’s performance combined with what appears to me to be faux arguments about application compatibility between SAP’s applications and to their database to push existing databases out of SAP account. If you have read the Brightwork Study into HANA’s TCO, you might imagine that there are most likely severe implications for the customer’s IT budget to following this advice.

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

As this is a primary strategy of SAP, it would seem to be reasonable to validate if SAP’s statements about HANA’s performance are true. Therefore, we consider it highly relevant as to whether SAP’s claims regarding HANA’s performance are true.

The topic of the compatibility argument that increasing numbers of SAP’s applications are proposed by SAP and by SAP’s consulting partners to only be supported by HANA is another topic.

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 Who Was Right and Wrong on HANA Content

References

The Problems with Diginomica on Steve Lucas on HANA, Oracle, IBM, AWS, and Microsoft

Executive Summary

  • Watch Steve Lucas of SAP confuse the meaning of “magnanimous” and call out other vendors for greedy.
  • Steve Lucas also states that SAP is all about hosting its applications and even has the broadest cloud portfolio offering.

Introduction

In this article, we will review both an article by Diginomica as well as comments made by Steve Lucas of SAP. This article in Diginomica is a real test of manhood or one’s patience. Steve Lucas repeatedly lies in the article, and Diginomica demonstrates its subordination to SAP by allowing him to say anything he likes unchallenged.

Join us on this journey as we analyze this delectable article from Diginomica.

Let the Misleading Quotations Begin!

“Lucas’ vision for SAP centres around two different proposals. Firstly, that SAP’s technology offering is now completely modular (although there are exceptions to this). This means that customers no longer have to buy into a full ‘suite’, they can pick and choose elements of the SAP platform they wish to make use of – whether that’s the new SAP Cloud for Analytics, the HANA Cloud Platform, Vora or SuccessFactors.”

Diginomica simply accepts this but without observing that this is not the way that SAP works on accounts. SAP uses the initial sale of a product to push more and more SAP into an account. The number of companies that SAP products that do not use the ERP system are small. For example, the companies that use HANA but don’t have SAP’s ERP system is non-existent. SAP is an oligopolistic software company that competes through account control. SAP is as closed a system as there is in enterprise software.

Diginomica just allows this statement from Steve Lucas to slide right by them.

Secondly, the products mentioned by Steve Lucas, SAP Cloud for Analytics, HANA Cloud Platform, or Vora are very lightly implemented products with weak futures. HANA Cloud Platform is not particularly useful and is designed by SAP marketing to both cloud wash, and HANA washes other products.

Was HANA Designed for Cloud Washing?

Was HANA Designed for HANA Washing?

Vora is a product that has no reason to exist. It was designed to get HANA to piggyback on the success of Hadoop by co-opting it. This is covered in the article How Accurate is SAP on Vora?

SuccessFactors is also misleading. SuccessFactors stands “alone” because SuccessFactors was an acquisition, and still, after over five years after the purchase, there are many complaints about SuccessFactors’ integration to the rest of ERP.

Overall, this sounds like a line by Steve Lucas is quite deceptive.

A Brave New World of Modular SAP?

“This makes sense in world where buyers are less and less seeing the benefit of going ‘all in’ with one vendor to solve their problems. We see more and more companies picking and choosing cloud products, with lower entry points, that they then themselves attempt to tie together. This is something that Lucas was keen to highlight that SAP recognises. He said:

The pricing for [Cloud for Analytics] in US dollars, starts at $25 per user, per month. That’s incredibly accessible. If you think about the pricing for the HANA Cloud Platform, it starts at a couple hundred dollars per month, for a site. This is achievable, accessible technology.”

This is because Cloud for Analytics is so unsuccessful that SAP is willing to give it away for free virtually. SAP’s software is the most expensive on a TCO basis in every category that Brightwork has calculated. Our online TCO estimators are available in this article.

Is SAP Giving Up on Account Control?

“This is a fully modular architecture; you can use any part of this. If all I want to use is Cloud for Analytics and nothing else from SAP, that’s perfectly fine. And it just works. If all I want to use is HANA, that’s fine.”

No, that is not fine.

Steve Lucas may want to explain (or Diginomica might want to) that SAP does not work that way. There is no one using Cloud for Analytics and nothing else, or HANA and nothing else. Also, if a customer connects a non-SAP application to HANA, would that be indirect access? How “fine” is SAP with joining non-SAP systems to SAP without asking for more money?

