I'm often asked the question "who is the best SAP HANA hardware vendor" and it's not a question I like to directly answer: it depends on your needs, appliance size and who is supporting the environment, amongst other things. But I have formulated a set of ten questions to ask your hardware vendor shortlist. You can tweak them according to your expected growth plans but I am confident that these questions will enable you to select the best vendor.
1) What is your budgetary price for 512GB, 2TB, 2.5TB and 8TB appliances?
What you will find is that all hardware vendors are very similar in price for a single 512GB "Medium" appliance. When you move up in size, some hardware partners remain linear and some are not, depending on the number of nodes - and some are much more expensive if you need 2.5TB than 2TB. Some partners do not scale past 1TB. By asking for this graph, you can see how your investment in SAP HANA will work over time.
2) How big (in Rack Units) and how much power, do the above systems consume during idle, average and peak load?
SAP HANA hardware varies and the size and power consumption varies. You will need to pay for this out of your data center budget (and the environment!) and the differences can be significant.
3) What is your cost and upgrade path from 512GB to 1TB to 2TB?
When moving from 512GB to 1TB, some partners require different changes to others. Sometimes when moving to 2TB the whole SAP HANA system needs to be re-installed in fail-over mode and some partners allow this to be set up in advance to avoid having to reinstall. With some, you will have to discard hardware and others allow full reuse.
4) What is your upgrade path past 8TB?
Some hardware partners only scale up to 8TB of HANA and others can go beyond this; what happens if you want a custom size of SAP HANA and how is it possible to get this certified? Of course, this may not matter to you and please remove the question if it does not!
5) How long do you agree to provide compatible upgrade hardware?
Like any other IT asset, SAP HANA hardware needs refreshing from time to time but you may need to buy more within your refresh cycle, if your needs change or systems grow. Will your hardware vendor agree to provide compatible hardware for your SAP HANA cluster, and for what period of time?
6) What is your Disaster Recovery capability?
Some SAP HANA Hardware Partners provide DR capabilities, and some do not. Whether this is important is something that you will need to consider as relates to your needs.
7) What is your SAP HANA Support offering?
There are varying levels of SAP HANA Support offerings, and this varies from market unit to market unit. Does it cover Hardware, Operating System, Database? Does it include installation and initial configuration? What is the response time and SLA? What is the patching strategy and is this included? Do they have Go-Live checks or Early-Life support?
8) What is your typical lead time for a 512GB node?
Some hardware vendors will sign up to a SLA around lead times (or best endeavour) and some will not. I have seen it vary substantially so get something agreed up front, if it is important.
9) What is your try-and-buy policy and typical availability?
Some hardware vendors have hardware in stock for try-and-buy or for Proof of Value exercises. Some make to order. Ask what their policy is.
10) What is your SAP HANA Roadmap and commitment?
Are you sure your hardware vendor will be definitely producing SAP HANA hardware in 5 years time? What will they commit to in a commercial arrangement? Do they have an official or tentative SAP HANA hardware roadmap?
The speed and accuracy in which your hardware partner can answer these questions will tell you a lot. Are they willing to commit to these or are they nebulous? How confident do you feel in their ability to deliver?
And an offer to any hardware vendor: make all this information public (I can excuse pricing as it can be customer specific, but I need to know the approximate linearity) and I will link back from this page to yours.