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I came to the same conclusion when I read that a basic SAP installation comes with over 20k tables. (see: https://retool.com/blog/erp-for-engineers/)

A SAP partner once told me (the company I was working at was considering using SAP) that the deployment would have ~180K tables - I don't know if they got the figure wrong, I have misremembered (I did check when they said it) or maybe that's for a "fully loaded" instance.

Edit: Not SAP, but certain other ERP products have an alarming habit of not using foreign keys - which makes working out the structure of the database quite interesting...

It depends on the version and how many modules you have installed. In my company it was ~ 50k tables for R/3, so the order of magnitude is right.

How do you perform joins without foreign keys? Do you just have a column that is effectively a foreign key but is not marked as such?

Sure it is. We can perform DB joins with any column as long as the data type and the data value is matched.

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