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CEO of Deal Architect, a top advisory boutique recognized in The Black Book of Outsourcing, author of a widely praised book on technology enabled innovation, The New Polymath, prolific blogger, writing about technology-enabled innovation at New Florence, New Renaissance and about waste in technology at Deal Architect.  Previously Analyst  at Gartner, Partner with PwC Consulting. Keynoted at many business and technology conferences and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, The Financial Times, CIO Magazine, and other executive and technology publications.

14 responses to “The SAP HANA ecosystem – the excitement and the caution”

  1. John Appleby

    Hey Vinnie,

    I think you’re spot on with the “priced to sell” point and it’s worth noting that Apple made it easy to buy and consume reliable apps. SAP also needs to get those things right and they have struggled in recent years, especially in the Enterprise Mobility arena.

    As far as the “analytics focus”, I think you’ve been asleep for the last year. 50% of HANA in 2013 was datamarts and custom apps. 25% was BW on HANA, and 25% was Business Suite on HANA. Within, that, SoH is by far the fastest growing and was only available for H2 2013. You will see that totally change through 2014 and there is a clear focus by customers on HANA as a mission critical transactional platform.

    You’ve also totally missed the point on the startup program. SAP only supports them lightly, and they get the rest of the support from the fact that they are self-starting. The real problem with the startup program is that there is (today) no subscription cloud model for HANA licensing. That would be an interesting story.

    The other discussion-worthy story is the apps story, and nearly 3 years in, we don’t have enough non-SAP-install-base apps to give the HANA platform adoption outside the install base.

    Honestly Vinnie, I’m not sure you do enough research any more on SAP to do yourself justice in writing a well informed article on them. Sorry.


  2. vinnie mirchandani

    John, thanks for reviewing.

    some responses

    My point about analytics being narrow is without server, satellite, sensor and other tech, analytics can only go so far. SAP has shown little hardware/device competence over the years

    On 1,000 startups in 55 countries needing only light support – John, how delusional are you?

    besides would it not be better to see 25, 40, 50 successful startups in 2 countries before rushing out and signing up 1,000?

    Finally, I am so glad I only cover SAP 5% of the time. I can avoid the Stockholm Syndrome so many of its fans have been suffering from

  3. dbmoore

    @Vinnie –

    SAP shared similar start-up adoption numbers for NetWeaver back in the day, but you’d be hard pressed to identify a single start-up that actually brought a product to market really based on NetWeaver – Are we likely to see a different outcome with these HANA start-ups?

    – Dennis Moore

  4. Josh Greenbaum

    You both have good points that get lost in the snark. I agree that 1000 startups is about 900 too many — but SAP needs to bolster its startup credentials, particularly in light of the historical limits of its appeal to developers, so it’s a necessary evil. And IMO there are virtually no new apps that AREN’T analytical in nature – with most of the transactional processes “owned” by ERP, the only white space — and it’s a doozy — is in analytics. Finally, SAP and the rest of the enterprise software industry needs to get more serious about sensor and M2M data streams, they have been lagging in what should be an enormous opportunity. And what do you do with all those new data sources? The low-hanging fruit will be analytical in nature.

    Happy Belated Valentine’s Day, Vinnie and John…

  5. vinnie mirchandani

    Dennis, good point about NV lack of success. Many of the HANA startups have a handful of customers so they are already ahead of the NV track record. Question is can they become viable and get to hundreds of customers and millions in funding.

  6. vinnie mirchandani

    Josh, you bolster startup credentials by internally funding and launching a series of start ups. Recruiting hundreds of startups without a strong infrastructure is similar to building a large SI ecosystem and SCN community without managing it, Your customers deserve better.

    I agree all new apps are analytical in nature – for now. But in that ubiquity, HANA’s differentiation is not that strong. Also SAP could have been ahead of hot verticals and funded startups there – versus the wide net to see which verticals rise to top.

  7. Plattner

    what are you guys talking about? who else (but sap hana) does live analysis of formula one?. or who else records all movements of soccer players while the play? be negative about sap but stick to the facts. a customer just demoed intelligent pumps sending sensor data live for predictive maintenance. it is one of the most exiting new fields of enterprise applications. josh is right that even in classic transactional apps most of the processing is analytical and even with data from sensors it’s all about analytics or super fast data access.
    and with regards to start ups, more than 50 are already in production.

  8. vinnie mirchandani

    Dr. Plattner, thank you for your comment. You have every right to be proud of what you have doggedly achieved with HANA, but I watch a much broader swath of the marketplace.

    Regarding sports, I spent time at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference last year (SAP was a sponsor) and there were discussions of all kinds of analytics – injury, revenue, player compensation, live sports action in football, baseball, soccer etc etc. A very small part of that is using HANA (at least today).

    In other industries I have a section on analytics on my innovation blog at

    scroll down on that page, hit next page etc and you will see hundreds of analyics use cases across industries and countries, There are several posts there about HANA but many which are not.

    I am sorry but I like to look at the world from an application of technology point of view. The more interesting use cases that come out of your HANA startup ecosystem the more I will be happy to profile them on this innovation blog.

  9. Kaustav Mitra

    Hi Vinnie
    We haven’t met but I’ve been an avid reader of yours for a few years.

    I completely agree that there is a big IF in this equation. The SAP Startup Focus program is just one indicator of a company in the process of reinventing itself. The focus on the cloud, the focus on the user experience – these are all part of the larger strategy for SAP to expand our value to our customers in upcoming years.

