How Real is The Oracle Automated Database?

Executive Summary

  • Oracle made many ridiculous claims about the autonomous or self-driving database.
  • The reason for the creation of the autonomous database is because Oracle is losing business to the AWS RDS managed database service.
  • Oracle makes is sound as if AI in Oracle’s Automated Database is ARIIA from EagleEye.
  • Oracle upgrades are not free and upgrades have many complications.

Introduction

Oracle has been making great claims related to automation. They introduced something called the “Autonomous Database.” In this article, we will review the claims for the autonomous or automated database.

The Autonomous Database?

Let us begin analyzing the claim being made in the name Oracle has given here. Autonomous means something that runs itself. It would mean that no human intervention would be required to manage the automated database. That is not only is it not an on-premises DBA, but it also does not require management by Oracle or any other entity.

We have been working with databases for years, and we have yet to run into such a database. So it should first be established that this is an enormous claim that Oracle is making.

The Self Driving Database?

Another term used by Oracle in their literature is the term “self-driving.” This seems to imply the same thing as the term automated.

Larry Ellison delivers some preposterous quotes in his explanation of the Oracle Automated Database.

“For a long time people really looked at the promise of AI but it never quite delivered to its promise until very recently. With the advent of the latest version of AI, neural networks with machine learning, we are doing things that hitherto have been considered unimaginable by computers.”

Oracle which is known as being the most expensive database to maintain short of SAP HANA (which has enormous maintenance overhead), Ellison has this to say.

“On an Oracle database running at Amazon, will cost you 5 times what it costs you to run in the Oracle Cloud because it will take you 5 times the amount of computer to do the exact same thing. A Redshift database will cost 10 times more to do the same thing at Oracle Cloud.  And that is not counting the automation of the database function. That is not counting the downtime as Oracle Cloud has virtually no downtime.” 

The Popularity of the Term Automated Database

The following shows Google Trend’s measurement of the popularity of the search term “autonomous database.” Notice the spike in October of 2017. This was when Oracle began a marketing offensive around its autonomous database.

Let us review some of Oracle’s claims.

“Examples of automation Oracle said it would offer are automated data lake and data prep pipeline creation for data integration; automated data discovery and preparation, with automated analysis for key findings; and automation of identification and remediation of security issues in a developer’s code during application development.”

At OpenWorld in 2017, Larry Ellison claimed

“The new database uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. It’s fully autonomous, and it’s way better than AWS’s database, Ellison said.”

Understanding what AWS Is

Here it needs to be clarified, while AWS has introduced databases like Aurora and DynamoDB, most of AWS is primarily a PaaS/IaaS vendor. And as such AWS’s revenues in databases come from managing databases, it did not develop. Everything from Oracle to SQL Server to open source databases.

So when Ellison says that their new database is “way better than AWS’s database” what database is Larry referring to?

And better for what database? Remember that AWS offers managed Oracle. AWS’s RDS service offers a fully managed service for Amazon Aurora, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, MySQL, and MariaDB.

For Oracle, AWS’s managed database service offers the following:

  • Pre-configured Parameters
  • Monitoring and Metrics
  • DB Event Notifications
  • Software Patching
  • Provisioned IOPS (SSD)
  • Automated Backups
  • DB Snapshots
  • DB Instance Class
  • Storage and IOPS
  • Automatic Host Replacement
  • Multi-AZ Deployments

So here Larry seems even to be saying that Cloud Oracle DB is better than AWS’s cloud Oracle DB. The distinction between Oracle and AWS is between Oracle Cloud and AWS’, not Oracle DB and AWS’ database(s).

 

This perplexing claim is repeated by Steve Daheb of Oracle. In this video, Steve Daheb claims that the Amazon databases like Redshift and Aurora are not open and cannot be ported to other IaaS providers. Steve Daheb seems to miss out on the fact that Redshift and Aurora also cannot be hosted at the Oracle Cloud. Secondly for a company with very little cloud business as a percentage of revenues (roughly 16%) the discussion of cloud is out of proportion with Oracle’s business. Secondly, none the Oracle Automated Database only works (for some strange reason) if it is managed by Oracle. Oracle 18c is not autonomous if installed on premises — which is where the vast majority of Oracle databases reside. 

Furthermore, AWS has both a BYOL, or bring your own license model. This means that whatever a company purchases from Oracle can be run on AWS.

“Bring Your Own License (BYOL): In this licensing model, you can use your existing Oracle Database licenses to run Oracle deployments on Amazon RDS. To run a DB Instance under the BYOL model, you must have the appropriate Oracle Database license (with Software Update License & Support) for the DB instance class and Oracle Database edition you wish to run. You must also follow Oracle’s policies for licensing Oracle Database software in the cloud computing environment. DB instances reside in the Amazon EC2 environment, and Oracle’s licensing policy for Amazon EC2 is located here.”

Things Oracle Claims AWS Managed DBs Can’t Do?

Ellison went on to say.

“This level of reliability will require Oracle to automatically tune, patch, and upgrade itself while the system is running, Ellison said, adding: “AWS can’t do any of this stuff.”

Again, the only reason that AWS could not do whatever Oracle DB can do is if Oracle does not release its newest DB (Oracle 18) to AWS.

But secondly, AWS already has a managed database service that is considered superior to the Oracle Cloud. So in fact, AWS has been “doing this stuff” for quite some time, but they have been doing with a managed DB offering.

Ellison is not being merely somewhat inaccurate in this case or engaging in normal puffery; he is misrepresenting what AWS offers as well as misrepresenting what AWS does.

Mark Hurd Doubles Down on the Automated Database Inaccuracy

Now let us check Mark Hurd’s comment in the same vein.

“Oracle CEO Mark Hurd said his company’s database costs less because it automates more. He described AWS’ MySQL-based Aurora database and its open source version, Redshift, as “old fashion technologies.” Oracle’s new database, on the other hand, allows users to “push a button and load your data and you’re done.”

Let’s say that Aurora and Redshift are old-fashioned technologies. Aurora was just developed in the past few years. But we don’t need to address the issue; we are merely left over to the side.

Is Mark Hurd aware that AWS provides managed Oracle? This is known to everyone, and so it should have fallen into both his and Ellison’s frame of reference at this point. Why do Hurd and Ellison repeatedly speak as if AWS is primarily a database vendor rather than an IaaS/PaaS vendor? When one software vendor misrepresents the offering from another software vendor, there has to be a specific reason why.

To reiterate, AWS has offered a managed DB service for quite some time.

If Oracle’s new database allows users to push a button and load your data and you’re done, why is the earth populated with so many Oracle DBAs? There is, no database that does not load data with the push of a button, but the question is the maintenance after the data is loaded. Does Mark Hurd work with databases? How much are the technical people at Oracle sharing with Mark Hurd?

When Did Oracle Begin Emphasizing Automation?

It is also curious that Oracle only began talking about automation after they began losing business to AWS. Is that a coincidence or is there perhaps a deeper meaning there?

We think there might be. In fact, the entire automated database narrative seems to be a reaction to something very specific we will address further on.

AWS’s Automation Verus Oracle’s Explanation of the Automated Database

Oracle is ignoring that AWS also has automated features. See the following quotation from their website and are part of the AWS Systems Manager.

“Systems Manager Automation is an AWS-hosted service that simplifies common instance and system maintenance and deployment tasks. For example, you can use Automation as part of your change management process to keep your Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) up-to-date with the latest application build. Or, let’s say you want to create a backup of a database and upload it nightly to Amazon S3. With Automation, you can avoid deploying scripts and scheduling logic directly to the instance. Instead, you can run maintenance activities through Systems Manager Run Command and AWS Lambda steps orchestrated by the Automation service.”

But AWS’s claims are far more reasonable and Oracle’s. But according to Ellison and Hurd, these automated features don’t seem to exist.

The Validity of Oracle’s Claims on AI & ML

Interwoven within the claims around the automated database are AI and ML. Now at this point, a great swath of vendors is now claiming AI and ML capabilities. However, AI is still quite limited in usage. Let’s take the first, which is AI.

To begin, AI is an enormous claim; it proposes that the software is so close to consciousness that it is nearly undifferentiated from an adult human brain.

Safra Katz discusses the topic as if it is old news. She states…

“We have no AI project; we have AI in every project,”

Being on quite a lot of projects with the Oracle DB (although not Oracle applications), there is no evidence of any AI whatsoever. Not only that, but Oracle is also not known for ML. Where is all that Oracle AI hiding?

It’s on every project according to Safra, but we just can’t see it. A very large number of Oracle customers are running old versions of the Oracle DB and may have minimal Oracle apps. Are these customers also using AI?

