HANA – High-Performance Analytic Appliance is the official four letter acronym translation but these days it can be a little bit of a misnomer as SAP are positioning HANA as a more of a platform than just a database server, particularly when it comes to SAP Business One.
Delivering transaction processing and analytics already in the core SAP Business One version for SAP HANA product, there’s a lot more to the HANA story than meets the eye these days.
SAP technical evangelists (also called Solution Architects) spend a lot of their time showing partners how to start building new applications on top of the SAP HANA architecture using a component called the Service Layer, which is a way of describing the data and transactions and providing a number of industry standard ways to integrate with SAP Business One as I mentioned in part one of this article.
There are a few examples of partners doing this today such as Achieve IT Solutions with their Resolv Logistics Suite of applications for SAP Business One and more will be coming to market as time progresses but for now the majority of solutions still utilise the DI-API (Data Interface Application Programming Interface) and they work just fine with SQL or HANA – even new solutions like Enterpryze that delivers mobility and a simplified web client for SAP Business One
But for many folks the primary driver to deploy on HANA will come down to the availability of the Analytics components of SAP Business One built to take advantage of HANA.
Tools like Pervasive Analytics, in many respects, negates the need to go out to look for additional tools for building KPI dashboards and visualising their data – particularly for those users that have been provisioned with an SAP Business One license as they can consume these directly from inside the SAP Business One client. Plus there are a number of features that need the HANA speed and data crunching capabilities to really work like the Cash Flow Forecast and the Customer 360 view (video below) as well as the Enterprise Search facility.
However, for those who require read only data access to SAP Business One, you’ll still require a full/limited SAP Business One user license as the Indirect Add-On Access user only allows for external app use and doesn’t permit use of the SAP Business One client – a major drawback for those users that want to consume the analytical views provided with SAP Business One or built using the Pervasive Analytics tools.
I spent a lot of time reading and studying SAP licensing documents and agreements and when using the heavily discounted HANA runtime that is bundled with SAP Business One you definitely need the additional licenses to stay compliant with the SAP agreements you are subject to.
In addition, you'll need to invest some significant money into a HANA Server as well as the associated support and Linux O/S support you'll need to buy - the Linux operating system is free but you'll need to purchase support but those costs are coming down each quarter and soon SAP will be offering SAP Business One in the Cloud running on HANA on SAP hosted and managed infrastructure which will allow you to take the solution on a pay as you go model (subscription pricing).
But there are other advantages of SAP HANA that many people are just beginning to wrap their heads around as the SAP channel and ecosystem becomes more familiar with the Service Layer and what can be done.
Take a look at this example of integrating Amazon Alexa and SAP Business One using the HANA Service Layer that was being shown recently at the SAP SMB Innovation Summits…it’s a little impractical as demonstrated but it is a great introduction to what can be imagined with the new tools.
So in summary, for my money, if you need to process large amounts of data or transactions, you don’t want to venture outside the standard SAP delivered Analytics or you have a compelling business need for one of the new applications built on the HANA Service Layer then HANA makes sense but if dollars are tight and data access for everyone is critical from external applications then SQL Server may be a great fit and will deliver all you need to have a great SAP Business One deployment.
In case you missed it, here's Part1:SAP Business One - HANA vs Microsoft SQL: Understanding the differences and making the right choice