Secondly, SAP is not a modular architecture. SAP offers the most demanding applications to integrate with other applications. It has been part of SAP’s long-term strategy. SAP first sold companies their ERP system. Then, as they began to develop additional products that both connected to the ERP system and could not compete against vendors’ applications. They along with their coalition of the billing promoted the concept that other applications were so difficult to integrate to SAP that the only safe choice was to select SAP to connect to the ERP system. This is why it is ludicrous and entirely dishonest for Steve Lucas to talk about some modular architecture. Steve Lucas is frustrating because he is so lacking in knowledge about SAP that its difficult to tell if he is entirely ignorant of subjects that he covers or if he is merely lying.

On S/4HANA

“However, he notes that this isn’t entirely true for S/4 (the big gambit). He said:

There’s technically one caveat, the one technology that does not work without HANA is S/4. This is the only interdependency in the architecture.

So in other words, to take advantage of S/4, you need to be running on the HANA platform already. Or to get to S/4, you need to roll out HANA. Or be going in all in with cloud.”

Brightwork Research & Analysis has analyzed and published HANA and S/4HANA in more dimensions than any other entity. We conclude that there is no reason to exclude other database vendors from running under S/4HANA. Both Oracle and IBM and most likely, Microsoft have databases ready to be certified by SAP. SAP refuses to certify them to promote the sales of HANA.

The last part of the quote also makes no sense, as SAP has almost no S/4HANA customers in the cloud. Furthermore, there is not much of anything in S/4HANA to take advantage of. Analysis by Paul Coetser has shown that S/4HANA is 95% identical to ECC.

HANA as a Singular Technology Architecture?

“But alongside Lucas’ modular pitch, he also took time to explain the importance of HANA underpinning everything and being a singular technology architecture. He explained that this is important to the future of SAP and its customers because in the past it had wasted time trying to integrate.”

HANA is not a singular technology architecture, and we have spent enough time reading comments from Steve Lucas to know that he would have no way of knowing if it were or were not true. Steve Lucas lacks technical credentials or a technical understanding of databases; we found this in a previous article from Steve Lucas that we analyzed called Analysis of Steve Lucas’ Article on What Oracle Does Not Want You to Know About HANA. He had not even been with SAP for very long when he made these statements.

Steve came over from an SAP acquisition that had nothing to do with HANA. HANA is made up of many areas that it relies upon to function. It is far more complicated to maintain than Oracle, IBM, or Microsoft databases.

“Why HANA? Four or five years ago, the first thought that went through my head was, why does the world need another database?”

It didn’t (still doesn’t). It certainly doesn’t need databases that don’t add anything advantageous to the mix, as we covered in the article What is HANA’s Actual Performance? Oracle and IBM and MS have spent a lot of resources emulating SAP and putting column store capabilities into their relational databases. However, at Brightwork Research & Analysis, we question how necessary dual table type databases are, as we cover in the article, How Accurate Was the Bloor Research Article on Oracle?

“We had been building business applications for the past 35 years on other people’s technology stacks. It’s not a secret, we were using IBM’s, we were using Oracle’s, we were using Microsoft’s.”

That is true; it is not a secret.

Steve Lucas is Confused as to the Meaning of the Word Magnanimous

“We came to one magnanimous conclusion: it was too hard, it was too complicated, almost to the point of absurdity, to build a simple business application to create an outcome. It was too hard. We were spending all of our time integrating these various components instead of innovating our customers.”

This is a strange use of the word “magnanimous.” Magnanimous means charitable or altruistic.

Steve appeared to mean “grand,” or “profound.” What could be charitable or philanthropic about concluding that supporting multiple databases is too hard?

We find it amusing that a top executive at SAP does not know how to use the word magnanimous.

Moving Away from Database Neutrality

SAP only recently moved towards offering HANA, and they only were able to grow the way they did because they offered database platform independence. Furthermore, SAP has revenues of over $20 billion per year. It is difficult to see how continuing to provide support for multiple databases was just too much work for SAP.

“We were confusing horizontal integration, with forward momentum. It’s not the same thing. Integration or tying components together is not the same thing as business innovation. This platform, the HANA platform, really dramatically simplifies that.”

No, it doesn’t simplify anything. HANA is reported as the most complex database to maintain that exists in the relational database space.

Furthermore, SAP had great success while being platform independent. So it was a winning strategy for many years. SAP had plenty of momentum while supporting multiple databases.

“And this singular approach to designing technology (combined with the modular approach to buying in most of the stack) enables customers to run a simpler environment, according to Lucas. Way more so than the likes of IBM or Oracle, he said.”

The evidence is that HANA is higher in maintenance than either IBM or Oracle. We cover this in A Study into SAP HANA’s TCO.

HANA as a Singular Technology Platform

“The HANA platform is a singular technology.”

Again, no, it isn’t!