AI is contained in Alexa or Google Home, and it does not take very long ask Alexa or Google Home questions and eventually determine that neither are anywhere close being conscious.

AI is mostly a buzzword which works best for people with less technical backgrounds.

Now let us discuss ML or machine learning.

Oracle and Machine Learning’s Input to the Automated Database

Machine learning is a broad category of predictive algorithms that are not particularly new. The great thing about ML for marketers is that you can add ML functionality, without having ML be useful at a customer. That is you can add old algorithms, but they don’t necessarily have to work, and there are tons of public domain ML algorithms can be added quickly to any application, enabling that vendor to state that they do ML.

Here is Google Trends on the interest in ML since 2015. Interest has increased.

Notice the change just in 2017 in the interest in ML. Is this really due to the increases in ML capabilities, or because vendor marketing departments figured out they need to jump on that bandwagon? 

Understanding the Method of Applying ML

The method is that insight is gained from the ML or analysis that did not exist before the ML being performed. However, unlike what Oracle states about its autonomous database, ML is not “self-driving.”

An ML approach or algorithm must be first selected. The most common ML algorithm is linear regression, something with which many people are familiar. It is still the most popular form of ML used by data scientists.
Then set against a dataset (which must also be carefully developed/curated by a human) and then the analysis must also be performed by a human.

ML = EagleEye’ ARIIA?

Vendors propose ML being similar to the computer named ARIIA in the movie EagleEye, which eventually coordinates humans from across the US to assassinate the US President because its analytics observed a violation of the US Constitution. It makes for great fiction, but nothing like the computer in EagleEye has ever existed.

The actual ML processing step of the process is the shortest step, which is why ML capabilities do not scale directly with processing capabilities. Vendors imply a revolution in ML that has never occurred in reality, and that most occur on vendor web pages and PowerPoint presentations.

Oracle’s Automated Database as ARIIA for Data?

Now let us look how Ellison plays directly into this movie script orientation of AI and ML.

“Based on machine learning, this new version of Oracle is a totally automated, self-driving system that does not require a human being either to manage the database or tune the database,” Ellison said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the conference call with investors.

And Larry Ellison’s statement is also found in this video by Oracle. It states clearly that the Oracle Automated Database required no human labor.

That is curious because ML will not enable the automation of a database. Secondly, where have these capabilities been hiding, only to spring forth when every other vendor is also proposing AI and ML capabilities? Oracle addresses this by saying.

“We’ve been developing this for decades,” Loaiza said

If that is true, they have come forward all of a sudden in a peculiar bit of timing. This is addressed by a commenter on an article in The Register.

“They have sure hidden it well then. Oracle DB patches are some of the most painful and complex such exercises I have ever encountered. Versus say SQL Server where it’s click and go! Not to mention having to allow Java to run the installer for Oracle!” – The Register Commenter

After having the highest maintenance database in the industry, how autonomy is all the way through what Oracle is offering, and watch how Oracle combines automation with the cloud.

“The future of tomorrow’s successful enterprise IT organization is in full end-to-end automation,” said Zavery. “We are weaving autonomous capabilities into the fabric of our cloud to help customers safeguard their systems, drive innovation, and deliver the ultimate competitive advantage.”

But According to Oracle None of This Will Impact Jobs?

Notice how Oracle walks back the implications of these supposed changes when it comes to jobs.

“However, the biz has repeatedly emphasized that increased automation will not mean the end of people’s jobs – instead saying it will simply cut out the monotonous yet time consuming day-to-day tasks.”

“This allows administrators to free up their time… do things they were not able to do before,” said Zavery. “They will have to learn some new things beyond what they were doing before.” – The Register

This is also a curious position to take. It also implies omniscience and a lack of bias on the part of Oracle. Oracle developed a video which is designed to make DBAs feel better about this potential loss of jobs.

Maria Colgan makes the statement that Oracle DBAs will leverage the cloud. However, there is little evidence of Oracle having much cloud business. 

If what Oracle said about their autonomous DB was true, it would allow companies to use fewer DB resources. How does Oracle know how each company would decide to respond to these changes?

*Note to Oracle; companies do like cutting costs.

A More Likely Prediction (If Oracle’s Claims for its Automated Database were True)

It is quite reasonable to expect the work that is taken over by the hypothetical autonomous database to be taken as cost savings. That is for database resources to lose their jobs. Oracle does not know.

All of this seems to be a way for Oracle not to perturb DBAs that it would like to endorse the concept of the autonomous DB.

But there is an extra problem. Ellison contradicted this storyline in a different quotation.

“If you eliminate all human labor, you eliminate human error,” Oracle cofounder and CTO Larry Ellison said during his keynote address today.

So, Ellison seems to be proposing eliminating all human labor related to the Oracle database.

So which is it?

Do Oracle’s automated databases now mean that DBAs will not be performing backups and patches (lower level database functions), but also not focusing on analytics (higher level database functions)?

Ellison appears to be speaking categorically about eliminating labor in the database function. This means that if Oracle customers purchase their automated database, the last task for the unnumerable Oracle DBAs will be to perform the upgrade to this database and then transition to new careers as the database is now fully automated. But at the same time “eliminating all human labor” apparently won’t cost jobs.

Ok Larry.

We gave The Register a low accuracy on the article these quotations are from as they provided zero pushback on these extravagant claims in the quotes from Oracle this article. Yet, in a different article, The Register did push back on Oracle’s claims.

Oracle’s Explanation for the Sudden Appearance of Automation

Here is how Oracle explains this sudden appearance of such extreme levels of automation in their database.

“We’ve seen lots of mention of machine learning this week. But how much of that is new and amazing as opposed to vanilla automation you’ve been working on for a long time, is not clear. There’s an important distinction to be made between a database that has a number of automated processes and one that is fully autonomous. Customers can choose to just use automation, or to take the plunge and hand over all their management to Oracle’s cloud operations for the autonomous option.” – The Register

  • Here The Register pointed out to its readers a potential blurring of the lines between the low-level automation and the new claims that Oracle has made.
  • But at the same time, The Register blurs the definition between the automated database and a managed database.

Look at this bizarre sentence from The Register:

“Customers can choose to just use automation, or to take the plunge and hand over all their management to Oracle’s cloud operations for the autonomous option.”

Is that a well thought out sentence? Let us think about this for a second.

If a database is autonomous, why would it need to be managed?

It seems like if you spend enough time talking to top executives at Oracle, pretty soon you can’t figure out which way is up.

This presentation is stated as the Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud, but it does not show any autonomous activities. Rather George Lumpkin simply shows analytics that are available within the offering. The things that George Lumpkin demonstrates should not have be performed the way he is performing them if the database were autonomous. Larry Ellison and the Oracle documentation say one thing, but the demo shows something different. 

Automating Lower Level of Higher Level Database Activities?

But in this article, Oracle made a mistake. In previous articles and materials, they have proposed that even analytics would be automated. Then in this quote, they state something very different.

“Less time on infrastructure, patching, upgrades, ensuring availability, tuning. More time on database design, data analytics, data policies, securing data.”

That is the more basic items are automated. However, in this case, it leaves more time for things like analytics. Yet, in other Oracle quotations, they state that both lower level and higher level database activities will be automated.

Oracle cannot keep a consistent storyline as to how much is automated, it changes depending on which Oracle source is speaking.

Inconsistencies like this occur when something is not real, or that is things are being made up.

Secondly, Oracle assumes that the customer always wants the database upgraded. Let us get into some important reasons why automation for things like upgrades is not as straightforward as Oracle is letting on.

Oracle Upgrades are Not Free

Version 12.1.0.2 of Oracle database that brought in-memory capability cost an estimated $23,000 per processor.

This is explained by The Register:

“This means that once the release – which has a naming scheme that is typically associated with straightforward patch and performance distributions – has been downloaded by IT and the internal database systems have been updated, a less careful database administrator could create an in-memory database table with a single command, thereby sticking their organization with a hefty bill next time Oracle chooses to carry out a license fee audit.”

Therefore, there are implications to upgrades; they can’t necessarily be “autonomously upgraded.” Most of the Oracle instances in the world are on 11, so not even 12 much less the most recent version of 12. How will the autonomous database work for these customers? Remember, they don’t want to be upgraded.

“As a recent Rimini Street survey showed, as much as 74 per cent of Oracle customers are running unsupported, with half of Oracle’s customers not sure what they’re paying for. These customers are likely paying full-fat maintenance fees for no-fat support (meaning they get no updates, fixes, or security alerts for that money).” – NZReseller.

There is some reason these companies are not upgrading to the latest. One major one is that many customers do not feel the new features are worth the time, effort or money.

Quite obviously, if Oracle could upgrade all customers instantaneously to 18, they would, it would give them a significant revenue increase.

