We have all read and seen the HANA announcements over the past few weeks and are excited and enthused about it. SAP is certainly heading in the right direction and HANA just might be the killer app that they are saying it will be.
Now, before I start my rant I must admit that I am a big fan of “nerd knobs”. I am never satisfied with defaults and wish that I had complete control over every device and software product that I use. I grew up in the mainframe era at a time when code modifications were a necessary-evil when it came to customizing IT systems. Fortunately, over the past 20+ years, our industry adopted open standards that allowed us to build agile, configurable IT landscapes that leveraged a common set of servers, storage, operating systems, and utility applications (databases, etc.).
With that said, I am a little worried that SAP’s approach to HANA is a bit too much “one size fits all” for many organizations. I realize that many customers are attracted to the black box approach to systems but I am certainly not a fan if this. Many of us try to implement a standards-based approach to application infrastructure and prefer to have standards in place when it comes to servers, storage, operating systems, and networking. From what I have read and heard about HANA, it will be delivered as a preinstalled, preconfigured system that must be purchased by a hardware partner (Dell, HP, Cisco, IBM, Fujitsu) and will run on a certain version of SuSE Linux. I realize that it is much easier for SAP to support this arrangement than to support open systems; however, that does not make it right! Customers should be able to choose the hardware models & operating systems that they want to use; software companies do not have the right to dictate this.
I believe that it is inappropriate for a software company to package their applications in a black box unless they also give you options to install it yourself on your own standard platforms. Although the “Open Systems” concept is not nearly as sexy as it was in the 1980’s, the fundamentals are still as important. If we allow every software vendor to sell us black boxes, we will lose many of the synergies that we have gained by standardizing our platforms.