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Josh Greenbaum
Josh Greenbaum
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SAP's Hana Appliance Gets Apped

CEOs and line-of-business buyers will be impressed by the list of supercharged applications and a BW upgrade. Now it's up to competitors like Oracle to respond.

Other topics of note in a day crammed with noteworthy topics: Vishal also promised that Business ByDesign would eventually be running on Hana, as would SAP BusinessOne, though no precise timetable was given for when the Hana versions would be released. There was no word on when (not if, IMO) SAP plans to make the decision to move the Business Suite onto Hana.

While the full Suite's timeframe for Hana is up in the air, pretty much everything in the SAP portfolio will be Hana-ized in coming years. And those apps will be available as on-demand apps – SAP partner Medidata is already providing its clinical trial management system, running on Hana, as an on-demand application. (And doing some pretty impressive analysis of the metadata being captured by Hana.)

Also noteworthy was the announcement that SAP would be offering to migrate its existing Business Warehouse customers to Hana, a move that would not only give these customers a screamingly fast data warehouse but also significantly lower the DBA costs associated with their BW database, especially if it's an Oracle or IBM database.

This migration also gives existing BW customers a leg-up in deploying Hana apps, as they will be able to run the new Hana apps on the same Hana engine they are using for BW. Not a bad twofer in Hana's favor. Actually it's a threefer: a faster BW, lower DBA costs, and a Hana engine that can be deployed to run Hana apps.

This isn't just good for SAP's customers, it's also pretty bad for its competitors. Especially Oracle, which has bet its business on a stack strategy that SAP is trying to disintermediate with products like Hana. In addition to the possibility that Hana will replace Oracle in the BW market, the fact that it can run on standard, multiprocessor, multicore systems means that the hardware costs for Hana aren't just cheap, they are decreasingly rapidly as the market for commodity RAM and Intel's multicore processors just gets better.

Sikka noted that a high-end Hana machine his team built last year at a cost of $530,000 was down to $405,000 four months later. I won't enter the comparison pricing rate race here, as I don't have enough Hana data to go on, but these prices are likely to put Oracle's Exadata strategy on the defensive.

In the end, while the details were sparse, there was enough meat on the bone to make it clear that Hana’s future will be targeting the LOB and CEO as much as the IT department: the prospect of advanced, in-memory analytics was always a great idea in search of a critical mass of proof points. By this time next year I expect those proof points to be well ensconced in a new market that SAP is hoping to dominate. The onus is now on SAP's competition to provide some meaningful competition. The clock is ticking...

Josh Greenbaum is principal of Enterprise Applications Consulting, a Berkeley, Calif., firm that consults with end-user companies and enterprise software vendors large and small. Clients have included Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and other firms that are sometimes analyzed in his columns. Write him at

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