Last April, more than 1,000 customers, as part of a joint ASUG and SAP survey, answered the question, “Does your company plan to implement HANA within the next two years?”
Forty percent answered yes, 22 percent answered no, and 37 percent replied that they didn’t know yet.
Respondents named the chief reasons for why they weren’t implementing as due to budgetary concerns and the product being too immature.
While the advent of being able to run HANA on non-proprietary hardware, as well the HANA Cloud programs such as HANA One on AWS, have softened the stance a bit, cost remains a concern, according to several discussions with customers at SAP TechEd 2013 in Las Vegas.
But the answer to the HANA maturity question is now, about six months later, a bit more mixed—especially as HANA has gained a respectable customer base to help convince customers of its maturity (SAP says there are 1,300 implementations to date). One of those customers being SAP itself.
We learned at SAP TechEd that SAP has migrated its entire global ERP instance, with 65,000 users, from IBM DB2 to HANA. In the process, it reduced an 8 terabyte database to 2 terabytes, developing tools and services to weed out unnecessary and redundant code in the process.
Addressing Customers’ HANA Concerns
SAP’s Martin Heisig, SVP of HANA Cloud, told SAP’s HANA story several times during the week. He himself was even skeptical about the timeline (see slide below) to which the company would move all of its ERP systems to HANA.
Customers conveyed that same impression in his meetings, and centered their questions on high availability for SAP HANA and the skills needed to run HANA. High availability is actually improved with SAP HANA, Heisig claims, and upskilling those on staff to run HANA isn’t a major task.
“If you have an experienced DBA, this person can easily be brought up to speed in managing HANA,” he says, adding that he was able to upskill his current DBAs with the SAP HANA training classes and working in the sandbox system first.
Customers also came to him with the cost concerns. His answer? The reduction from a 6 terabyte database required less storage, and therefore, less money in the long run.
“But the real cost-savings perspective is that you see so many performance improvements in different transactions, and it’s really helping us a lot,” he said, pointing to the slide you see below.
“He Was Falling Off His Chair”
Heisig singles out COPA as an example. SAP has 175 different cost hierarchies (yes, 175), segmented by industry, customer segment and company. To run a report to distribute cost and profits around those 175 hierarchies took two days and two nights. With HANA, it runs in minutes.
When they showed it to one of the control and finance people, he couldn’t believe it. “He was falling off his chair,” Heisig says.
Heisig says the benefits of putting the ERP system on HANA don’t come only from the replacement of the database, but from pushing business logic into the database layer.
SAP itself even had trouble shuffling data between systems. Now, they have reduced data extractions to BW, because the reporting can be done in the transactional systems.
“I’m excited because my job will be easier,” Heisig says.