Upgrade Complications

What if the automatic upgrade interferes with something that the customer has set up in the database?

This pushes control to Oracle that the customer does not necessarily want.

  • AWS is offering a fully managed database, which means they are taking full responsibility for the database.
  • Oracle, on the other hand, is offering (with the automated database) some lower level tasks to be controlled by a machine, but this should not be taken to be the same thing that AWS is offering.

Oracle’s Support Quality and IaaS Success?

Furthermore, Oracle has had significant problems with its support quality, choosing to perform cost-cutting rather than maintaining quality. So if Oracle has such an issue with support, then why would they be able to provide high-quality IaaS support with Oracle Cloud? Being a successful IaaS/PaaS provider means being focused on service. Since when in the past 15 years has this been Oracle’s reputation?

The Lost of Control to Automation

Getting back to the loss of control, this is addressed in the following quotation.

“There’s a lot of concern about giving up control,” said Baer. “The initial uptake will be modest, and a lot will just be getting their feet wet …Organisations like banks, which are highly regulated, will be the last to surrender control. Oracle’s Daheb conceded customers might still want to manage something themselves. “They might say, this is dev/test, go ahead, automate that bad boy… this is core, customer-facing – maybe we don’t want to do that anytime soon.” – The Register

This is an inconsistency. Is everything going to be fully automated? Because this is the message from Oracle, or are there examples, many examples perhaps of where things won’t be automated?

“But, he argued, “the big thing” about the autonomous database is that Oracle is offering customers the choice and ability to “get to it at whatever pace makes sense for them”. – The Register

This is a textbook pivot.

Pivoting Away from Automation When Challenged

Reality is conflicting with Oracle’s messaging. The reason for this is Oracle is overstating the degree to which customers will be able to automate Oracle. When faced with questions about this reality, the response is that now the customer has the “choice.”

But that is not the marketing pitch. The marketing pitch is things are about to become incredibly automated with Oracle DBs.

“If Oracle’s customers’ enthusiasm for that change is anything to go by, we will be waiting some time before its autonomous database is the norm.” – The Register

We congratulate The Register for pushing back on Oracle here.

Without even knowing themselves, they were able to find out what customers thought and include that in the article.

Why Oracle is Selling This Automation Story

This telling execs exactly what they want to hear. There is no nuance to the explanation of the Oracle automated database — such as AWS obtains economies by managing large numbers of DBs and with its all web maintenance of DBs and elastic offering reduces maintenance overhead. Instead, Oracle’s pitch is that what amounts to a magic box called Oracle automation will automate everything.

AWS is making real change happen with its approach, and Oracle is off talking about cutting slices of cheese off the moon.

The Automated Database for Selling Oracle’s Growth Story Wall Street

Our analysis is that there is very little to the autonomous database. However, Oracle is using the autonomous database as a selling point to Wall Street.

“Under Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, who share the chief executive officer title, Oracle has bet its future on a new version of its database software that automates more functions and a growing suite of cloud-based applications. Last quarter’s results were a reminder that the company still faces stiff competition from cloud vendors including Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Salesforce.com Inc.” – Bloomberg

So both the autonomous database story is inaccurate, and Oracle’s cloud story is inaccurate. Oracle is seeing very little growth in its cloud business. (The financial analysts have picked up on this second story.)

And in our review of several analysts comments around the autonomous database, they seem to lack the understanding of how Oracle databases work in practice to validate Oracle’s claims. They assume the Oracle autonomous database will become successful. Secondly, the observation that we have made, that the autonomous database is the opposite of what Oracle has been about is also not present.

Oracle wins our Golden Pinocchio Award for its claims about the Oracle Automated Database.

Conclusion

Oracle’s claims around the autonomous database don’t hold up to scrutiny. In fact, for the claim of Oracle Automated Database wins our award.

Secondly, Oracle is a curious source for the autonomous database as Oracle has throughout its history had what is widely considered as the highest overhead and most complex and difficult to manage databases. The argument was always that the Oracle DB could do things that other databases could not do. However, part of this was based on the fact that Oracle made such exaggerated claims for its database. But the distinction in upper-end capabilities between Oracle and other far less expensive to purchase and maintain databases has declined.

Now that this is becoming a more broadly understood concept, Oracle is marketing against its traditional messaging (and the reality of its database product).

In this way, the automated database marketing strategy looks identical to SAP’s Run Simple marketing program, which attempted to recreate SAP’s image as complicated to run and use, when in fact SAP is without question the most complicated set of applications to run. However, Oracle has not been able to push the claims of the automated database as effectively as SAP pushed the claims of Run Simple because Oracle does not have SAP’s partner ecosystem or its degree of control over the IT media.

Finally, an article on AWS from Silicon Angle has the following to say several months after this article was published.

“But Oracle’s push doesn’t appear to have had much impact on AWS, whose revenue rose 49 percent in the latest quarter, to $5.4 billion — even faster than the previous quarter. Moreover, Vogels noted that AWS has seen 75,000 migrations from other databases to its own in the cloud since the migration service launched in early 2016, up from 20,000 in early 2017.”

A Review of Sources Provided by Oracle in Response to this Article

As a response to this article, a representative from Oracle provided the following documents.

Artice 1: Automated vs. Autonomous (By Oracle)

https://blogs.oracle.com/database/autonomous-vs-automated?

This article is by someone out of product marketing at Oracle and merely serves to repeat the claims made about the autonomous database, comparing it to inventions like the telephone. This is consistent with Larry Ellison’s claim that the Oracle autonomous database will be similar as an innovation as the Internet. Here is the exact quote:

“The Oracle Autonomous Database is based on technology as revolutionary as the internet.” – Larry Ellison

So the author of the Oracle article compared the autonomous database to…

  • The Invention of the Telephone
  • The Dawn of the Personal Computer
  • The Internet
  • The iPhone
  • The Self Driving Car

Some comparisons were left out. For instance the internal combustion engine, the discovery of DNA and the light bulb. But it is not clear why Oracle restricted its claims to only the some of the most important discoveries in human history.

Our Conclusion from the Oracle Article

There was nothing for me to comment on anew as the claims were already evaluated earlier in this article. This article targeted as people who don’t think very deeply about topics.

Article 2: Oracle’s Autonomous Cloud Portfolio Drives Greater Developer Productivity and Operational Efficiency

The second article was from Ovum. We are not familiar with Ovum as a source, but they were introduced to us by the Oracle representative as independent of Oracle.

https://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/analystreports/ovum-autonomous-cloud-4417640.pdf

First, the location of this report is a problem. It is on Oracle’s website. If you check with Consumer Reports, they do not allow companies they rate to place the results on their websites or in any printed material. Gartner allows the same thing, which is one of many reasons Gartner cannot be considered a true research firm — which is covered in the following article How Gartner Research to Compares Real Research Entities.

This immediately should cause one concern for Ovum’s true independence from Oracle. You will not find any Brightwork Research & Analysis report on any vendor’s website. Why would we? We receive no income from any vendor. Something to understand as soon as an entity accepts money from a vendor the study converts from research to marketing propaganda. All of the vendors that have reached out to Brightwork Research & Analysis asking for research to be performed began with the research conclusion they wanted the study to come to. The idea was that you then assemble the information to support the conclusion.

If we take this quotation, it is instructive of the overall approach of the article.

“While, at the top level, the concept of a fully packaged and managed PaaS should ideally include the provisions for the automation of tuning, patching, upgrade, and maintenance tasks, it is the capabilities driving developer productivity and faster time to value that deliver greater value to users. In this context, Oracle has an early-mover advantage and offers a clear differentiation in comparison to its nearest PaaS competitors. This is in line with Oracle’s strategy to embed artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities as a feature to improve the ease-of-use and time-to-value aspects of its software products, and not just focus on directly monetizing a dedicated, extensive AI platform.”

The claims made by Oracle are not so much analyzed in this report as they are assumed to be true. The article does not question how it is that Oracle has appeared with such capabilities so recently after offering such a high maintenance database for decades. The article does not read so much as independent research as “dropped in” Oracle marketing material.

The following is an example of this.

“On the data management side, Oracle offers the ability to rapidly provision a data warehouse, and automated, elastic scaling, with customers paying only for the capacity they use. In the context of security and management, Oracle offers ML-driven analytics on user and entity behavior to automatically isolate and eliminate suspicious users.”

Can it Be Detected if the Sentences are From Ovum or From Oracle?

If this were merely a quotation from Oracle that the Ovum author then analyzed it would be fine. But it isn’t. This is Ovum’s statement regarding the autonomous database.

Notice this paragraph uses the same superlatives that would have been used by Oracle to describe the benefits. There is no outside voice in these explanations. If the source were to be removed, it is impossible to guess whether this quotation is written by Oracle or by someone friendly to Oracle.

