SAP HANA and the Pretenders

Puneet Suppal

Posted by Puneet Suppal on September 10, 2012

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A couple of months ago, a number of SAP experts, including Vishal Sikka in his SAP HANA Effect Blog, had written posts clarifying what SAP HANA was really all about. It appears that at least one of our competitors did not read those posts, or the many related stories in the print and electronic media. To ensure that our wider audience does not miss the core differentiating factors of the HANA platform, I am taking another stab at describing for our customers and prospects what your HANA advantage is.

HANA represents a next generation in enterprise computing, especially in database technology. It is a modern data management and processing platform for both real-time analytical and transactional applications. It enables organizations to analyze business operations based on large volume and variety of detailed data in real-time, as it happens, eliminating the latency and layers between OLTP and OLAP systems for “real” real-time. The HANA Advantage is a tightly integrated system with different components that are fully transactional and well integrated into the system optimizer. Scale up and scale out work seamlessly for all components like OLTP, OLAP (operational as well as warehouse operations), text processing and search, planning and pure application development.

OK. So how does this address some of the misinformation being spread out there?

Let us look at some baseless charges being made about SAP HANA by Oracle on their website (Compare Oracle Exalytics and SAP HANA).

Baseless Charge #1: Unproven, Incomplete Solution

Those who have made this charge are obviously not keeping up with the news. SAP is fast closing in on 600 customers for SAP HANA with revenue numbers to validate this growth pattern – and, this is just over a year after it was made generally available. In fact, SAP is “on track to generate at least €320 million (US$403 million) in revenue this yearfrom SAP HANA.

Can Oracle please share numbers to support how well Exalytics is being adopted by the market?

Perhaps our traditional database competitors are a little intimidated by the fact that HANA is the fastest growing database management system in terms of market share, on the planet! (Refer: SAP Press Release – June 8, 2012, or 1IDC, Worldwide Relational Database Management Systems 2011 Vendor Shares, Doc #234894, May 2012).

This charge obviously insults the intelligence of those who are rapidly adopting this solution – would they do so if it was an unproven solution? Not many who seek to compete with HANA can make claim to have such a rapidly growing customer base. For example, it would be very interesting to know how many customers are in production with the Oracle Exalytics “machine”.

Baseless Charge #2: Few Applications Run on HANA

In slightly over a year SAP has already delivered 25 solutions that run on HANA, turbo-charging our customers’ processes (also refer Featured Solutions at:

SAP CO-PA Accelerator

SAP Customer Segmentation Accelerator

SAP Finance & Controllng Accelerator

SAP Sales Pipeline Analysis

SAP Collections Insight

SAP Cash Forecasting

SAP Planning and Consolidation on HANA

SAP Sales & Operations Planning

SAP Supplier InfoNet

Banking Financial Reporting RDS

Banking Transaction History RDS

SAP Smart Meter Analytics

Sales Analysis for Retail

SAP Sentiment Intelligence with SAP HANA

SAP Situational Awareness with SAP HANA

SAP Program Performance Analysis for A&D

SAP Accounting for Financial Instruments, option for accelerated processing

SAP Global Trade Services for sanctioned-party list screening with SAP HANA

SAP Business Warehouse on HANA

SAP Business One – Analysis

Recalls Plus


My Runway

SAP Grid Infrastructure Analytics

SAP Precision Retailing

In this short period of just over a year, there are 60+ unique SAP HANA use cases by industry and lines of business. In addition, there is a whole emerging ecosystem of independent software providers who are leveraging SAP HANA as the platform of choice to bring to life applications that cannot be run using any other database management system.

Can the pretenders, including Exalytics, claim to have such traction?

Baseless Charge #3: Actual Performance May Vary

In another example of how some of our challengers are so behind the times, this charge appears to be based on dated marketing information (as far back as 2009). The interesting thing is that SAP HANA, the product, didn’t exist then! The comparison leading to this charge is based on a different product altogether! To enlighten those who might have missed some of the information about SAP HANA’s spectacular performance, here are some authentic sources of relevant information:

SAP HANA Performance whitepaper:

EML Benchmark:

I would like to issue a counter-challenge – Can the HANA-bashers produce similar published results on scale out, or other performance measures?

Baseless Charge #4: Multiple Vendors, Finger Pointing

The charge is that for support customers would have to go to multiple vendors because no one entity is responsible for it. Really? Do the folks making this charge understand that there is a way for a vendor to provide a collaborative solution to a customer without support problems? Perhaps the only way they know is to work with their own stacks and to lock customers in. SAP HANA is built with a fundamental outlook that looks out for the customer – giving the customer choice. Choice to use SAP HANA with a variety of products and the choice to decide how they are going to manage their data center stack. Unlike our challengers, SAP is not interested in disrupting the business and business relationships of our customers.

Baseless Charge #5: A Band Aid for SAP Software

To quote John McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!” Why on earth would the most successful enterprise applications company in the history of computing have to resort to band aids? As a matter of fact, much of our HANA success is because customers understand that this solution has been produced by SAP because we understand the limitations they have had to live with until now – limitations that are rooted in the shortcomings of traditional database management systems and the cobbled together solutions pretending to provide “true real-time” analytics. Perhaps they should understand that one aspect of “true real-time” is the ability to draw on “real-time” data, as it is happening, without any pre-fabrication. For example, it is clear from public documentation that there is a 1 TB limit on Oracle Exalytics, and from all indications it appears that only about 400 GB of this is actually available for in-memory data (refer to Peak Indicators, 2012an Oracle Education Center and Oracle Gold Partner) since a significant portion is to be used for working memory for the components (e.g., Essbase, TimesTen, OBIEE) that have been put together. The real-time nature of the source data is lost as it resorts to old-fashioned caching to produce an illusion of true real-time. In comparison, SAP HANA does not need to take time out of the process – there is no tuning, no pre-aggregation, and no caching! That, is “true real-time.”

Baseless Charge #6: Risky Changes

SAP HANA has best-in-class high availability and follows industry-standard data center procedures. Our leading hardware partners (names such as IBM, HP, Fujitsu, Cisco, Dell) will tell the skeptics that a SAP-certified high-availability solution for SAP HANA comes with appropriate configuration recommendations for the customer’s need at hand. Here are a couple of authentic sources of information:

HP –


SAP HANA is ready for a fair comparison – How about the competition?

Many of these baseless charges have already been rebutted in a blog posted by Vishal Sikka back in May. But some people are more interested in trying to scare their customers into staying locked-in with their old-school notions of how to handle the challenges of the future. To these folks, I have only two things to state: (A) focus on true innovation and give your customers choices that enhance business value for them, and (B) if you must engage in comparing your products with SAP HANA, let’s agree to a formal benchmark test (e.g., SAP BW-EML benchmark from SAP Benchmark Council) – one that is based on criteria reflecting real customer scenarios and not merely hypotheticals in the lab. SAP is confident on this front because a number of our customers have already done these comparisons with real scenarios and in some cases have made the decision to decommission existing solutions based on other products. Let’s put your doubting minds to rest once and for all, and let’s get on with the business of making our customers successful.

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