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Why SAP HANA 1.0 SP03 – Project Orange – will be a runaway success

On November 7th, SAP will release the new version of its in-memory database – the much heralded Project Orange, or SAP HANA 1.0 SP03. They’ll probably change the name before I publish this article, but hey.

Project Orange is huge – because it’s not just the kind of theoretical analytics appliance that we have available with the current SAP HANA 1.0 SP02. It’s a complete replacement for the Microsoft, Oracle or IBM database that SAP requires to underpin its Business Information Warehouse, SAP NetWeaver BW.

Around this, a vigorous discussion took place on Twitter today between Mike Bestvina (@techdisruptive), Jon Reed (@jonerp) and myself. It surrounded pricing: @techdistruptive: @applebyj let’s say I have a 5TB db and already have BWA. So £2 million for ETL to be sped up??

Well this paints an interesting question. The answer is that on the face of it, it sounds like a terrible value proposition. So where is the value in HANA 1.0 SP03?

What’s the price anyhow?

Well SAP HANA 1.0 SP02 is priced by the 64GB increment and pricing isn’t publicly available – but it is very expensive. Given that BW databases are typically about 5-10x the size of the useful data in them (this is normal in a datawarehouse as there is duplication due to the way data is organized), customers aren’t going to want to pay for 80x 64GB HANA units at the current price.

I’m sure SAP know this and I very much doubt they will price HANA for BW at the same price as the full-fat appliance. But pricing hasn’t been released and won’t be until the product is available. We will see. If SAP have sense, they will look to do market penetration rather than high-value.

What are the benefits of running SAP HANA 1.0 SP03 for BW?

For my money, the benefits are huge. The headlines are here:

– Massively improved dataload time (a key business pain point for organizations trying to get data loaded before 8am).

– Improvement in query performance even compared to BWA 7.2 because it collapses the database, application server and OLAP engine into a single item. Most customers don’t have BWA and if they do they aren’t running the 7.2 version which provides benefits.

– Massive improvement in Integrated Planning performance because the planning engine is written in C++ in-memory. Expect 3-5x faster planning functions and even bigger improvement in planning query performance.

– Improved organization agility due to being able to move faster, develop faster and collapse some data layers and replace them with logical layers.

– No requirement for separate application and database servers. Simplified hardware structure.

– No need for very expensive enterprise disk storage or expensive UNIX boxes. I’ve seen BW systems that cost millions of dollars. HANA will be far cheaper than this for the bigger customers. It may be a bit more expensive for the SME market, but HANA is not yet a SME value proposition.

So what’s stopping us going there?

The big question right now is product maturity. HANA 1.0 SP03 hasn’t been released and most customers value their data warehouse highly. I think customers will want to see the benefits and the stability of the HANA platform first hand.

HANA 1.0 SP03 will at least bring (expected, not confirmed as it’s not been released!) high-availability, point-in-time backup and restore, the ability to scale up and out.

Final words

So for me, HANA 1.0 SP03 as a replacement to Oracle, IBM or Microsoft databases is a complete no-brainer. The question for customers is when, not if. The factors they will need to take into account when deciding this is:

– How important is my data warehouse stability to me compared to improved performance?

– How am I depreciating my current platform? Can I reuse it elsewhere? Is it shared capacity e.g. IBM pSeries where releasing space may provide value.

– How big are the business pain points around performance?

If you can answer this and the answers suggest that HANA is interesting – go ahead and buy a Test & Demo license and do a trial migration. It’s the same heterogeneous platform migration as any other hardware migration, though you need special HANA-certified consultants to do the migration. Seeing may be believing.

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  • I guess we need not just pricing but sizing. If I have 5Tb of BWA does it equate to 5Tb of HANA? or will 640Gb do because of HANA compression magic? So this is only 10 lots of 64Gb and a lot cheaper.


    • This is the clincher for me. I mentioned 5TB BW (not BWA) which i would say is a pretty standard BW size. This *could* roughly calculate to 1TB in HANA (could be more or less…IT DEPENDS!), while neglecting any growth calculations. Since HANA only supports up to 1 TB of HW right now this rules out a decent chunk of customers. Also remember that even if you stick 1TB of compressed data in HANA you still need additional memory to process that data. This processing space is another concern since it’s still really unknown how much you should purchase.

      I touched upon some of these things in my recent blog:
      When does HANA become mainstream?

        • Lots of questions.

          It matters a lot what kind of data you have in BW. I heard of one beta customer who told me they got 10:1 but it depends on used/unused space, database compression etc.

