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The HANA Journey: Determining When HANA is Right for You

I would like to thank my colleague Robert Hernandez (@SRHernandez2), Director of In-Memory Services, North America for his collaboration and input to this blog.

Follow me on Twitter – @thomasjkurtz

If you’re reading this blog, SAP HANA has caught your attention.  By now, you’ve probably heard a significant amount about SAP HANA. It’s the next-generation platform with blazing speed, real-time reporting, and powerful analytics, able to capitalize on unprecedented opportunities and deliver significant competitive advantages.  As the SAP HANA topic has matured, you’ve probably also heard of different ways to deploy it in your business; solutions such as SAP Business Suite accelerators, SAP HANA applications, SAP BW on HANA, SAP Business Suite on HANA, and more.  You’ve possibly heard so much in fact that you feel the need to take a step back and ask – so what does it all mean to me?  It’s fast – great.  It can help me – fine.  But, where do I start, and how do I take advantage of it?  Do accelerators help me?  Should I start with SAP BW on SAP HANA?  Does the introduction of SAP Business Suite on SAP HANA now change everything?  Like other break-through innovations, SAP HANA on its own will not deliver value.  But, SAP HANA applied to a particular business problem or challenge can deliver exceptional value.  So, if you still have some questions about whether SAP HANA is right for you, or more importantly, how it’s right for you, then read on to determine how best to realize value from SAP HANA.

Beginning the HANA Journey

When evaluating SAP HANA for your business, remember to keep the following in mind: (1) how can HANA help my business? (2) what type of HANA solution do I need to achieve this? (3) how should I plan my deployment strategy?  These high level concepts are summarized below in Figure 1, as well as further examined in the text which follows.

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1.  Understanding Value Opportunities in Your Business: before deploying SAP HANA, an organization should take the time to understand where SAP HANA can deliver maximum benefit based on your business goals.  Some examples to consider:

    1. Are analytics a problem in your organization?  Do you have plans to grow the business, but need to stay lean in terms of your total operations?  Would access to real-time information allow you to accomplish that more economically?  Are you an SAP BW customer, looking to improve the way you deploy your analytics today?

    2. What about your day-to-day business processes?  If you could run your materials planning processes faster or differently, would that change your business?  For Consumer Products, do you have access into the real-time demand in your various markets, allowing you to focus on the right ones?  For Retail, could you grow customer loyalty and in-store excellence through access to customer data by your sales personnel while your customers are still in the store?
    3. Finally, are there new business processes you could create today, something that could transform your business but you haven’t thought about doing because of technical limitations?  Could a new application be developed, purpose-built to bring these new ideas to reality?  For Healthcare, is there a way to manage patient data, allowing you to better serve patients or deliver medical care.

2.  Map Value Opportunities to SAP HANA Solutions: once an organization understands the business value – how SAP HANA can enable business solutions – you next need to understand how to implement SAP HANA.  As identified in the opening to this blog, SAP continues to enhance HANA and offer additional capabilities.

    1. For the customer looking at real-time analytics to grow the business, perhaps an agile data mart deployed on SAP HANA is the answer.  Or, for existing SAP BW customers or customers requiring a complete Enterprise Data Warehouse, BW on HANA may be the right place to start.
    2. For the customers needing to enhance operational processes, perhaps SAP Business Suite on SAP HANA is the right option.  Or, if you need a smaller first step, beginning with a focused accelerator powered by SAP HANA targeting a single, specific process may be the logical place to begin.
    3. For the customers looking at creating a new, transformative solution, perhaps an application powered by SAP HANA is appropriate.

3.  Deploy SAP HANA: at this stage you’ve identified the business value, you understand what type of SAP HANA solution should be implemented to realize that value, now it’s time to evaluate your deployment options.

    1. For those organizations with strong IT operational capabilities deploying SAP HANA in-house, on-premise may be the most efficient.  It will allow you maximum control of your own environment and positions you well to grow your HANA deployment alongside SAP’s growing HANA coverage.
    2. If your organization is looking to quickly deploy SAP HANA and doesn’t have the time or resourcing to manage it in-house, SAP’s HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) may be the right approach.  This allows you to utilize all the benefits and capabilities of SAP HANA, but leaves the environment management to someone else allowing you to focus on solving the business problem.
    3. Ultimately the right solution might involve a hybrid between an On-Premise and SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud approach.  Perhaps business timelines can’t wait on hardware procurement and thus a HEC approach for your development and test environments with an on-premise production system allows you to deliver on time.  Or perhaps there are some applications you would prefer to deploy on the cloud, while your core business applications reside on SAP HANA in-house.  Either way it’s all about finding the right combination that fits your needs.
    4. Finally, whether on-premise or in the HEC, Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS) should be part of any customer’s HANA deployment decision process.  SAP has constructed many pre-packaged solutions in a box targeted at the most common HANA use cases.  Perhaps one of these RDS fits your business needs and provides a low risk, out-of-the-box approach to quickly roll out SAP HANA.  Even if the RDS only covers a portion of your business need, it may provide a stable foundation to quickly deploy business value on top of which you can then build.