Our Conclusion from the Ovum Article

Overall, while we never read a report from Ovum previously, this report damaged our view of this entity, and from this report at least, they can not be said to have performed any research at all. Ovum merely repeated marketing statements made by Oracle.

It is difficult to see the distinction between Oracle having written this report.

Article 3: Oracle’s Autonomous Database: AI-Based Automation for Database Management and Operations

https://idcdocserv.com/US43571317

The third report sent to use by the Oracle representative is from IDC. IDG owns IDC. It breaks down thusly.

  • IDG is the overall conglomerate that runs many IT media websites and takes money from any vendor of any reasonable size to parrot their marketing literature.
  • IDC is the faux research arm of IDG. IDC claims it is the research arm of IDG, but we dispute IDG’s claim that they perform actual research and are quite obviously tightly controlled by entities that pay either IDG or IDC which gives them major conflicts. IDG may have been paid directly by Oracle for this article or may have written it because Oracle is such a large customer of IDC.

IDG is a media conglomerate that is neither a journalistic entity nor a research entity that operates to maximize profits in the current media climate where virtually no income comes from readers, and the media entity must fund itself from industry sources. Neither IDG nor IDC ever disclose this ocean of funding that operates in the background. Masses of IDG ad sales reps are in constant contact with vendors and consulting companies negotiating fees and discussing what industry-friendly article will appear where and at what price.

We have extensive experience analyzing IDG produced material. IDG owns eight of the 20 largest IT media outlets including names like ComputerWeekly and CIO. IDG accepts paid placements and produces large quantities of vendor friendly and inaccurate information and is paid by Oracle both for placements and for advertisements. We covered IDG in the following article.

Normally when we review an IDG article which covers SAP, that article will score between a 1 and 3 out of 10 for accuracy.

Now that we have reviewed the conflicts of interest and credibility problems with IDC/IDG let us move to analyzing the content of the article:

The first quote to catch our attention was the following:

“Databases and other types of enterprise software have had heuristics for years that provide various levels of operations automations. Oracle is no exception to this. What is new is the use of machine learning algorithms that replace the heuristics.There are numerous reasons for this — lack of sufficient amounts of data needed to train an ML model, lack of compute power to train the model effectively and in near real time, and lack of a sufficient variety of data coming from different types of users and use cases that helps to broaden the applicability of the algorithms.”

As with the Ovum study, this appears to be a copy and paste from Oracle’s provided information.

Secondly, its foundational assumption, that ML is always superior to heuristics is untrue. In the book, Rationality for Morals outlines how heuristics can often defeat more complicated models that deploy the analysis of more observations.

In this quote, the article repeats Oracle claims which we disputed the benefits of earlier in our article.

“In addition to providing all tuning and maintenance functions, most of which are automated, this service also provides regular software patching and upgrading, so the user is always running on the latest software, and knows that, for instance, the most recent security patches have been applied.”

As we stated, most customers are not even on Oracle 12. They are running older versions of the Oracle DB. Many companies have dropped Oracle support entirely because it is considered such a poor value.

Moreover, upgrading a database has a number of implications, and it is not a simple matter of upgrading automatically. The authors of this report do not account for or even mention any of this.

In this quotation later in the report, the IDC makes a false claim about ML.

“Although machine learning libraries have been around for decades and have been offered as part of many of the world’s statistical packages, including IBM’s SPSS, SAS, and so forth, the use of machine learning by enterprises hasn’t been widespread until recently because these algorithms require a lot of data and a lot of compute power.”

That is inaccurate. Let us look into why.

ML Has Risen Due to Recent Advancements in Hardware?

Computers for many years now have been of sufficient speed to run ML algorithms. And the majority of time in running ML is in data collection and data munging and then analysis. The actual time spent processing is normally short unless very large number of variables are used. (and using so many variables, while now popular brings up a question of overfitting)

When I run ML routines, the results are returned in less than 10 minutes, and I am using a seven-year-old laptop. We have had gobs and gobs of processing power for many years now.

The reason for the rise in the discussion of ML has not been computer hardware related, but due to marketing departments latching onto ML to help market their products. How can this be proven? Because, according to Google Trends, the most significant rise in the interest in ML was from 2014 to the present. How much did computer hardware increase in speed from 2014 to 2017? Furthermore, the interest in ML was greater in 2004 than in 2014. Were computers faster in 2004 than 2014?

ML/AI is very effective at illustrating value to people without a mathematical background.

Our Conclusion of the IDG Report

Overall the IDG report is a restatement of Oracle’s claims around the autonomous database without any analysis. There is no explanation for the sudden appearance of AI/ML in Oracle’s database, and no questioning of explanations regarding AI/ML.

This is like the Ovum report, not research.

Overall Report Conclusions

None of the sources provided demonstrate any thinking and only serve the demonstrate that Oracle has a lot of money to spend on media entities and faux research entities that will take money to repeat whatever Oracle’s marketing team tells them to write.

Search Our Other Database Content

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.

AWS / GCS Research Contact

  • Interested in Research on SAP's AWS & GCP?

    It is difficult for most companies to make improvements in SAP and Oracle with AWS and GCP without outside advice. And it is close to impossible to get honest advice from large consulting companies. We offer remote unbiased multi-dimension AWS & GCP decision support for SAP and Oracel.

    Just fill out the form below and we'll be in touch.

References

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/09/08/ellison_and_cos_equity_now_relies_on_a_80_oracle_stock_price_and_cloud_success/

Unrelated article that shows Oracle’s focus on executive compensation. Executive compensation (overcompensation) driven off of stock prices is a primary reason for the release of false information to the public. Lying in public announcements can also be seen as a way of communicating loyalty to the company.

https://aws.amazon.com/rds/oracle/

https://siliconangle.com/blog/2018/06/21/amazon-cto-cloud-offers-database-need/

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/10/08/oracle_openworld_2017_analysus/
In this article The Register pushes back on Oracle’s claims for the automated database.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/oracle/2018/03/30/larry-ellison-oracle-is-revolutionizing-the-database-and-it-service-delivery/#4813b9e87a4d

The Chinese publication Forbes has this article by a Jeff Erickson, who is listed as an “Editor at Large for Forbes.” Its title is Larry Ellison is Revolutionizing Database and IT Service Delivery. One wonders if the author has any conflicts of interest by declaring this? Did Forbes consider this potential conflict? Or did Oracle paying them to publish the article at Forbes assuage these concerns?

This article repeats outlandish claims by Larry Ellison, ensuring Jeff Erickson a good annual review it would seem. Claims include:

“This technology changes everything,” he said. “The Oracle Autonomous Database is based on technology as revolutionary as the internet.”

“To set up, provision, and use Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud, a user simply answers a few short questions to determine how many CPUs and how much storage the data warehouse needs. Then the service configures itself typically in less than a minute and is ready to load data.

Once the data warehouse is up and running, its operation also is autonomous, delivering all of the analytic capabilities, security features, and high availability of Oracle Database without any of the complexities of configuration, tuning, and administration—even as warehousing workloads and data volumes change.”

This article written by Oracle comes to a surprising conclusion about AWS. Can you guess what it is before reading it?

“AWS Comes Up Short – At the launch event at company headquarters in Redwood City, California, Ellison showed how Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud can run faster than comparable database offerings from Amazon Web Services, while being more scalable, and costing less.”

That is curious. I would have expected an article written by Oracle to praise AWS. How odd.

“In addition to running faster and thus costing less, Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud is truly elastic, Ellison said, while the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, ironically, is not. With the AWS service, “you pay for a fixed configuration” and when you want to add CPUs, you have to take the database down and wait, he said.”

Well, AWS’s service sounds truly useless. Probably no purpose in investigating it now is there.

In the following article also by Jeff Erickson…

https://www.forbes.com/sites/oracle/2018/03/27/how-oracles-new-autonomous-data-warehouse-works/#7cf519de5c7f

Titled How Oracle’s New Autonomous Data Warehouse Works

Oracle claims that an Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud allows a data warehouse to be setup in less than a minute.

“set up a high-powered data warehouse in less than a minute by answering just five questions:

How many CPUs do you want?
How much storage do you need?
What’s your password?
What’s the database name?
What’s a brief description?

“And that’s it,” says Keith Laker, an Oracle lead product manager for the company’s autonomous data warehouse. “Twenty-five seconds and you’ve got a high-performance data warehouse that’s ready to go.”

And once the data warehouse is running, its operation also is autonomous, using the world’s most advanced database platform and machine learning to operate without human intervention, tuning and optimizing itself for top performance and patching itself without taking the system offline.”

