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Comparison Buyer's Guide
Executive Summary
Updated on Oct 30, 2022

We performed a comparison between SAP HANA and SQL Server based on our users’ reviews in five categories. After reading all of the collected data, you can find our conclusion below.

  • Ease of Deployment: Users of both solutions feel their initial setup is mostly straightforward with some complexity. SAP HANA users mention more difficulties, however, and note that it’s really complex if you’re migrating from another system.
  • Features: Users of both products are generally happy with their stability and scalability.

    SAP HANA users are impressed with its performance speed, memory, and flexible processes. Some note it lacks management features that other solutions have.

    SQL Server users note being particularly satisfied with its ease of use, ability to connect with any language, and reporting services. Some note that they would like the solution to improve their backups and datatypes.
  • Pricing: SAP HANA users feel the product is expensive. SQL Server users mostly say the product is expensive but reasonably so.
  • ROI: While SAP HANA users don’t mention ROI, SQL Server users mention significant ROI.
  • Service and Support: SAP HANA users report their support as mediocre to very good, with many noting that tech support could be improved. SQL Server users report excellent, responsive support from Microsoft support.

Comparison Results: Because SAP HANA’s users say its pricing, support, and ease of deployment could all be greatly improved, SQL Server ultimately wins out in this comparison.

To learn more, read our detailed SAP HANA vs. SQL Server Report (Updated: May 2023).
709,643 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Q&A Highlights
Question: Which is better: SQL Server or SAP HANA?
Answer: It really depends on the purpose of usage. Both have strengths and limitations. SAP HANA is expensive especially when you try to integrate data from other sources than SAP systems. SQL Server (I believed you refer to MSSQL), is good for you to store application data. However, if you need big data analysis or advanced analytics, SQL Server may not be the best solution. The same goes for SAP HANA.
Featured Review
Quotes From Members
We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use.
Here are some excerpts of what they said:
"SAP HANA is a stable solution.""We can save data very easily.""It is difficult for me to narrow down what the best features are in SAP HANA because they work together to provide the overall functionality of the solution. However, the Fiori application is very good.""The product handles high volumes very well and provides good integration.""Eases management of databases.""In comparison with other DMS solutions, it offers good performance.""A very feature-rich solution with excellent performance.""The most valuable feature of SAP HANA is its performance and integration."

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"The technical support that Microsoft provides is great.""The initial setup was straightforward.""The license fee is very low.""I love the developer version. Microsoft tells you about all the cool things they provided for everybody. You can develop and do anything with it. It's really good to learn. Oracle will not give you that much freedom, and Microsoft really kills it. You don't do anything with it but develop, learn, break, and push it to its limits. If there are problems, you show Microsoft or ask them, "what's going on here?" There is good community support for the developer edition, and that's what I really appreciate. You can teach people about it without limitations. You can have small databases created. You can keep it for a year and then work on it. It's a good thing for learners and developers.""Its usability is very good. Its performance is satisfactory.""There is a lot of information about the solution readily available online.""It is secure, and it is fast. For our present database size, we are using the Always-On feature on SQL Server so that our transactions are replicated among three servers. If one server goes down, we can find the data from other servers. We have benefited from this feature.""The support from Microsoft has been good."

More SQL Server Pros →

"The solution's development platform should be more flexible and scalable to adapt to other solutions.""I would like more technical documentation. I would like it to be easier to find online help or have a better launch-based service. SAP has a lot of functions, so we need more best practices and more detailed documentation on industry solutions. For example, it would be good to have documentation on why a certain process needs to be set up and which kinds of configurations need to be set up.""It could be a bit more scalable.""The initial setup was very, very complex, tedious, and costly and required someone with great expertise to complete it.""In a future release, SAP HANA should add a module for taxation, such as income tax and withholding tax.""It's a complex initial setup.""What needs improvement in SAP HANA is its automation, in particular, it needs more enhancements in that area.""It is challenging to integrate it with third-party tools."

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"I want to see one improvement and this involves the replication between the DC and DR.""SQL Server could improve by having better usability or user guidance.""I would like Microsoft to evolve SQL Server because stateful databases dying are in a way. We would like to find out if it can absorb Hadoop and other similar things. They should make it useful for data mining. Data is evolving forever, and how we store it is also changing constantly. So, SQL Server also needs to change.""It would be better if it had more integration with other systems.""I would like the SQL Server to be able to provide cloud support. We use the solution with a Korean provider supporting only MySQL rather than Microsoft SQL Server, which would be preferable and cheaper. This would prevent us from having to pay for troubleshooting and hosting the server.""They could improve by adding the SQL format.""The price could be better. In the next release, it would be better if the database was more easily extendable.""The scalability could be better."

