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Author's profile photo Graham Robinson

SAP TechEd & HANA Express Edition

I am currently recovering from the annual trip to SAP TechEd in Las Vegas.

As always it was great to catch up with lots of friends in the SAP ecosystem – and to make some new ones. The show is a highlight for the SAP techie community and this year they celebrated the 20th SAP TechEd in North America.

Generally speaking those going to their first or second TechEd thought the show was great. Those with more TechEd experience were less enthusiastic – the best adjective I can come up with to describe the show is “subdued”.

In evaluating the success of TechEd 2016 there are many facets that need to be considered – but there are two obvious issues that changed the feel of the event.

Firstly, the exhibition was down in the basement of the Sands Convention Centre. Apparently SAP lost their priority at the venue for a couple of years and this forced this change and also the move to earlier in the calendar. This meant a longer transit from break-out rooms to exhibition, but the biggest impact was on noise levels. The lower ceiling meant that the acoustics on the exhibition floor was awful. The worst of this was borne by the presenters in the Expert Networking booths where they had to fight to be heard over those at the adjacent booth. Attendees tended to group around the nearest loud speaker to hear what was happening and it was almost impossible to hear questions being asked. I spent a lot of time in the Mentor room, which was located on the show floor, and it was pretty bad there too. We also had the additional noise from the catering staff on the other side of a thin partition as well.

The second issue was that SAP TechEd coincided with Oracle Open World in San Francisco. This meant that SAP have held back most announcements until SAP TechEd Barcelona in November. The usual members of the press and analyst community were not in Las Vegas and their presence was missed.

One announcement that was made was the availability of SAP HANA Express Edition – press release here. This is a downloadable version of the HANA in-memory platform that can be installed pretty much anywhere you want to install it. See for details.


There is a binary installation package you can install on commodity hardware, desktops, laptops or on IaaS virtual machines such as those provided by Amazon, Microsoft & others.

There is also a platform independent version delivered as a VMware image you can install on your Windows or Mac machine. This is the simplest install for most people.

SAP have positioned SAP HANA Express Edition to provide developers with “ubiquitous access to the SAP HANA platform to build applications free of charge on a laptop or desktop, or in the cloud”.

That’s right – free of charge. You can use SAP HANA Express Edition to develop and deploy production applications for free that use up to 32 GB of memory. If you need to go beyond that you need to start paying – but 32 GB is a significant size in the HANA in-memory world where database compression reduces database size significantly. In one of the TechEd keynotes Lenovo told us how they took a 33 TB database and compressed it to 4 TB on a HANA database.

There are also some other restrictions around the data source you use – you cannot use “SAP data”. I take this to mean you can’t grab your ERP data and use that – but you can certainly take one of your existing datasets and go nuts with it.

The version of SAP HANA that comes with Express Edition is “streamlined” which means it doesn’t contain all HANA features – but it does contain most of them. As you would expect with a license that limits DB size things like clustering, data replication, data tiering and many integration services – including Hadoop – are excluded. But there is still plenty there to build meaningful applications with.


While SAP have targeted this product at the developer community I think this is welcome news for the system administration people as well. Now you have a HANA package you can install, patch, start, stop, backup, restore, stress test, etc. Many system administrators know HANA is on their roadmap but up until now have not been able to get access to a sandbox system to update their skills and experience. SAP HANA Express addresses this need.

So a subdued TechEd also meant a subdued announcement of SAP HANA Express Edition. But developers and system administrators should take notice.

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      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Great blog, Graham, and good point. I'm usually the least excited person about all the SAP announcements but even I'd be interested in checking out this express edition. If anything, it might allow me to put HANA keyword on a resume without waiting for the employer to come around. Also I'm a sucker for free stuff! 🙂

      Could not agree more on the basement location - way too much noise. I noted the same in my blog and Susan Keohan agreed in the comments as well. In the mentor room it was hard to hear even a person across the table. Networking sessions have always been difficult to hear but never as bad as this time.

      Author's profile photo Susan Keohan
      Susan Keohan


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Jelena,

      if you consider spending $600 (+RAM) on new hardware and possibly on another copy of Windows then i would not consider it free as most laptops won't be able to run it at acceptable speeds.

      it has a nice virtualization of Linux in Windows even if HANA gets sluggish at below 16GB, but i still like it.

      good reporting from you and Graham on the event.