Truly amazing. If Oracle has not yet, they should be recommended to Nobel Society for consideration for a Noble Prize.

Finally, after decades, people now have a place to put their data as evidence by the following quotation.

“And that’s it,” says Keith Laker, an Oracle lead product manager for the company’s autonomous data warehouse. “Twenty-five seconds and you’ve got a high-performance data warehouse that’s ready to go.”

And once the data warehouse is running, its operation also is autonomous, using the world’s most advanced database platform and machine learning to operate without human intervention, tuning and optimizing itself for top performance and patching itself without taking the system offline.”

And without a hint of the potential for overstatement, Jeff Erickson finishes off the article thusly.

“Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud Service is the next-generation cloud service for the whole organization, with high performance and reliability and vastly reduced labor costs because it’s autonomous. The service runs as little as $1.68 per CPU hour, with storage as low as $148 per terabyte per month. Oracle customers can also bring their existing on-premises licenses to take advantage of Oracle’s BYOL program for PaaS services. Get details on the pricing page.”

https://www.oracle.com/database/autonomous-database/feature.html
Very little information is provided about the autonomous or automated database at the Oracle website.

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/oracles-ellison-touts-totally-automated-self-driving-oracle-database/2017/09/
SDX Central simply repeats Oracle’s claims verbatim in this article.

https://read.acloud.guru/why-amazon-dynamodb-isnt-for-everyone-and-how-to-decide-when-it-s-for-you-aefc52ea9476

*https://www.amazon.com/Rationality-Mortals-Uncertainty-Evolution-Cognition/dp/0199747091

Oracle’s new database uses machine learning to automate administration


VentureBeat simply repeats Oracle’s claims for the autonomous or automated database verbatim in this article.

https://docs.aws.amazon.com/systems-manager/latest/userguide/systems-manager-automation.html

https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2017/10/08/oracle_openworld_2017_analysus/
Good comments on Oracle’s claims.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/08/11/number_off_oracle_rounds_up_major_database_release_cycle_numbers/
Explains the jump for Oracle 12… to Oracle 18

Not on the automated database but on new the new versioning. Included to explain to readers confused about the jump from 12 to 18.

“So what would have been Oracle Database 12.2.0.2 will now be Oracle Database 18; 12.2.0.3 will come out a year later, and be Oracle Database 19.

The approach puts Oracle only about 20 years behind Microsoft in adopting a year-based naming convention (Microsoft still uses years to number Windows Server, even though it stopped for desktop versions when it released XP).”

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/07/24/oracle_in_memory_database_feature/
Describing costs of upgrading to Oracle In Memory

The Risk Estimation Book

 

Software RiskRethinking 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

Did SAP Simply Reinvent the Wheel with HANA?

Executive Summary

  • SAP made many claims about HANA, but upon analysis, what SAP actually did with HANA is reinvent the wheel.
  • SAP made these claims in order to push customers into replacing Oracle with HANA.
  • We cover SAP proposals ranging from code pushdown to in-memory computing to the fictitious backstory for HANA.

Introduction to HANA as a Derivative Product

Innovation has been a critical selling point of HANA. You will learn how the claims around HANA’s innovation checks out.

Understanding SAP’s History with HANA

When SAP first introduced HANA, which was begun with enormous fanfare the idea was that SAP had created a whole new database. In fact, in as recent as the Q4 2017 analyst call, Bill McDermott stated the following:

“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.”

In this article, we will analyze how much of what SAP created with HANA is new and how much is simply copied from other database vendors and then claimed as innovation.

Important Information About HANA

We have performed extensive detailed analysis of HANA. The more we look, the less we can find that is unique or innovative.

Let us review some of the major points of inconsistencies with the innovation story around HANA.

The Performance of HANA

SAP has vociferously proposed that HANA is faster than any other database. However, they have provided no evidence that this is true. We performed the necessary research into this topic and concluded that SAP’s claims of superiority versus the competing offerings of Oracle, IBM and Microsoft are untrue. We have explained this in the article What is the Actual Performance of S/4HANA? 

The Column Oriented Design of HANA

SAP has proposed that they essentially invented column-oriented databases. Column-Oriented databases go back as far as row oriented (often referred to as relational), and SAP acquired Sybase in 2010 before HANA was introduced. And Sybase already had IQ, now SAP IQ, that is was a column-oriented database.

Furthermore, SAP made other acquisitions very silently, to give the impression that they “invented” the technologies that underpin HANA. At the same time, SAP’s marketing documentation was intended to give prospects the impression that SAP had invented a new category of databases. Notice Bill McDermott’s statement around “reinventing the database industry.”

That is reinventing it with a database design that had been around for decades? Furthermore, this comment was not made in 2011 or 2013 when HANA had yet to be challenged. This comment was made in 2018 after plenty of time has passed to verify the marketing statements about HANA with both real implementations, benchmarking and the HANA technical documentation.

SAP has a long history of faking innovation. Faking innovation is a major strategy in both software and patent drug industries which covers for a process whereby innovations are taken from the public domain (or from competitors) and repackaged as something developed internally. 

Calling All New HANA Development “Innovations”

SAP has claimed that because HANA is being actively developed, that each development is innovation.

Yet, the items that HANA is developing already exist in other databases. The definition of innovation is that the item needs to be new. Not new to the software vendor, but new to the world.

While not discussed, the innovation should also be beneficial. Areas where SAP has done things that are new, such as reducing aggregates, have not been demonstrated to be beneficial. Reducing database size is really an issue if a company is somehow constrained in the size of their databases, but with the very low cost of modern storage, this is not the case.

SAP has proposed through surrogates like John Appleby of Bluefin Solutions that hard disks “take up a lot of space,” and that companies cannot afford the storage space to locate disks – which is either absurd or insulting depending upon your perspective. One has to question the innovation of any company that has a spokesman like John Appleby (which we cover in the article Why John Appleby Was so Wrong About His HANA Predictions), Vishal Sikka or Hasso Plattner that are repeatedly found in hindsight to have knowingly released false information into the marketplace. It is normally the case that truly innovative entities do not find it necessary to lie about their innovations.

The Code PushDown of HANA (Innovation or Innovative Terminology?)

A stored procedure is the established term for when the code is moved from the application layer to the database layer, normally for performance reasons. However, SAP decided to come up with a new term, code pushdown. 

Why?

Well as our colleague points out.

“But by using the code pushdown term and not “stored procedures + DB views”, they not only have an innovative term for real “stored procedures” but also obscure that classic ABAP views are extremely far behind REAL Views that exist for decades and that this is one reason why the database is kept so stupid in classical “ERP on AnyDB”.”

This is why analyzing the terminology that SAP uses is so important. SAP uses specialized and often inaccurate terminology in order to to lie to customers. This is found the way that SAP called HANA “in memory,” which we cover in the next section. When a false term is used, it is just the starting point. It can be considered the sound of a gate opening for what will be a torrent of false information.

SAP’s presented logic for code pushdown is performance, but when SAP had no database to sell, they were in favor of performing processing in the application layer. The code pushdown is what has served as justification for SAP to keep S/4HANA exclusive to HANA. That is curious, an ERP system, which has relatively low-performance requirements must have the code pushed down to the HANA database, but other applications that SAP offers, that SAP has less account control over, still work on AnyDB.

Here the obvious factor in the determination of which applications are exclusive to HANA and which does not have to do with leverage, not the technical requirements.

The CDSs of HANA

Core Data Services are a type of code pushdown that is a database view. SAP has introduced CDSs as something new, when in fact they are copying the idea of the dictionaries that have been available in AnyDB databases for decades.

SAP has stated that AnyDB can also “use” CDSs, but the question is why they would want to do so. SAP is giving the impression that what is really just catching up with other database vendors, it is actually coming up with something new that does not already exist for AnyDB database. Here again, SAP’s innovation claims do not pass the smell test.

Caching of Queries

In the document Boost Performance for CDS Views in SAP HANA, SAP states that it needs to cache queries for performance.

It further states:

“Keep CDS views simple (in particular serviceQuality A and B = #BASIC views)
In transactional processing, only use simple CDS views accessed via CDS key
Expose only required fields define associations to reach additional fields when requested”

This is odd. For an in-memory zero latency database like HANA, why would these limitations need to be put into place?

“Perform expensive operations (e.g. calculated fields) after data reduction (filtering, aggregation)
Avoid joins and filters on calculated fields
Test performance of CDS views. Test with reasonable (= realistic) test data”

This speaks to the need to limit the consumption of computing resources. Again, it should not apply to HANA.

“Stay tuned on caching possibilities of SAP HANA and Fiori apps.”

Caching for Both HANA and Fiori?

Caching for both HANA and Fiori? Impossible! A foundational proposal of SAP since HANA was first introduced was that there should be no caching.

