SAP HANA for the Smallest Company on Earth


In February of this year, SAP revealed two new SAP HANA offerings geared to the needs of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), making the argument that even small companies derive benefits from real-time analytics. We covered the basics of these offerings – analytics powered by SAP HANA for SAP Business One and SAP HANA, Edge edition – in a previous article, “SAP HANA Integration for SMEs”.

To find out more about the two newest SAP HANA offerings, we spoke with Robert Vetter, senior vice president, Global Ecosystem and Channels Readiness at SAP. What was your role in the development of the new SAP HANA offerings for SMEs?

Robert Vetter: I head up the unit called Global Ecosystem and Channels Readiness at SAP, which is part of the broader Global Ecosystem and Channels organization led by Eric Duffaut. My unit is responsible for making sure that our solution portfolio is Channel ready, e.g. that the pricing and partner enablement are in place for new solutions that we bring to market. With the new HANA offerings specifically, we were involved in the creation of the offers and pricing. Now we’re working on the rollout, and of course, making sure our partners are able to successfully resell and upsell the new offerings. Some early criticisms of the new SAP HANA software for SMEs contend that only a few partners are qualified to offer the solutions to customers. How do partners qualify to sell SAP HANA for SAP Business One or resell SAP HANA, Edge edition, and how is SAP driving this process forward?

Robert Vetter: Right now, the SAP HANA solution for SAP Business One is in ramp-up, which means we have selected only a few partners and customers to deploy HANA. Our main focus at this stage is quality. Therefore, the selection process was done in close collaboration with our regional ecosystem and channels organization to ensure that we found the right partners who had the capabilities to deliver HANA and a potential pipeline of customers already in place. So yes, at this stage we are limiting the number of qualified partners a little bit. But once everything is running fine, we’ll open it up to more partners.

Even though SAP HANA, Edge edition is already available, we still want to make sure that our resellers are able to implement the solution properly. So at the moment, the Edge edition is on our on-request price list, not the normal reseller price list. We are already seeing a lot of traction in regards to partner enablement. Not only have we thus far educated 500 partner employees  from over 150 implementation partners, but also over 4,000 consultants participated in SAP HANA trainings by SAP Education. Are there any customers already using SAP Business One Analytics powered by SAP HANA or SAP HANA, Edge edition?

Robert Vetter: As we are targeting installed base indirect customers of SAP Business One and SAP Business All-in-One, with these offerings we already see traction. We actually had our first customer go live on SAP HANA for SAP Business One in early March. And in the midmarket, we are seeing many SME customers like Ypsomed, which is based in Switzerland, take advantage of our RDS offerings for SAP HANA. Like the CO-PA Accelerator or RDS for Operational Reporting with SAP HANA. These early customers are showing very promising process improvements and all confirm their improved competitiveness.

Our target is ten live customers for SAP HANA for Business One and ten customers for SAP HANA, Edge edition by SAPPHIRE NOW in May.

SAP HANA at the CeBIT 2012. (photo: SAP) How long does implementation take?

Robert Vetter: For Business One, it’s a matter of days. SAP HANA, Edge edition takes a bit longer because you’re dealing with SAP ERP as a backend system and you have to take the various customer requirements into account. Our RDS packages for SAP HANA – which we use as predominant go to market for SAP HANA, Edge Edition – have implementation timeframes between two and eight weeks. What about hardware?

Robert Vetter: SAP was closely involved with the hardware technology partners to certify a specific hardware configuration so that the servers run properly in combination with HANA. Our resellers then work with local hardware vendors to size the hardware according to the customers’ business needs. Cost has been another point of contention since the new SAP HANA offerings were announced. Some people say they are still too expensive for SMEs. What are your thoughts?

Robert Vetter: First of all, we haven’t officially communicated the pricing. But I can give you some background information on the pricing process for HANA. Before we decided on any specific prices, we actually went to the partners and proposed a price range and got their feedback. We did intensive crosschecks with them to make sure that we were within the budget requirements of SMEs. In addition, the required hardware is also geared to the SME segment. You can actually deploy Business One Analytics with 20 users for less than 20,000 Euros, including hardware. How does SAP envision that small businesses are going to use this software? Most SMEs probably aren’t analyzing terabytes of data on a regular basis, so is it more about speed?

Robert Vetter: It’s important to remember that HANA is optional. You still can get SAP Business One without HANA. That being said, we expect that bigger SAP Business One customers and SAP Business All-in-One customers will be interested in SAP HANA for various reasons. The first is obviously speed – it’s a major advantage. Reports that used to take minutes or hours now take seconds. You can’t deny that this brings performance improvement. Another benefit is that you are able to do things that you simply couldn’t do without HANA – new analyses, data-intensive analyses, and controlling cockpits, just to name a few.

But there are also less obvious benefits. For example, the design of HANA gives you more freedom in how you structure information, allowing for more flexible reporting. You can slice and dice the data any way you want. There are also new possibilities in the area of unstructured data. Today, almost every business, large or small, is active in social media. But how do you analyze that information? With SAP Business One Analytics Powered by SAP HANA, you have a very powerful enterprise search functionality that can handle structured and unstructured information. You can look for specific words and identify interesting patterns. SAP has stated that SAP HANA leads to a simplification of the IT landscape, creating cost savings for companies. Can you explain how this works for SMEs?

Robert Vetter: With HANA, we provide predefined business content. This creates cost savings right off the bat because you don’t have to create that content yourself. You just start using it right away. But it also delivers dashboards and semantic datamarts that let you slice and dice the information any way you want it, which means you don’t need IT to create new reports or dashboards. I think that’s where a lot of costs in a business are occurring. Put simply, SAP HANA reduces your dependency on IT, leading to cost savings. How does this predefined content differ, then, from SAP’s rapid-deployment solutions?

Robert Vetter: SAP Rapid Deployment Solutions complement the value proposition of the offering. The rapid deployment solutions are actually what we use to deliver that predefined business content for SAP HANA, Edge edition. SAP designed rapid-deployment solutions to work with SAP HANA. It’s part of our whole go-to-market concept. So you can, and in fact should, use SAP ERP rapid-deployment solution for profitability analysis or SAP rapid-deployment solution for customer segmentation with SAP HANA. It’s a logical combination. And by the way, all the rapid deployment offerings can be used with SAP HANA, Edge edition as well as with the Enterprise edition. At SAP TechEd in Madrid in 2011, SAP Executive Board Member, Vishal Sikka stated that SAP Business One would be the first SAP application to run completely on SAP HANA. Can you clarify how the new offering analytics powered by SAP HANA for SAP Business One is different?  

Robert Vetter: With SAP Business One Analytics powered by SAP HANA, you get a HANA box that runs side-by-side with your SAP Business One deployment. Technically it’s two software instances, but they connect to each other and automatically update each other so the end user only sees one interface. The difference is that this offering is OLAP, which means that it’s only analytical, not yet transactional. But as Vishal Sikka said, there is a plan to put SAP Business One on HANA where all transactions run on HANA. That’s still to come. Do you have any final thoughts you want to share on the topic?

Robert Vetter: With SAP HANA, we believe we have the leading technology in the market. But what’s really impressive is that SAP is making it available to the biggest company on Earth and the smallest one – and this shows the power of this technology.