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What is the biggest difference between SAP HANA and SQL Server?

Nurit Sherman - PeerSpot reviewer
Content Operations Manager at PeerSpot (formerly IT Central Station)

One of the most popular comparisons on IT Central Station is SAP HANA vs SQL Server.

One user says about SAP HANA, "[It] provides us with predictive capabilities for asset maintenance and real-time forecasts."

Another user says about SQL Server, "While it didn’t have all the abilities of a true data warehouse, it was quickly implemented and well served for the desired purpose."

In your experience, which is better and why?

PeerSpot user
66 Answers

Bonnie Harmon - PeerSpot reviewer
Real User

I agree with the two statements below and would add:

MS SQL Server:


* Large base of experienced users and knowledge base
* Can be installed on most Linux or Windows operating systems
* Favorable dollar investment (compared to HANA)
* Managed through SQL Server Management Studio, a well-known tool


* No direct ties to SAP ECC
* Limited analytics in standard setup
* Would need to install Analysis Services for increased analytics tools, if analysis is desired.
* Row oriented design impacts performance for large searches.
* SQL trying to catch up to in-memory, and column oriented



* One tool for standard DB (OLTP) functionality as well as analysis
* Fast. (Although the speed differences are reported most dramatics with the analytics side)
* Real-time analytics
* SQL language
* Column design improves data warehouse performance


* Limited pool of experienced users with a small knowledge base (newer product)
* More expensive
* Limited installation options: cloud service or as appliance
* Managed through HANA tools - little known
* Column-oriented unfamiliar to SQL developers trying to

Both are relational databases. Being a long-time SQL user, I am comfortable with its limitations. But as I am exposed more to HANA, it truly is the preferred way to achieve real-time integration and analytics with SAP. When it becomes more cost effective, I think the switch will become more frequent to HANA.

Dr. Victor Gonzalez - PeerSpot reviewer
Real User

Definitively HANA is the most modern DBMS which was developed from zero incorporating the latest advances in research on the databases field. SQL Server was developed [originally by Sybase] in mid 80´s with the state of the art of those years.
SQL Server has serve many companies in the last few decades where the demand was for some thousands of transactions per second, considering humans capturing data but now with the computers interacting with computers or getting data from sensors, higher processing speed on the DBMS is required, as well as high scalability to manage Terabytes or Petabytes of data.

That is why HANA has been designed so companies can growth and play on the modern ages.

It is like comparing a Chevy car form the 80s with a Tesla car on the present. That is the difference in technological advances between SQL Server and HANA.

Bruce Greeff - PeerSpot reviewer
Real User

The two are not really directly comparable. HANA DB is designed to run in-memory. It indexes every attribute and converts values to integer, offering real time performance. SQL Server is a more general purpose, inherently relational product. Depending on use case - either may be better. HANA is entirely next generation. SQL Server has to maintain legacy compatibility - but it is easier to use and you can scale the infrastructure cost down. HANA is designed for appliance deployment. Scaling is expensive. To get similar capabilities to HANA you might have to add something like SPARK and /or REDIS to your SQL Server. Then it starts getting expensive and complex too.

Joe Fernandes - PeerSpot reviewer
Real User

SAP HANA runs queries "In Memory". Results of a query on large data volumes will appear lighting quick as a result. SQL Server is not an "In Memory" database. It is better suited while accessing smaller data volumes.

JanisGriffin - PeerSpot reviewer
Real User

I think I would prefer SQL Server over HANA because it's been around longer and is more well known. Also, the later versions of SQL Server allow for in memory column store, faster analytical queries and plays well with open source solutions.

Evan Haxton - PeerSpot reviewer

A lot depends upon what application is running on top of the data store.

If you are running SAP Business One, a compelling argument is made here
Essentially, SAP HANA (SAPH) offers in-memory processing and should be
faster in most cases.
However, if you are running SQL Server, you will have to access the data
first before it is cached into memory. If you are a smaller organization it
shouldn't matter what repository
you are using. However, larger organizations may be more interested in
SAPH for in-memory and analytics capabilities.

For generalized use, you will more interested in SQL Server simply for the availability of API and third-party tools. See here

Buyer's Guide
SAP HANA vs. SQL Server
July 2022
Find out what your peers are saying about SAP HANA vs. SQL Server and other solutions. Updated: July 2022.
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