How to Manage HANA’s Complex Development and Test Environments

Executive Summary

  • HANA has the most expensive hardware in its category. This brings up important questions regarding the management of development and test environments.

Introduction to HANA Development and Test Environments

Development and testing environments are always critical, but with HANA the issue is of particular importance. The following quotation explains the alterations within HANA.

“Taking into account, that SAP HANA is a central infrastructure component, which faced dozens of Support Packages, Patches & Builds within the last two years, and is expected to receive more updates with the same frequency on a mid-term perspective, there is a strong need to ensure testing of SAP HANA after each change.”

The Complications of So Many Clients and Servers

HANA uses a combination of clients and servers that must work in unison for HANA to work. This brings up complications, i.e., a higher testing overhead when testing any new change to any one component. SAP has a process for processing test cases to account for these servers.

“A key challenge with SAP HANA is the fact, which the SAP HANA Server, user clients and application servers are a complex construct of different engines that work in concert. Therefore, SAP HANA Server, corresponding user clients and applications servers need to be tested after each technical upgrade of any of those entities. To do so in an efficient manner, we propose the steps outlined in the subsequent chapters.”

Leveraging AWS

HANA development environments can be acquired through AWS at reasonable rates. This has the extra advantage that because of AWS’s elastic offering, volume testing can be performed on AWS’s hardware without having to purchase the hardware. Moreover, the HANA AWS instance can be downscaled as soon as the testing is complete. The HANA One offering allows the HANA licenses to be used on demand. This is a significant value-add as sizing HANA has proven to be extremely tricky.

Brightwork Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

This article and no other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle and SAP. Brightwork does offer competitive intelligence work to vendors as part of its business, but no published research or articles are written with any financial consideration. As part of Brightwork’s commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research, the company’s business model is driven by consulting services; no paid media placements are accepted.

HANA & S/4HANA Question Box

  • Have Questions About S/4HANA & HANA?

    It is difficult for most companies to make improvements in S/4HANA and HANA without outside advice. And it is close to impossible 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.


Why is the SAP Fiori Cloud So Slow?

Executive Summary

  • In extensive Fiori testing, the first thing we observed is how slow the interface is.
  • This caused us to perform a speed test which we published here.


The Fiori Cloud is a strange introduction by SAP. You will learn about the Fiori Cloud and how accurate the claims for the Fiori Cloud are.

What is the Fiori Cloud

The Fiori Cloud is one of those strange artifacts that SAP brought out a while ago. The Fiori Cloud is a bit confusing because Fiori is just a UI, so you can’t have just a UI that is in the cloud. It has to be connected to an application layer and a database.

However, what the Fiori Cloud really is, is an online demonstration of Fiori with S/4HANA. Upon investigating this, we found something peculiar, which is related to the Fiori’s Cloud’s speed, which is the topic of this article.

Poking Around The Fiori Cloud

The Fiori Cloud is easy to access.

Once you get into it, it brings up the well-recognized Fiori tiles or squares.

The Fiori “tiles” is sort of the opposite of the SAPGUI, which is driven by transactions, or by navigating a very large tree structure.

With Fiori, the squares are selected to get into each transaction or screen. This demos nicely, but there are questions related to how well this design scales.

But Fiori has a nice search feature. This takes you directly to the item or the right square.

Once you select the item you want, often from a number of options that all meet the search criteria, you can be taken into the item or square. It has a very nice feel. But it is unclear to us if is an efficient method. It greatly depends upon the search function working, which we are about to dive into. 

The item you highlight points to the right square which you can then select. 

Fiori’s Hit and Miss Search

The search sometimes works great and is quite fast when it does work. But the search does not always work. 

But once you select the item, this is a common response.

There is a square called Working Capital Analysis. But where is it in this search? It should have come up on the right as an option once any of the keywords were typed in. It was there one time we logged in, we know because we wrote down the time it took to open, but it disappeared the next time we logged in. That is a first. 

This repeatedly occurred when we tested different searchers. Some words worked, but others didn’t. But while the search worked intermittently, Working Capital Analysis was the only square to just disappear from the UI. We checked by scrolling rather than using the search.

How does that happen?

The Best UI in Enterprise Software?

SAP has been carrying on about Fiori as the future. Hasso Plattner called it the best UI in enterprise software. But then why isn’t something basic like this fixed?