          On a very well maintained BW system with compression, little free space, you may be looking at as little as 2.5:1 to 2:1. My advice: do a PoC and see what your compression rate is.

          I’m hoping SAP will release an ABAP program which will estimate the HANA space (and spare memory for calculation) required.

        • On the growth question, HANA can load itself into memory in no time, so growth isn’t a problem from a performance perspective.

          However currently the biggest appliances including scale-out are 2TB so if you are growing past that in a short period of time, you may need to wait until bigger appliances are released.

          Of course, by the time you grow, I’m sure SAP will have bigger supported appliances.

  • Hello John

    A lot of customers struggle to keep their BW systems in good shape. HANA can solve some of the major problems (performance of critical BW systems and run-times of loads etc) but not all (pollution of the system etc).

    “If SAP have sense, they will look to do market penetration rather than high-value.” -> Lets hope so. If the price can beat the price of the in-place hardware (sometimes 3 to 4 servers for performance reasons) customer will surely go for this. It would be a great entry point to get HANA on-site and further convince customers to go for other HANA based products.

    Seeing = believing is great but I sometimes wonder why it has to cost so much money already? Things like a ramp-up should be free of cost for the customers. In the end the customer tests the “beta ” software for SAP. They should be glad that someone is trying it out. If it’s good enough they will license it.

    According to an interview I watched from TechED live switching BW 7.3 to HANA is very straight forward and doesn’t require functional testing. They performed it at TechED over night on a 1 or 2 TB database.

    Kind regards


    • Hi,

      Well, SAP have a low-cost test&demo license for HANA that you can use if you want to get started with a Proof of Concept.

      I don’t see the problem with charging for Ramp Up software – it’s early access to software and you still have to buy the licenses and build a business case. Otherwise SAP would have a ton of RU customers who don’t go live because they didn’t have a business case. What a nightmare!

      Yes, moving BW 7.3 from Oracle to HANA is a technical migration and does not require a functional test. It does however require *thorough* regression testing – just like any other heterogeneous migration. As a project it shouldn’t be underestimated – it might be a easy technical task but the overall project will be a little time consuming.



      • Hello John

        Alright, free of charge might be too optimistic but some companies do it though. As long as the test&demo is low-cost I guess it’s “ok”.

        Any idea how reachable SAP HANA is for customers that don’t have BWA in place? If you have a 5TB BW SAP system running on different servers, how expensive is HANA compared to the actual situation?

        Kind regards


  • Hello John,
    nice blog, I am optimistic and hope you are right.
    This is the first time I heard of a special HANA certification for migration consultants. Do you have any sources you can share? Once HANA 1.0 SP3 hits the market and delivers, then I bet we’ll have lots of HANA migrations coming.
    • Hi,

      I believe it will be like Digital EBCDIC migrations – requires usual SAP Heterogeneous Migration certificate plus an add-on. There are no details available yet. I’d think it would be a 2-3 day course – the differences with a HANA migration aren’t that major.



  • Hi John,

    unless I have misinterpreted something but Scaleout is already available and certified by SAP with the IBM System x Hardware. Scaled out for up to for appliances.

    Best Carsten

    • Hi,

      HANA 1.0 SP02 supports scale-out but I have not seen a certified appliance yet. Do you have details?

      There is however a 2TB scale-up appliance certified based on IBM x3950.


    • Hi Carsten,

      Ah yes, it has been updated this week. Thanks for a correction. Although it’s slightly misleading because it’s still only a maximum of 2TB total, and since it is based on the x3950, it will be terribly expensive.

      Will be interesting to see how these scale-out appliances perform.



  • I am not holding my breath on runaway success. Success – yes and this is the right evolution to take place, but run away success is a bit too optimistic in my view. Here are half a dozen things that come to mind now, in no particular order

    1. Just by migrating to HANA – there is not a significant enough gain in performance. You need to remodel the data to make use of HANA. That takes time and $$

    2. HA/DR etc – so SAP and partners will come up with some solution. It will need to be field tested before any kind of mass adoption happens.

    3. Existing DB licenses for BW from ORCL, IBM etc are usually not easy to get out of in short term.

    4. DW is critical for many business users. Will they take a risk of closing books for a quarter on new technology in near future?

    5. Size matters – with a 2TB limit currently for commercial appliances with scale out, how many will jump into this now? Plus just like BWA – we need to go through many iterations before we get sizing reasonably accurate

    Don’t get me wrong – I am sure some day in future all these will be possible. But I think for HANA to be a real runaway success – either SAP needs a killer app, or it needs to work as DB for ECC etc.