“Whether I’m using Oracle, IBM or Microsoft, I can think of four or five or six technologies that I would need to purchase from them to integrate in order to be able to do the same thing that HANA can do with one product and one copy of the data. That’s a nuance, but a huge difference in terms of your enterprise architecture.”

Once again, HANA has more components than any of these databases. Steve’s argument is shown to be ridiculous, mainly when applied to Microsoft SQL Server, which is known as being so low in maintenance that it is often explicitly selected for this reason.

SAP Calls Out Other Vendors for Being Greedy?

“Microsoft, IBM and Oracle, while great companies, with really smart technologies, have every incentive not simplify your architecture. Why would they? Why would Oracle simplify their $10 billion database business into a $2 billion database business? That would be stupid for them to do. But we started out the way you should, which is a singular platform providing a radically different approach to how you build business applications.”

This quote is an absolute hoot, and it is delivered without a trace of irony.

SAP, the vendor with the highest TCO in software and with the most complex software in software — and very well known for having the most complex software — is the company that will reduce costs and simplify? This is covered in the article How to Understand the Declining Upgradeability of SAP Products.

Steve Lucas seems to lack the introspection not to be the pot calling the kettle black.

Ariba Ariba!

“However, Lucas was also keen to highlight the benefits that owning Ariba’s network has on application design for S/4 and the fact that SAP has built out its own data centre infrastructure.”

Ariba has virtually nothing to do with S/4HANA. At the time of Steve’s statements, S/4HANA had almost no go-lives that ran the business. That is, SAP was able to trick companies into going live with S/4HANA, but it was an offline system.

Several years later (today), that has not changed much as is covered in the A Study into S/4HANA Implementations.

The number of companies integrating Ariba with S/4HANA in a live environment would be categorized as “the empty set.”

Is SAP All About Hosting its Own Cloud Applications?

“Lucas said that SAP had no interest in building on the likes of Amazon Web Services (which the likes of Infor have done) because it doesn’t believe that this will cater to people’s data protection requirements.”

If Infor has anything like AWS, that is the first we have heard of it. Most likely, Infor can host applications effectively, which SAP (outside of acquired products) does not have.

“There is no enterprise software company that has a business network like Ariba. Oracle, IBM and Microsoft do not have a network where a trillion dollars worth of trade happens on an annual basis. Or a billion dollars worth of trade, frankly. Who has a network like Ariba?”

Yes, that is true.

SAP Has the Broadest Cloud Portfolio Offering?

“None of them. We’re integrating that with our logistics applications, our inventory applications. The nuances are that we have the broadest cloud portfolio offering.”

But Ariba was acquired three years before this quotation was given. Why wasn’t Ariba already integrated into its logistics applications? Is it integrated now?

SAP has some cloud applications, but it’s difficult to see how they have the “broadest cloud portfolio offerings.” That prize would have to go to Salesforce. Although if we are talking about IaaS and PaaS, then the award would go to AWS. If we look by sales, SAP does not make that much revenue off of all of its cloud offerings. So by revenue, SAP is not anywhere close to Salesforce or AWS.

“We could have also said a long time ago that we were going to build this on AWS. It’s cheap. Why not? The reason why not is because of the healthcare laws and the data privacy laws, which are so different country by country. For us really we want to be able to deliver a consistent, safe and secure offering.

We built our own data centres for the HANA Cloud Platform, this is really important. The reason that we have not put the HANA Cloud Platform on something like AWS, is because AWS doesn’t adhere to all the global privacy laws where we operate. We actually own and operate our own data centres. That’s incredibly critical.”

This is……curious because several years later SAP “gave up the ghost” and promoted its multicloud policy, which is where it will promote its products being hosted on AWS and Azure. This is covered in the article How to Best Understand SAP’s Multicloud Announcement.

..and then announced a further partnership with Microsoft and Azure, which is covered in the article How to Interpret SAP and Microsoft’s 2017 Partnership Agreement.

These announcements contradict everything that Steve Lucas said.

Tapdancing Around On HANA Implementation Numbers

“During a Q&A with Lucas, I also got the opportunity to ask him about how many customers were live on the SAP HANA platform – where I asked for specifics with regard to the individual modules. Here’s what I got told:

First of all I will give you the aggregate number. Across this entire picture, we have 291,000 customers [this includes everything from Ariba, to HCP, to SuccessFactors, to Cloud for Analytics – everything].

In terms of how many are live, we are in the thousands of live HANA customers. It’s an interesting question. We are in a world now where we are approaching 10,000 customers on HANA and thousands of them are live. I almost view the number of live customers for any of these things as irrelevant. Cloud for Analytics we just introduced eight weeks ago and we have 1,200 customers signed up for the trial – are they all live? No they aren’t all live, but this is the kind of demand signal that says to me that says it’s pretty good. The HANA Cloud Platform we have around 2,000 live customers. We introduced the HANA Cloud Platform 18 months ago. I remember when we had 30 developers on the HANA Cloud Platform. We have over 1,000 developers focused on the HANA Cloud Platform. Our customers are doing a variety of things from medical scenarios, to customers that call us up and say they are an auto-manufacturer and they want to give their dealers a simple inventory website.”

