How SAP HANA Is Disrupting and Delighting the Market

May 18, 2012 by Perry Manross

SAP executive board member, Vishal Sikka (Photo: SAP)

“She’s not even a year old yet,” said Vishal Sikka as he set up his update on SAP HANA. Yet SAP’s flagship in-memory offering tallies 353 customers, 145 implementations, and more than 56,000 end users – equating to €200 million in revenue, “the fastest growing product we have ever seen in our history,” he noted.

Since going into general availability in June of 2011, SAP HANA has also rallied seven hardware partners and 2,000 trained professionals to its cause. Within SAP, teams have been churning out SAP HANA-enabled and SAP HANA-optimized applications for various industries and lines of business – 33 in all at the time of Vishal’s keynote on day three of SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando.

Just before he took the stage, SAP issued a press release announcing eight new applications powered by SAP HANA with advanced reporting, analysis, and planning capabilities.

Many more such applications and innovations are in the pipeline, as SAP applies its “aggressive and non disruptive renewal to everything we have and do,” as Vishal described it.

“Stunning” adoption

SAP HANA is powering more than applications. It is powering companies’ entire platforms. Vishal highlighted just several customers and how they are deploying SAP HANA and deriving business value from it nearly instantaneously.

One of the most recent companies to indulge in SAP HANA is Suning. The China-based retailer, with 1,800 stores and 180,000 employees, had built a centralized retail system and then implemented SAP HANA in just two weeks to gain insight into its inventory. On day one after go-live, Suning experienced performance gains of 10 to 1,000 times.

T-Mobile went live with SAP HANA last year, and it has allowed them to track promotions and the effect they these promotions were having on customer buying behavior in real time.

Customers have been enjoying SAP HANA’s reliability as well. Colgate Palmolive has been live with SAP HANA since October 2011. Not once has the U.S.-based consumer products giant bumped up against unplanned downtime.

Adobe, too, first dabbled in and then doubled up on SAP HANA, planning to run their entire customer engagement infrastructure on SAP HANA. And the list goes on.

SAP HANA at its best

So where are customers like these seeing the value? Vishal explained four types of business requirements to which SAP HANA can be best applied.

SAP HANA shines when it’s given the task of taking on complex, interactive questions. It’s also in it’s element when it deals with large amounts of data. Of course, delivering data in real-time is SAP HANA’s forte, as well. And finally, the in-memory offering is incredibly apt at working with data that has not be prefabricated or for which no pre-aggregates have been created.

Vishal asked members of the audience to consider the activities in their business that match these four characteristics. SAP HANA delivers value starting with just one of these requirements, but really comes into its own when it is tasked with taking on two or more. “There is no other system out there that can take on these problems as well as SAP HANA can,” he said.

SAP HANA takes on the analytical and the transactional; structured and unstructured. These capabilities are enabled by its three-stage architecture consisting of a row-oriented buffer that enables high frequency, high volume inserts and a column-oriented main store that enables the “unbelievable” analytical performance as well as the transactional processing of as many as 770,000 records per second in a 40-core machine.

As hardware partners HP, IBM, Fujitsu, and Cisco kick out the 8- and 16-node units required to run SAP HANA, an increasing number of businesses are opting for the quick boost offered from SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse powered by SAP HANA. They are hitting response times of 300 – 500 milliseconds for queries on 100 billion records. With this performance, BW powered by SAP HANA will enable businesses to derive valuable information from sensor data, social data, point of sale data, RFID, and host of other sources.

In accordance with SAP’s vow for renewal, SAP HANA allows significant simplification of the end-user experience – not just in the use of the applications, but as Vishal said, “in every aspect of interacting with SAP. And as SAP continues to enhance the offering, it will do so non-disruptively.

Value for developers

SAP isn’t just taking care of its customers, though. The company is equipping and emboldening its growing developer community with several new resources, including sandbox SAP  HANA systems on the Amazon cloud, free click through SAP HANA developer licenses, innovation-jam events around the world, and mobile sandbox systems.

SAP has also been nurturing its cloud-based java platform, SAP NetWeaver NEO, which allows developers to build extension on SAP HANA applications. With the platform, they can build, deploy, manage, and administer extension applications securely for on-premise applications, SuccessFactors cloud applications, or other cloud applications.

Together, SAP, customers, partners, and developers are further enabling informed businesses and informed consumers – indeed, Vishal said, they are rapidly advancing “an informed society.”

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