"We're in an information-gathering mode" regarding HANA, said an employee of a large energy company who attended Tech Ed, in an interview. "We have a small project on the books for next year," added the employee, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. The company will search out potential use cases for HANA and look to perform a proof-of-concept, he said.
But other users are already convinced that HANA will provide broad value, and have invested accordingly. Building materials supplier TAMKO implemented HANA to do operational reporting on its ERP (enterprise resource planning) system data, said Chuck Martin, director of application development, during a Tech Ed presentation.
After implementing SAP ERP software in 2007, accessing data within it began getting more complex and time-consuming, he said. "We couldn't get the reports out fast enough." The company also wants to give business users access to their own data and the ability to develop their own reports with the support of HANA, he added.
SAP was offering a Rapid Deployment Solution package for operational reporting on HANA, with "near real-time" data access, which the company decided to purchase, Martin said. SAP sells a series of RDS packages, which bundle up consulting services and specialized content with the goal of fast but targeted implementations.
In TAMKO's case, the HANA RDS didn't include the development of a security model, so the company had to bring in a security consultant at additional cost.
It's recommended that HANA customers think about security at an early stage of data model development, he added. "If you don't, you'll need to redesign your model later on."
The fact that TAMKO had to apply upgrades to HANA during the implementation process also proved very challenging at times. Still, TAMKO got some positive results, including a 15-times improvement in SQL performance without any tuning.
It's wise to contract with SAP for consulting help on a HANA project at this stage, according to early customers. In addition, it's possible to get direct feedback from SAP's product development team when issues crop up, users said. That may be harder to obtain over time if HANA sales ramp up as much as SAP hopes they will.
SAP has acquired just over 600 customers since the product's launch, executives said this week during Tech Ed. However, "we should do better," co-CEO Bill McDermott said in a session with press and analysts at the event. "I think we are doing better every day." The first 500 or 600 customers are "always the harder ones," he added. "Then when you have the early adopters and success stories, you can scale on a rapid basis. I think you're going to see HANA soar. The hard part is over."
TAMKO could end up serving as just the sort of success story McDermott cited.
"We're looking at HANA not so much from a [profit-and-loss] perspective, as a quick return on investment, but as a long-term foundation for the future," Martin said. "A couple years down the line, we see HANA as a central reporting tool for us."
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com.