How Full of it is Steve Lucas?

Steve Lucas is full of BS, comes across in these types of answers. Steve Lucas’ response brings up no less than six questions on our part.

  1. Why would he say that “its an interesting question?”
  2. Why does he start with the total number of customers that SAP has when the questions are how many HANA customers are live on HANA?
  3. Why does Steve Lucas mention the number of customers of HANA, when the question is how many customers are live on HANA?
  4. Why does Steve Lucas bring up the number of customers who have signed up for a free trial of Cloud for Analytics when the question is how many customers are live on HANA?
  5. The HANA Cloud Platform has nothing to do with HANA, except the name was incorrectly in the product’s name (which now is no longer the case as it has been renamed SAP Cloud Platform).
  6. Why is what scenarios SAP customers are performing being given as an answer to how many customers SAP has live on HANA?

Overall why does Steve Lucas take so many lines of text to answer a simple question? Here is the issue.

  1. Step One: Diginomica: How customers are live on HANA?
  2. Step Two: Steve Lucas: (Insert number)

Diginomica’s Serious Math Issues

“Based on these numbers, by estimates we are then looking at around 4-6% of the current SAP customer base that are currently in a position to move to S/4 (have bought into the HANA platform already).”

Where does Diginomica get that math? SAP claims 291,000 customers. Steve Lucas claimed thousands of customers live on HANA. We can assume this number is in the low thousands (or Steve Lucas would have stated 7000, 8000, etc..). Let us be charitable and set HANA to 3000 live customers. 3000/291,000 is 1%. But are all of these live HANA customers ready to use S/4HANA, or is HANA installed below say BW? We ask because the most common applications that are used with HANA is BW.

We could get into more detail, but Diginomica’s math is quite ill-informed. A customer that has purchased merely HANA, but not done anything with it is not “in a position” to move to S/4HANA.

  • There was more from Steve Lucas in this article, but we ran out of patience.
  • Steve Lucas lies a lot and SAP has no consideration for whether its executives either continually lie, or have any idea what they are talking about.

But of course, Diginomica finally, after dutifully repeating everything Steve Lucas had to say, with Steve Lucas only himself probably even knowing what he was talking about, gave their conclusion.

The way I see it, there’s nothing wrong with HANA or SAP’s pitch. It makes sense in isolation. But in the context of broader market changes, will buyers agree? I’m not entirely sure.

Wow… is all we can say to that analysis.

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Conclusion

Diginomica does not have authors who have an authentic experience in SAP. This, combined with SAP paying Diginomica, is why they are such reliable repeaters of SAP’s messaging. This is a perfect example of them serving as a tool for SAP. There was no analysis provided in this article by Diginomica.

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.

What We Do and Research Access

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Hover over each bullet or plus sign to see more explanation. To move to a different bullet point, just “hover off” and then hover over the new bullet.

 

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References

*https://diginomica.com/2015/12/09/saps-steve-lucas-on-why-hana-beats-oracle-ibm-microsoft-and-aws/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304019404577420511203619228

How to Understand Why HANA is a Mismatch for S/4HANA and ECC

Executive Summary

  • SAP has proposed that HANA is a perfect fit for ERP. However, the evidence is that there is no advantage of HANA for ERP systems, but there are many disadvantages.
  • In this article, we discuss where our data comes from related to HANA’s mismatch.

Introduction to S/4HANA’s Mismatch with ERP Systems

SAP restricted S/4HANA to just the HANA database, breaking with decades of having their ERP system be database independent and creating great inconvenience and higher cost for customers. You will learn whether HANA is a fit for ERP systems.

What SAP Says About HANA and MRP

SAP has proposed that with HANA, there will be no more batch processing. The following is how they phrased this proposal.

“No More Batch — All Processes in Real-Time”

“…enterprises can dramatically simplify their processes, drive them in real time and change them as needed to gain new efficiencies – no more batch processing is required.”

No Batch Processing in S/4HANA?

SAP proposed that there will be no latency of any process in S/4HANA due to HANA. This means that no matter what process the company sets S/4HANA to do — that process will be completed in real time. If we look at MRP, it is common for MRP to be performed on what is called a “net change” basis. This means that only product location combinations that have had a change are processed.

