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Author's profile photo Thorsten Franz

openHANA. openHANA. openHANA.

Okay, this may seem like a ludicrous idea at first sight, but what if SAP released a free version of SAP HANA? Please let me introduce to you the concept of openHANA. The idea is based on the Freemium concept (

What would differentiate openHANA from SAP HANA:

  • Free to use
  • Contains 90% of the functionality of SAP HANA
  • No support from SAP and third-party vendors
  • No OpenSource model – no branching, no community development model
  • Not certified as the primary database of SAP Business Suite or Business Warehouse
  • Fewer restrictions for the hardware configuration – therefore available on much cheaper hardware
  • Supports more virtualization options
  • All software developed on openHANA runs on SAP HANA
  • Easy license upgrade to SAP HANA when running on certified hardware

Img.: Insert coin to continue

What would happen?

  • Skyrocketing adoption as openHANA would enter the LAMP market segment – HAL as HANA-Apache-Linux
  • Proliferation of SQLscript, RDE, and other HANA-related skills in the market
  • Most usage scenarios that today require a fully licensed SAP HANA would still require that, so openHANA would not cannibalize on SAP HANA’s market but widen it
  • New HANA customers would start with a low-risk, low-cost investment in openHANA, develop custom applications (such as custom sidecar-based accelerators and stand-alone applications) and port their existing non-SAP database applications to openHANA – and later they would upgrade to SAP HANA to get the full support or the extra 10% of features
  • Customers who are now skeptical or unimaginative would get hooked on the speed and performance of HANA – the performance of HANA would become the expected standard and not be something you know exists somewhere but is out of reach, like a $ 1 Million Bugatti car
  • The ecosystem for apps that run on HANA and add-ons to HANA (e.g. data center tools, integrations) would bloom as the market for those third-party vendors would be so much bigger thanks to openHANA – and each of these third-party tools would add value to SAP HANA
  • Third-party vendors could even be required to couple their freemium model to HANA’s freemium model: e.g. the third-party tool is free to use on openHANA but enterprise-grade support is only available when it runs on SAP HANA

Basically, openHANA would target customers for whom HANA is currently too expensive in combination with the overall migration and integration effort, and it would be a slippery slope that would allow these customers to whom HANA is currently out of the question to adopt HANA’s “little brother” now and end up with the full-blown project later on. And it would change the situation for many third-party software vendors who today hesitate to develop software for HANA because the market is too small.

Dear SAP, please think about this long and hard and let me and the community know what you think. Preferably during the keynote of SAPPHIRENOW 2015. ☺

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      Author's profile photo Jason Scott
      Jason Scott

      I couldn't agree with you more Thorsten - Please SAP -> READ THIS!

      Author's profile photo Lars Breddemann
      Lars Breddemann

      Hey Thorsten,

      no need to comment on the quality of the post - great as usual from you.

      And personally I also like to see a broader SAP HANA adoption, no question about that.

      What I wonder though is: why do you think the things you listed will happen?

      I have not seen yet too many people stating "we definitively would change to SAP HANA development  if only it was free" - but wouldn't that be the prerequisite for your first point to happen? Queues around the block to get hands on the free stuff?

      Why is there not far more demand or interest for that?

      I recall the open source episode of SAP MaxDB. Barely any contributors and not really increased adoption, although the transaction handling was much more advanced than e.g. mySQL's at this time.

      I suspect that it really is not all about the financial costs here.

      Or is it?



      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby

      Hey Lars,

      I have long believed that HANA should be available for developer download for free, including a Windows edition. I think developers are still more likely to buy a 16/32GB machine and install HANA then spend $2-300 a month on a cloud instance.

      And there have long been rumors of Open Sourcing HANA, in a MongoDB style. I doubt that will happen though now.

      I'm not certain about the value of providing a FOC version of HANA. The OpenSource community have a problem with SAP, and I'm not certain that it would be adopted, especially if it were a closed source program.



      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      I think a freemium version is table stakes in the database game (MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server Express, etc.) as well as the app platform game. I get SAP wanting to get a big bite when HANA first came out, but if they really want to expand into the top 2 database providers, they are going to have to open up a bit.