Everything, literally everything is supposed to be in memory. Caching makes no sense with the presented HANA design. The people working at SAP on HANA and who presented this at TechEd 2017 clearly do not understand Hasso’s vision.

According to Hasso Plattner, HANA is and forever will zero latency. But the techniques that are described in the actual HANA technical documentation show a much more complicated picture with SAP performing caching in several locations.

Not only can HANA not provide zero latency (surprise, surprise), but testing even optimized demo boxes shows that Fiori running on HANA underperforms open source databases and server technologies like MySQL and Apache as explained in the article Why is the Fiori Cloud so Slow?

Furthermore, the hardware specs that SAP has for HANA are extremely large. The column-oriented store combined with the large quantities of RAM is supposed to be so incredible, that these types of techniques should not be necessary. But HANA underperforms other databases even though it has far more hardware. The Oracle benchmark shows that HANA was only able to come close to Oracle 12c performance with far more hardware. This is, of course, a benchmark produced by Oracle. However, other private benchmarks that have been made available to Brightwork show the same thing.

Everything In Memory and In-Memory Computing?

When HANA was first introduced, SAP stated that the entirety of the database would have to be loaded into memory. However, the technical documentation on HANA shows clearly that only some tables are loaded into memory. Neither the large tables nor the column-oriented tables are immediately loaded into memory. This is peculiar, as it was supposed to be the relationship between column-oriented and tables and high-speed memory that were to provide HANA with its analytical advantage. However, either way, HANA uses memory optimization….surprise, just as all of the other database vendors that SAP is copying its solution from. As we covered in the article How to Understand Why In-Memory Computing is a Myth, all databases have their tables placed into memory.

However, a database is much more than whether a larger percentage of the tables are placed into memory or whether it uses a column store for more of the tables. This is, by the way, another detail that has come to light as time has passed. Originally, SAP stated the entire database was a column store (which would not have made any sense by the way), then it is determined that many of the tables in HANA are in fact rows.

Here again, one thing is stated about how HANA works, implying that all other database vendors are backward for using memory optimization, and then once the technical details are read, HANA just does the same thing other databases do. This gets back to the central point that almost nothing that a salesperson or HANA marketing literature says about HANA can be trusted.

The Obvious Conclusion

Increasingly it simply appears that purchased some database products, and then reverse engineered existing databases, while putting an extra emphasis on placing more of the database in memory.

Innovation or Copying while Throwing in Confusing Terminology?

When discussing this topic with several other people investigating HANA, the following insight was given to us.

They recreate the wheel as an octagon because anyWheel is round and then sell you a cycloid molded road to drive smoothly – but only on their roads.

What is Truly New in HANA?

It seems like a lot of this is just recreating the wheel, but with the blue SAP bow on top.

This is how Hasso Plattner, SAP and SAP partners would like to present the genesis of HANA. Not as a series of technologies that SAP purchased more than year before HANA’s development, not based upon databases that had been developed more than a decade before HANA, but as divine inspiration by Hasso and his brilliant PhDs. Hasso has repeatedly been referred to as a genius. A genius who “discovered” something that he directed SAP to purchase, and then after purchasing, immediately invented. This false storyline is laid out very carefully in the book The In Memory Revolution. 

HANA, The Only Database With a Purpose Built Fictitious Backstory

In the article Did Hasso Plattner and His Ph.D. Students Invent HANA?, we uncovered (with some helpful hints from someone who reached out to us) that unlike what was stated by SAP and Hasso Plattner. And unlike what has been repeated ad nauseam by compliant IT media entities and SAP consulting partners, the underlying technology for HANA was purchased not invented by SAP. Furthermore, Hasso Plattner and his Ph.D. students added nothing to these technologies except developing rather impractical ideas such as a database having no aggregates.

SAP did not innovate with HANA. Their primary contribution was to promote the idea of dual-purpose databases, that is a database that can equally well perform transaction process and perform analytics. Yet there is no evidence that this strategy is worthwhile. While doing this SAP has both massively overstated the benefits to such a design while at the same time glossing over all of the downsides to such a design, one of which being higher overhead. Furthermore, as we covered in the article HANA as a Mismatch for S/4HANA and ERP, it is clear that SAP has not mastered the ability to perform both OLTP and OLAP equally well from a single database.

Through four books, which are littered with falsehoods, and serve more as marketing collateral for HANA than “books” in the traditional sense “written” by Hasso Plattner was meant to storm the consciousness of prospects with how amazing HANA would be. It is one of the first books written that describes the invention of something that had already been invented. 

Ding Ding Ding!

SAP receives our Golden Pinocchio Award for first purchasing the technologies that underpin HANA, then reverse engineering other databases and calling it innovation. HANA should be considered a case study in innovation fakery. Why is this not publicly known? Due to the partnership agreements that SAP maintains with other vendors, this has prevented SAP for being called out for its innovation fakery by vendors that know but are censored due to their partnership agreement with SAP. The only entity that could cover this story would have to have complete independence from SAP, which also rules out IT media entities that cover SAP. 

Conclusion

HANA is consistent with what is becoming an established history with SAP of exaggerating its innovations and making it appear that ideas and techniques that it took from other places were developed inside of SAP. HANA does not run 100,000 times faster than all competitive offerings (Bill McDermott). It is not an innovative database.

The primary thing that is innovative about HANA is that SAP tells customers that it is innovative. Once you look under the hood what you have is a far less mature database than other offerings, and a desire of SAP to push competitors out if “its” accounts by using a falsified storyline about how innovative HANA is to customers that are soft targets. That is the less database knowledge prospects have; the more SAP can gain traction in those accounts by propagating very large disruptions to their customers while greatly increasing the TCO of the databases used by them.

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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.

HANA & S/4HANA Research Contact

  • Interested in Research on S/4HANA & HANA?

    It is difficult for most companies to make improvements in S/4HANA and HANA without outside advice. And it is not possible to get honest S/4HANA and HANA advice from large consulting companies. We offer remote unbiased multi-dimension S/4HANA and HANA support.

    Just fill out the form below and we'll be in touch.

References

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

https://www.sap.com/documents/2018/02/2e6393af-f47c-0010-82c7-eda71af511fa.html

https://www.zdnet.com/article/sap-acquires-sybase-for-5-8-billion-but-why/

How to Understand What is a Transalytical Database

Executive Summary

  • SAP has made a number of 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 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 Suspicous

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 poor 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 tiny 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?

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, and 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.

Search Our Other HANA Content

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.

HANA & S/4HANA Research Contact

  • Interested in Research on S/4HANA & HANA?

    It is difficult for most companies to make improvements in S/4HANA and HANA without outside advice. And it is not possible to get honest S/4HANA and HANA advice from large consulting companies. We offer remote unbiased multi-dimension S/4HANA and HANA support.

    Just fill out the form below and we'll be in touch.

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

The Risk Estimation Book

 

Software RiskRethinking 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 Accurate are SAP’s Arguments on Code Pushdown and CDSs

Executive Summary

  • SAP on has made bizarre proposals regarding code pushdown (aka stored procedures) and Core Data Services.
  • SAP explains Core Data Services as something innovative when SAP is just using new terminology to something quite old.
  • 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 are. However, an issue that has begun to arise in how SAP has begun to use the term to describe things that do not actually 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 Push-Down?

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 actually 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 anyDatabaseViews 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.”

Reinventing the Wheel?

That makes it sound like SAP is bringing something that did not exist before — both for HANA and for 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 that

“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 in is the presentation by SAP of CDSs as if other databases do not already have what CDSs offer. Clearly, it will take years for CDSs to reach parity with anyDatabaseViews.

Cost to Create Fiori Apps

Normally 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. Basically, 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 actually 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 are 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 different with expertise in the area and there is not 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 properly, 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 essentially changed its historical message and value proposition.

Restricting Stored Procedures for Competitive Reasons

In fact, SAP restricting SPs of S/4HANA is the primary limitation to 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. were 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 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.

f 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.

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 actually 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 the 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.

But SAP still will not release the SPs because they don’t want S/4AHANA ported, because 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.

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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.

HANA & S/4HANA Research Contact

  • Interested in Research on S/4HANA & HANA?

    It is difficult for most companies to make improvements in S/4HANA and HANA without outside advice. And it is not possible to get honest S/4HANA and HANA advice from large consulting companies. We offer remote unbiased multi-dimension S/4HANA and HANA support.

    Just fill out the form below and we'll be in touch.

References

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

**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 Real Story on ERP Book

ERPThe Real Story Behind ERP: Separating Fiction From Reality

How This Book is Structured

This book combines a meta-analysis of all of the academic research on the benefits of ERP, coupled with on project experience.

