A little bit of SAP Business One History (for context)

When SAP Business One was first built in Israel in the mid 90’s as a product for the Mac OS called OCEK (Practitioner in English) it was designed to run on a database called Codebase 5.0.


(By the way, this is the reason that most of the Database files in SAP Business One start with O (OINV, OCRD, etc.) – you can learn more about the History of SAP Business One in this excellent series of posts from Ilan Tal)


In the late 90’s the product was moved to Windows and SQL Server was adopted as the database platform for Windows but was still available on the Mac on Codebase.


Market forces spoke and the product moved to Windows only and SQL Server and that was the platform that SAP acquired the product on and this continued to be the only database platform for many years until the release of SAP HANA back in 2011.



SAP Business One first adopted HANA as the database for running a new generation of analytics with – the product was called SAP Business One Analytics for SAP HANA or B1A and it was based on the replication of data from SQL Server to HANA and a set of dashboards built on the HANA data structures because it was possible to do more and built optimised data structures with large data sets because of the way that HANA stored the data and the fact that all the data was compressed and stored in volatile RAM which made accessing and manipulating the data lightning fast.


And then as HANA improved over time the transaction processing was also moved across to the in-memory platform.

This allowed for 2 scenarios, a single database for both transactions and analytics and the ability to handle even larger volumes of transactions with the core SAP Business One applications.


Fast forward to 2016 and SAP released what is known as the HANA Service layer for SAP Business One – this is a new way to integrate with SAP Business One using a new set of standards like OData which allows web services to communicate easily with SAP Business One transactions and allows developers to build new integrations with these newer standards.


So, that’s the history of SAP Business One as it relates to the database technologies but you are probably asking yourself, why would I want Hana or SQL server, should I move to HANA if I am already using Sap Business One and if I am a new user about to purchase SAP Business One, should I run on HANA or SQL?


So, putting aside any agendas or vendor preferences I want to share a few thoughts for you.

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First of all its very clear that SAP would much rather have you running on SAP HANA rather than Microsoft SQL Server, even if just for economic reasons as you need to buy HANA from SAP whereas obviously Microsoft SQL Server generates revenue for Microsoft.

But if you are a smaller business there are good reasons to choose SQL Server over HANA and by the same token there are good reasons to choose HANA over SQL Server if your business has grown larger or has plans for rapid growth.

The main thing to bear in mind with HANA and SAP Business One is speed, if you are a smaller user running a small to medium size volume of transactions and not overly concerned about accessing the SAP Analytics that comes with SAP Business One for HANA, then it makes sense to go with SQL Server. It actually runs faster than HANA with smaller transaction loads and is much more cost effective.



You can acquire additional Business intelligence tools that work with SQL Server exceptionally well such as Power BI, SAP Lumira, the SAP Business Objects products or tools like QlikView that many SAP Business One partners have in their selection of products.


On the cockpit front, the SQL product comes with a set of SAP supplied cockpits and widgets which you cane extend and BoyumIT offer a great selection of dashboards and a dashboard builder as part of their product called B1UP Dashboards – also sold by almost every SAP Business One partner in business today.

The other big advantage of using SQL Server is the simplified licensing model that allows you to access the data with any one of these read only tools without having to purchase additional SAP Business One Add-On user licenses which the HANA solution requires – even to access the data in read only mode.


The tools and support resources for SAP Business One on SQL Server are also very broad and deep so should you encounter any technical challenges you can go to a number of sources for help – HANA is still relatively new and the skills are still expensive and a little hard to come by.

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In the next post, I will look in detail at why SAP HANA makes sense for many businesses that are running SAP Business One today and into the future.


Don’t forget that if you have any questions, you can drop me a note here, start a discussion or post a comment on this post and I’ll endeavour to get back to you post haste!!


Part 2: SAP Business One - HANA vs Microsoft SQL: Understanding the differences and making the right choice