More SQL Server Cons →

Pricing and Cost Advice
  • "We pay for a maintenance license, and the licensing cost is high. In general, it is a very expensive solution."
  • "The price of SAP HANA is very expensive and it is paid annually."
  • "We pay annually for the license of the solution."
  • "The pricing is a bit on the high side."
  • "There is an annual license to use SAP HANA."
  • "The price of licensing is dependent on the size of the project, however, we have found that there is scope to negotiate the cost. If the solution is implemented on-premises there may be some extra costs for hosting etc."
  • "We are spending about 20,000 to 30,000 euros on the solution."
  • "SAP HANA is more expensive than other solutions."
  • More SAP HANA Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "Our customers do pay license fees for the MS SQL Server but the Rabbit is free, as it is open-source software."
  • "We pay per second of usage, but there are different offerings of the license."
  • "There is a license required for this solution. One of the problems is for smaller businesses to purchases a license because it is expensive for a lot of them to afford."
  • "The price of the solution is very expensive. If I went with the cloud version of SQL a license would cost me approximately 11,000 Riyals per month."
  • "The price could always be lower."
  • "There is a license required for servers and for the POS we use the free version. The free version allows you to have tables and a total database size of approximately 10 GB, which is enough for our requirements."
  • "The areas that need improvement are with regards to the commercial aspect of the solution, the licensing cost could be reduced in order to help customers to adopt it."
  • "There is a license required for this solution and we pay monthly. The price is reasonable compared to other solutions."
  • More SQL Server Pricing and Cost Advice →

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    Questions from the Community
    Top Answer:Based on my work with SAP HANA, the biggest benefit that it can bring to your business is total data management. This product is by SAP - a company that serves almost all needs a client may have… more »
    Top Answer:We have been using SAP HANA for a fairly short period of time and have only taken advantage of their customer support. So far, we have not had issues that required specialized help from technical… more »
    Top Answer:SAP HANA is fairly easy to set up, however, I do not think a complete beginner can do it. You certainly need some preparation - either you need to have experience with similar solutions, or with other… more »
    Top Answer:SQL Server is fairly priced because it has various editions, depending on the number of users, servers, or core packs you are using. If you compare the product to others in this category, the prices… more »
    Top Answer:SQL Server has helped my organization through partitioning to distribute the workload, as it splits them up into smaller pieces so the machines can easily deal with it. However, this comes with a high… more »
    Top Answer:My company connects through SQL Server authentication. We have company Windows accounts, but we do not want to connect the two, out of security concerns and to keep things separated for our own… more »
    Average Words per Review
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    Also Known As
    SAP High-Performance Analytic Appliance, HANA
    Microsoft SQL Server, MSSQL, MS SQL
    Learn More

    SAP HANA, also known as SAP High-performance Analytics Appliance, is a multi-model database that stores data in its memory, allowing users to avoid disk storage. The product combines its robust database with services for creating applications. SAP HANA is faster than other database management systems (DBMS) because it stores data in column-based tables in main memory and brings online analytical processing (OLAP) and online transaction processing (OLTP) together.

    The column-oriented in-memory database design allows users to run high-speed transactions alongside advanced analytics, all in a single system. This provides companies with the ability to process very large amounts of data with low latency and query data in an instant. By combining multiple data management capabilities, the solution simplifies IT, helps businesses with innovations, and facilitates digital transformation.

    The solution is structured into five groups of capabilities, categorized as:

    • Database design
    • Database management
    • Application development
    • Advanced analytics
    • Data virtualization

    There are three more SAP products that work alongside SAP HANA and complete the experience for users together. SAP S/4HANA Cloud is a ready-to-run cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP). SAP BW/4HANA is a packaged data warehouse, based on SAP HANA, which allows users to consolidate data across the enterprise to get a consistent view of their data. Finally, SAP Cloud is a single database as a service (DBaaS) foundation for modern applications and analytics across all enterprise data. All three products can combine with SAP HANA to deliver to users an optimized experience regarding their data.

    SAP HANA Features

    Each architectural group of capabilities of SAP HANA has various features that users can benefit from. These include:

    • Parallel processing database: SAP HANA utilizes a single platform to run transactional and analytical workloads.

