How Much Has HANA Really Been Simplified?

Executive Summary

  • Lack of Simplification to HANA
  • What It Means
  • SAP’s Promised Cost Reductions from HANA


SAP and SAP’s surrogates have pushed the idea that HANA provides simplification of an IT environment. For example, in an article on HANA, John Appleby (an SAP surrogate) made the following statement.

“Most organizations spend a substantial amount on BI projects, and with BW on HANA they will either spend less (fewer full time employees or consultants) or achieve more for the same, in a shorter elapsed time. Our benchmarking suggests that project build times are 20-30% less with BW on HANA, leading to an overall saving of 10-12% or more for capital projects.”

We analyzed SAP’s proposal that HANA’s data model is simplified in the article Does HANA Have a Simplified Data Model?

In this article, we will evaluate this proposal of simplification from another dimension.

Lack of Simplification to HANA

The following quotation is from a reliable and verified source who works in databases.

“On the overall topic of “simplification” from the database layer into application tier point of view currently HANA looks like anything but simplification forcing significant re-mapping of functionality between different, new modules, the deployment of the Universal journal, the 400 page HANA simplification guide, etc etc.”

These are of course the areas of HANA that customers tend to not find out about until after they have either engaged in a HANA POC or implemented HANA.

“In essence SAP have partially switched from the need to develop and regression test over multiple AnyDB choices to sustain the PAM / Client NetWeaver platform choice, to forced client migration of functionality between modules and cloud (SCM is a good example roughly half the function lands in S/4HANA, roughly half in the Cloud based IBP functionality) with multiple version / functional interdependencies.

Also, HANA appliance building block sizes are not very granular.

This to me simply looks switching one set of challenges for another, it’s not really simplification.”


Areas where HANA is actually more complex continually arise the more we have looked into HANA.

First, HANA is still not a mature database. And immaturity by itself causes more complications and less simplicity. SAP is essentially denying and hiding this complexity from customers while proposing that HANA is all about simplification.

SAP has promised simplification that leads to cost savings from HANA. There is really no pathway for this to come true.

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

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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

How Accurate Was Data Center Knowledge on HANA Cloud Making SAP Simpler?

Executive Summary

  • Article Quotations
  • The HANA Cloud Strategy is to Reduce Complexity?
  • HANA has Big Cloud Business?
  • HANA Removes Redundancy?
  • Unverifyable Internal Information from SAP


On June 3, 2014 Data Center Knowledge wrote the article McDermott Bets on HANA-Powered Cloud to Make SAP Simpler.

In this article with the benefit of three years of hindsight, we will evaluate the accuracy of this article.

Article Quotations

Is SAP too complex? The CEO keynote message at SAP’s Sapphire Now conference this morning was that the German business software giant was focused on running simple.

The company has been criticized in the past for being too complex. In his keynote, CEO Bill McDermott committed to simplifying the way SAP does things. “There’s a huge chip on my shoulder,” he said. “We chose to fight complexity because no company understands the problem [of] complexity like SAP.”

Cloud is the path SAP has chosen to address the problem of complexity, and the cornerstone of its cloud strategy is HANA, the company’s in-memory computing system.

SAP is Simplifying Things?

This entire setup seems to be to set forth the proposal that SAP is going to simplify things for its customers. However, as a long time SAP consultant with many thousands of hours in SAP over a 20 year period, I can say that SAP develops very difficult software to use. This leads to the highest TCO in each of the categories that SAP offers products. At Brightwork we have the only online TCO calculators in enterprise software, and for each of SAP’s products we have them placed as the highest TCO.

Therefore, SAP may choose to “fight complexity” but they are a strange company to do this, as they are a major source of complexity at their customers.

Secondly, SAP is attempting to move to the cloud because Wall Street is telling them they need to go there, and like most public companies, executive compensation drives strategy at SAP. And doing what Wall Street wants is the best way for them to make the most money.

The HANA Cloud Strategy is to Reduce Complexity?

Thirdly, complexity (reduction) may be the cornerstone of its HANA cloud strategy, but three years later very few companies use HANA in the cloud. So it is not particularly relevant to what customers use.

CEOs want the integrated enterprise, McDermott said. “Eighty percent of companies that move to the cloud save money [and] 2014 is the first year the majority of new workloads will be performed in the cloud. Transition is happening rapidly and SAP is with you every step of the way.”

We don’t know where that figure came from, but companies don’t save 85% if they move to SAP cloud, because in most cases outside of the acquired applications like SuccessFactors or Ariba, SAP offers companies a private cloud, which is not actually cloud. It is hosting.

Secondly, the transition to cloud it not happening rapidly. SAP would like SAP to think this, but still, the vast majority of SAP’s revenue is the on-premises business.

HANA has Big Cloud Business?

SAP cloud powered by HANA is running in 20 data centers and now has 36 million users, running a variety of applications. “You can run your entire enterprise on HANA in the cloud,” said McDermott. HANA integrates all of SAP’s solutions in the cloud.

This sounds exaggerated. One should have to see the individual number breakdown. Bill McDermott is most comfortable operating at 30,000 feet and when questioned, either will pivot to a different (often irrelevant) topic or moves the discussion back up to something ethereal. This tendency is demonstrated in the article Inaccuracies in SAP’s 2017 Q2 Analyst Call.

HANA Removes Redundancy?

“HANA removes redundancy, reduces complexity and simplifies the IT stack,” he said. But it is about more than just a different way to deploy applications businesses have been using in the past. “This enables a new class of applications. We can use HANA to simulate and predict actions of consequence before they actually happen.”

No, this is false. HANA in the cloud or on-premises is one of the major magnifiers of complexity and missed deadlines because it is still an immature database which has compatibility issues and even indirect access liabilities, making it consume a great deal of time in overhead and in IT management. By our estimates, HANA is the highest maintenance database one can purchase (of those available for the same purpose).

Many of those applications are developed by companies other than SAP that use HANA. There are more than 1,500 companies in the HANA startup program, McDermott said. Synerscope, for example, has an application that analyzes transactions looking for fraud and does so on HANA.

This is most likely exaggerated. HANA was sold into companies which were “SAP shops” and HANA has no real footprint outside of gullible SAP customers.

Unverifiable Internal Information from SAP

SAP itself is a 70,000-person company running its entire business on its enterprise cloud. It has reduced its data consumption from 11 terabytes to two in the transition, which McDermott largely attributed to HANA.

There is now away to verify this. SAP is its own customers in this case. Bill McDermott has shown in the past that he will say anything to make an impression, so unverifiable statements should not be listened to.

Free Fiori Apps?

The CEO dedicated some time in his keynote to announce that Fiori, SAP’s collection of about 300 role-based applications for user productivity and personalization, was included for free in maintenance contracts now. If you previously paid, you’ll get a credit (not money back). Fiori apps are for customers using SAP Business Suite on any database and SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA.

Fiori has been a major disappointment as is covered in the article What is Actually in the Fiori Box? SAP has habitually exaggerated the uptake on the part of Fiori, and 3 years after this article was written, there are few signs of Fiori on SAP projects.

Also, while Fiori is free, SAP now only develops Fiori apps for HANA. Therefore, it is used as an enticement to get HANA. But HANA is a terrible value, so the fact that apps are free should not motivate companies to dabble in HANA.


It is not a good idea for people that know nothing about SAP to write on SAP because it means the author cannot validate what the proponent (in this case the ever unreliable Bill McDermott) who has a strong motivation to lie about SAP for stock appreciation. Articles like this actually decrease the knowledge on the internet because they communicate false information.

The article receives a 2 out of 10 for accuracy.

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.


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.


  • 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