If there are many squared (not the 20 or so for the demo) how is the user supposed to find the square? Scroll the entire list of thousands of squares? That is not a feasible option.

SAP proposes that Fiori will eventually make the SAPGUI obsolete. That is not going to happen with the search still not working; squares decide to disappear, combined with such a small amount of coverage over SAP. We covered that second topic in the article The Strange Changes with the Count of Fiori Apps. 

Why are we the only ones to publish on this topic? The Fiori Cloud is available for anyone to go and check and test. But as we have pointed out in previous articles, all the money in consulting and IT media is in agreeing with whatever SAP says. Fact checking is simply not a focus. Even if Deloitte or CIO looked into this, they would never publish on their findings.

The entirety of the information apparatus that covers SAP is there to promote SAP, not to fact check SAP or to tell their clients and readers the real story on SAP.

It is exceptionally difficult to get any SAP consultant who will tell companies the truth about SAP. Most SAP consultants value their relationship with SAP and with other SAP consultants more than they do their relationship with their clients. Lying is rampant in SAP consulting. The objective is to make SAP look as good as possible, the truth is considered only within the context of a massaged narrative. 

Speed Tests for Fiori

After we got through the search problem, we were struck by how often we kept seeing the wait page for Fiori that looks like this.

We found this latency issue at several different locations, and therefore different Internet speeds. 

We did not notice any other latency issues using any other website that we accessed at these same locations. We checked the speed at one location with Speed Test, and here are the results.

So this was not a perfect Internet connection, but it was better than average, scoring four out of a possible five stars. 

When we found an even faster connection, one with five stars, we found that the Adjust Stock square/transaction took 4.49 seconds to open, 2.23 seconds longer than when tested at the slower Internet location (with four stars rather than five).

This slowness of Fiori is not a function of the Internet connection, its a function of the Fiori server, database, etc..)

The following is how long it took to simply get into the transaction screen by selecting the initial screen.

Fiori TransactionLoad Speed in Seconds (Test 1)Load Speed in Seconds (Test 2)
Adjust Stock1.8352.68
Team Calendar3.6353.40
Track Sales Orders2.7934.25
Liquidity Forecast3.124.30
Global Cash Position3.854.15
Working Capital Analysis12.61N/A (Square Disappeared so We Could not Retest)
My Spend4.243.65
My Accounts5.345.22
Order Products7.063.40
Availability Check3.602.97

*All timings were taken using an Android stopwatch app. 

What About The Effect of HANA?

The presentation of HANA has been that it would enormously speed both analytics and transaction process. Hasso Plattner has stated that HANA will deliver zero latency to all applications. If we take Hasso Plattner at his word, this means that the Fiori Cloud squares/transactions should have been limited only in the Internet connection latency, as the web, database and application server should have performed an instantaneous return. The total number of seconds should have been 0.00, exclusive of the Internet time.

We tested the fastest web page we know of which is Google at .486 seconds. But Google only returns text (we tested it searching for a word). Still, this would seem to be the rough latency of the Internet itself, .486, or roughly 1/2 of a second. So while Google is very close to zero latency, SAP is far off the reservation.

*At 1/2 a second, as one has to hit the return button and move one’s finger to hit the timer, verify the data populating the web page, and then re-hit the timer a very accurate measurement is not possible.

However the Fiori Cloud undoubtedly has HANA, yet the application transactions take an average of 4.33 seconds to load. 

Fiori Versus Our Website?

As a means of comparison, we checked the download time of one of our own web pages at Brightwork Research & Analysis. We end up with a time of 3.09. However, our pages have images on them, which means the page is larger than the Fiori pages that are being rendered. The speed will depend upon how many images the web page has (primarily). We do have pages that will render more slowly than 4.33 seconds (the Fiori average), but this is a function of the having quite a few images. Furthermore, we have far more text as well as formatting in a single page than in any Fiori screen that we tested.

SAP Fiori + HANA Losing to Open Source Products?

However, why are our larger web pages loading faster than the smaller Fiori pages that are only rendering numbers and text? Are we using some super fast backend? Hardly. We like our web host, but it is no top end setup. If we wanted to invest more money per month, we could get the speed faster, at a quite small cost. We could for instance move towards a dedicated server at our current host. That would increase the hardware available to fulfill requests.

