SAP HANA vs ORACLE Exalytics – My initial thoughts

I was in Dallas this week for some training, when ORACLE announced Exalytics. Here are my initial thoughts for whatever they are worth.

1.  In terms of vision – I think SAP scores.  SAP has clearly articulated how HANA will evolve, and they have stuck to their guns. ORCL roadmap for exalytics is not exactly clear, and since they also have exadata and others exa-systems probably coming up – they need to more clearly articulate near term and mid term roadmap. And while they do that, SAP can always tell the world that it is a validation of SAP’s strategy.  However, not all my buddies agree that SAP has the right to call in-memory as “their” strategy

2. Legacy : Both SAP and ORCL have old technologies to “draw inspiration” from . ORCL had timesten/Oracle RDMBS etc to learn from, and SAP had TREX/ P*time /MaxDb/IQ to learn from.  Despite jabs at each other that it is old technology for the other guy – neither side has a great story to nail the other in my opinion. If anything, Oracle has more DB experience than SAP – but whether the RDBMS experience is useful for in-mem computing remains to be seen.

3. The talk on collapsing layers etc – I already wrote my view on this last week So I am not going to rehash all of it.

4. Product introduction to market : SAP used SAPPHIRE and Teched to lay out their HANA story. OOW is a huge stage – and ORCL did well to use it to bring this out.Both companies used CEOs to do it, and I think SAP did an all around better job. From using social media to its advantage – I think SAP hands down beat ORCl to it.

5. Response to each other’s product :  Larry poked fun at Hasso when HANA came out. SAP returned in kind via tweets and Forbes advoice. Here – in my opinion, SAP did not do too well, especially in the Forbes advoice. In general, I think the usage of Forbes advoice does not do SAP any favors. Today morning I read a similar blog from Aiaz Kazi on SDN, which was much better.  The flurry of responses from SAP – tweets, advoice blogs, videos etc gave me an impression that Oracle touched a raw nerve.   ORCL barely mentioned SAP – they seemed to be targeting IBM and HP mostly, but SAP seemed to be the one who reacted the most. There was no need for such a hurried reaction – one statement from Vishal or Sanjay, and then a more thought out response from Bangalore or Madrid events would have been more effective in my opinion. But then, I am not a media or marketing expert .

6. Throwing hardware at the problem : if high performance is your big goal, then every layer should be owned by you. Otherwise, you cannot optimize equally for 5 different hardware offerings – even if all 5 are superior HW than Oracle’s boxes.  I buy into the argument that being open adds flexibility, but there is then the trade off for cost of integration and efficiency loss.  If cloud is where you want to take this to eventually – then it is all the more important that you own all layers – not just for technical reasons either.  So I won’t ding ORCL here – I think they are smart to integrate everything into a true appliance. SAP’s appliance concept is more loosely defined – software from SAP and HW from a partner.  Good thing is that I know customers on each side of the camp. So both models will sell – question is how many can you convert from the other side to yours.

7.  From a datamart perspective – I don’t see any big difference between Oracle and SAP. Either one can fit that.  So for current version of HANA, the only advantage for SAP is that they moved first. It won’t be difficult for ORCL to catchup and compete. But this is table stakes. Other than for branding and marketing reasons – I don’t think either company is betting the farm on data mart scenarios bringing in the next billion dollars.

8. Oracle has a cash cow DB market  they need to protect. HANA is going to threaten with taking away a small install base – the BW customers running ORCL RDBMS. And then SAP will go after a bigger install base – Business suite customers on ORCL. The current announcement does not protect ORCL in these areas.  Unless some release of ORCL in future can beat HANA in price and performance as a DB for BW and Business Suite – SAP can pretty much win that battle.  If SAP is smart about of execution, they can utilize a first mover advantage to get HANA under BW and Business suite faster, and not give enough time to ORCL.  But then – execution is not an easy game to excel.

9. Where are the killer apps ? I ranted last week on this topic from another angle . At least for now, SAP is ahead of this game. They have announced a bunch of apps, and will hopefully step up on execution and a few of them will get “killer” status.  ORCL is late to this party, and has ways to go to catchup.

I am continuing conversations with people who I respect in this space, and as i find more – I will post updates.


Published by Vijay Vijayasankar

Son/Husband/Dad/Dog Lover/Engineer. Follow me on twitter @vijayasankarv. These blogs are all my personal views - and not in way related to my employer or past employers

3 thoughts on “SAP HANA vs ORACLE Exalytics – My initial thoughts

  1. “If anything, Oracle has more DB experience than SAP – but whether the RDBMS experience is useful for in-mem computing remains to be seen.”

    Have a look at the number of corrections that were made to ORACLE because of SAP implementations, on BW or CCS for example. I would guess that SAP learn much from Oracle (and other DBMS platform) with bugs and missing features, than the competitors from their old product line. This SAP cross dbms, agnostic by nature strategy (not marketing strategy, but technological strategy) is now getting a real and noticed return.

    This strategical choice is not only SAP one, but all SAP customer and ecosystem strategy…


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