    To add to some of your questions.

    Can SAP learn to price to sell?
    Very valid question. On our side, the 99 cents/hour offering of HANA One on AWS and the upcoming HANA Cloud Platform price structures are designed with such objectives in mind. From the startup side, we have a rich diversity of startup solutions and deployment models, from on-premise to private cloud to multi-tenant SAAS. Startups will always face the Darwinian challenge of figuring out the right pricing models or facing extinction.

    Is Analytics to narrow a focus?
    Our intent has never been to look only at analytics. While analytics is the low hanging fruit as Josh says, we have startups in IoT, wearables, visualization and many other areas.

    Can SAP resist the marketing temptation?
    I could not agree with your points more. Within the team, and from the leadership, there is a clear understanding that startup success will be the best marketing we can possibly get.

    On the question of support, we’ve put a lot of thought into how we’ve structured technical engagement. We’ve emphasized highly relevant education from training bootcamps to prototyping workshops (virtual and in person) to webinars and on-demand content. In addition, not all startups progress equally – the deeply engaged ones look for the most direct support and we have a fairly effective approach to triaging requests for assistance. At least as of now we have not seen startups expressing the thought that they are not being taken care of when they need it.

    The Startup Focus program is 18 months old. If 2012 was the year for proving the idea and 2013 the year for driving awareness, the focus in 2014 is 100% on adoption and startup revenue. Factoring in time taken for development and time for sales cycles, I feel very comfortable in stating that we will be seeing some exciting successes this year.

    Being startups, a large percentage of these firms will stumble along the way and only a small fraction of the ones remaining will achieve breakout success. It is hard to know in advance which ones these will be but I am very keen to find out. This is one reason we’ve spread the net far and wide. As SAP, we can only try to approach this with humility and do our best to do our part in this endeavor.

    Happy to chat further at any time and discuss the production ready solutions we have. We’ve thought long and hard about choices we’ve made. Thanks for the thought provoking article.
    Progam Lead, SAP Startup Focus

  10. Amit


    Some fabulous IoT examples for you.
    1. Pirelli has new tires that monitor air pressure, temperature and road conditions with data streaming into HANA. They provide fleet management and analytics on this data helping fleet managers save €1000 / truck per year. This is from their early results.

    2. is a good place for some HANA powered basketball analytics and SAP scouting app that we launched last year at MIT Sports and Analytics conference just won a prestigious design / user experience award!! As Hasso said, also check the Maclaren Formula 1 example for real time telemetry data and it’s analysis. Another cool one is analysis of soccer players on the basis of data from their shin guards and the ball. Google this video it’s quite fun to see it.

    3. At Techcrunch last year, 100 of teams hacked Fitbit and Ford Open XC data with HANA. We did not offer million dollar prizes 🙂 and yet had some amazing real time data from machines and wearables

    4. Work with John Deere in the area of predictive condition based maintenance with HANA is breakthrough. Adds new services to farm equipment and heavy construction equipment.

    5. I would also google SAP Smart Vending. SAP has the world’a number 1 embedded database ( it’s SAP SQLAnywhere that runs inside DVRs, vending machines, windmills) and in real time streams data into HANA ( it also has a asynchronous mode). This is a phenomenal IoT use case.

    @denis – wow! With 10+ hands on years on both the NW and HANA eras here is my two cents. Our team carries the NetWeaver learning and seeks to avoid the mistakes. Think of just two of them and the impact it might have on HANA compared to NW.

    1) Startups are creating a counterbalance to Suite application requirements in HANA’s roadmap. Unlike NW where ISV/ open platform requirements got a back seat, we indeed got graph processing, cloud based delivery, deep integration with Hadoop, simplified River development environment etc into the rapid development of HANA earlier in the cycle based on startup feedback.

    2) The attention paid by Vishal to a startup need is no less than a SAP customer. This permeates to the whole team very differently with dedicated action and meaningful programs to get them to cross product and customer milestones faster. A startup actually told me that SAP accelerated their time to market by 6 months. This support model is very different than the ISV model we followed with NW where there is a learning, support and GTM functions tightly woven together by the startup focus team.

  11. vinnie mirchandani

    Amit, please see the link in my response to Hasso above. There are mentions on HANA and success at various points but also success stories around many other analytical tools. I look forward to profiling more customer success as your start ups show them in production and they stand out compared to rest of market. Thanks

  12. vinnie mirchandani

    Tushar, thanks I look forward to profiling more customer success as your start ups show them in production and they stand out compared to rest of market on my New Florence innovation blog. I have decided to discontinue tracking SAP on my Deal Architect blog as I explained there this morning. New Florence is not syndicated to this Enterprise Irregulars feed so you will have to read about innovation posts there directly.

  13. vinnie mirchandani

    Kaustav, apologize the response above was meant for you not Tushar.

  14. dbmoore

    @Josh et al – My comment was not meant snarky. I merely want to differentiate between preposterous claims and eventual reality. I get that HANA supports SQL, so essentially any app that runs on SQL can be (relatively) easily ported – does that equal a game change? For that matter, is there a list somewhere of 1000 startups that have adopted HANA (and, by “adoption,” do we mean designed for HANA or hoping to run on it because they run on SQL)?

    FWIW, I have seen very significant interest in HANA out in the market, although adoption lags very substantially behind interest. Heck, I have interest in HANA, and my team is testing it to see if it results in some gamechanging outcomes in master data management.

    In the end, I feel like there is some “there there” with HANA – but I wish to see more of that …