2011 was when HANA hype was on over drive – it was along the lines of “HANA will solve world hunger by feeding entire generations on perceived future business value” . Every where I mentioned HANA, customers were pushing back with raised eyebrows. That did not stop SAP from selling HANA though. SAP customers do not typically buy licenses piecemeal – they buy a basket of stuff, and apparently HANA was in a lot of baskets, especially in the last quarter. This is not unusual buying behavior – it is the norm.
And then 2011 ran out. When I came back from vacation, I was amazed with the demand for big ERP projects. And right on its heels, came demand for HANA projects. Not isolated demands – many customers, some of them VERY big names – are now sufficiently intrigued to start pilots for HANA. To say the least, it has taken me by surprise – the pleasant kind.
There is a huge amount of misinformation on HANA that has been spread knowingly or unknowingly in 2011. I think the first half of 2012 will be spent setting expectations straight.
A very common scenario I am running into these days is customers that have custom built data warehouses in Oracle or SQL Server. These have thousands of Stored procedures etc. They want to find out how to migrate this over to HANA. Or more specifically – they want to know if there is a way to semi-automate the conversion of SQL of existing solutions to HANA’s SQL. If they cannot do that – the cost of re-inventing the solution in HANA from scratch is not something they seem to have an appetite for. I have pinged SAP to ask what they think about this. If you know the answer – please post a comment.
Another common question – “so we buy HANA as a datamart, then put HANA under BW as DB, and then under ECC – will this all sit in one appliance? do we need to buy more and more licenses and hardware?”. So far I have not had to explicitly answer this question. Funny enough – they look at the expression on my face and deduce the right answer magically :)
Basis experts invariably ask me “hey can we virtualize HANA? Can you put it on a cloud and offer us as a service? When will SAP support non-intel processors and other OS? ” . My answer usually is to point them to existing documentation. If they persist, I show them the installation files and how it can be hacked. That is the best way to deal with techies , right?
Landscape Sizing, HA and DR are all high on CIO agenda – they just want assurances that they can safely deploy this in production. This is a lot more easier now to answer than even a few months ago, since there are more options available, and we have more experience with sizing. This is also where people start getting an idea of the real cost in putting up a HANA system – and there is always an aha moment.
The other half of the aha moment comes from clients understanding there is no one HANA consultant who makes the system stand up and work. SAP started off by saying “HANA is an appliance” – and that is partly to blame for this. An appliance is like a fridge or a wireless router – you buy from a store, bring it home and it starts working after it is powered on with very few instructions. HANA is not a true appliance in that sense- and once customers get that, they realize it is like every other project. HANA needs multiple skills to pull off successfully – data modelling, BOBJ, Admin/security, ETL etc.
BW on HANA has captured the attention of several customers. SAP is doing a good job pushing it in the field. I met several field sales people at FKOM, and was amazed to see how pumped up they are to sell HANA. But more than BW itself – a lot of customers are waiting for BPC to work on HANA. I was not very pleased with the BOBJ integration with HANA initially, but it has improved and I know more improvements are planned. It is best for SAP to nail it before customers start several projects in parallel and stress out SAP support.
Many of my customers – and me too – are waiting eagerly to see how many companies will SAP parade at SAPPHIRE as live on HANA , especially for the BW case. If SAP shows a large number of customers on the key note stage, then we should have a great HANA year in 2012. Towards middle of the year, I think many more HANA projects will start – and not just small pilots. And If SAP does come out with ECC on HANA by end of the year, it will be an excellent shot in the arm. 2012 could well ramp into a terrific 2013 for HANA.