What do you like best?
The best thing that I like about HANA Express, is the ability to get a jump-start on your own development learning goals, without a time limit to constrain you, so that you can use it at your own pace. You do not even have to be a current SAP customer to take advantage of this.
The setup is quick and painless, unlike prior trial environments like MINISAP. You do not have to be an administrator to get going. They offer a practically turn-key VM to get going quickly.
What do you dislike?
I'd like inclusion of either Agile Data Preparation, and/or Smart Data Integration. Smart Data Access, Flow Graphs, and Stored Procedures however is a "good enough" stop-gap for this *free* system, though!
Recommendations to others considering the product
Please keep this program alive! The fact we can use a free sandbox without worry for time limits and even for small footprint productive use is the RIGHT way to promote further HANA adoption! We are also undertaking other larger scale HANA initiatives such as BW on HANA (or BW4/HANA, depending on timing) and our exposure with some flavor of HANA gives us a jump-start on understanding the possibilities for these larger implementations without waiting on these longer timelines.
What business problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?
Besides self-learning so that I remain proficient personally, we've used HANA Express to load data from relational databases into it so that we can use BI client tools such as SAP Lumira, Analysis for Office, Web Intelligence, and 3rd party tools like Tableau and Power BI with HANA's Calculation Views. The performance speed and development agility in this environment versus more traditional approaches (BW Cubes or Universes) has allowed us to rapidly prototype reporting scenarios and keep our power users engaged with faster turnaround times.