SAP’s advanced in-memory database SAP HANA is a popular technology among organizations and businesses worldwide for dealing with day-to-day activities, not the least because of HANA’s administration capabilities.
In 2015, SAP released S/4HANA, the company’s latest ERP system, designed to run off SAP HANA. This release impacted the SAP job market, which saw a growing demand for consultants with S/4HANA expertise who could implement the system and were knowledgeable about solutions such as Fiori and Simple Finance.
But the good news is that more traditional SAP HANA skills never went out of fashion. Advanced Business Application Programming (ABAP) is still the default programming language for the SAP ecosystem.
Highly skilled SAP developers and administrators continue to be sought after and there are other roles as well where a knowledge of the SAP HANA database is extremely useful.
What Is SAP HANA?
In 2010, SAP launched its own database server, SAP HANA. Previously, the German software company had relied on databases created by other providers.
SAP HANA was developed to rapidly process structured data from applications, relational databases, both SAP and non-SAP, and other systems. It enables companies to process huge amounts of data with almost no delay.
It also offers real-time data analytics, advanced search, and data integration capabilities, both for structured and unstructured data; retrieves and stores data “in-memory.”
What Is SAP HANA Used for?
Data is stored in column-based tables to make SAP HANA easier to use. This feature, plus the fact that online transactional and analytical processing are being brought together, makes SAP HANA one of the fastest database management systems available.
You might also have heard of SAP S/4HANA, which is the next-generation enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. SAP ERP is used by companies to manage day-to-day activities, for example, risk management and compliance, project management, and accounting.
SAP S/4HANA, using a simpler data model, features increased functionality. It aims to improve an organization’s business processes by utilizing artificial intelligence (AI), intelligent automation (IA), and robotic process automation (RPA) and lowering operational costs.
In addition, an S/4HANA mitigation provides better integration between headquarters and other office locations.
Simple Finance (released in 2015) became one of the first S/4 products to run off HANA, and changed the way financial data was stored in the SAP system. The various tables that had earlier stored SAP Finance and Costing (FI/CO) data had been replaced by a few HANA tables. Overall, this reduced data storage and increased the reporting speed.
Types of SAP HANA
The database supports eight different SQL data types. Let’s explore each one.
Data Time. This data type stores time and data in a table.
Numeric. This data type stores numeric information in various ways.
Boolean. Also called a logical value, this data type is used to check whether something is true or false.
Binary. This data type stores bytes of binary data.
Multivalued. Also called a nested data type, it stores a collection of values that share the same data type.
Character String Data Type. This data type stores values, which contain character strings.
Large Objects. This data type stores large amounts of data, such as images and text documents.
Spatial Data. This data type stores spatial data about spatial objects, e.g. as lines, points, and polygons.
Learning SAP HANA
To become proficient in one or several of the different SAP applications and/or modules is a great way to open up your career options. These are in-demand, and often well-paid, roles. As you learn SAP HANA, do a bit of research about what other SAP modules are popular, in case there are other ones that you can complement your expertise with.
If you know for sure that you will be participating in SAP’s consultant certification program, you will need to sign up with an authorized SAP training partner. The reason being that you can only sit for the certification exam if you have trained through an official SAP training partner, alternatively if your employers register you. Then again, in that case, your employer needs to be either an SAP customer or partner company.
How Long Does It Take to Learn SAP HANA?
If you know your way around databases and are experienced with the logic of programming, learning will maybe take about a month.
On the other hand, if you are starting out totally from scratch, then it could take three to six months. Of course, the pace depends on how much time you devote every day to your SAP HANA training.
How to Learn SAP HANA: Step-by-Step
Compare learning SAP HANA to that of a cooking recipe. Here are the different ingredients that you will need:
- Warm-up with SQL. It’s important that you learn the basis of database concepts. Do this by starting with a few short MS SQL tutorials.
- Continue with in-memory data management. OpenSAP’s nutshell course gives you the fundamentals needed before getting into the good stuff.
- Move onto SAP. Next, get familiar with SAP. There are many useful blogs for total beginners, such as Blog about all things SAP.
- Combine theory with practice. Now, that you have a better idea about SAP, it’s time to get hands-on with video tutorials. For example, through SAP Technology.