    • ACID compliance: This feature ensures compliance with requirements for Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability (ACID) standards.

    • Multi-tenancy: This feature allows multiple tenant databases to run in one system while sharing the same memory and processors.

    • Multi-tier storage and persistent memory support: SAP HANA's native storage extension is a built-in capability to manage between memory and persistent storage, including SAP HANA Cloud Data Lake.

    • Scaling: The scaling feature supports terabytes of data in a single server and distributes large tables across multiple servers in a cluster to scale further.

    • Data modeling: This feature consists of graphical modeling tools that enable collaboration between stakeholders and the creation of models to execute complex business logic and data transformation in real time.

    • Stored procedures: The product has a native language to build stored procedures and uses advanced capabilities to create complex logic.

    • Administration: This feature consists of administration tools for various platform lifecycle, performance, and management operations and automations.

    • Security: SAP HANA provides its users with real-time data anonymization features to extract value from data while protecting privacy.

    • Availability and recovery: The tool supports high availability and disaster recovery through an array of techniques, including backup, storage mirroring, synchronous, asynchronous, and multitarget system replication.

    • Extended application services: Through its built-in application server, users can develop services such as REST and ODATA, as well as web applications that can run on multiple locations.

    • Client access: The product offers clients the ability to access it via other application platforms and languages, including Java, JavaScript, R, and Go.

    • Application lifecycle management: This set of features facilitates the building and packaging of applications, transporting them for development to test to production, and then deploying them.

    • Application development: This feature consists of a set of tools that offer application development on premises and in the Cloud. The programming language ABAP includes additional optimized features to build extensions to SAP applications.

    • Search: The search feature uses SQL to locate text promptly across multiple columns and textual content.

    • Spatial processing: This product feature provides native support for spatial data types and spatial functions.

    • Graph: Through this feature, users of the product can store and process highly connected data using a property graph.

    • Streaming analytics: This feature combines various data sources that users can utilize to discover trends over a set period.

    • Data integration and replication: The solution offers comprehensive features to handle all data integration scenarios.

    • Data federation: This feature allows users to perform queries on remote data sources in real time with data federation.

    • Caching: The capacity to cache data provides users with the ability to optimize federated queries against remote sources of data.

    SAP HANA Benefits

    SAP HANA provides many benefits for its users. These include:

    • This solution offers a high level of data and application security, beginning from a secure setup and providing continuous support.

    • SAP HANA offers augmentation for applications and analytics with built-in machine learning (ML).

    • The solution works in a timely manner, as it provides a response to queries within seconds in large production applications.

    • SAP HANA simplifies work, as it provides a single gateway to all user data with advanced data virtualization.

    • The product is very flexible, as it allows users to deploy applications in a public or private cloud, in multiple clouds, on premises, or hybrid.

    • SAP HANA scales easily for data volume and concurrent users across a distributed environment.

    • This is a powerful solution in terms of querying large datasets with a massively parallel processing (MPP) database.

    • SAP HANA is a versatile product that supports hybrid transactional and analytical processing as well as many data types.

    • The product provides a smaller data footprint with no data duplication or advanced compression, and reduces data silos.

    Reviews from Real Users

    According to a database consultant at a pharma/biotech company, SAP HANA is a very robust solution with good data access.

    Bruno V., owner at LAVORO AUTOM INF E COM LTDA, likes SAP HANA because the product offers advanced features, helps reduce hours, and makes it easy to find what you need.

    SQL Server is a relational database management system (RDBMS) by Microsoft. The product's main purposes are to store data and retrieve it as requested by other software applications - on the same computer or on another computer across a shared network. The solution is built on top of Structured Query Language (SQL), which is a standardized programming language used for relational database management.

    The product is tied to Transact-SQL (T-SQL), which is an implementation of SQL from Microsoft that adds several proprietary programming extensions to the standard language. SQL Server is built similarly to other RDBMS products, as its structure is a row-based table that connects related data elements in different tables to one another. One of its most important components is the SQL Server Database Engine, as it controls data processing, storage, and security. Beneath the Database Engine is the SQL Server Operating System, which is used for memory and I/O management, locking data to avoid unneeded upgrades, and job scheduling.

    The solution has four editions with different sets of services and tools. They include:

    • SQL Server Developer
    • SQL Server Expression
    • SQL Server Standard 
    • SQL Server Enterprise

    The first two are available for free and are typically utilized by smaller companies, as they work with fewer functions and storage. The second two editions are generally used by bigger organizations and enterprises and offer more features.