The reason for this is to limit the time spent processing. It is common for MRP to take several hours, and this job is typically scheduled every weekday in the evening so as not to disrupt business operations. Then, on the weekend, a second MRP planning run is usually scheduled that performs a complete recalculation of all relevant product locations.

HANA as Perfect for MRP?

In an article titled SAP’s HANA Deployment Leapfrog’s Oracle, IBM and Microsoft published in Readwrite. The following quote reiterates this popularity.

During a multi-site news conference in New York, Palo Alto Calif., and Frankfurt, Germany, SAP demonstrated HANA’s speed using its manufacturing resource planning software. In Palo Alto, Hasso Plattner, SAP co-founder and board chairman, said the database will eventually be available in all products, whether on-premise or in the cloud. “All SAP products will go HANA,” he claimed.

HANA’s primary benefit is read access, which is beneficial for analytics. For MRP, the processes used are far more critical, and one will not receive the same benefit. And it turns out that these statements by Hasso Plattner regarding MRP performance were false.

The Actual Problem with MRP Performance in SAP ECC

After seeing many MRP instances, the only situations that we have seen where MRP runtimes were a problem where there were system setup issues. One issue, for example, is when there are a large number of invalid location product combinations that must be processed.

With HANA, SAP claimed, there would be no latency. We should make sure we realize how large this claim is. This means that it should be possible to schedule a complete recalculation of the entire combination of product locations in the middle of the day, as the calculation will all be instantaneous. Two minutes later, an entire MRP run of every product location should be able to be performed, and once again, the time taken to run MRP should not be measurable. That is the definition of “no latency.”

This is a peculiar claim. And there are several reasons for this. Given today’s hardware and software capabilities, unless the model is small, it is not possible.

The first reason is that given today’s hardware and software capabilities, unless the model is small, it is not possible.

The second reason gets into what MRP does versus what HANA is. If one takes most of the batch processes in ERP, but MRP being an excellent example, the bottleneck on processing is the calculation. That is the microprocessor load. Not the database load. So it would not be feasible that HANA, which only speeds analytical processing, to do very much to speed MRP or other types of processor intensive activities.

Hasso Plattner Weighs In

On November 30, 2015, Hasso Plattner, one of the co-founders of SAP, published “How to Understand the Business Benefits of SAP S/4HANA Better.”

“I just heard of a Chinese fashion manufacturer who installed SAP S/4HANA and reports a game changing improvement of the MRP2 run from more than 24 hours to under two hours. My advice for the smaller and midsize SAP Business Suite customers is to carefully watch the early adopters, soon approaching 2000, especially in related industries.”Hasso Plattner

There are several curious things about this statement. First, This occurred before November 30, 2015. However, Hasso implies that this company moved from the pre-HANA version of SAP enterprise software — known as ECC — to HANA. (Yet, this earlier software runs on HANA.) He states that the Chinese company purchased and implemented S4 EM. However, as of June 2016, S4 EM was still some way away from the full release. Only S4 Finance — previously called SAP Simple Finance — is available for purchase.

So the first question is how is it possible that this Chinese fashion manufacturer was even using S/4HANA for MRP.

But if we leave this issue to the side for a moment (it is an important question, but let us take this in stages), the matter of how placing MRP on an analytics database versus a transaction processing database made such a difference in the MRP runtime is an important one.

  1. It is essential because technically, the claim does not make sense.
  2. Secondly, information from the field is that MRP does not run faster on HANA, but instead that it runs slower.

Feedback from Customers on MRP on HANA

The following are descriptive quotes from a person from a customer that uses MRP on HANA. They are consistent but more detailed than similar information we have received from multiple sources.

“Running MRP on HANA and the performance of the MRP job is horrendous. It runs in 8-12 hours, while the same amount of data on MSFT SQL (Server) ran in 1 hour. So far I’m quite unimpressed. Especially considering how much $$$ we spent!”

Unsurprisingly the output of MRP is not used as he describes in the following quotation.

“We don’t use the results of MRP, but we use the output to feed downstream systems. Across the board transactional performance is horrendous, the stats speak for themselves.”

This brings up a question of why MRP is being run at this customer. Is this simply to justify having gone through the expense of buying and implementing SAP?

MRP engines are easy to find and can be integrated into SAP. This customer could simply have an external MRP engine to perform the processing and then put the results back into SAP.

And of course, this would allow the customer to use the results of MRP in the system — another benefit.

“Our ATP process is a heroic effort that takes an entire weekend with not a moment to spare. Jobs that we would usually run once a day in now take 8+ hours. Once we have all of our global companies in the same instance, I have no idea how our jobs are going to run with limited windows for downtime.”

The consensus of what we hear from multiple sources is certainly not “no batch processes and everything in real time” but rather significant performance problems with MRP on HANA. These are problems that did not exist when MRP was run on Oracle or DB2.

