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SAP Hana implementation pattern research yields contradictory results

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Research into the user adoption of SAP’s Hana database platform and its S/4 Hana ERP system presents a confusing pattern. Storming ahead or running aground?

SAP’s in-memory, columnar database platform Hana has emerged from some recent UK research as cheaper, faster to deploy and more comprehensive than its detractors have said.

However, the findings seem to contradict a Nucleus Research report, published in June 2016, which revealed that 60% of SAP reference customers – mostly in the US – would not buy SAP technology again.

Centiq, an SAP and other enterprise IT reseller, commissioned the UK research from market research firm Coleman Parks, and the study was carried out among 250 SAP Hana licence holders in April and May 2016.

When asked what claims for Hana were credible, 92% of respondents said it reduced IT infrastructure costs, a further 87% stated it saved business costs. Some 98% of Hana projects came in on-budget, and 65% yet to roll out were confident of hitting budget.

SAP technology is often deemed too complex, and its CEO Bill McDermott has been waging a public war against this complexity for the past few years, using the mantra Run Simple.

The Centiq research seems to demonstrate that Hana can go live fast: 72% went live within six months. However, the speed of implementation varied across industries.

While manufacturing (79%), technology and telecoms (75%), and retail and distribution (62%) were able to implement the database within half a year, 67% of public sector respondents were taking seven to 12 months to implement.

The study seems to confirm Hana’s use cases go beyond analytics. It is used equally for data warehousing and transaction processing: 96% use it for its On Line Transactional Processing (OLTP) capabilities and 92% for On Line Analytical Processing (Olap).

The research showed that 96% of the licence holders are using Hana for online transactional processing while 92% are using it for online analytical processing.

“The first versions of Hana were focused on analytics, and used for big data ‘edge cases’ that required extreme speed. These typically involved large companies adding an additional Hana server to existing infrastructure to do things that weren’t previously feasible,” said an SAP executive quoted in the research.

And the study seems to have revealed that Hana is being used by small and medium-sized enterprises as well as large organisations. Some 83% of the small companies surveyed said Hana lets them design and deploy “innovative applications”.

“We were surprised how satisfied the Hana licence holders were. SAP has done a good job in making sure these projects work, and rate at which has got Hana out is amazing for such a large organisation,” said Centiq director of technology and services Robin Webster. “We had heard a lot about Hana as shelfware, so we were surprised at the number saying they were live.”

The research put SAP’s full enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite, S/4 Hana, together with the earlier SAP technology, Business Suite on Hana. Almost nine in 10 (88%) of respondents were planning to put Business Suite on Hana or were moving to S/4 Hana.

Some 60% of SAP customers would not buy again

This rosy view of Hana adoption – among UK users who may have avoided the teething problems of early adopters in the US and in SAP’s GermanHeimat – would seem to be diametrically contradicted by research published earlier this summer by Nucleus Research.

This revealed that 60% of SAP reference customers would not buy again from the supplier. And 90% would not consider S/4 Hana at all.

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