What is SAP HANA and How Does it Work with SAP Business One?

By Ryan Howe
cf header SAP HANA Business One

In today’s rapidly changing environment, we’re all looking for a faster way to do business. Your ability to get timely, accurate data into the boardroom and transformed into actionable, innovative business decisions is what can ultimately set you apart from your competitors. The efficiency at which you can leverage all your operational data will also significantly contribute to how successful you can be during economic uncertainty.

To perform and produce results, you need speed and innovation, and this is the ultimate purpose behind SAP’s modern in-memory database: SAP HANA.

There’s always been a bit of confusion from our SAP Business One customers around SAP HANA: what it is, how it works, why companies should use it. The reality is, SAP HANA is a new type of relational database that organizes and manages your data differently from traditional database management systems, such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server or MySQL. While SAP HANA has some fantastic benefits in speed and analytics, it’s crucial to understand how the technology works, how it relates to your existing SAP Business One setup, and what your options you have with deploying HANA so you can make the right decision for your business, your people, and your future.

What is SAP HANA?

HANA is an acronym that stands for “High-Performance Analytical Appliance.” At a high-level, this means SAP HANA is an in-memory relational database management system (RDBMS) that efficiently processes massive amounts of real-time data, so your management teams have the information they need to analyze and make data-driven decisions on the fly.

To understand how this is different from other reporting and analytics methods with SAP Business One, let’s break this down a little more, shall we?

A standard relational database is a set of tables in a structured format (rows and columns) from which data can be accessed or reassembled to run queries, build reports, and view summarized information as requested. A traditional RDBMS, such as stand-alone Microsoft SQL Server, stores data in rows on a disk. To access data, it must first read the data from a disk and load it into memory. The problem is, this approach can be a relatively slow process, and it duplicates a copy of the data that it stores in memory.

Behind the scenes, your RDBMS is constantly consuming data from different sources of your business, like your ERP, and continually feeding data back and forth. SAP HANA delivers the same result; however, it’s built on a different architecture to provide superior performance on data retrieval tasks. The in-memory computing engine in SAP HANA allows it to process data stored in RAM as opposed to reading it from a disk. Your ERP data is already in-memory, so SAP HANA can read, change, or add new data almost instantly. This makes SAP HANA significantly faster than any other relational database because:

  • Its architecture organizes and stores data in columns and in-memory, which eliminates data copies, uses less memory, and allows for faster loading
  • It does not run on a disk and is therefore not limited by the speed of your hard drive
  • It is optimized for both fast queries and high-speed transactions for either OLAP or OLTP applications, without duplicating or silo-ing data

Most relational database management systems use the Structured Query Language (SQL) as a database language. It’s a popular, standardized, and powerful global programming language. Similar to other relational databases, SQL is the primary database language in SAP HANA.

The key message here is that SAP HANA is not a replacement database, but an alternative option to choose from depending on your needs. With its high performance and advanced analytics, SAP HANA is an ideal solution for companies with growing data volume concerns, for example.

What Does SAP HANA Include?

SAP HANA delivers multi-model capabilities, application development, advanced analytical processing, and flexible data integration. It is designed to simplify your data management infrastructure while eliminating data redundancy, disk latency, and data movement among applications and analytical tools. Bottom line, that means getting the answers you need from all of the transactions and operational input, fast.

As a platform, SAP HANA is built for all existing applications – your legacy software, third-party software, and SAP software – and is optimized for building and deploying next-generation, real-time applications; machine learning applications; and predictive analytics. It is also available through various deployment models in the cloud and on-premise, so you can choose the platform that best fits your business needs without compromising flexibility and cost.

SAP HANA acts as a hub for all SAP’s products, and it serves as the base for new SAP technology applications, like SAP S/4HANA. But what about long-standing software applications, like SAP Business One? SAP is fully aware that many existing SAP Business One customers are loyal to other database technologies and vendors. In the next section, we are going to share what options are available for companies or are considering SAP Business One and want to take the leap with SAP HANA.

SAP HANA and SAP Business One

SAP fully supports other database technologies and vendors, so there are two database options available in SAP Business One: Microsoft SQL Server and SAP HANA. Moving to SAP HANA from Microsoft SQL is often perceived as being complex, with many customers concerned they don’t have the time, resources, or budget to devote to making the switch. The good news is, a seasoned partner like Clients First has the expertise and methodologies to make the transition to SAP HANA easy and natural. By employing our experts and approach, customers can easily take advantage of the additional speed and analytical functionality that SAP HANA can provide.

