Good software can become even better if the underlying database platform, the operating system, or the hardware become even better. A very trial realization that’s being proven right in all areas of IT right now. What happens, then, if interfaces between applications, middleware, database and hardware are bound to each other?
Many years ago, SAP customers could “boost” their SAP ERP system by switching databases, for example from Oracle to IBM DB2. With Hana, that becomes impossible. Hana just doesn’t add value. It can be an excellent database platform for S/4, but that’s about it.
Former SAP CTO Vishal Sikka had different plans for Hana. He wanted to establish it as a new offer in the database market, dreaming of Hana use cases beyond SAP’s own ERP. There had even been plans to position Hana as an open-source solution.
Nothing ever came of his visions, though. Hana to this day remains a proprietary software product. This should worry customers: Who’s going to innovate on Hana? Who’s going to create new algorithms for it? Who’s going to care for the ecosystem around the Hana database platform?
Hana is fully and completely at SAP’s mercy. SAP is the one who is responsible for all things Hana. This is a huge responsibility – one SAP might not be able to shoulder anymore in the coming years. Of course, this doesn’t apply to Hana maintenance, as SAP has given its commitment to Hana until 2040. No, the question is quite simply: Who will continue to improve Hana?
There’s no free Hana community, no startups wanting to develop on the database platform. There’s no market for Hana add-ons outside the constrictions of S/4. A solution would be to breathe life into an old idea: Make Hana open source! Deposit Hana’s source code on GitHub and hope that engaged developers will want to work on it.
The community needs a future-proof solution, and this might be SAP’s best shot at separating Hana and S/4 and ensure their continued survival beyond 2030.