    BPC working on HANA might be the killer app that gets HANA a big boost next year. Since I have not seen that yet – I will holdback commenting on it for now


    • Most of your questions could be applied to any innovation case in general. It’s a more generic matter: to innovate or to be conservative.

      As for 1, in particular, actually just migrating your existing BW, no matter which version, to BW 7.3 SP5 powered by HANA 1.0 SPS3 does make it faster. It’s not about remodeling everything, just by replacing it you already get some considerable gain. How much gain, no one dares to speculate, but you are replacing a disk-based RDBMS for a column-based in-memory appliance, so some gain is indeed expected, which is _supposed_ to be at least in the same order of magnitude of BWA.

      What you probably won’t get out-of-the-box for BW is real time, since for HANA for BW you still use the old ABAP extractors & not SLT/Data Services/Replication Server. There has been some talk about some evolution/tighter integration between HANA & the extractors, but I haven’t seen much details myself. I might be wrong/outdated here.


      • Exactly my point too – any innovation in its early life cycle needs to be looked at with sufficient restraint, and not hype.Innovation for the sake of saying it is innovative is not very useful when big $$ are involved.

        For 1 :  for just making BW a little bit faster with no remodelling – there are other cheaper ways than buying HANA- buy more RAM, slot in some fusionIO cards etc.

        Real time is anyway not completely a HANA thing. Both Sybase Rep server and SLT are old mature technologies that can give real time data to a system, and does not need HANA at the receiving end.

    • Vijay– just a bit of history.  I ran the first 2-tier SD benchmark on the original HANA version in 2005.  Twice as fast as the fastest MSSQL benchmark on the exact same hardware. 

      But 2x isn’t nearly good enough, so we’re re-innovating the entire SAP Business Suite to take advantage of the first DB in history specifically optimized for SAP’s needs.  We’re shooting for thousands of times better performance across the entire suite of apps. Plus a few hundred times less TCO thru reduction of layers and complexity. Truly game changing innovation.  That’s going to take us a few years to deliver. Once that’s ready, then we’ll run EVERYTHING from SAP on a single HANA database. 

      • I agree – the moment all of business suite works on HANA – it will earn the game changer title sans sacrificing kitties. SAP can probably short circuit the process and get there faster if there are a couple of killer apps on HANA in near future. Till such time, I find it hard to say “runaway success”
    • 🙂 Jeff says not optimistic enough, you say too optimistic. I think I got it right: it will be huge, the question is when.

      Migrating to HANA will provide some pretty decent performance gains across the board. No least if you are running 3-5 year old hardware, which many people are.

      Your other points are all valid and this is why I say when and not why. But they are all things causing potential delays but I don’t see them changing the mid-long term shape of the market.

      BPC on HANA stands to be awesome. It sounds like the first version will not have a C++ BPC planning engine like the IP engine for BW but it will still help a lot.

    • 🙂 Jeff says not optimistic enough, you say too optimistic. I think I got it right: it will be huge, the question is when.

      Migrating to HANA will provide some pretty decent performance gains across the board. No least if you are running 3-5 year old hardware, which many people are.

      Your other points are all valid and this is why I say when and not why. But they are all things causing potential delays but I don’t see them changing the mid-long term shape of the market.

      BPC on HANA stands to be awesome. It sounds like the first version will not have a C++ BPC planning engine like the IP engine for BW but it will still help a lot.

  • 1. BW on HANA rampup is completely full.  No shortage of customers jumping in early to get HANA performance for BW. 

    2.  HANA gives native BWA performance for ALL queries in BW.  Plus nearly all other activities are significantly faster.

    3.  Two LIVE customers running BW on HANA will be presenting at Teched Madrid.  Early beta customers, even before rampup started.  Shockingly easy migration if you want it to be.  

    I’ve talked to about 20 of our largest BW customers in the past few months and most of the points you make haven’t been very high on their list of considerations (not sure why).  Number one question asked by CIOs(seriously):  How fast can I cancel my existing database contract once I switch to HANA?

    • C’mon Jeff, I heard there was one space left on RampUp 🙂 but yes I hear you, it is popular. Though this does not mean in itself that those customers will go live and this will be clear when those projects go ahead.

      The database contract question is not that useful unfortunately because as you know, switching to HANA does not permit this until you move all your SAP systems onto HANA. For e BW scenario, you expect customers to double pay.