      Thanks, greg

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Well, it's as "free" as any free SAP product. 🙂 E.g, we are yet to take advantage of the "free" Fiori or Personas because first we need to update our system to certain EHP/SPS and a bill for that from our hosting provider is in 5 digits plus internal project costs.

      Author's profile photo Jon Reed
      Jon Reed

      Hi Graham et al... missed y'all in Vegas. SAP is doing a media program at SAP TechEd Barcelona so some of the media members missed by some and not others (like me lol) will be there.

      This is a good update and based on the talks you and I have had on what SAP should be doing for developers this seems to cross off a lot more boxes I know you look for than simply the online cloud trial. So - HANA Express looks like a solid approach.

      Question for you: HANA Express appears to give individual developers the chance not just to learn but to actually build a HANA app. Putting aside for the moment that SAP's app store approach is either discombobulated or not quite there yet, do you feel that if you had an idea for an app, HANA Express gives you the tools and licensing you need to take an app to market?

      Granted, the app still has to be sold, no minor feat, but in theory could you build HANA apps with HANA Express and sell them to your clients based on what you've seen so far? Or are there more steps needed on the commercial side? Obviously if the app was successful and grew in scope you might need to pay more, join SAP Partner Edge etc, but would this now make a viable launch point for entrepreneurial developers with fire in the belly?



      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Jon, it seems like you are conditioning the answer by removing some very important factors here. 🙂 I'm not really in the loop on the HANA app development but IMHO having a potential market for the app and ability to sell it are very important parts of the equation. Does HANA Express give someone who has a decent idea for an app and skills to build it a better tool than they had before? Probably yes. Is there someone out there sitting on the Angry Birds of the ERP world going "oh man, if only I had HANA Express I could sell this!" Probably not.

      The sale and demand part that we are setting aside is (again IMHO) what can make it or break it. E.g. my corporate phone headset broke back in April and I'm still waiting for a replacement. I guess someone needs to approve a purchase requisition. Our laptops are stuffed with corporate spyware to the point that renders them almost useless. The password reset requirements are paranoid. Selling an app to the companies like that would be extremely difficult, especially for an individual developer. Enterprise software market has been notoriously difficult to penetrate. Will HANA Express make a dent? Not a huge one. It's a step in the right direction for sure but it's far from the end of journey.

      Author's profile photo Jon Reed
      Jon Reed

      Jelena I don't disagree that the go to market part is a challenge. It's not just SAP's own struggle to build an app store, or, one app store instead of a confusing proliferation, it's also as you say getting in front of customers. The reason I am narrowing the question in this manner is because Graham and I have had longstanding talks about this.

      Graham HAS built applications that he has sold to clients, and he is an individual developer 🙂 . However with a lot of new SAP technology the licensing issues have simply been a deterrent/impediment to actually using that technology to build the app.. That's the part I am asking about here - has that been solved in this case to Graham's satisfaction. There's a history around those licensing discussions which is why I'm curious to get an update on that aspect. Ideally, a solution like this should have licenses that protect SAP but also protect the individual developer's IP out of the box. There are many inside SAP who have worked hard to get closer on that.

      The sales and demand part are another piece of the discussion. But if developers like Graham aren't confident in the licensing then that's a show stopper in terms of building apps customers may eventually purchase (perhaps through a deal with a larger partner, or an app store, etc). And for someone like Graham who has sold applications to clients, that does matter.

      p.s. And in terms of making go-to-market easier for individual developers, I wrote SAP leadership an email on that very topic this summer (focused on the HANA Cloud Platform in that case). But, I didn't want to write an essay in Graham's blog thread.

      - Jon

      Author's profile photo Jon Reed
      Jon Reed

      on a totally different note Jelena, really enjoyed your TechEd blogs, almost felt like I was there!!!!!!!!  Alas....

      Author's profile photo Graham Robinson
      Graham Robinson
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for your questions Jon. I think my response justifies another post - Thoughts on SAP HANA Express


      Graham Robbo