The SAP HANA Career Guide – Part 1, Overview

SAP HANA is one of the fastest growing software technologies ever. It was released mid-2011 and sold $250m in the first year. In 2012, financial analysts expect $500m+ and it is expected to be a $1bn+ market in 2013. In software services terms, this is at least a $4bn market, next year.

It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that there is a huge interest in training, education and certification right now and there isn’t a good guide to what makes a good SAP HANA consultant. So, in a 8 part series special, I am going to lay out what types of consultant exist, where to get educational resources and how to get ahead in getting a job in the SAP HANA market.

SAP HANA creates a new category of consulting

It’s really important to note that there isn’t just one type of “SAP HANA Consultant”, whatever someone tries to tell you. SAP HANA, like any other technology, has a number of sub areas. My advice: first, understand the different categories and then decide – based on your experience and interest – which one of these you will be best at specialising in, and learn that subject matter.

This guide will help you understand which category you fit in, and where to find the resources to become an expert.

SAP HANA Distinguished Engineer Program

Whatever type of consultant you are looking to be, I recommend looking at the SAP HANA Distinguished Engineer Program. I’m on the council, so I would say that – but the program will support you in your learning, and then recognise you for your achievements, knowledge and community efforts. Read the FAQ for more details.

Let’s get on and discuss the different categories of SAP HANA consultant directly.

1. SAP HANA in-memory Business Consultant

Business consultants understand one or more industry verticals, and typically a number of lines of business, with a specialty – for example Retail Sales, or Utilities Supply Chain. The SAP HANA in-memory Business Consultant also understands how in-memory technology technologies can disrupt businesses and gets how to apply the technology concepts to business scenarios.

It’s fair to say that this consumes a good number of what used to be described “functional consultants”. In some instances, like the Finance Line of Business, their skills may be applied cross-industry.

Click Here to link to the main article

2. SAP HANA Performance Consultant

SAP HANA leader Steve Lucas and I coined this term earlier in the year because it is very emotive. The SAP HANA Performance Consultant takes the concepts developed by the Business Consultant and creates solutions, architectures and designs using SAP HANA Enterprise. Typically these include using the SAP HANA Modeller tool to create models.

Click Here to link to the main article

3. SAP HANA Operations Consultant

This is what in traditional terms used to be called SAP Basis, but I always hated that term and was glad that a new term could be coined! SAP HANA Operations Consultants understand technical architecture, Linux, how to install SAP HANA or migrate systems, and also have some understanding of SAP Basis.

Click Here to link to the main article

4. SAP HANA BW Consultant

The SAP HANA BW Consultant is fairly similar to a regular BW technical consultant but there are some specific skills about architecting, re-architecting and modelling BW solutions within SAP HANA that are essential to know.

5. SAP HANA Application Developer

SAP HANA requires a change in the way in which you develop applications, so whatever type of apps you are looking to build – be it ABAP applications using the HANA database, or mobile applications using the HANA XS Application Services layer, you will need to understand your existing development platform, and in-memory computing concepts. The SAP HANA Application Developer combines these skills to produce high-performance apps.

6. SAP HANA Security Consultant

This is a niche area but one we can’t do without. Security design, access control and security models are different because of the way that SAP HANA is designed and you need an appreciation of business security concerns, access, audit and compliance as well as SAP HANA to do this well.

7. SAP HANA Project Manager

I didn’t add this category into the original blog post but I’ve decided to add it: managing SAP HANA projects requires the usual PRINCE2-style project management experience, but combined with some elements of agile methodologies, but more importantly taking into account how SAP HANA changes project life-cycles.

Final Words

Hopefully you understand from this article which of the categories fits you best. I think it is safe to say that, provided you have the background, skills, and desire to be an awesome HANA Consultant, any of these could be a lucrative career choice.

In the following 7 articles, I will discuss each of these roles in detail, along with any relevant certification programs, training material and other self-help locations, so you can pursue your SAP HANA career of choice. Good Luck!


As usual this post wasn’t possible without the help of others. In particular, thanks have to go to the rest of my HANA Distinguished Engineer Council members: Michael Eacrett, David Hull, Harald Reiter, Jon Reed and Vijay Vijaysankar. But also to nearly everyone else I spent time with over the last 5 years.

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19 Responses to The SAP HANA Career Guide – Part 1, Overview

  1. Mark Chalfen says:

    Hi John

    Great concept for a blog.

    Most people see HANA as a technical application which will require technical skills.

    Glad to know there is a future for everyone !!

  2. Tomas Krojzl says:

    Hello John,
    really nice overview of different positions related to SAP HANA.
    I would maybe add replication expert specialization because working with SLT needs some special knowledge as well as working with other replications technologies (so maybe “SAP HANA Replication Consultant” with specializations on individual replication technologies).
    Another role I would add might be “SAP HANA BOBJ Designer” – I know that this is not directly SAP HANA related role however I would say that all the good job done on SAP HANA level can be easily ruined by bad design on semantic layer or by bad design of UI (for example dashboards). I believe these guys should also know how their queries are being executed in SAP HANA, what to avoid and how to maximize the SAP HANA power in their designs. (This might be partially covered by SAP Performance consultant role but I believe it is worth separation – my opinion :-D).
    Thanks for this overview.

