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Is ignorance an excuse? Yes, says SAP & AWS!

I would like to thank the following people who showed a tremendous amount of empathy, a sense of urgency, collaborative approach, complex problem solving skills, awareness/acceptance of challenges involved in delivering new technologies and above all, accepting my ignorance as an excuse to reverse AWS charges of $4,779.82. The purpose of this blog is to tell the world that you'll - I did - get a significant, incredible level of support from both SAP and Amazon should you decide to invest your time and efforts on new technologies such as SAP-HANA.

The list of people who deserve a huge shout-out:

  1. amit.sinha
  2. juergen.schmerder
  3. david.hull3
  4. vitaliy
  5. ken.tsai
  6. sapan.panigrahi
  7. Bruce Burns (Amazon Web Services)
  8. David Zipkin (Amazon Web Services)

Thank you, all!

The story of Two Black Boxes...

Needless to say, I was shocked to receive an invoice from Amazon for US$4,779. I came back from TechEd, signed-up for HANA-ONE and assumed I would be billed only when I "use" HANA-ONE. What I didn't understand was:

  • the meaning of "use". This actually meant every second it was up on Cloud, not just the time I spent working on HANA.
  • Each time I hit the Launch button, I started an instance and AWS started billing 99c for HANA-ONE and $2.50 for AWS infrastructure charges per hour

I logged on to AWS and cancelled my services immediately after realizing what happened. I tweeted my situation and I received responses instantaneously from Juergen Schmerder and David Hull followed by Amit Sinha stating they've already started woking on resolving the issue.

Two days later, I received this email from SAP:

We realize that there is a learning curve for all of us as we do new things – HANA On AWS as an example of venturing in a new area to lower costs and foster more innovation. As we do this – mistakes do happen – things could be simpler and we could be clearer in our tools and messages.

SAP's willingness to accept that mistakes do happen and desire to go extra 9 miles to get the issues addressed in less than two days gave me a lot of confidence on SAP-HANA. The fact that so many people from two global corporations were ready to work with me, an independent consultant, demonstrated beyond doubt that they're determined to take every little step to deliver a huge successful story soon.

Status of HANA-One

As Juergen explained in the comment below, HANA-One is not a good option for the developers. When I signed up in October, I was under the assumption that "pay as you go" meant: Pay only when you use it. Whatever work you do will be saved automatically with no additional cost to us. This is completely wrong. Everyone who signs up for HANA-One will not be sharing the instance with others but would have a dedicated instance. So if you decide to stop the instance to save $$$, you'll still pay for EBS Volumes (Persistent storage).

I believe in order to ensure smooth working environment, here is what it would cost to own HANA-One:

Fixed Cost:

  • 99c per hour for SAP-HANA for a month           = $   712.80 (assumes 30 days month)
  • $2.50 per hour for AWS Marketplace charges    = $1,800.00
  • Total Fixed Cost                                             = $2,512.80   (We can control this cost by keeping the instance down when not used)

Variable Cost:

  • Storage costs
  • Upload/Download Cost
  • Other costs

                                                                              (We can control variable costs by freeing up the resources when not used; however this would require more administrative work (For example, if you're working on a very large data file, you need to decide whether you want to keep data on cloud and pay for EBS volumes or delete now and upload later and pay upload costs!). I don't believe AWS has good cost monitoring tool. HANA-One on AWS was not designed to be used by the developers but meant for corporations who have plans to run their production systems on HANA as Juergen stated).

Next Steps

In my opinion, HANA-ONE on AWS was a bit more complex to use than I thought. Obviously I learned a few lessons. I'll share them with SAP who, I'm sure, would go extra mile to make the cloud environment better for all.

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