In-Memory HANA Database at Center of SAP Analytics Push

by   |   May 10, 2012 8:37 pm   |   0 Comments

SAP has big plans for the database market.

That was clear in the “road map” it rolled out in April. The plan calls for unifying SAP’s offerings. At the center of that unification is the company’s in-memory database technology, HANA.

“SAP is redefining the database market by combining the innovation and expertise of SAP and Sybase,” said Hasso Plattner, chairman of the company’s Supervisory Board Hasso Plattner at the unveiling of the road map. At its core is HANA, Plattner said, adding the database “helps customers to access and deliver information at unprecedented speeds up to 100,000 times faster than before and enables them to envision fundamentally new ways of running their businesses.”

HANA represents an important change for the company known for its enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. For years, SAP has been sanguine to support other people’s database software with its platform for managing business processes. It’s estimated that SAP currently supports about $2 billion in infrastructure for the database solutions of Oracle, IBM and Microsoft.

With its new unified strategy, SAP hopes to grab some of the cash going to those other companies for itself, according to R. “Ray” Wang, principal analyst and CEO with Constellation Research in San Mateo, Calif. “It’s looking for databases to do that for them,” Wang said. “They want the database and the analytical apps to work together,” he explained. “In order to do that, you either have to drive the requirements of that stack, or you have to own it. They’re taking the position that they want to own it.”

Gaining acceptance for HANA is going to be an uphill fight for SAP. The company’s co-CEO Bill McDermott acknowledged as much in a recent interview. “All great breakthroughs in life have happened when you change the status quo,” McDermott told Computerworld. “Simply making the status quo slightly better than it was yesterday is not going to make you the best company you could be.”

“So give us a chance,” he continued. “When other people tell you HANA can’t be this and can’t be that, make up your own mind. Actually touch it, give us a chance to help you.”

HANA in Featured Role at Annual Customer Event
McDermott’s plea is a key theme at the SAPPHIRE conference starting on May 14. HANA is the headline subject of planned presentations showcasing how it powers business intelligence applications, applications for sales, social media and predictive analytics, simulation modeling, real-time computing and high-performance ERP. Other sessions will cover HANA delivered in the cloud, as the data processing engine for insights accessible to iPad users, and how companies concerned about deploying it can do it rapidly, or with minimal disruption.

Notably, SAP also is putting money into moving its technology and customers in the HANA direction. The company is launching a $155 million venture fund to kickstart companies that want to build on HANA and another $337 million to help customers migrate to HANA.

Those customers are positive about SAP’s long-term vision for HANA, but they still have to be sold on it, said Thomas Wailgum, editorial director for, the website for the Americas’ SAP Users Group, which has about 100,000 members. “They’ve been running these Oracle, IBM and Microsoft databases for a long time,” he said. “These are mission critical databases so to ask them to swap them out, SAP is going to have to prove that HANA is going to work and is going to work perfectly.”

John Mello is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology subjects, including consumer electronics, business computing and cyber security. Follow him on Twitter @jpmello.

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