    • John Appleby says:

      Thanks Thomas. I see the SLT/SLS replication done by the SAP HANA Operations Consultant based on requirements by the Performance Consultant.

      On the designer role you may have a point, I need to think about this. Is there a SAP HANA Usability Performance Consultant? Who is focussed on the end-end story of usability as it relates to in-memory solutions including the journey, design thinking, user interaction, dashboard design etc.? Do we need an 8th category?

      • Tomas Krojzl says:


        it is logical to connect SLT to SAP HANA operations but really being expert in SAP HANA operations, understanding internal side of SLT, mastering SAP BO Data Services, being expert of DXC replication and also knowing Sybase Replication might be big area to cover… (also nobody is saying you cannot act in two roles at the same time – however I doubt you would find one person being SME in all these areas at the same time – again my opinion :-D).


      • Tomas Krojzl says:

        …and maybe another point I would add is to highligh migration skills – you placed that skillset as part of “SAP HANA Operations Consultant” role – however I would say that this could be separate (and very specific) role on its own – my opinion is that you do not need to be that much expert in SAP HANA as you need to be expert in SAP migrations (actually for supporting SAP HANA you do not need to be real expert for NW, but for doing SAP migration expert knowledge of NW is absolute must).

        I understand that you do not wish to end up having 30 SAP HANA roles – so maybe making this role definition having two levels would solve this problem 😀 (sorry for disrupting your definitions – I hope you don’t mind)


      • Hi John,

        I’d say yes, you do need a BI related HANA role. There are some peculiarities on how to construct a BOE Universe based on HANA views w/ Input Parameters (e.g. Derived Tables) and there are more and more BO tools who connect directly to HANA without a Universe (e.g. BO Explorer’s Information Spaces and BO Design Studio (aka. Zen)’s Data Sources).

        Also, I don’t get the feeling that a “HANA Performance Consultant” would be someone with expertise on actual modeling and development of data models on HANA. What would you think of a “Oracle Performance consultant” or a “DB2 Performance consultant”? Sounds more like a performance optimizing aka. tuning specialist to me.

        Best regards,

  3. Simon Jackson says:

    Great Overview, Mr Appleby.

    As HANA matures, then yes, I can see these well defined roles applying to HANA projects.
    At the moment, those of us involved in a HANA project are probably fulfilling most of these at the same time ( or maybe it just feels that way ? ).
    I, for one, will be glad to put SAP Basis Administrator behind me and start to use the SAP HANA Operations Consultant tag – although I do like the idea of being a Distinguished Engineer.
    Glad to see Tomas’ comments too – as his SCN blog has been probably my most used source material for SLT in our COPA Accelerator project.


  4. Mahesh Kumar CV says:

    John, Thanks for nice informative blog.
    Adding to above roles, need to include OS/DB Migration Consultant; this is very important role, who authenticates the migration & “Architect “ also .
    Thanks a lot covering from all the prospects.

  5. Shitij Bagga says:

    Hi John,
    How would you describe job markets to respond to HANA requirements for operations (basis)? Do you think companies will start employing HANA specific basis consultants more? Also, do you think it will be good hiring prospects for those having some sort of training in HANA basis?
    // Shitij

  6. Sanjay says:

    I see Tomas has a valid point. After all you would want to extend HANA to Enterprise Data Sources. This would involve Data Acquisition and Transformation handled by an ETL tool like SAP BO Data Services which has a rich library of adaptors to various systems and databases. This is an ETL design and Data Management area which may not necessarily fit under SAP HANA Operations – at least not the Design and Build.

  7. kukati says:

    Thanks a lot for the detail explanation on who can fit where. It helps a lot.

  8. Anil says:

    Thanks to all for nice explanation.

  9. Pingback: The SAP HANA Career Guide – Part 2, SAP HANA Business Consultant | People, Process & Technology

  10. Pingback: The SAP HANA Career Guide – Part 3, SAP HANA Performance Consultant | People, Process & Technology

  11. Pingback: The SAP HANA Career Guide – Part 4, SAP HANA Operations Consultant | People, Process & Technology

  12. Pingback: The SAP HANA Career Guide – Part 5, SAP HANA BW Consultant | People, Process & Technology

  13. den says:

    Business qu. You say: “In software services terms, this is at least a $4bn market, next year.” Given all the simplification you talk about in Parts 2-5 how do you get to the 4x number?

  14. den says:

    Biz qu. You say: In software services terms, this is at least a $4bn market, next year. – How do you get to 4x given the levels of simplification you refer to that talk to TCO?

  15. Ali, Ashfaq says:

    Nice classification of HANA roles.

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