Some SAP customers scratching their heads over how to use Hana, survey finds

The Americas' SAP Users' Group survey also found that most Hana purchases are for running Business Warehouse, not the Business Suite

Despite years of hype, some SAP customers remain puzzled over how the vendor's Hana in-memory computing platform can fit into their IT strategies, a newly released survey from the Americas' SAP Users' Group has found.

Fifty-five percent of 377 survey respondents asked whether their company has purchased Hana said they hadn't, with 40 percent saying they have and 5 percent not knowing.

Three-quarters of the respondents who hadn't bought any Hana-related products said they had not been able to pin down a business case that justifies the cost of doing so, according to ASUG.

Survey takers also cited road map, upgrade and skill set issues as barriers to adopting Hana, although in significantly lower percentages.

One potential underlying reason for customers' reluctance to move to Hana is a sense that SAP isn't forcing them, according to ASUG. Nearly three-fourths of those who said they had no current plans to implement Hana also said they believed SAP would "support their existing environments into the future or for at least five years or more," ASUG said.

SAP has high hopes of convincing customers now using databases from Oracle, SAP and Microsoft to run its Business Suite to migrate those environments to Hana. So far, the idea has had limited appeal for Hana buyers, according to ASUG's survey. Sixty-five percent of those who said they'd adopted Hana did so in order to run their Business Warehouse platforms on it, not the Suite.

The survey's findings aren't surprising to analyst Ray Wang, founder and chairman of Constellation Research.

"Many folks are trying to make sense of their SAP Hana [proof-of-concepts]," he said. "One of the challenges is that SAP marketed the technology very well but not the use cases."

SAP is also working on simplified versions of its Business Suite apps that take advantage of Hana's capabilities. Therefore,"customers have to figure out if they want to buy Hana up front first, instead of having it just built into the next version of ERP," Wang said.

Hana became generally available in 2011. In its most recent earnings report, SAP said it had more than 3,600 Hana customers overall and 1,200 for the Suite on Hana. But it has stopped breaking out revenue totals for Hana.

This is because Hana "is attached to everything we have," SAP CEO Bill McDermott told IDG News Service in a recent interview. "If it's a line-of-business cloud [application], Suite on Hana Enterprise Cloud, all these things have Hana embedded as part of the solution." There are also 1,500 startup companies building software with Hana, McDermott added.

That said, the ASUG survey suggests SAP still has some work to do in order to convince customers of Hana's value.

"SAP welcomes the findings of the ASUG group and continually listens to our customers and partners," a spokeswoman said via email on Thursday. "We have always been customer-centric in our approach to formulating our product and customer adoption strategies and the SAP Hana product and solution line is no different. SAP already has programs in place to address key priorities raised by customers, including true costs of ownership, implementation scenarios and use cases as well as the business value of SAP Hana."

The spokeswoman cited SAP's Hana Academy and MOOC (massive open online course) training for Hana, as well as a recently launched awards program meant to showcase customers using Hana in innovative ways.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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