These are problems that did not exist when MRP was run on Oracle or DB2.

A Lack of SAP Claim Verification

SAP often makes statements indicating that improved performance is driving the migration to S/4HANA. These statements are typically accompanied by other amorphous examples (e.g., S/4HANA performance improvement during end-of-period close.) These statements are not checking out from the feedback that has come in from multiple SAP customers.

After extensive analysis, it turns out that these statements are not checking out from the feedback that has come in from multiple SAP customers.

Furthermore, Brightwork Research & Analysis has been the only entity specializing in SAP that has called into question whether the claims made by SAP in this area actually made any sense. Our view is that they never did make any sense, and they have been targeted at executives that think they can guess if SAP is telling the truth without relying on people with the right background to verify these claims.

Nothing to Say, Gartner, and Forrester?

Both Gartner and Forrester have been notably quite silent on whether any of SAP’s claims for HANA on transaction processing made any sense. This brings up the question of whether they have any interest in verifying information or see themselves as merely repeating mechanisms of vendors with the largest analyst budgets. Critiquing a vendor that pays you so much money would be biting the hand the feeds you. Gartner and Forrester can simply “look the other way” as one proposed capability of HANA is proven false after another.

Taken another way, if SAP pays about every media source, what media source has any interest in contradicting SAP? Isn’t it necessary to oppose vendors if the information provided by vendors is inaccurate? What is the definition of independence? In my last article, I quoted Gartner saying that “bias at Gartner is a non-issue.”

Not only Gartner but many other IT media entities, it seems like not only a massive issue but an issue that is not going away.

A Major Advantage for Using with ERP Systems?

Column based databases like HANA are not an advantage when the database in question is supporting an application like an ERP system, or any other transaction processing system.

This is because transaction-processing systems tend to access all of the fields in a row. However, when the application in question is analytical, technically known as OLAP, then the database design/table configuration is a disadvantage because the typical query only accesses a few of the fields or columns in a table.

This is explained well in this paper from Oracle on the topic of their 12c product, which is another in-memory database.

“Oracle Database has traditionally stored data in a row format. In a row format database, each new transaction or record stored in the database is represented as a new row in a table. That row is made up of multiple columns, with each column representing a different attribute about that record. A row format is ideal for online transaction systems, as it allows quick access to all of the columns in a record since all of the data for a given record are kept together in-memory and on-storage. A column format database stores each of the attributes about a transaction or record in a separate column structure. A column format is ideal for analytics, as it allows for faster data retrieval when only a few columns are selected but the query accesses a large portion of the data set. But what happens when a DML operation (insert, update or delete) occurs on each format? A row format is incredibly efficient for processing DML as it manipulates an entire record in one operation i.e. insert a row, update a row or delete a row. A column format is not so efficient at processing row-wise DML: In order to insert or delete a single record in a column format all of the columnar structures in the table must be changed.”

This points out that for inserts, deletes, or updates — which a transaction processing system — like an ERP system — does all the time. The column based table is slower than the row based — or what is known as the relational database (although using the term relational to differentiate row based on column-based databases is not technically accurate as they are both relational databases — the distinction is the format and type of tables used)

ERP on HANA Processing Problems

Getting back to the main point of this section, ERP on HANA will not speed the processing of ERP systems for most of what ERP systems do. This is Oracle’s point in this quotation from John Soat.

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

I agree with John Soat, in that there is a very reasonable explanation for why SAP does not publish this…because the benchmarks are not impressive.

Where is Our Data Coming From?

The information that is provided below is from multiple sources. Some are from actual client sources. None of the sources is interested in being identified so that they won’t be.

Furthermore, we have more information regarding details than we will provide in this or other articles. The reason for this is related to source protection. The way that we can provide this type of information is that the sources aren’t identified or can’t be traced by SAP through the detail that we offer.

Regarding our credibility, the reader can review our SAP prediction accuracy list.

Our Independence

Brightwork is not paid by SAP or any other database vendor (or any non-database vendor for that matter.) We have no incentive to push one database above another. We don’t own stock in any database vendor or any other financial tie. Furthermore, our analysis in this area should not be seen as a general endorsement for any non-SAP vendor.

This differentiates us from Forrester and Gartner, who are paid by database vendors. Forrester sometimes declares these payments, Gartner never does.

The Problem Between HANA and ERP

The data we have analyzed show the following performance features of HANA.