- Join a forum. Some of these popular forums will provide a great general overview: SAPFans and SAP Community.
- … and a LinkedIn group. SAP HANA, SAP S/4HANA, SAP BW and SAP Cloud Platform Group is an open collaboration group for SAP professionals, with over 40,000 members.
- Head to Twitter. Follow @SAPInMemory, @Atos4SAP, @WeissJorge, @gerritkazmaier and in general, #SAP.
- Ready to get SAP certified? If this is your goal, now is the time.
The Best SAP HANA Courses and Training
Don’t feel like your only course options are SAP-authorized classes, but the company does provide comprehensive and high-quality courses. It is also worth noting that many companies looking to hire people proficient in SAP HANA or S/4HANA want those who are certified through SAP.
If you want to pursue SAP training from other course providers, do your due diligence to make sure that they have a good reputation in the industry.
In-Person SAP HANA Classes
Please note that all physical SAP training courses are currently being offered virtually.
- Course: S4H01 – SAP Business Suite to SAP S/4HANA Delta Virtual Class
- Time: December 17, 2020 – December 18, 2020 (2 days)
- Prerequisites: Basic SAP Business Suite/ERP knowledge, business IT knowledge and business application background (S4H01)
The S4H01 course is aimed at those who are already familiar with SAP Business Suite/ERP and who want to upgrade to SAP S/4HANA. It provides a broad background of the database: the underlying technology, why it was developed and the user experience.
In addition, students are introduced to machine learning and intelligent enterprise.
- Course: SACAD1 – SAP Analytics Cloud: Analytics Designer
- Time: January 11, 2021 – January 14, 2021 (4 days)
- Prerequisites: Basic understanding of SAP Analytics Cloud, such as covered in SAC01 – Introduction to SAP Analytics Cloud (SACAD1)
- Price: $3,272
The SACAD1 course teaches primarily SAP HANA, BW and business objects consultants how to build analytic applications within SAP Analytics Cloud. As sources, both SAP S4/HANA and SAP BW4/HANA are used.
With the speed of the updates to SAP Analytics Cloud, the aim is to update the course on a quarterly basis.
- Course: BW362 – SAP BW powered by SAP HANA
- Time: March 8, 2021 – March 12, 2021 (5 days)
- Prerequisites: Hands-on experience in data modeling with SAP BW 7.x, and completion of course BW310 – BW – Enterprise Data Warehousing (BW362)
- Price: $4,090
BW362 actually includes an awesome introduction to the basics of SAP HANA and native modeling. The class then covers how to optimize an existing SAP BW architecture, and utilize new functions and data models within SAP HANA.
The audience is specifically experienced SAP administrators, modelers and SAP BW (business warehouse) users.
Online SAP HANA Courses
Learning Tree’s SAP courses follow the official SAP training curriculum. They all take about 2–3 days to complete.
Learning Tree International
- Course: HA100 – SAP HANA Introduction Training
- Prerequisites: Basic understanding of IT within a business setting
- Price: $1,636
- Course: HA300 – SAP HANA Modeling Training
- Prerequisites: SAP HANA Introduction Training
- Price: $2,454
- Course: S4H00 – SAP S/4HANA Overview Training
- Price: $4,090
The Introductory Training class, combining lectures with hands-on exercises, guides students through database modeling, data acquisition and HANA’s architecture.
Modeling Training is an intermediate class covering SAP HANA’s core modeling capabilities, in particular graphical modeling, plus SQL-based modeling. It also offers an overview of advanced data processing.
For those without a background in SAP, the Overview Training course provides the basics of SAP S/4HANA: overriding concepts, key processes and solutions, and real-time analytics capabilities.
Free SAP HANA Courses
SAP’s free learning portal, OpenSAP, provides an extensive suite of MOOCs where you can learn about the latest products and solutions. The course levels range from beginners to experts. Plus, students have the option to get certified.
- Course: SAP’s Integrated Intelligent Suite
- Time: January 11, 2021 – February 8, 2021 (4 weeks)
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Free
Based on the 2020 strategy paper, “Intelligent Enterprises are Integrated Enterprises – SAP’s integration plan in the Cloud,” the course breaks down the paper in great detail and explains Integrated Intelligent Enterprise and the strategy behind it.