What about the database? Is an advanced top-end database that the secret to our performance? Nope. Our web host uses MySQL. MySQL is owned by Oracle, but it is an open source database. MySQL is free. Does MySQL have a column data store and “in memory architecture” as does HANA? Nope. In fact, HANA does not compete with MySQL.

SAP has stated that HANA is faster than any of the top end databases offered by Oracle, IBM or Microsoft. But they are certainly not referring to open source database projects. Open source databases like MySQL, MariaDB, and PostgreSQL are not even part of the HANA conversation.

How about the application server? Must we be using a space-age application server right?

No again.

Our host uses Apache. Once again, Apache is an open source project and is free. Fiori uses the SAP Fiori Front-end Server. It is based on a NetWeaver Applications Server ABAP.


We did not start out trying to illustrate that the Fiori Cloud is slow, or that the Fiori transaction search only works inconsistently. We discovered these while just taking the Fiori Cloud for a demo. We have spent a lot of time analyzing HANA and Fiori which we have covered in articles like What is the Actual Performance of HANA? and What is in the Fiori Box. Even in a basic analysis, like this one, we find that SAP’s claims regarding Fiori and HANA do not check out. If SAP’s “in memory architecture” is so great, why are Fiori and HANA outperformed by our combination of WordPress, Apache, and MySQL — all of which are open source and free products?

The issue that we see is that no one is fact checking SAP and publishing the results. Therefore SAP marketing is sitting there proposing a virtually unlimited number claims which go unchallenged. If SAP’s claims were true, then it would be annihilating an open sources configuration that is common for the vast majority of websites. But it doesn’t, it fact, it loses to it.

Furthermore, the Fiori Cloud is supposed to be a showcase to demonstrate how superior Fiori is, and with SAP’s virtually unlimited resources it should be configured for speed. Oh, and the search box should work, and it should work 100% of the time and without disappearing transactions.

Brightwork Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

This article and no other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle and SAP. Brightwork does offer competitive intelligence work to vendors as part of its business, but no published research or articles are written with any financial consideration. As part of Brightwork’s commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research, the company’s business model is driven by consulting services; no paid media placements are accepted.

HANA & S/4HANA Question Box

  • Have Questions About S/4HANA & HANA?

    It is difficult for most companies to make improvements in S/4HANA and HANA without outside advice. And it is close to impossible 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.


How Accurate is the Hasso Plattner Institute’s Course Explanation?

Executive Summary

  • Course Description
  • Course Description Analysis


The In Memory course offered by the Hasso Plattner Institute was recommended to us to understand in-memory computing. This was recommended to us even though we wrote the article How to Understand Why In-Memory Computing is a Myth and have observed and proven it is a deliberately misleading term.

In this article, we will analyze the accuracy of the description of the in-memory course offered by the Hasso Plattner Institute.

The Quotations

Course Description

“Week 1: The first week will give you an understanding of origins of enterprise computing. It is vital to know the historic development which lead to the emergence of current hardware as we know it now in order to understand the decisions made in the past. Many characteristics of current applications, like materialized aggregates and a reduction of detail in the stored information, have their roots in the past. While these measures were helpful in former systems, they form an obstacle which has to be overcome now in order to allow for new, dynamic applications.”

It is only the Hasso Plattner Institute that thinks this is true. An aggregate is a table of precalculated values. Hasso Plattner is very much opposed to aggregates. However, the reason he gives seems to be directed around making HANA seem to be less expensive than it is. This is because HANA is alone among databases being priced per GB. Aggregates take up space in the database, but they serve a valuable purpose. Without aggregates, constant recalculation is required. Hasso Plattner has stated that this is highly advantageous, but is it? What if those values very rarely change, such as a table of weight conversions? But this table must constantly be recalculated on the fly? If not some rule of excellence has been violated?

Hasso Plattner has stated compression values that have not born out to be true. This is covered in the article Articles that Exaggerate HANA’s Benefits.

Most HANA accounts can expect footprint reductions in the area of 30%. However, this is immaterial to companies as storage is extremely inexpensive, particularly disk storage. John Appleby, SAP proponent and head of an SAP consulting company, has made the statement that disks are a problem because they “take up a lot of space,” which is a claim we analyzed in the article What Was John Appleby’s Accuracy on Moving BW to HANA?

