Is Your Company Buying the Correct SAP HANA Database?

It has been years since the introduction of SAP’s HANA database but the distinctions between SAP HANA Runtime and SAP full-use licenses are still unclear for many customers. To dispel some of the confusion, we have identified the key differentiators between the two databases that should be considered before your next strategic investment.

Use Cases

Prior to investing in either database, your company should consider every potential use case and whether you would need to use the database for any non-SAP applications since one database is more restrictive than the other.

  • SAP HANA Runtime = More Restrictive
    Since the introduction of the SAP HANA database in 2008, our experience indicates SAP HANA Runtime is the more purchased database. This is also the more restrictive database since customers can only leverage it for SAP applications and the underlying SAP and non-SAP data can only be loaded, exported, and managed via SAP technologies.
  • SAP HANA Full-Use = Less Restrictive
    Over time, we have seen more customers shift their purchasing strategy from HANA Runtime to SAP HANA full-use. The full-use license certainly is as its name indicates – full-use. Without the restrictions of SAP HANA Runtime, companies can use HANA full-use for any combination of SAP, non-SAP, custom, or third-party applications. In addition, no limitations exist on the loading and exporting of SAP and non-SAP data directly in and out of SAP HANA.


  • SAP HANA Runtime = Data Management + Limited Analytics
    In the beginning, SAP HANA Runtime’s data management capabilities were compelling enough for customers to either replace their existing databases or purchase SAP HANA Runtime, in addition.  However, as the competitive landscape intensifies, companies are wanting to leverage predictive analytic insights from companywide data which may be stored on 3rd party applications. Since analytics in HANA Runtime are limited to SAP applications, we are seeing more companies transition to SAP HANA full-use.
  • SAP HANA Full-Use = Data Management + Fully Supported Advanced Analytics
    As buzzwords such as “machine learning” and “predictive analytics” continue to gain traction in the industry, customers are realizing that SAP HANA Runtime was more of a short-term solution due to the limitations on its capabilities. Thinking long-term and more strategically, customers require the full support for advanced analytics which SAP HANA full-use provides.


  • SAP HANA Runtime = Database Tax on All Previous and Future SAP Investments
    SAP’s HANA Runtime pricing is a familiar methodology if you have licensed older databases such as IBM DB2. However, instead of being priced based on a percentage of your SAP Application Value (SAV), it is priced on a percentage of your HANA SAP Application Value (HSAV) (8% and 15%, for HANA Runtime and HANA Runtime for Applications and BW, respectively). To net it out, HANA Runtime is essentially priced as a database tax on all of your previous and future SAP purchases whether you intend to leverage HANA Runtime or another database. This database tax is also “non-discountable.”
  • SAP HANA Full-Use = Based on Your Actual Requirements
    SAP’s HANA full-use pricing differs from the pricing of databases you may be familiar with. Instead of being priced based on your SAV or HSAV, it is priced on your actual GB requirements. Though it is also a “non-discountable” product, SAP has also provided some benefit to customers as they scale this database within their environment by providing tiered pricing as you increase the scale of your investment.

Switching from HANA Runtime to HANA Full-Use

If you licensed HANA Runtime based on your current requirements but your long-term roadmap calls for HANA full-use, our experience indicates that this is certainly not a lost investment. With the correct stage-crafting, we have seen SAP be forthcoming and provide commercial constructs to make the switch from HANA Runtime to HANA full-use more palatable and support your business case. In addition to commercial constructs, we have seen them provide promotions to incentivize you to make this strategic investment and realize the benefits of advanced analytics that SAP has been promoting to their customer base.

Making the Right Choice

Whether you are becoming a new SAP HANA customer or you are switching your HANA database, making the right choice will depend on your company’s needs. Recently, we have seen interest in HANA full-use increase as customers integrate more of their applications and strive to remain competitive by tapping into the power of advanced analytics. Overall, HANA Runtime may be a good choice if you are just looking for a database that supports your SAP applications, but HANA full-use may be a better long-term solution for many companies as they strive to remain competitive.


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2 thoughts on “Is Your Company Buying the Correct SAP HANA Database?”

  1. Hello Mike,

    Thanks for the post.

    Is it possible to run Full-Use features having the Runtime license installed?

    I mean, is there any risk of SAP charging you extra fees if you use (on purpose or not) Full-Use features while running HANA with a Runtime license?


  2. Mike Tucciarone


    Many of our customers have purchased HANA Runtime with what they refer to as a “sidecar” of HANA Full Use. If you purchase HANA Runtime, it is easy to anticipate SAP charging extra fees because they charge you for the HANA Runtime database as part of each additional software investment (like a tax). If you purchase HANA Full Use, GB requirements are not as easy to anticipate and a risk certainly exists of SAP charging extra fees (as part of an audit) if you are leveraging more than you intended because of your configuration.

    We have direct experience with SAP customers being audited for HANA Full Use and leveraging more than intended because of their configuration, but with the right stage-crafting and messaging an appropriate commercial resolution can be reached.

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