  1. Simple queries for analytics run quickly, but not any more rapidly than competing databases.
  2. Complex queries for analytics run more quickly than a row-oriented database, but not as fast as competing databases.
  3. Transaction processing (things like posting goods issue, decrementing inventory, etc..) runs significantly slower on HANA than on row-oriented databases. That is even when accounting for HANA’s better hardware.
  4. Processor intensive operations run significantly slower on HANA than on row-oriented databases. Again, this is even when accounting for HANA’s better hardware. An example of a processor intensive activity is MRP. See our article How to Interpret HANA’s Problems with MRP.

See our other article which questions Why Do Companies Continue to Run MRP from ERP systems.

The problem with this information on HANA’s performance profile? ERP systems’ primary activities are number 3 & 4, transaction processing, and processor intensive operations. Not 1 & 2. This means the overall system will run slower if the transaction processing and processor intensive activities are disadvantaged.

This is a severe problem for HANA’s value for ERP systems. The things HANA does well, are not related to what ERP primarily does.

Transaction Processing Problems

HANA has had persistent problems in what should be the primary focus of any database that supports an ERP system, transaction processing. Transaction processing is the most important thing that any ERP system does, and SAP’s marketing around the importance of analytics has not changed the primary processing type of ERP.

On April 10, 2018, Lenovo published the technical paper, Lenovo SAP S/4HANA Scale out – Cycle 1.

This paper included some inaccuracies, which should not be surprising as Lenovo is an SAP partner and has a series of products they are trying to sell that are connected to HANA.

Notice the hardware specification below from the Lenovo paper.

The HANA box has a higher hardware specification, but it is hidden with the AnyDB/ECC server configuration not called out. 

Natural questions that arise.

  • Where is the hardware configuration listing on the AnyDB/ECC server?
  • How is the reader to know if the hardware is comparable? As we have pointed out in the article, How Much of Performance is HANA?, many improvements that have been seen from HANA are due to the entity testing HANA against older hardware and previous versions of AnyDB.

Either Lenovo does not know how to list the specifications of the box, or more likely, Lenovo is excluding the AnyDB/ECC listings to obscure the fact that the hardware is not remotely comparable. How can this go unnoticed by those that read these studies?

Now, look at the transaction processing.

Why are the exact comparisons redacted? Secondly, how is anyone to know how much of the improved transactions are from the HANA boxes higher hardware specification? And SAP promised massive improvements in performance across the board, so why are any of the transactions negative? 

The redaction is quite odd, as there is no reasonable explanation of why this should be.

Analytics on S/4HANA?

Now one could construct a scenario where a bunch of analytics is performed in ECC/S/4HANA. SAP has stated this as their vision. The concept is that all analytics would be performed inside the ERP system. Let us go back to the Lenovo study.

This is compared against an older version of most likely either Oracle or DB2, which did not have the multimodel capability (that is column-oriented with row-oriented). However, why are any of the analytic scores slower than the older database versions?

  • Observations from the field show HANA underperforming all of the competitor databases, even SQL Server, even in analytic workloads. This level of improvement, up to 2846%, shows the hardware difference between the ECC box and the HANA box.
  • Once again, we have redacted actual scores. What is being hidden here?

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

Columnar databases are a disadvantage for ERP systems or any transactional processing system. That is what makes SAP’s statements about SAP entirely inaccurate. Secondly, in any ERP system, data can be aggregated and updated to just a few hundred tables. These tables can be made columnar — while the rest of the database stays as row-based (or as is known as relational). This is the design deployed by Oracle 12C, and it calls into big issue the design used by ERP on HANA. Details on this plan are available in this article

These tables can be made columnar — while the rest of the database stays as row-based (or as is known as relational). This is the design deployed by Oracle 12c, and it calls into big issue the design used by SAP for ERP on HANA. Details on this plan are available in this article, Which is Faster, HANA, or Oracle 12C?

Thus there is no way to see the HANA performance profile as anything but a net loss in performance for ERP.

This means that the migrations of ECC to HANA as well as implementations of S/4HANA, what there are of them, resulting in performance degradation for the companies that implemented them.

Furthermore, SAP customers paid a very high premium for a reduction in performance.

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.

What We Do and Research Access

Using the Diagram

Hover over each bullet or plus sign to see more explanation. To move to a different bullet point, just “hover off” and then hover over the new bullet.

 

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References

https://en.resources.lenovo.com/whitepapers/lenovo-sap-s-4hana-scale-out

https://investor.underarmour.com/directors.cfm

*https://news.sap.com/how-to-understand-the-business-benefits-of-s4hana-better/

https://blogs.sap.com/2015/11/11/sap-s4hana-frequently-asked-questions-part-8-1511-update/

*https://readwrite.com/2013/01/10/saps-hana-deployment-leapfrogs-oracle-ibm-and-microsoft/

How an SAP HANA Sidecar Becomes a High Overhead Item

Executive Summary

  • SAP created a concept of an SAP HANA sidecar, which was designed to get customers to implement uncompetitive or immature solutions.
  • The benefit of the free SAP HANA sidecar is one example of this.