      Author's profile photo Lars Breddemann
      Lars Breddemann

      Phew... I thought I was the only one constantly mixing up then/than 🙂

      Look, I also am all for developer enablement and providing the tools without charge.

      What I am questioning though is the often assumed effect that this will have.

      As pointed by Jelena Perfiljeva  so eloquently, free of charge is not actually 'free' from a business continuity point of view.

      How exactly did the free offerings help the other platform vendors to expand market share? Honestly, I am not too sure about that.

      Thinking about how to get more customers into adopting SAP HANA (and thereby creating the market for future work for basically every member of this community) doesn't get me to a good answer. Clearly, I'm not a sales person...

      Considering the current strategy of SAP as I understand it, I tend to believe that SAP HANA really is viewed as the platform to build applications/services on, which then will be offered to customers. So, even though the platform is distributed in the classic DBMS market, I think the real offering of SAP is still business knowledge and expertise.

      To help customers to do their business better. With less distractions. Something along these lines.

      - Lars

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      John Appleby wrote:

      I think developers are still more likely to buy a 16/32GB machine and install HANA then spend $2-300 a month on a cloud instance.

      Exactly! Both financially and technically "cloud" would likely resrict access to the developed countries only. And it wouldn't be very "open", would it?

      Author's profile photo Joao Sousa
      Joao Sousa

      African countries have money but the cloud here is a myth. Noone will seriously consider it, and its an emerging market with a lot of growth potential, This year alone I have had two full implementations of IS Retail, which is rarer in Europe.

      Author's profile photo Kumar Mayuresh
      Kumar Mayuresh

      Hi Thorsten,

      Another master piece from you.  I hope it happens soon.


      Kumar 🙂

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Thorsten, you are obviously way ahead of me on the technical aspects, but in general I like the concept and agree with you. It's not a secret that there has been the whole cottage industry of consulting companies etc. built around the SAP products and it would only make sense to continue that with HANA.

      Having better/easier access to DB would allow even the independent developers to enter the market with their apps. In turn, having those apps would make the platform itself more appealing. That's already been happening in, say, Apple and Android device market, so hardly any proof of concept is needed.

      And if some cheeky startup gets too way ahead (as might happen with Thorsten's own business 😉 ), SAP could just buy them, no?

      Author's profile photo Lars Breddemann
      Lars Breddemann

      Sorry, but as I understand it the Apple/Android App market works because of in-APP ads and sales.

      That's what is getting the App-Developers some money and that's a major driver for participation there.

      (When talking about APP-Development one cannot really say it's 'free'... the APP releases are censored, it's expensive to get access to the next version of the platform to develop on. And developing countries aren't treated any different in that model, are they?)

      Providing the development environment for no extra charge is probably not the one single cause of developer community involvement.

      Again, I'm all for making tools and know-how available, but I think that the ideas presented here are  bit too simplistic and deserve to get some reasoning.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Thorsten,

      good to see you 'back' on SCN.

      i gather this is basically about the meaning of the word 'free' especially when used in the world of commerce, small and large. nothing is really free all the time and to
      everyone, but only to some and for a limited time. i know it's kind of obvious,
      but anyway.

      having said that, we shouldn't stop asking for 'free stuff' (remember Fiori?) nor should SAP stop offering 'free stuff' (HANA developer license or openSAP classes), so it all comes down to how much free for what and to whom. i agree with your initiative of segmentation to tailor HANA cost to smaller accounts and i'm all for it, but i would also like to work my way up from the 'free' cloud to a 'reasonable cost' on the cloud.

      here's what i mean. we've been stuck for some time now (a year?) with 68+ GB on Amazon cloud which has been quite affordable when spot prices are being used.

      i understand the competitive pressure of SAP offering its own cloud and not really interested in driving more business to Amazon or what's worse getting dependent on it, but why is it so hard to bump the offering up to, let's say, 140GB?

      if we really want to create an impression that RAM is all that cheap then let's work our way up, especially now that HANA is much more adopted and mature than it was only a year ago.

      is that too much to ask? mind you, i don't want it to be free, but only affordable to the smallest of accounts like us, not even foot-soldiers, but still depending on the ecosystem. once we grow in size, we can revisit the cost, of course.

      sorry for being very narrow-minded about this and using your blog to articulate my interest, but blogging and commenting seems the only effective way we can hope for a change here.