  • The long and short of it is that nothing Hasso Plattner has ever said about database aggregates has made any sense.
  • The focus on aggregates is a gimmick, designed to confuse the message receivers as to what is important in database management.
  • The entire aggregate discussion is a distraction.

“Week 2: Within the second week, the differences between a horizontal, row-oriented layout and a columnar layout are discussed. Concepts like compression and partitioning are introduced. Based on that, you will get an explanation of the internal steps performed inside the database to carry out the fundamental relational operations insert, update and delete. The week concludes with a fundamental difference of SanssouciDB to most other databases: the insert only approach. Following this concept, we circumvent several pitfalls concerning referential integrity and additionally gain the foundation for a gap-less time travel feature.”

This seems like good training.

“Week 3: The content of week 3 focuses on more advanced structures and operations within the database. The differential buffer, a means to prevent frequent resorting of the dictionaries and rewriting of the attribute vectors, is explained in further detail. Subsequently, also the merge process, which incorporates the changes from the differential buffer into the main store, is illustrated. The retrieval of information via the select statement, as well as related concepts like tuple reconstruction, early and late materialization, or a closer examination of the achieved scan speed, are also part of this week’s schedule. The description of the join operation, which is used to connect information from different tables, concludes this week.”

I have no comment on this section.

“Week 4: Week 4 is all about aggregation. Aggregations are the centerpiece of every business analytics application. Given that huge impact of aggregates on all parts of a business, it is of great importance to understand what aggregate functions are, why we remove all materialized aggregates and go for aggregation on the fly. You will further learn how to greatly reduce the costs of this on demand approach by using the aggregate cache and understand its connection to the differential buffer and the merge process. In the units concluding this week, you will see new prototype applications using the aggregate cache to deliver complex simulations in real time.”

With another week spent on aggregates, without any debate as to whether aggregate removal is a value-add, or worth the effort, this seems like a waste of time. Week 4 could be better spent on hiring a psychologist to analyze why Hasso Plattner is so obsessed with aggregate removal (or should we say reduction, as HANA does have aggregates, but does not call them aggregates).

Hasso Plattner either needs to come in to and speak to our Brightwork psychiatrist to get to the bottom of his aggregate obsession or he needs to admit the only reason he keeps talking about aggregates is that it is a gimmick to try to confuse and sell to customers who lack an understanding of databases.

“Week 5: Week 5 sheds light on some more inner mechanisms of the database. What happens in emergency situations, when for example the power is turned off? Logging and recovery are vital parts to know in order to understand why an in-memory database is as secure as a traditional disk based one. Further, the benefits of replicas are explained. We conclude the week with an outlook onto the implications that arise with the tremendously increased speed at hands.”

SAP promotes its HANA database which is not “in memory” but has more of the database’s tables loaded into memory. Therefore, SAP promoting the idea that a database with more tables loaded into memory is as secure as a traditional one is a marketing point. Therefore can anything that SAP says in this area be trusted?

HANA is far less stable than competing databases, although this is for different reasons. Are the reasons for HANA’s relative instability going to be explained in this course? Probably not.

“Week 6: Week 6 is centered on applications. The last conceptual unit is about data separation into active and passive. After that, we showcase several prototypes and sketch out potential fields to apply the technology, thereby also leaving the domain of pure enterprise solutions, by using main memory databases in weather simulations and medicine.”

Nothing objectionable there.


The purpose of the Hasso Plattner Institute is to educate and advocate as to why everyone should buy HANA. Its courses are to create devotes to SAP’s particular approach to databases. However, there is a problem. HANA is not what Hasso Plattner or SAP says that it is. SAP has presented no evidence that HANA can outperform competing databases. This means that for people taking this course, they are taking it from an institution that was started by a man who has made exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims about HANA.

  • HANA can’t meet the claims made for it by SAP. Will the course talk about that?
  • We receive emails from around the world which show SAP consulting companies providing false information about HANA to customers. Will the course cover that?
  • SAP has made so many false claims about databases that they have undermined rather than enhanced the understanding of databases generally.

So the question is why should the Hasso Plattner Institute be considered anything more than a propaganda apparatus for SAP?