Introduction

The SAP HANA sidecar was presented as an essential step to using HANA very aggressively in 2013, and less so since then. In this article, you will learn SAP’s logic behind a sidecar, and whether the logic actually holds up.

What is an SAP HANA Sidecar?

An SAP HANA sidecar is where HANA is run as an offline system. The offline nature of the SAP HANA sidecar is critical to understanding the overall concept, as the idea being that HANA is first tested offline before being brought online.

Here you can see a standard graphic that shows a HANA sidecar design.

Using the “sidecar,” the data is replicated to HANA. This is to be a precursor to replacing the current database, called AnyDB, to reflect it being Oracle or IBM, etc.. with HANA.

Why this database is being replaced in the first place is an interesting question as Oracle, HANA and MS are continually updating their databases. And there is no evidence presented by SAP that HANA outperforms other databases even in analytics, as we cover in the article What is HANA’s Actual Performance and Articles that Exaggerate HANA’s Benefits. But SAP continues to use uses false compatibility claims to push customers to HANA. They do this even when there is no evidence for HANA outperforming the database it is replacing.

Here is a typical quotation from SAP on this topic that tries to ease companies into moving towards HANA, without providing evidence that moving to HANA makes sense.

“Customers can add new analytics capabilities immediately without disruption to their existing landscape. Any investment today will be valid for SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA.”

The logic often presented by SAP is that if SAP offers an item, that it naturally should move moved to.

Benefits of the SAP HANA Sidecar?

And here is another promoting the benefits of this design.

“The way the current SAP systems work is, the data is transferred from database to application layer and calculations are performed in application layer. Here you have significant latency between disk to memory transfer and then calculations in application layer. HANA database on the other hand is optimized for mass parallel processing and performs calculations in the database layer and only submits a result set to the application.” – HANA Discussion Thread

There are several essential questions to ask regarding this comment.

  • Is This True?: This idea of using a stored procedure for processing has been proposed for quite some time. However, the main reason that SAP promotes this concept is so they can reduce the compatibility of their applications with other database vendors, which is databases other than HANA.
  • Superior Performance?: As explained in the article, What is the Actual Performance of HANA?, there is no evidence that HANA outperforms other comparable databases. The evidence appears to point in the opposite direction. And these comparable databases can achieve this performance without stored procedures.

What is the Overhead of the SAP HANA Sidecar?

One of the greatly underemphasized points is that this replication of data between the active system and the sidecar is quite a bit of overhead. This is, of course, minimized by those who propose using the SAP HANA sidecar. To explain this overhead, we will review the requirements of the sidecar.

Here are a few of the requirements to achieve data replication for a HANA sidecar.

  1. “Data must be loaded from the current database to the HANA database using any of the existing replication scenarios (DXC, Data Services, SLT) or ABAP custom code.
  2. If you require real-time loading into HANA sidecar, you will still need SLT or have custom code that loads to HANA via secondary database connection every time a change is triggered
  3. Custom ABAP programs are needed to be able to connect to the HANA database and retrieve/insert/update data
  4. To fully optimize the performance of HANA as a sidecar, all custom ABAP code must be optimized to run SQLSCRIPT to fully utilize the HANA calculation (refer to part_2 blog for more details)
  5. HANA only runs on SUSE LINUX SP11, so if your current hardware/os does not include SUSE LINUX you will need get hardware specifically for HANA” – HANA Discussion Thread

The Project Duration of HANA as a Sidecar

A typical HANA implementation will take between 1 year and 1.5 years to finally migrate. This means that the customer has to run the sidecar this period and absorb the cost of doing so. This is a longer duration than is pitching by SAP account executives, and it is one reason why HANA’s TCO is so high.

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Conclusion

SAP sidecars can be viewed as a sales strategy to push immature applications into prospects and customers by taking the solution “offline.” The idea being presented by SAP is that the sidecar allows the customer to incorporate “innovation” into companies. However, the overall presentation is a problem. One major reason is that the buyer beings investing from when they buy the sidecar software, and this can easily lead to “sunk cost” decision making where the customer continues to invest in a solution. That is, the sidecar can very easily become “project quicksand.” And this is, of course, the objective of those that present sidecars.

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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://archive.sap.com/discussions/thread/3376303

https://events.asug.com/2013AC/Business%20Intelligence/4011%20Leverage%20SAP%20HANA%20Analytics%20Foundation%20to%20Bring%20Operational%20Reporting%20to%20the%20Next%20Level%20Using%20SAPs%20Suite%20Content.pdf