Conclusion – Creating a Strategic Roadmap

And there you have it, you’re on your way to your own SAP HANA journey.  Let the business drive the need, map that to how SAP HANA solutions can help, and plan out your deployment.  Now the next question – where to go from here?  Look to create a strategic project roadmap for SAP HANA.  For example, perhaps you are an existing SAP Business Suite customer, and realize that you want to move to SAP HANA, but not just yet.  However, you recognize that in the short term you have a specific use case – say how you manage your process for analyzing cost and profitability – that you want to accelerate.  Your roadmap could start with an early phase deployment of the CO-PA accelerator, with perhaps a migration to Business Suite on SAP HANA at a later date.  Or maybe you have SAP BW deployed with Business Suite on HANA and would like to start with migrating your BW to HANA.  The key is your business drivers will feed your implementation plan, and that can all be represented through your strategic roadmap.

The HANA Journey Blog Series

Be sure to check out the second and third blogs in the series as well.  The HANA Journey (Part 2): How Do I Get Started with HANA? provides a deeper dive into the HANA topic and how customers can get started through identifying business value and developing a technical strategy.  The HANA Journey (Part 3): What are My Deployment Options? by my colleague Boris Andree closes out the series by taking a closer look at deployment options such as Cloud, on-premise, hybrid and Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS).

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  • Good overview – thank you. Would you consider elaborating on the license/maintenance cost for different strategies? This question was raised by many customers at our local ASUG meeting and TechEd, but so far I haven’t heard any answers – it’s like there is some dirty secret.

    The problem we’re facing with our business (and most likely we’re not alone) is that everyone wants bigger/faster things, but no one wants to pay for it. Or at least a significant ROI is expected, which is quite understandable actually. It’s not only SAP who wants to make a profit. 🙂

  • Nice overview.   But the world is an unforgiving place.   HANA is still 1.0, and as mentioned, it’s still evolving through service packs and trying to be everything to everyone.    There is truth to the statement about early adopters taking the greatest risk but possibly getting the greatest reward if things work out.  Do you feel lucky?

    Call me a wet blanket if you like, but relying on software that is under rapid development change for anything important should be a sobering thought for anyone considering HANA.  Has everyone forgotten about the software reliability curve?  Failures diminish over time, but each upgrade/change causes some spike that must be recovered.  It takes a while to achieve stability in a changing system.  Perhaps it takes a DB developer like myself to recognize some of the realities of how critical it is to have a DB that has a long record of stability.

    In my personal opinion:

    – I would feel comfortable recommending HANA as an accelerator, where my data is still safe in a traditional DB.  Fairly low risk here.

    – I might feel comfortable using HANA for BW, if I could rebuild the data from ERP and/or other sources in case of some problem.   But why risk it when I have a workable solution or much more easily adopted HW tech like SSD to help me improve speeds?  And I better be sure my performance bottleneck is not in the application settings or poor CPU sizing before I commit to change DBs only to find later that nothing really got better.

    – I would not feel comfortable using HANA for Business Suite for at least another couple of years (yes years) until the “under construction” signs come down, and I start seeing SD benchmarks that prove OLTP performance is at least on par with the DB I already have.  I’m already concerned enough about the “HANA inspired” ABAP changes that will be rolled out regardless of the DB.  The risk here is too high and the reward is too low for Business Suite, especially when less expensive, low risk accelerator options exist.

    Jelena’s statement can be taken one step further – it’s not just the cost  to consider against the bottom line, it’s the cost to the business if something bad happens from relying on new software that is a relative infant.  Not to mention that I wouldn’t want my head to be the one that rolls in such a case.

    • Thank you Ron for taking the time to express your comments.  I love that a blog
      like this is pulling in folks and generating thoughts and discussions.

      I also like how you structured your response, breaking down how HANA can be utilized in different ways (e.g. accelerator, BW on HANA, Suite on HANA).  I see that as consistent with how other companies have been evaluating the solution.  For some, realizing they might be ready to use HANA in one area to add value or create efficiencies, but then looking to the future and creating a roadmap on how to continue to implement it in other areas; while for others, they may see more pressing needs in the short term that drive more solutions up front.  In addition, assessing technically what HANA would mean to an organization is also an important step, which is part of what I hope to cover in future blogs.

      Best regards,


  • Thank you Tom for giving brief information about HANA but stilll i am very much confused about HANA’s performance in real world…

    Let us wait some more time to understand how HANA performs in the market…

    Hoping HANA will capture the industry like what sap’s existing inventions…



  • Thank you for this great overview. As already mentioned by Jelena it would be great to get some information about pricing because customers are interested in ROI. Of course you can not print a price list here but maybe talk about the options customers have to go their way to HANA from an economical perspective.

    Looking forward to upcoming posts

    Thanks Helmut

  • thanks a lot sir for this informative blog.But i have  a query .When we use saphana as database platform for BW are we able  to create new data marts that support short time Business initiatives?

    thanks and regards!


    • Hi Sakshi,

            There are some great new tools in BW 7.4 on HANA to support these fast moving business initiatives that may or may not need to persist long-term.  In the BW 7.4 overview here, BW 7.4 on HANA Overview and Roadmap | SCN starting on slide 5 there is an overview of the new the Agile Data Mart BW workspaces, Smart Data Access, and Open Operational Datastore layer.  With these tools you can build rapid prototypes to either support a short-term reporting need or construct a quick pilot.  If necessary you can also utilize a composite provider to join this rapid prototype information with existing BW data.


  • hello sir,

    I have a doubt which is not related to your this blog but i cant find its correct answer from anywhere so kindly help me to clear my doubt.

    What is the  typical compression rate for hana? is it 10x ?

    Thanks and Regards!


  • Thank you Tom. Everyone is talking about HANA but no full information. You have elaborated the same very precisely. Thank you for sharing it.