Recognizing that customers prefer options and may be hesitant to take the full leap off their platform, SAP created two solutions for the move to SAP HANA. This first includes a hybrid solution for customers running SAP Business One on Microsoft SQL Server, and the second is a cleaner solution for customers ready to jump right into SAP HANA. Here is an overview of these two choices:

1. Business One Analytics Powered by SAP HANA (B1A)
This is an available option for existing SAP Business One customers that want the real-time analytics benefits of SAP HANA but feel they need more time to prepare, modify, and test their system. While there is an advantage of moving to SAP HANA in any format, this isn’t an expert recommended approach except in extraordinary circumstances. The performance with B1A is sub-optimal, features are missing, the cost is comparable or more to a full SAP HANA deployment, and there is a lot more work required than the average upgrade due to necessary modifications and infrastructure preparation.

As mentioned, sometimes extenuating circumstances may call for the B1A approach if a customer has several add-ons, multiple integrations, or complex customizations; so, it’s worth noting the availability of this approach. Chances are, you’ll have a faster, seamless, and more successful result by entirely switching to the SAP HANA platform, as we outline in the next section.

A certified, preferred SAP Partner can help you make the best determination if the B1A approach should be considered. Please contact the Clients First team if you need help with this.

2. SAP Business One on SAP HANA (B1H)
B1H is simply SAP Business One running on SAP HANA. B1H is available to new and existing customers and includes superior performance and speed, as well as a host of new features not included in the SQL Server environment or the hybrid B1A approach, including:

    • Embedded Analytics
    • Real-Time Inventory Check
    • Delivery Schedule Manager
    • Cash Flow Forecast
    • Crystal Dashboard Designer
    • Mobile Applications

B1H is going to be the preferred, recommended approach to fully utilizing the SAP HANA environment, and the move is quicker and more painless than most companies realize it can be.

Learn More About These Features

Why Make the Move to SAP HANA?

In today’s fast-paced, continually changing world, accessing real-time data and analytics has never been more important to progress and growth. The ability to perform business operations and data analysis in minutes rather than hours is a huge advantage. As data volume continues to grow, these are tasks that can start to overwhelm a Microsoft SQL Server database.

Ultimately, what you do depends on your business. We’re just here to tell you some of the compelling reasons why other customers have made the transition to SAP Business One in SAP HANA.

  1. Faster Response Times and Decision Making
    The SAP HANA database is structured in a way that makes reporting and querying quicker than any other relational database out there. With instant access to real-time data through embedded analytics, enterprise search, customizable dashboards/KPIs, and Excel-based ad hoc reporting, your executive team can find the answers they need, exactly when they need them, without relying on scarce technical resources.
  2. Enhanced System Performance
    With a single system for transactions and analytics, SAP HANA allows companies to leverage massive volumes of data to dramatically improve system speed, increase employee productivity, and enhance customer satisfaction.
  3. Cash Flow Analysis and Inventory Forecasting
    One of the most significant benefits of SAP HANA is its powerful new functionality that includes enhanced logic behind cash flow and support for inventory forecasting, like availability-to-promise processes.
  4. Interactive Reporting Without Technical Knowledge
    SAP HANA includes a predefined semantic layer for interacting with data using familiar business terminology and business intelligence tools, like SAP Crystal solutions. Everyday users can create up-to-the-minute dashboards to deliver revealing snapshots of key performance indicators (KPIs) for unprecedented day-to-day control.
  5. Flexible Deployment Options
    SAP Business One on SAP HANA (B1H) is available on-premise or in the cloud. There are many cloud providers certified by SAP to source your SAP Business One server(s) properly.
  6. Modern User Interface Priced for SMBs
    SAP HANA makes processing large volumes of transactions and real-time analytics readily accessible to businesses and budgets of all sizes. It also provides a dynamic, modern environment to empower your employees without complicating your IT landscape.
  7. SAP Business One Mobile Extras
    B1H includes additional functionality for the SAP Business One app, such as integrated enterprise search, available-to-promise (ATP) check, cash flow dashboards, delivery rescheduling, and embedded analytics.

Start Planning Your Transition to SAP HANA Today

Moving to SAP HANA doesn’t have to be a big step, it can be a natural one, and we want to help. At Clients First, our SAP Business One experts have the knowledge and experience to help you evolve your ERP solution seamlessly. Whether you’re on the fence or 100% ready to transition to SAP HANA, we can help walk you through the process and make the right decisions for your business.

The best database solution for your SAP Business One system purely depends on your organization and your requirements. While SAP Business One on SAP HANA is undoubtedly gaining traction in the market, there is no doubt that some customers will prefer running their business on SQL Server. Get in touch with our SAP Business One team today to get a personalized assessment about what is right for you, ask questions, schedule a demo, or get a quote!


Ryan Howe

Ryan Howe

Partner, Clients First Business Solutions New Jersey

Ryan Howe is a Certified Public Accountant turned SAP Business One consultant. Leading the SAP Business One practice at Clients First, Ryan has over 23 years’ experience in the financial management and ERP industry, specializing in business analysis, relationship building, and business process optimization. When he’s not helping customers leverage SAP Business One to meet their short and long-term needs, you can find him at any Michigan State sporting event with his family – go Spartans!