ERP has had a remarkable impact on most companies that implemented it. Unplanned expenses for customization, failed implementations, integration, and applications to meet the business requirements that ERP could not–have added up to a higher Total Cost of Ownership for ERP were all unexpected, and account control, on the part of ERP vendors — is now a significant issue affecting IT performance.

Break the Bank for ERP?

Many companies that have broken the bank to implement ERP projects have seen their KPIs go down— but the question is why this is the case. Major consulting companies are some of the largest promoters of ERP systems, but given the massive profits they make on ERP implementations — can they be trusted to provide the real story on ERP? Probably not, however, written by the Managing Editor of SCM Focus, Shaun Snapp — an author with many years of experience with ERP system. A supply chain software expert and well known for providing authentic information on the topics he covers, you can trust this book to provide all the detail that no consulting firm will.

By reading this book you will:

  • Examine the high failure rates of ERP implementations.
  • Demystify the convincing arguments ERP vendors use to sell ERP.
  • See how ERP vendors take control of client accounts with ERP.
  • Understand why single-instance ERP is not typically feasible.
  • Calculate the total cost of ownership and return on investment for your ERP implementation.
  • Understand the alternatives to ERP.

Chapters

  • Chapter 1: Introduction to ERP Software
  • Chapter 2: The History of ERP
  • Chapter 3: Logical Fallacies and the Logics Used to Sell ERP
  • Chapter 4: The Best Practice Logic for ERP
  • Chapter 5: The Integration Benefits Logic for ERP
  • Chapter 6: Analyzing The Logic Used to Sell ERP
  • Chapter 7: The High TCO and Low ROI of ERP
  • Chapter 8: ERP and the Problem with Institutional Decision Making
  • Chapter 9: How ERP Creates Redundant Systems
  • Chapter 10: How ERP Distracts Companies from Implementing Better Functionality
  • Chapter 11: Alternatives to ERP or Adjusting the Current ERP System
  • Chapter 12: Conclusion

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 amazing 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 multi-tenant 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 tuning 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 skill. Naturally, most the database work is for administrators, whose job it 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 on 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. 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 properly take advantage of Oracle. 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 important.

Is MRP Processing a Big Deal?

MRP was first developed to run on systems that were 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).

The modern ERP systems have its 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 — its bad 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 completely 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 a good 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 upon 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.

Its 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 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.

Conclusion

It is complicated to learn something from an entity which 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.

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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.

HANA & S/4HANA Research Contact

  • Interested in Research on S/4HANA & HANA?

    It is difficult for most companies to make improvements in S/4HANA and HANA without outside advice. And it is not possible to get honest S/4HANA and HANA advice from large consulting companies. We offer remote unbiased multi-dimension S/4HANA and HANA support.

    Just fill out the form below and we'll be in touch.

References

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

The Real Story on ERP Book

ERPThe Real Story Behind ERP: Separating Fiction From Reality

How This Book is Structured

This book combines a meta-analysis of all of the academic research on the benefits of ERP, coupled with on project experience.

ERP has had a remarkable impact on most companies that implemented it. Unplanned expenses for customization, failed implementations, integration, and applications to meet the business requirements that ERP could not–have added up to a higher Total Cost of Ownership for ERP were all unexpected, and account control, on the part of ERP vendors — is now a significant issue affecting IT performance.

Break the Bank for ERP?

Many companies that have broken the bank to implement ERP projects have seen their KPIs go down— but the question is why this is the case. Major consulting companies are some of the largest promoters of ERP systems, but given the massive profits they make on ERP implementations — can they be trusted to provide the real story on ERP? Probably not, however, written by the Managing Editor of SCM Focus, Shaun Snapp — an author with many years of experience with ERP system. A supply chain software expert and well known for providing authentic information on the topics he covers, you can trust this book to provide all the detail that no consulting firm will.

By reading this book you will:

  • Examine the high failure rates of ERP implementations.
  • Demystify the convincing arguments ERP vendors use to sell ERP.
  • See how ERP vendors take control of client accounts with ERP.
  • Understand why single-instance ERP is not typically feasible.
  • Calculate the total cost of ownership and return on investment for your ERP implementation.
  • Understand the alternatives to ERP.

Chapters

  • Chapter 1: Introduction to ERP Software
  • Chapter 2: The History of ERP
  • Chapter 3: Logical Fallacies and the Logics Used to Sell ERP
  • Chapter 4: The Best Practice Logic for ERP
  • Chapter 5: The Integration Benefits Logic for ERP
  • Chapter 6: Analyzing The Logic Used to Sell ERP
  • Chapter 7: The High TCO and Low ROI of ERP
  • Chapter 8: ERP and the Problem with Institutional Decision Making
  • Chapter 9: How ERP Creates Redundant Systems
  • Chapter 10: How ERP Distracts Companies from Implementing Better Functionality
  • Chapter 11: Alternatives to ERP or Adjusting the Current ERP System
  • Chapter 12: Conclusion

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.

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 tantamount 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.

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.

Search Our Other HANA Content

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.

HANA & S/4HANA Research Contact

  • Interested in Research on S/4HANA & HANA?

    It is difficult for most companies to make improvements in S/4HANA and HANA without outside advice. And it is not possible to get honest S/4HANA and HANA advice from large consulting companies. We offer remote unbiased multi-dimension S/4HANA and HANA support.

    Just fill out the form below and we'll be in touch.

References

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

The Risk Estimation Book

 

Software RiskRethinking 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 Accurate is SAP in Calling Non HANA DBs Legacy?

Executive Summary

  • SAP has called all non-HANA databases legacy.
  • We evaluate the accuracy of this claim.

Introduction

SAP has a long history of using the term legacy inaccurately. This is covered in the article How SAP Used and Abused the Term Legacy. However, SAP recently began using the term against non-HANA databases.

In this article, we will evaluate the accuracy of this usage.

The Statements About Legacy

This is from SAP’s website.

Here SAP proposes that all other databases are outdated technology. They also imply that only HANA has in-memory architecture and that it is revolutionary. We will address each of these claims.

This is where the term Legacy is used.

What SAP Did with Casting All Non SAP Databases as Legacy

SAP said that all data was loaded into memory. Now, naturally, there is data copied to disk. But SAP stated that everything was loaded into memory all at once, and they put down other vendors that performed memory optimization. Years ago we found the contrary in SAP’s technical documentation around HANA. But the opposite (all in memory) was a major marketing and sales point for HANA, and vendors like Oracle and IBM and others that proposed this was not realistic were called “legacy databases.” SAP still calls all other databases it competes against “legacy databases,” even though HANA mostly follows the same design (it specs massive hardware and memory, but HANA cannot effectively address the memory). This leads to one question

“why are other database legacy?”

At SAPPHIRE 2019 Hasso made the claim that over 200 peer review studies all proved that HANA had produced these great benefits over “legacy databases.” This is not possible. Furthermore, we found these studies do not exist as we covered in the article How Accurate Was Hasso Plattner About SAP HANA Publications?

Evaluation of SAP’s Claims

First, SAP is a more recent database than IBM BLU, Oracle 12c, and Microsoft SQL Server. However, SAP is in no position to call any of these databases legacy. This is because these databases outperform HANA, as we cover in the article What is the Actual Performance of HANA?

Legacy means that the item is near obsolete.

This a ludicrous claim for any of these databases, all of which have many times more installations than HANA, and unlike HANA, all three of these other databases are used outside of SAP with non-SAP applications. SAP cannot claim this, which provides an inkling as to the competitiveness of HANA.

This claim is so exaggerated that….

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.

Other Claims

Now let us review the other claims made in the SAP statements.

