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SAP HANA – Where to start?

One thing that excites me the most about SAP HANA is the fact that it creates value for not just IT or Business but for both.

I have seen the business users and executives getting all excited when I talk about SAP HANA and its benefits. The first question they ask is “When can I have it?” IT teams are excited at the same time as they now have a potent tool to solve not just the business problems but also the numerous challenges on the IT side.

But the most important question today is – “where to start?” 

Why is this question so important? Because if the first step is wrong, the move to SAP HANA could lose its way and lead to wastage of time and effort. Whereas a right step would confirm the promised benefits and would lay a foundation for the entire SAP infrastructure.

This question can be answered for various organizations based on what stage of HANA evaluation they are in:

A.     A. For organizations that have completed at least one proof of concept (PoC) with SAP HANA (which I will address in this blog)

B.     B. For organizations that are yet to try and test SAP HANA (which I will address in my next blog)

Here is my perspective for organizations that have completed at least one proof of concept (PoC) with SAP HANA

The following points (in no particular order) should be carefully considered and evaluated:

1)    I am assuming that you are excited by the results of the PoC and ready to go. You can select one of the two approaches:

a.       Kick-off the pilot project for the PoC use case: Create BRD/DRD and secure sign-off as it will help in containing the scope and setting up the right expectations. Project should follow Agile methodology to develop and deliver fast.

b.      Identify and evaluate other business use cases: Prioritize which business use case has higher chances of success and would take less time to Go-Live. Identify a pilot project for such a use case. I would advise starting with one pilot project against multiple.

2)  Evaluate the ongoing IT projects and find out which of them can be stopped and instead can be converted to HANA projects. Continuing with a new transformation project or an enhancement project which is going to get delivered in next 3-6 months may not make absolute sense if with few additional months perhaps HANA can deliver the same. The reason IT and even business may agree to a little delay is because of the value the project with HANA will create. (I will cover the value proposition in detail in subsequent blogs.)

3)  Define and share a HANA roadmap or HANA strategy and get a buy-in from all the stakeholders which include

a.       Infrastructure team (for installation and maintenance at the data centers). HANA hardware comes with some prerequisites on the infrastructure side, make sure to check them out.)

b.      Production systems support team (they are the ones who are going to support the system post Go-Live)

c.      Team of architects (both SAP and non-SAP, as HANA is not just for SAP eco system)

d.      System analysts (HANA has brought new capabilities, which have created new opportunities)

e.      Integration team (new ways to conceive integration scenarios which were not possible before)

f.       PMO team (HANA projects are different and will be run differently)

This is very important as HANA is not just another software product on a regular hardware.   HANA is delivered with the hardware and to my knowledge only five vendors have been certified till date- IBM, HP, Dell, Cisco and Fujitsu. You may have to pick one that would fit in with your long term infrastructure strategy. It will not be easy to revert the decision later. Also on the software side HANA is not only a database but a place to model your business logic. HANA has brought the database from behind the application layer to the forefront.

4)  Select the hardware vendor fast as it takes a good amount of time to deliver and install the system. Also most likely you will be installing other products like Data Services, SLT, etc. It would also take some time to integrate and test it together.

5)   Decide your implementation strategy: BW-on-HANA (HANA as a database for SAP BW) or Enterprise HANA (standalone HANA model)? This will define what skillsets you would need in the project team.

Few other points can be added but I tried to list the most important ones here. Please feel free to provide your feedback.

  In my upcoming blogs I will try to address the following:

a.      a. Answer the question “where to start?” for organizations that are yet to try and test SAP HANA.

b.      b. The value SAP HANA brings for Business and IT.

         Until next time…



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