The HANA Question – How You Can Influence The Future

(By Mike Raftery)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or in a high walled cube for the last 3 or so years, you know that there is a big change coming from SAP called HANA. It’s been so prevalent that it feels like any promotional material or PowerPoint generated by SAP must meet a minimum quota of “cloud,” “big data,” and “HANA” references for it to be approved. And still it seems to be a monumental challenge for any organization to digest.

While at the ASUG/SAPPHIRE conference, the pitches for HANA were fine, but it was rare to talk to someone who had actually seen these solutions in the wild. The general commentary I heard went something like this: “I get it, it’s very cool technology. However I’m still trying to keep ECC 7.0 alive over here, and I doubt anyone has the stamina to go through that project again.”

I feel like it is this concept of “HANA as another ECC project” that has everyone looking the other way when it comes to their next SAP project, in order to avoid the topic altogether. In fact, this is the exact wrong stance to take. SAP, in more ways than one, is definitely at a turning point, and as an SAP customer, so are you. So take advantage of this opportunity to get out ahead of the pack and influence its direction.

SAP spent many years and countless resources developing this technology but it’s not “mainstream” yet. That provides a unique opportunity for the customer to influence its direction. It feels to me that SAP is a company that is currently in the throes of figuring out how to regain their investment in HANA by doing everything they can to move the solution from “cutting edge” to “mainstream.” Making that change requires a change in tone. The HANA solution needs to be seen as a given, an inevitable change in the near future, not some prototype of tomorrow. It was this change in tone that I felt while walking the floor, and that was different than years past.

It’s clear that customers and partners now need to see HANA as the inevitable, whether they want it to be or not. The reality is that the strategy of acceptance, preparation, and mobilization for HANA should be your next step. There needs to be a sense of reality that this is happening and we need to start getting ready for it. So how do you do it? How do you take advantage of this transition point, and position you and your company for the future? The easy answer is to sit back and wait. It’s tempting to throw slings and arrows, find fault, and look for the inevitable issues that will exist throughout all the implementations along the way. And while you might even be right, you will not be any closer to taking advantage of the benefits that come with the HANA solution, nor will your company have the infrastructure it needs to keep up with the competition.

If you are still reading this blog entry, then chances are that your job hinges on the success of SAP in one way or another. Either you implement their solution, installed their software to run your company, or your vendors and customers are running SAP. Whatever the case might be, your success in some way hinges on SAP’s success. So it’s time to jump in, roll up your sleeves and make this thing work. HANA and all its related solutions are coming. They’re not complete yet, perhaps not even designed, but they are coming. It is time to get involved, so here is a partial list how:


  • Read from experts like these in SAP’s SCN HANA website. And don’t just take their word for it.
  • Search out real life use cases, presentations, blogs. The internet is out there; use it


  • What can HANA do for you? There are many tools to understand how this fits in to your current scenario. Start with the HANA value calculator to see an estimate of what HANA can mean to you.
  • What’s the harm in a little prototyping? Try it out with some of SAP’s online and video demos. There’s even a YouTube Channel dedicated to this.

Build your network

  • Talk to people. Go to your local ASUG events. Show up at the SAP roadshows when they occur.
  • Don’t have a travel budget? Seek out and join webcasts. There’s more out there than you can imagine from every side of the conversation.

Give Feedback

  • Look for any way to give your feedback to the mothership. SAP has a HANA incubator.
  • There’s also influence councils and SAP’s customer engagement initiative. You have a voice; use it.

Now before anyone gets the wrong idea: I’m not in the bag for SAP. In fact, as one who has worked with SAP for over a decade, I can say that the solutions from SAP have caused me heartburn every single one of those days for the past 10 years. However, I’m a realist. This is a change that’s coming; it’s coming soon, and it’s time to prepare and incorporate HANA into the SAP landscape for years to come. The faster we all accept that and jump in to help, the better it will be for the SAP community as a whole.

In summary, this year’s ASUG/Sapphire conference is a turning point. Away from developing, into mobilization of HANA. It’s an insanely large task by any measure, and it will take that entire, overwhelming community I saw on the show floor to get it done.

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