    The solution has several functions through which users can facilitate different data-related processes. These include:

    • Aggregate functions: These functions are used to calculate one or more values and return a single value.

    • Window functions: Window functions calculate an aggregate value based on a group of rows and return multiple rows for each involved group.

    • Date functions: These functions allow clients to handle data and time data efficiently.

    • String functions: Through the string functions, SQL Server processes an input string and returns a string or numeric value.

    • System functions: The system functions of the product return objects, values, and settings.

    SQL Server Services

    SQL Server has a wide range of add-on services that provide additional benefits beyond database management. These services include:

    • Machine learning: SQL Server machine learning services allow users to do machine learning and data analytics within the product.
    • Service broker: This feature is a part of the database engine and offers messaging and message queuing for applications on the platform.

    • Replication: This feature consists of transaction replication, merge replication, and snapshot replication. 

    • Analysis: SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) adds online analytical processing (OLAP) and data mining capabilities to SQL Server databases.

    • Reporting: This feature supports the development of custom reporting applications.

    • Notifications: This feature generates data-driven notifications which are sent to subscribers of Notification Services.

    • Integration: This SQL Server feature provides capabilities for data integration, data import, and data warehousing.

    • Full-text search: Through this feature, users can utilize specialized indexing and query for unstructured text stored in the solution.

    • Visual studio: This feature supports data programming with SQL Server.

    • Azure Data Studio: This is a cross-platform query editor that can be downloaded and used alongside SQL Server.

    SQL Server Benefits

    The solution has many benefits for users. These include the following:

    • The platform ensures a consistent experience across other platforms while being fast and agile.

    • Through the built-in intelligence features, users can understand their data better.

    • The solution has enterprise-level security, which ensures the smooth and safe performance of users' data.

    • SQL Server offers the ability to retrieve large amounts of data quickly and efficiently.

    • The product installation process is fairly easy, and it offers a user-friendly interface.

    • SQL Server offers improved data storage and retrieval functions through frequent upgrades.

    • The solution reduces the risk of database server attacks, since it is not an open-source database.

    Reviews from Real Users

    A president at a consultancy evaluates SQL Server as a veteran solution with critical log shipping feature

    Harkamal S., a user at a manufacturing company, rates SQL Server with a high mark because it is a stable, scalable, and easy-to-deploy solution that pretty much covers everything.

    Learn more about SAP HANA
    Learn more about SQL Server
    Sample Customers
    Unilever, NHS 24, adidas Group, CHIO Aachen, Hamburg Port Authority (HPA), Bangkok Airways Public Company Limited
    Microsoft SQL Server is used by businesses in every industry, including Great Western Bank, Aviva, the Volvo Car Corporation, BMW, Samsung, Principality Building Society, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario.
    Top Industries
    Computer Software Company19%
    Manufacturing Company13%
    Energy/Utilities Company11%
    Computer Software Company16%
    Manufacturing Company12%
    Comms Service Provider8%
    Financial Services Firm7%
    Financial Services Firm19%
    Computer Software Company11%
    Manufacturing Company11%
    Comms Service Provider5%
    Educational Organization32%
    Computer Software Company10%
    Financial Services Firm9%
    Manufacturing Company5%
    Company Size
    Small Business25%
    Midsize Enterprise15%
    Large Enterprise60%
    Small Business19%
    Midsize Enterprise13%
    Large Enterprise67%
    Small Business41%
    Midsize Enterprise21%
    Large Enterprise38%
    Small Business15%
    Midsize Enterprise38%
    Large Enterprise46%
    Buyer's Guide
    SAP HANA vs. SQL Server
    May 2023
    Find out what your peers are saying about SAP HANA vs. SQL Server and other solutions. Updated: May 2023.
    709,643 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    SAP HANA is ranked 4th in Relational Databases Tools with 45 reviews while SQL Server is ranked 1st in Relational Databases Tools with 103 reviews. SAP HANA is rated 8.6, while SQL Server is rated 8.4. The top reviewer of SAP HANA writes "Good integration capabilities, easy to implement, and reliable". On the other hand, the top reviewer of SQL Server writes "Good performance, well-priced, trivial to set up, and helpful support". SAP HANA is most compared with Oracle Database, IBM Db2 Database, MySQL, Apache Spark and Teradata, whereas SQL Server is most compared with Oracle Database, MariaDB, LocalDB, IBM Db2 Database and Teradata. See our SAP HANA vs. SQL Server report.

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