      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby

      Hey Greg,

      You don't say what you require, but there are for sure options available.

      But if you want a larger developer instance then SAP has IaaS available for $1600/month for 128GB. AWS have 244G-1.2TB instances available too now at $2.80/h for 244GB. In both cases you may need a dev/test license for SAP for this, but that's not expensive.

      Does this help you?


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi John,

      yes, it helps and while this 'other' thread goes bonkers with dresses and the like, i think Thorsten's blog and this thread stands a better chance of being heard.

      here's my POV: last month, i spent 1.3% for more than 53% of RAM and could afford forgetting about the running instance for a night or two. with the current asking price for 128GB i would bust my annual budget as soon as i sign up for the offer and bring the instance up, so the economics are stacked up against me, a single (semi-)developer without a corporate backing. maybe others can afford more or their clients wouldn't mind, but both Thorsten and Jelena and their clients may express a similar frustration with a paywall like this.

      don't get me wrong, i love HANA, i think of it as a great product, appreciate the work you, Lars, and Thomas have been doing for the community and i do understand that anyone in the financial industry would laugh if you ever quoted those lower price points.



      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby

      So what's the problem with the 64GB AWS instance for your purposes? As a single developer it should work OK? Do you find yourself with OOM problems?

      By the way not everyone in the FS industry has deep pockets. I'm currently working with a few customers on smaller HANA systems which are quite affordable!

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member


      nice balancing act between this and other blog sites and twitter to boot. there's no problem with 64GB just like there's no problem with the instance 75% smaller than that. OOM does happen, but so does ST22 in the ECC world.

      my take is that there's no plan to prop up AWS, but HCP may work its way up from the current 'freebie' of 1GB.

      at the moment, all i can say is that i can run HANA in the cloud at 99% discount, but that would be hardly a recommendation to my clients, either with deep or not so deep pockets.



      Author's profile photo Wilson Kurian
      Wilson Kurian

      Hello everyone,

      The idea behind freemium is good but why would SAP provide a high value product free? Why does someone pay a price for a product which is available at a cheaper cost or maybe free? Because it provides value to you and to your business. HANA is not just about fast database but there is lots more to it and there is a lot of IP involved in it. Currently around 1000 + partners have applications running on HANA and the numbers are increasing. There could be only 2 reasons - the value and innovation it provides is of great significance that there is a good possibility that the applications are highly successful.

      Recently SAP came up with a new type of license only for the developer community which has the bear minimum base edition version and then you can top it up with optional features depending on what you intend to develop and use.

      Secondly AWS is cheap and if it adds value then developers will pay the minimum price. Also the HANA HW price is decreasing and virtualization options are increasing. I agree with the point that the cloud providers should offer little more RAM for the price. Eventually this will come....

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby

      Sorry Wilson I must correct you here. The reason for HANA to be initially available only in Enterprise Edition with all features included is because SAP's leadership at that time wanted a very simple price model, with few SKUs, so it was easy for customers and salespeople to understand.

      However customers have been complaining that they are paying for features they do not need and do not want, and this meant they were unable (in some cases) to build a business case.

      HANA Base Edition is a response to that, which provides the core DB and services. This means if you don't need Geo-Spatial, Predictive, Text, Search, etc., then you can buy HANA without them for a fraction of the cost, and trade up later. HANA Base Edition is available in any size, with the usual 10 unit accretive pricing model. Ironically, it is a move away from the simple license model which SAP first espoused, but that's life.

      Also... don't kid yourself, AWS isn't cheap, unless you manage it very carefully. A HANA system left on can easily rack up $3000/month in AWS fees. Ironically, the SAP HANA Cloud Platform is available as IaaS for $1500/month for 128GB, which is much better value.

      One thing I look forward to is the potential allowance of Intel E5 CPUs for Dev/Test. This will totally push the price down for developers because it would mean HANA would be supported on my Mac Mini, finally.