- Course: Learn SQL
- Time: 8 hours
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: 7-day free trial
Understanding the SQL server goes hand in hand with learning SAP HANA, so taking an introductory course is a good first step for HANA newbies. In any case, it is an excellent skill to have, no matter if you are currently working within IT or will be in the future.
If you are taking a university degree (at least four years), you are eligible for the seven-day free trial that comes with the Codecademy Pro Student membership. Just remember that during checkout, you will have to verify your student credentials.
An additional benefit of a Pro membership is that it allows you to earn a certificate upon completing the course.
- Course: SAP S/4 HANA Financial Accounting Overview
- Prerequisites: Intermediate
- Price: One month free trial
This course helps finance professionals, using SAP, discover the new functionalities of the SAP S/4HANA Financial Accounting module. It explains how finance accounting integrates with different SAP modules, and the most common transactions of financial accounting’s four submodules: general ledger, asset accounting, accounts payable, and receivable.
Finally, the course introduces the S4 Fiori, an app-based interface, which enables a responsive, personalized user experience for SAP S/4HANA.
SAP HANA Books
Make some room in your bookshelves for these elementary manuals, you will probably want to reference them every now and then.
‘SAP BW/4HANA 2.0: The Comprehensive Guide’, Thorsten Lüdtke
The next generation, SAP BW/4HANA 2.0, is coming your way. Look no further than to this guide for all that you need to know.
Are you migrating from an existing system? Check. Will you be installing the new version? Check. How to connect to the SAP Analytics Cloud? Check. What does the new architecture look like? Check.
‘SAP HANA: An introduction’, Penny Silvia, Rob Frye, Bjarne Berg
This best-seller, now in its fourth edition, outlines all the essentials of SAP HANA — data modeling, implementation, and mastering the administration tasks. It will give you vital insights into SAP HANA as an application platform, and database.
‘SAP HANA Enterprise A Complete Guide – 2019 Edition’, Gerardus Blokdyk
Australian author Gerardus Blokdyk equips any SAP HANA Enterprise domain auditor with the self-assessment tools to make sure that they are on the right track. How do they tailor SAP HANA Enterprise advice? Ensure that costs are low? Achieve professional results effectively? The book answers all of these questions.
SAP HANA Certifications
The new SAP Blended Learning Academy, a modular training program, combines guided classes with self-paced studies. Courses are usually between three to five months.
First, students attend virtual SAP Live Class sessions led by SAP instructors. They can then practice using the SAP Learning Hub. In the end, there is an SAP S/4HANA certification exam.
Designed for working professionals, there are two options available:
- The SAP S/4HANA Consultant Academy is five months and trains people to become SAP S/4HANA associate consultants in five months.
- The SAP S/4HANA Integration Academy is slightly shorter, three months, and trains people to become SAP S/4HANA integration consultants.
Online SAP HANA Resources
SAP provides a wide variety of genuinely good and useful resources. The SAP HANA Academy does a really good job with its video tutorials.
There are plenty of self-paced SAP HANA introductory courses that highlights best practices along with the latest features and solutions.
The SAP HANA Academy contains more than 1,000 free video tutorials, covering SAP HANA and the SAP cloud platform SAP Leonardo.
For SAP HANA, you can choose between playlists about SAP HANA Cloud, security & administration, data management and advanced analytics.
Head over to the SAP Community site where you can find recent SAP presentations, digest featured blog posts and register for the SAP Community Call, to discuss upcoming community activities.
Should You Study SAP HANA?
SAP is a global market leader in providing companies with ERP services and solutions. Whether you are currently working for SAP, directly or indirectly, or would like to do so, learning about SAP HANA and S/4HANA will be an incredible asset.
Some of the roles applicable to SAP HANA are: developer, administrator, engineer, architect, business analyst, data modeler, project manager, and data consultant.
What will boost your market value even more is getting an SAP certification. It is very well recognized all around the world, and the standard that many employers use to ensure that their hires have the required expertise.
SAP certificate programs are creatively designed and constantly evolving to take into account new products, releases, and versions. The certificate exams are known for their rigorous requirements, combining extensive studies with thorough experience.
Needless to say, it will take time and effort to become SAP Certified but see it as a wise, long-term career investment that will set you apart from non-SAP certified applications, or colleagues, now and in the future.
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