SAP HANA – a guide to Documentation and Education
Three years ago to the day, I wrote a piece lamenting the lack of obvious documentation resources for SAP HANA – Finding SAP HANA Documentation. Since then, a huge amount has changed and I think that HANA has the best documentation resources of any of the major database platforms. There is a problem though to day which is that there’s so much out there – where do you start? So I thought I’d pull all my favorite resources together in one document, to say thank you to all the people who worked so hard making things better.
Introduction to SAP HANA
If you’re looking for an introduction to SAP HANA and you have an hour or two on your hands, then go no further than Course: An Introduction to SAP HANA by Dr. Vishal Sikka. This is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) which contains videos, and tests. It’s a great technical introduction from the man who started it all.
Education is a wonderful topic, because everyone learns differently. If classroom learning is your thing, then SAP Education have a selection of courses available here. They also have an online offering called the SAP Learning Hub, that offers much of the same education, but online. SAP Education have come a long way – their content is usually one HANA SP behind (currently teaching SP07) but that’s not critical.
If you’re a software developer then you should visit Course: Introduction to Software Development on SAP HANA. This is another MOOC, presented by HANA Distinguished Engineer Thomas Jung and it will take around 40 hours of your time to complete. It’s worth every minute.
If you want bite-size videos then check out the SAP HANA Academy. This is an awesome resource with a metric ton of 5-10 minute videos on every HANA topic conceivable.
I hosted the first Codejam with Craig Cmehil and there have now been hundreds. There is a schedule of events; Codejam is a get together where developers can learn and code. There’s no cost to attend, which is awesome.
Don’t forget SAP’s premier learning conference, SAP TechEd && d-code, which runs in the fall. SAP Insider also run a set of events around the world called HANA 2015 which are good quality, customer-centric technical conferences.
The reason why I haven’t written a book on HANA, and the reason why I’m generally not a big fan of them, is because HANA evolves quickly, and it would require a substantial rewrite every 6 months. For example one major book on HANA was last updated in May 2013, which means that a lot of screenshots and sections are out of date.
However, there are a few exceptions. First, Hasso Plattner’s excellent In-Memory Data Management: Technology and Applications is the seminary work on SAP HANA, and well worth a read. It moves quickly from business to technology and back again, but so long as you don’t mind this, it’s a great read.
Second up is Jeffrey Word‘s SAP HANA Essentials. Jeff is a HANA Evangelist and author for SAP, and this book is on its 5th Edition and up to date. Last but not least is Lars Breddemann and Richard Bremer‘s forthcoming book, SAP HANA Administration. It’s not been released yet and I’ve not read it, but it should be good.
Want to get started with HANA? SAP created the SAP HANA Developer Center to help you get started, thanks to the hard work from Craig Cmehil, Thomas Grassl and team, and a shout out to Anne Hardy and Juergen Schmerder who were instrumental in getting the developer license turned into a click-through, and getting the developer center to where it is. Without this we would be nowhere. You can get a free 1GB developer environment from SAP, or you can pay SAP, Amazon, Microsoft, or others to host a cloud-based system for you.
There’s still no server download available unless you pay SAP for a Test & Demo license, which is a shame. However you can now download Eclipse Kepler and install the HANA and ABAP tools. This works great on PC, Mac and Linux.
The documentation has now been pulled together into a single documentation portal at SAP HANA Platform – SAP Help Portal Page. It contains many different PDFs for each of the various engines of SAP HANA, for everything from architecture, installation, development, security and beyond. In general it’s updated with every SP release – twice a year.
It’s not perfect – for instance it’s lots of separate guides rather than one big book, and it’s not all HTML – much of it is PDF-only. So what I do twice a year, is to download all the documents to my Mac. Then I can search and index them online and offline.
SAP have created a FAQ for HANA here. It’s quite technical and has a lot of links so is tricky to follow, but contains lots of useful information. There’s also the BW on HANA FAQ and Business Suite on HANA FAQ which you may find interesting.
Andy Silvey has curated The SAP Hana Reference for SAP Basis Administrators, which is a great read.
If you’re interested in hardware there’s currently two locations – PAM (login required), for Intel Westmere-EX based systems (older systems) and SAP Certified Appliance Hardware for SAP HANA for newer Ivy Bridge systems. It’s not ideal but it helps. I also wrote How much does a SAP HANA appliance really cost? for those negotiating with hardware vendors.
SAP HANA Websites
SAP HANA Use Cases
There is a SAP HANA Use Case Repository at saphana.com as well as a value calculator. In a recent ASUG Survey, this is the #1 pain point for customers, so you can expect SAP to focus on this heavily over the next year.
SAP HANA People
There are a few people whom I always try to follow. Unfortunately the saphana.com website makes this hard because they haven’t enabled the Jive functionality for following, or people content pages like on SCN. Actually I figured out how to do this based on how SCN works. Enjoy!
- SAP founder hasso plattner now blogs on saphana.com and his content is honest and refreshing, like The Impact of Aggregates, Massive Simplification: Case of SAP Financials on HANA, and Hasso Plattner Blog. Always check out his comments section, they are a treasure trove. Love that Hasso’s employee number is D000002. Wonder who #1 was.
- SAP president Steve Lucas blogs both here and on saphana.com. Steve’s content is focussed at the 10,000ft level, which many will like, for example Not All “In-Memory” is Created Equal.
- And finally you might enjoy my content – John Appleby (SCN) and John Appleby (saphana.com). You’re reading it right now!
To add to this, I’ve added some specific technology blogs:
The SAP HANA Distinguished Engineer Program rewards the top HANA practitioners with the status of HANA Distinguished Engineer, or HDE. Their content appears in the HDE Space on SCN, neatly collected in once place.
Thomas Zurek is a perennial favorite of mine, and he runs the BW development team at SAP, so that’s his focus.
Lars Breddemann is another firm favorite, writing on technology elements of HANA.
SAP Mentor Carsten Nitschke writes thought-provoking and interesting content, working within the EMEA Center of Excellent at SAP.
The R&D behind HANA comes from hasso plattner‘s research – HPI – at the University of Pottsdam, and at SAP’s internal R&D department headed by Franz Faerber. Franz has released a number of fascinating research papers to SIGMOD, if you’re interested in that kind of thing. Most of these articles are tough to find, so I hope you enjoy them!
This is probably definitely an incomplete work, so please go ahead and tell me what I missed.
One thing I wanted to bring up is the changes I would like to see here. HANA is a journey, and we’re not at the end by a long way, and there’s plenty of work to do:
– Unify and simplify the web experience. There are still quite a few HANA web assets like In-Memory Business Data and Technology – In-Memory Business Data Management – SCN Wiki that just need to go. There are still too many SCN and saphana.com spaces, and content is very hard to find on saphana.com unless it’s featured or linked.
– Change the way documentation is done. I love how UNIX went about this – they built the manual ‘man’ into the application, which means it’s so easy to find out how to use a command on that particular system. UNIX made a mess of standards and every system/command behaves differently, which isn’t something to aspire to. HANA has a web engine, and Thomas Jung and Rich Heilman built an app which allows documentation/training. Why not embed the HANA documentation into the HANA database.
– Focus on the Use Cases and Business Cases. This was the #1 feedback from a recent ASUG Survey.