  • All other Databases are Outdated Technology?: That is an enormous claim. What evidence has SAP produced that this is true? Information coming back from actual projects indicate that HANA cannot keep up with the performance of previous generation databases outside of data warehouse type queries, (where it loses against the updated versions of these other databases). The details of this are covered in the article HANA as a Mismatch for S/4HANA and ERP.
  • HANA has Revolutionary In-Memory Architecture: This claim is also false, as we cover in the article How to Understand Why In-Memory Computing is a Myth.
  • 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 tantamount 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.
  • Only HANA Can Support High-Speed Analytics?: This is news to every database vendor that competes with SAP. All of these databases can support high-speed analytics. Again, HANA loses against its primary competitors in analytics, if those databases are the most up to date versions. The older version will lose against HANA in analytics because they lack the column-oriented store. SAP is continually attempting to have HANA compete against databases from vendors from six years ago when HANA was first introduced. Of course, HANA on new hardware will beat other databases on older hardware. Something that is quite obvious, but which is missed by IT departments that implement HANA on new hardware and discuss the improvements — without accounting for the percentage of performance which is solely due to the hardware. We covered this topic in the article How Much is Hardware Responsible for HANA’s Performance?
  • Only HANA Has Application Services?: Application Services are a bit of a nebulous term. But they are applications. Oracle 12C, IBM Blu, and MS SQL Server run applications. Applications sit on top of them. Therefore, this is a curious way to differentiate HANA. This seems to imply that HANA is unique because it can interoperate with applications. If it couldn’t then what would it be doing?
  • Only HANA has a Flexible Data Acquisition?: Why is that true? More flexible than competitive offerings? A database stores data. Data acquisition is normally performed by middleware. Of course, it depends upon the definition. If SAP’s definition of acquisition is that data can be loaded in different ways into the database, then again all of the competing databases have this ability.
  • HANA has a Single Platform?: HANA is not a platform. HANA is a database. If SAP means that both the applications are offered by SAP as is the application — then this is true. But because SAP is not as good with databases as their competitors this also means that buyers of HANA give up specialization and many other factors to buy their application and database from the same vendor.
  • Only HANA has no Data Duplication?: It is unclear why HANA offers less data duplication than competing databases. In fact, because of bizarre license restrictions, we are aware of scenarios where HANA has a 100% level of data duplication. This is explained in the article HANA Police and Indirect Access Charges. Here SAP requires companies buy a second license of HANA and replicate all data between the two HANA instances to allow data to be moved to a third database.

Conclusion

Literally nothing on this SAP webpage about HANA.

SAP receives a 1 out of 10 for accuracy on this proposals.

Search Our Other HANA Content

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.

HANA & S/4HANA Research Contact

  • Interested in Research on S/4HANA & HANA?

    It is difficult for most companies to make improvements in S/4HANA and HANA without outside advice. And it is not possible to get honest S/4HANA and HANA advice from large consulting companies. We offer remote unbiased multi-dimension S/4HANA and HANA support.

    Just fill out the form below and we'll be in touch.

References

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

The Real Story on ERP Book

ERPThe Real Story Behind ERP: Separating Fiction From Reality

How This Book is Structured

This book combines a meta-analysis of all of the academic research on the benefits of ERP, coupled with on project experience.

ERP has had a remarkable impact on most companies that implemented it. Unplanned expenses for customization, failed implementations, integration, and applications to meet the business requirements that ERP could not–have added up to a higher Total Cost of Ownership for ERP were all unexpected, and account control, on the part of ERP vendors — is now a significant issue affecting IT performance.

Break the Bank for ERP?

Many companies that have broken the bank to implement ERP projects have seen their KPIs go down— but the question is why this is the case. Major consulting companies are some of the largest promoters of ERP systems, but given the massive profits they make on ERP implementations — can they be trusted to provide the real story on ERP? Probably not, however, written by the Managing Editor of SCM Focus, Shaun Snapp — an author with many years of experience with ERP system. A supply chain software expert and well known for providing authentic information on the topics he covers, you can trust this book to provide all the detail that no consulting firm will.

By reading this book you will:

  • Examine the high failure rates of ERP implementations.
  • Demystify the convincing arguments ERP vendors use to sell ERP.
  • See how ERP vendors take control of client accounts with ERP.
  • Understand why single-instance ERP is not typically feasible.
  • Calculate the total cost of ownership and return on investment for your ERP implementation.
  • Understand the alternatives to ERP.

Chapters

  • Chapter 1: Introduction to ERP Software
  • Chapter 2: The History of ERP
  • Chapter 3: Logical Fallacies and the Logics Used to Sell ERP
  • Chapter 4: The Best Practice Logic for ERP
  • Chapter 5: The Integration Benefits Logic for ERP
  • Chapter 6: Analyzing The Logic Used to Sell ERP
  • Chapter 7: The High TCO and Low ROI of ERP
  • Chapter 8: ERP and the Problem with Institutional Decision Making
  • Chapter 9: How ERP Creates Redundant Systems
  • Chapter 10: How ERP Distracts Companies from Implementing Better Functionality
  • Chapter 11: Alternatives to ERP or Adjusting the Current ERP System
  • Chapter 12: Conclusion

Why is There No Independent Database Research Entity?

Executive Summary

  • In our analysis, we could find no independent database research entity.
  • We cover what this means for decision making in the database area.

Introduction

We have been on one of the most prominent entities in researching and publishing on HANA. We have come to question virtually all of SAP’s proposals about HANA. Part of this has meant interpreting database benchmark studies, which has lead to investigating who does this type of testing. In this article, we will cover the topic of entities that verify the claims of database vendors.

Checking with Experienced Database Resources

Having conversations with multiple DB resources, that is people that have focused 100% of their career on databases for three decades, and the consensus is that there is not a single entity that verifies claims of database vendors, performs benchmarking, etc.. All benchmarking is performed by the vendors themselves. SAP has a single benchmark that they performed which is only one type of database processing. We analyzed this benchmark in the article What is the Actual Performance of HANA?

The Typical Coverage Available

Examples of entities that provide database coverage include DB-Engines, which tracks the popularity of databases.

Gartner which has a Magic Quadrant for databases but does not differentiate the database types in any way, as the following graphic indicates.

Gartner creates a fictitious category called ODMS operational database management systems as it is too lazy to analyze the different categories of databases.

It places Hadoop, which is a Big Data database in the same category as relational databases and in the same category with every other database type.

Gartner has no lab and does no testing and has very few people who even understand databases, much less touched a database as we covered in the article How Gartner Got HANA So Wrong.

Gartner places non-relational databases into a relational database magic quadrant and does not even differentiate the database in question from the vendor. Instead, they simply note the vendor on the Magic Quadrant; the database goes unmentioned.

Conclusion

The database category of software is filled with vendors making all manner of claims, but there is no entity which verifies any of these claims. This is a problem because it means that buyers in the database market have to perform their own testing.

This would mean gaining access to the databases in question and creating a laboratory environment including all the skill sets to do so. Very few companies do this.

Therefore, the ability to verify the claims made by the various database vendors is quite limited.

Search Our Other Database Content

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.

HANA & S/4HANA Research Contact

  • Interested in Research on S/4HANA & HANA?

    It is difficult for most companies to make improvements in S/4HANA and HANA without outside advice. And it is not possible to get honest S/4HANA and HANA advice from large consulting companies. We offer remote unbiased multi-dimension S/4HANA and HANA support.

    Just fill out the form below and we'll be in touch.

References

https://www.databasejournal.com/features/oracle/article.php/3462091/Database-Benchmarking.htm

The following is an interesting quote from Database Journal.

“One important concept to take away from this discussion is that there is no singular, all encompassing, definitive test that allows a vendor to claim their system is the best one out there, no ands, ifs or buts. For Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, or Sybase to claim they are the best overall, well, it’s simply not true. A particular system can be the best on a particular platform under certain conditions, but to say a particular system is the best overall is going to make that vendor suspect with respect to credibility.”

https://www.tpc.org/

https://www.quest.com/products/benchmark-factory/

The Risk Estimation Book

 

Software RiskRethinking 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

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 script writing, 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 to 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.

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.

Search Our Other HANA Content

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.

HANA & S/4HANA Research Contact

  • Interested in Research on S/4HANA & HANA?

    It is difficult for most companies to make improvements in S/4HANA and HANA without outside advice. And it is not possible to get honest S/4HANA and HANA advice from large consulting companies. We offer remote unbiased multi-dimension S/4HANA and HANA support.

    Just fill out the form below and we'll be in touch.

References

The Risk Estimation Book

 

Software RiskRethinking 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

  • Non in memory computing makes no sense, therefore memory computing makes no sense.
  • AWS covers HANA’s in memory nature. Placing a database 100% placed into memory is 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 a number of years. Hasso Plattner’s books aren’t books in the traditional sense. 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.”

However, there have been some inaccuracies concerning the specific topic of memory management with HANA.

What is Non In Memory Computing?

So all computing occurs in memory there is no form of computing that 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 a meaningless term.

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, this 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 false pretenses and then have to go back to purchase 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?

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 own 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.

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.

Search Our Other HANA Content

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.

HANA & S/4HANA Research Contact

  • Interested in Research on S/4HANA & HANA?

    It is difficult for most companies to make improvements in S/4HANA and HANA without outside advice. And it is not possible to get honest S/4HANA and HANA advice from large consulting companies. We offer remote unbiased multi-dimension S/4HANA and HANA support.

    Just fill out the form below and we'll be in touch.

References

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

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

The Risk Estimation Book

 

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

Better Managing Software Risk

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

Finding What Works and What Doesn’t

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

Chapters

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

Risk Estimation and Calculation

Risk Estimation and Calculation

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

project_software_risk