SAP should spend more time trying to get HANA to meet its exaggerated claims versus trying to institutionalize or create a completely biased “HANA university” where receiving certifications or PhDs means agreeing with Hasso Plattner. It has been over six years since HANA was introduced, and the only thing HANA does well is speed data warehousing query performance, but only over previous versions of competitor’s databases.

Brightwork Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

This article and no other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle and SAP. Brightwork does offer competitive intelligence work to vendors as part of its business, but no published research or articles are written with any financial consideration. As part of Brightwork’s commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research, the company’s business model is driven by consulting services; no paid media placements are accepted.

HANA & S/4HANA Question Box

  • Have Questions About S/4HANA & HANA?

    It is difficult for most companies to make improvements in S/4HANA and HANA without outside advice. And it is close to impossible 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.


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.


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.

Brightwork Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

This article and no other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle and SAP. Brightwork does offer competitive intelligence work to vendors as part of its business, but no published research or articles are written with any financial consideration. As part of Brightwork’s commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research, the company’s business model is driven by consulting services; no paid media placements are accepted.

HANA & S/4HANA Question Box

  • Have Questions About S/4HANA & HANA?

    It is difficult for most companies to make improvements in S/4HANA and HANA without outside advice. And it is close to impossible 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.


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

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.


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.



Which is Faster HANA or Oracle 12C?

Executive Summary

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

Introduction: How HANA Compares to Oracle

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

The History of HANA

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

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

This contention has few independent parties even investigating this issue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SAP’s Strategy for Locking Out Other Vendors

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


By declaring that all other SAP applications would integrate better with the queen, SAP’s customers could have lower risk implementations.

This strategy has been enormously successful, even after most vendors have come very close to SAP’s integration with their adapters.

One-Time horizontal competition — i.e., competition at the application layer. HANA is a twist on this block out strategy but takes it to the database layer. This is why SAP is so strongly positioning HANA vs Oracle. It is essentially preventing Oracle from competing with S/4 by not certifying Oracle’s database. Even though there is no reason that Oracle, IBM and SQL Server cannot fully support S/4HANA. 

The logic of the stored procedures placed into HANA is a cover for the fact that SAP is using S/4HANA’s exclusive certification to drive HANA sales.

The Real Opportunity with HANA vs Oracle?

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


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

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

Secondly, using HANA is expensive. Even more expensive than HANA vs Oracle.

HANA is Not Expensive?

Hasso Plattner has routinely argued that SAP HANA is not expensive. Typically Hasso Plattner will use the example of compression that is available in column-based databases to reduce the footprint. If you talk to SAP account executives, they will tell you that SAP HANA is expensive. Furthermore, they will inform you that HANA is very hard to position for this reason, once the price tag comes back, the customer balks.

It is a simple thing for Hasso Plattner to propose in interviews how SAP HANA could in some hypothetical sense be not too expensive. But all other sources point to HANA being quite expensive. And you will not be buying HANA from Hasso but an SAP account executive. Hasso’s accuracy lately has been off, and I don’t see analysts or the traditional IT media outlets recording this inaccuracy or commenting upon it. I have performed a detailed analysis of Hasso’s statements on HANA.

For example, Hasso proposed that companies are needed to move to S/4 Simple Finance (now just S/4 Finance). As I outlined in the article Getting Clear on S/4 HANA Terminology, SAP has missed its release date on the rest of the ERP suite, and its actual release date is unknown. Purchasing S/4 Finance, what is now a stranded application would have been a bad move.

After years of S/4 hype, S/4 can’t be realistically purchased (unless you count an immature stand-alone S/4 Finance as “realistic”) even if companies wanted to. 

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

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

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

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

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

The Great Database Speed Debate

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

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

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

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

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

Misdirection from John Appleby

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

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

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

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

The Appleby (Formerly Known as the Hasso) Pivot

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

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

Well, the only part of the SAP Business Suite that is ready for HANA is S/4 Finance. There is lots of debate as to how implementable S/4 Finance is. Secondly, the rest of the suite, now called SAP HANA Enterprise Management, as I stated, is not available for purchase. John Appleby is phrasing his response to what should be the future tense as if it is the present tense.

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

Is Oracle Monkeying with the S/4 Certification?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Dictating the Database to the Customers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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