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I would like to thank my colleague robert.hernandez (@SRHernandez2), Director of In-Memory Services, North America for his collaboration and input to this blog.

Follow me on Twitter - @thomasjkurtz

If you’re reading this blog, SAP HANA has caught your attention.  By now, you’ve probably heard a significant amount about SAP HANA. It’s the next-generation platform with blazing speed, real-time reporting, and powerful analytics, able to capitalize on unprecedented opportunities and deliver significant competitive advantages.  As the SAP HANA topic has matured, you’ve probably also heard of different ways to deploy it in your business; solutions such as SAP Business Suite accelerators, SAP HANA applications, SAP BW on HANA, SAP Business Suite on HANA, and more.  You’ve possibly heard so much in fact that you feel the need to take a step back and ask - so what does it all mean to me?  It’s fast – great.  It can help me – fine.  But, where do I start, and how do I take advantage of it?  Do accelerators help me?  Should I start with SAP BW on SAP HANA?  Does the introduction of SAP Business Suite on SAP HANA now change everything?  Like other break-through innovations, SAP HANA on its own will not deliver value.  But, SAP HANA applied to a particular business problem or challenge can deliver exceptional value.  So, if you still have some questions about whether SAP HANA is right for you, or more importantly, how it’s right for you, then read on to determine how best to realize value from SAP HANA.

Beginning the HANA Journey

When evaluating SAP HANA for your business, remember to keep the following in mind: (1) how can HANA help my business? (2) what type of HANA solution do I need to achieve this? (3) how should I plan my deployment strategy?  These high level concepts are summarized below in Figure 1, as well as further examined in the text which follows.

1.  Understanding Value Opportunities in Your Business: before deploying SAP HANA, an organization should take the time to understand where SAP HANA can deliver maximum benefit based on your business goals.  Some examples to consider:

    1. Are analytics a problem in your organization?  Do you have plans to grow the business, but need to stay lean in terms of your total operations?  Would access to real-time information allow you to accomplish that more economically?  Are you an SAP BW customer, looking to improve the way you deploy your analytics today?

    2. What about your day-to-day business processes?  If you could run your materials planning processes faster or differently, would that change your business?  For Consumer Products, do you have access into the real-time demand in your various markets, allowing you to focus on the right ones?  For Retail, could you grow customer loyalty and in-store excellence through access to customer data by your sales personnel while your customers are still in the store?
    3. Finally, are there new business processes you could create today, something that could transform your business but you haven’t thought about doing because of technical limitations?  Could a new application be developed, purpose-built to bring these new ideas to reality?  For Healthcare, is there a way to manage patient data, allowing you to better serve patients or deliver medical care.

2.  Map Value Opportunities to SAP HANA Solutions: once an organization understands the business value – how SAP HANA can enable business solutions – you next need to understand how to implement SAP HANA.  As identified in the opening to this blog, SAP continues to enhance HANA and offer additional capabilities.

    1. For the customer looking at real-time analytics to grow the business, perhaps an agile data mart deployed on SAP HANA is the answer.  Or, for existing SAP BW customers or customers requiring a complete Enterprise Data Warehouse, BW on HANA may be the right place to start.
    2. For the customers needing to enhance operational processes, perhaps SAP Business Suite on SAP HANA is the right option.  Or, if you need a smaller first step, beginning with a focused accelerator powered by SAP HANA targeting a single, specific process may be the logical place to begin.
    3. For the customers looking at creating a new, transformative solution, perhaps an application powered by SAP HANA is appropriate.

3.  Deploy SAP HANA: at this stage you’ve identified the business value, you understand what type of SAP HANA solution should be implemented to realize that value, now it’s time to evaluate your deployment options.

    1. For those organizations with strong IT operational capabilities deploying SAP HANA in-house, on-premise may be the most efficient.  It will allow you maximum control of your own environment and positions you well to grow your HANA deployment alongside SAP’s growing HANA coverage.
    2. If your organization is looking to quickly deploy SAP HANA and doesn’t have the time or resourcing to manage it in-house, SAP’s HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) may be the right approach.  This allows you to utilize all the benefits and capabilities of SAP HANA, but leaves the environment management to someone else allowing you to focus on solving the business problem.
    3. Ultimately the right solution might involve a hybrid between an On-Premise and SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud approach.  Perhaps business timelines can’t wait on hardware procurement and thus a HEC approach for your development and test environments with an on-premise production system allows you to deliver on time.  Or perhaps there are some applications you would prefer to deploy on the cloud, while your core business applications reside on SAP HANA in-house.  Either way it’s all about finding the right combination that fits your needs.
    4. Finally, whether on-premise or in the HEC, Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS) should be part of any customer’s HANA deployment decision process.  SAP has constructed many pre-packaged solutions in a box targeted at the most common HANA use cases.  Perhaps one of these RDS fits your business needs and provides a low risk, out-of-the-box approach to quickly roll out SAP HANA.  Even if the RDS only covers a portion of your business need, it may provide a stable foundation to quickly deploy business value on top of which you can then build.

Conclusion - Creating a Strategic Roadmap

And there you have it, you’re on your way to your own SAP HANA journey.  Let the business drive the need, map that to how SAP HANA solutions can help, and plan out your deployment.  Now the next question – where to go from here?  Look to create a strategic project roadmap for SAP HANA.  For example, perhaps you are an existing SAP Business Suite customer, and realize that you want to move to SAP HANA, but not just yet.  However, you recognize that in the short term you have a specific use case – say how you manage your process for analyzing cost and profitability – that you want to accelerate.  Your roadmap could start with an early phase deployment of the CO-PA accelerator, with perhaps a migration to Business Suite on SAP HANA at a later date.  Or maybe you have SAP BW deployed with Business Suite on HANA and would like to start with migrating your BW to HANA.  The key is your business drivers will feed your implementation plan, and that can all be represented through your strategic roadmap.

The HANA Journey Blog Series

Be sure to check out the second and third blogs in the series as well.  The HANA Journey (Part 2): How Do I Get Started with HANA? provides a deeper dive into the HANA topic and how customers can get started through identifying business value and developing a technical strategy.  The HANA Journey (Part 3): What are My Deployment Options? by my colleague Boris Andree closes out the series by taking a closer look at deployment options such as Cloud, on-premise, hybrid and Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS).