What Oracle won’t tell you about SAP HANA (Part 2)

John Appleby

Posted by John Appleby on April 8, 2015

Global Head Of DDM/HANA COEs

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Three years ago, Steve Lucas wrote What Oracle won’t tell you about SAP HANA. Since then, a lot has changed in SAP-land, including the support of most SAP applications on HANA (including Business Suite) and the release of the next-generation ERP, SAP S/4HANA. We are in quite a different world now, and I thought that Steve’s blog was worth updating for 2015.

#1 – SAP HANA is less expensive than Oracle

I don’t want to get into detailed pricing debates on a blog, but I help customers implement SAP HANA every day, and it’s less expensive than Oracle, period.

Firstly, it’s available at a lower % of your SAP software estate than Oracle – so you will actually get a license payback if you implement HANA. Sure, that’s different to ROI, but it’s a nice place to start. For any apps where you don’t want to implement HANA, SAP throw in SAP ASE included in the price. And remember that if you buy S/4HANA in 2015, you will get all the future innovation included for the price of the SAP Business Suite on HANA runtime license last year.

Second, if you compare like-like for an application platform license cost, HANA comes out less expensive. The data reduction of HANA’s compression and simplified data models, easy to buy appliances and flexible license packages mean you can license HANA for less money than an equivalent Oracle database including all the features you need. Because SAP don’t charge extra for HA/DR, you are more likely to build a resilient solution!

Third, if you want any kind of Enterprise solution, SAP HANA is available at a single cost for all features, including the equivalents of Enterprise, Multitenant, RAC, Active Data Guard, Partitioning, Advanced Compression, Advanced Security, OLAP, Advanced Analytics, Spatial and Graph, Database In-Memory, Diagnostics Pack, Tuning Pack, Database Lifecycle Management Pack and more. If you want to get the best out of Oracle, the cost is simply crippling.

The cost of RAC for a full-rack Exadata X5-2 is over $3m alone (don’t forget the extra $1m for the spare Exadata!). For this reason, most customers don’t use advanced Oracle functionality – it’s just too expensive.

#2 – SAP on Oracle has no future

This may be controversial, but in my opinion, SAP on Oracle has no future. Take a look at the April 2015 Roadmap Update if you want to see what I mean.

For example, if you put your SAP data workload on Oracle 12c, you aren’t currently able to update it (yes, seriously!). You can’t use any of the innovations Oracle invested in including Oracle Database 12c In-Memory, Oracle Database 12c Multitenant, Oracle Database 12c ADO/ILM or Hybrid Columnar Compression for Exadata. And that’s just the operational limitations.

In addition, SAP on Oracle will only be supported until 2025, and this has serious implications for SAP customers, many of which operate a 5-10 year roadmap. Systems are expensive to implement and maintain, and so customers need to plan ahead.

The replacement to SAP Business Suite 7.0, SAP S/4HANA, will only run on the HANA platform. SAP on Oracle has no future.

#3 – SAP HANA enables a new class of application

One of the things which is great about working with HANA is that innovation comes seamlessly and often. There was a time when HANA updates came too often, but that pace has slowed over the last 18 months with two major releases a year, verified for datacenter usage. There are some more frequent updates for early adopters or those testing new functionality, but for most, it’s now possible to get great innovation every 6 months with minimal disruption.

HANA SPS09 came in November (soon to be datacenter verified) and it provided a ton of innovation including integrated ETL and cleansing, Multitenancy, support for Big Data and IoT, Event Stream Processing and much more. Read What’s New in SAP HANA SPS09 for more details. SPS10 will be on us very soon, and promises to continue that trend.

Oracle 12c has been out for 2 years and is only now even supported for SAP applications, and very few innovations have come even since Oracle 11g.

What this means is that HANA enables a new class of business application to be developed. In S/4HANA Logistics, SAP achieve over a 70% data reduction by removing redundancy. What happens if we now mix in spatial awareness of product and customers, how might we enable predictive maintenance and ensure stock is proactively in the right place?

I can tell you one thing for sure: you ain’t seen nothing yet!

#4 – No Hardware Lock-In

At the time of writing, there are 538 configurations in the Certified SAP HANA Hardware Directory and this number increases every day. You can run HANA on anything from a shared VMWare appliance with just a 64GB slither of memory, right the way up to a 112TB cluster, and beyond. There are 22 Certified Enterprise Storage solutions if you want to reuse an existing hardware asset.

What’s more you can keep your vendor honest because hardware configurations are very easily compared, so you can decide what provides you with the right value for money and functionality.

By contrast, Oracle locks you in to 1/4, 1/2 and full rack solutions which you can see on the Oracle Engineered Systems Price List. Their $1m full-rack solution has a paltry 2TB of DRAM – that’s what you get in a $100k pizza box from any one of 11 SAP HANA vendors. And that SAP HANA 2TB appliance is big enough (and mission-critical enough) to run almost any SAP ERP system out there, apart from the very large enterprise.

Want HA? No problems, that will be another appliance and 2 clicks of the mouse to configure. No costly RAC licenses and complicated implementation.

#5 – SAP HANA is a Cloud Platform

SAP HANA was always envisioned as a cloud platform, despite its beginnings as an analytics database. The HANA Cloud Platform brings the capabilities of a full-scale cloud application platform for developers and ISVs alike.

The HANA Enterprise Cloud brings managed-cloud-as-a-services capabilities for businesses who would previously buy on-premises databases, and includes a partnership with IBM SoftLayer.

SAP S/4HANA will be available in the public or private cloud, depending on your requirements – or indeed on-premise. One thing is worth noting: S/4HANA is cloud-first, and on-premise second. Cloud users are first-class citizens in S/4-land.

This doesn’t diminish from the fact that many enterprise software customers still want to put their database on-premise – that will continue, especially in regulated industries for the foreseeable future, but it is a nod to the fact that cloud software is the future, even in the Enterprise.

Final Words

When Steve wrote his blog in 2012, the FUD from Oracle was focussed around how HANA wasn’t mission critical, how it didn’t work and didn’t scale. Looking back at this in 2015 it’s clear that HANA has come through that FUD unscathed, and Steve’s points were spot on – in fact just as valid as they were back then, which is why I didn’t repeat them.

What’s even more interesting is how Oracle has stood still since 2012 whilst HANA has delivered more and more capability. Now, hundreds of the world’s biggest businesses are running their transactional systems on SAP HANA and new business applications like S/4HANA have arrived that do things that Oracle cannot do.

The conversation we are having around the Oracle FUD is distinctly different from the one we had in 2012. Now, Oracle are saying that SAP HANA isn’t actually as fast as Oracle (benchmark it yourself if you doubt that), that SAP doesn’t understand the cloud and that SAP on Oracle is the smart choice.

I look forward eagerly to revisiting this conversation in 2018 and seeing how the world has changed once again. My sense is we will be living in a very different world then!

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