      Author's profile photo Wilson Kurian
      Wilson Kurian


      I agree with you on the pricing models, they are complex and they do keep changing but it means SAP is responding to the needs of the community. The base edition is the first step towards socializing HANA adoption in the more serious developer community.

      Secondly I would also like to point out that SAP University alliances has special HANA offerings for universities and students willing to learn & develop.

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby

      I don't understand the link between Base Edition and developers. I have a number of customers looking at Base and none of them are developers. It may just be a terminology thing!

      Base is great because if you just need tables, views and XS then it slashes the entry point. That covers a lot of initial scenarios for customers. They can always upgrade later.

      Author's profile photo Henrique Pinto
      Henrique Pinto

      Base Edition is equivalent to Oracle Standard Edition (not feature wise, of course, but use case-wise). It is necessary from a market positioning perspective, but I agree it ain't appealing to a dev audience.

      But I kinda disagree AWS isn't. We're not talking about PRD-ish SLAs here (which are the major roadblocks to Cloud adoption) but mainly easy-to-consume instances for prototyping & testing. And that much can be done on a cloud instance no matter where you are in the world. The only latency issue you'd had would be when you sync your local project in HANA Studio with the server, and it wouldn't be such a pain as to make it unviable. If AWS pricing model isn't fit for your needs, go with someone else. Cloudshare has a flat 137 bucks per month rate. Really, it's cheaper than if you buy a server of your own that's gonna need to be replaced in 3 years anyway.

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby

      I hear you but HANA Base has many features in Oracle EE and beyond!

      - No CPU or other limits

      - OLAP

      - Partitions

      - HA/DR

      Author's profile photo Henrique Pinto
      Henrique Pinto

      Yes it does. 🙂

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      isn't cloudshare discontinued or has someone brought it back? any thoughts on why AWS remains stuck at 68.1GB?

      i think i know the answer but i could be wrong.

      Author's profile photo Henrique Pinto
      Henrique Pinto

      hmm not sure about Cloudshare, it's still on the list of available providers though.

      SAP HANA Developer Edition

      PT (Portugal Telecom) has a similar flat rate model, starting at 159 usd/month.

      Author's profile photo Joao Sousa
      Joao Sousa

      PT is very competitive for a flat rate.

      Author's profile photo Florian Henninger
      Florian Henninger

      Wouldn't it also a step forward to offer hana to the same conditions than a "normal" system would cost?

      I mean, if you develop something really cool and you want to earn money with it, it's ok in my opinion.

      Just a thought of mine I would add here.


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Thorsten / all - as usual great suggestions and great discussion here

      1) We are working on a free downloadable VM targeted for dev purposes for startups / app dev audience via HANA Marketplace. Soonish!

      2) For HCP - Steve Lucas / Prakash Darji are listening we are fast at work to get you either a free tier or affordable per user pricing that is soft on the wallet post HANA SP9.

      openHANA can happen as we march along these steps.



      Author's profile photo Martin Maruskin
      Martin Maruskin

      Hi Amit,

      .. free downloadable VM targeted for dev purposes for startups / app dev audience..

      Does this include also developers, students and other enthusiast that just want to simply try HANA?



      Author's profile photo Nigel James
      Nigel James

      I like where you are going here and I understand John's points. As a standalone developer I don't have $1500/ a month even unless I had a client with a definite use case.

      And here is the rub. I can spin up a Digital Ocean droplet for $5 a month and do a POC with a LAMP stack and forget about it and when I need to scale it up I can do so really quickly.

      I think Thorsten is right. If Hana Server Express was available it could develop skills in the market place and drive use cases and adoption.



      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member


      Digital Ocean just priced itself out of the market (max 64GB @ $.952/hour), but if they read this and check what Amazon is doing they may try to talk SAP into something that all of us are trying to say here.

      btw, there's a joke about free droplets: a guy walks into a bar and asks how much a drop of beer would cost and when he gets the answer 'it's free', he then asks 'please give me the the beer jug full of drops'.

      so, let's forget scaling out and play with limited datasets until further notice or when all the notes are patched in.