HANA: The Bigger Picture

Feature Article | November 10, 2011 by Heather McIlvaine

Sikka discussed SAP HANA in the larger context of SAP and enterprise software. (Photo: Christiane Stagge)

SAP HANA wird auch auf Cloud-Anwendungen laufen. (Foto: Christiane Stagge)

If SAP co-CEO, Jim Snabe, usually delivers his keynote address on the “state-of-SAP”, then SAP Executive Board Member, Vishal Sikka can always be counted on to update the audience on the newest innovations around SAP HANA.

This year, though, Sikka steered clear of a purely technological discussion of HANA. Instead, he put SAP HANA in the context of SAP’s overall technology roadmap and described the role that HANA will play in the future of the enterprise software industry.

Perhaps the decision to talk about SAP HANA in more relative terms was inspired by global current events like the Occupy Wall Street movement in the U.S. and the debt crisis in Greece which Sikka referenced in his keynote. In today’s world, it is impossible to ignore the reality that everything – from the world’s economies to a company’s various software applications and platforms – is inextricably interconnected. HANA does not exist in a vacuum, and in fact, it is only truly useful and powerful when applied to other SAP products.

On that note, on the following pages, we’ll tell you about HANA in the larger context of SAP’s technology strategy:

HANA not only analyzes data in real time, it simplifies IT landscapes.  (Photo: Christiane Stagge)

HANA not only analyzes data in real time, it simplifies IT landscapes. (Photo: Christiane Stagge)

“A grand dissolving of layers”

By now, most people already know about the impressive speed with which SAP HANA can analyze and process massive amounts of data, to the point where business insights are basically delivered in real time. The fact that it can do this for many different kinds of data – structured data, graphs, pictures, unstructured text – is equally impressive. But these are are not the only reasons why SAP HANA is a breakthrough technology.

At a fundamental level, SAP HANA achieves a massive simplification of IT landscapes, and this will transform the enterprise software industry – from the way applications are developed and designed, to how applications and platforms interact.

As SAP HANA replaces the traditional database in over 14,000 SAP Business Warehouse installations, the data will be preserved, but the unnecessary layers and replications will be removed. Further consolidation will occur when calculations are conducted directly in SAP HANA rather than in the application layer on top.

For companies, the benefits of a simplified IT landscape are obvious: lower TCO and better integration between systems.

Sikka and Kuelps held a special roundtable on technology for journalists. (Photo: Christiane Stagge)

Sikka and Kuelps held a special roundtable on technology for journalists. (Photo: Christiane Stagge)

Business One to run on HANA in 2012

A recurring theme, not only in Sikka’s keynote but also in several other sessions, is the roadmap to bring SAP HANA to all SAP products and platforms. The entire SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 BI suite uses SAP HANA analytics, and in the future, the entire SAP Business Suite will ultimately run on SAP HANA. No conclusive date has been given for when that will occur. It is planned, however, for SAP Business One to run completely on SAP HANA in 2012.

As we mentioned on the previous page, SAP HANA will eventually replace the traditional database in every installation of SAP Business Warehouse. SAP has already taken the first step towards achieving that goal: version 7.3 of SAP Business Warehouse is already running on SAP HANA. Red Bull, the energy drink company, deployed Business Warehouse on HANA less than 48 hours ago. As a result, they managed to compress their database by 80%.

In addition, the SAP NetWeaver 7.3 technology platform is already running both the ABAP and Java-based application server on HANA. The first enhancement package (EHP) for NetWeaver 7.3 is planned for release by the end of 2011. EHP 1 for NetWeaver 7.3 will include improved process orchestration, integration of Solution Manager with Business Process Management (BPM), and connection between SAP StreamWork and BPM.

Further projects to bring SAP HANA to more products and platforms are currently underway. One of them will integrate SAP HANA with Process Integration and BPM. There are also plans for SAP NetWeaver Gateway to allow companies to consume HANA data on any device, be it desktop, browser, smartphone, or tablet.

The ultimate SAP HANA resource with demos, applications, and lots of info: Experience SAP HANA (Photo: Christiane Stagge)

The ultimate SAP HANA resource with demos, applications, and lots of info: Experience SAP HANA (Photo: Christiane Stagge)

Openness and choice

At the end of his keynote, Sikka brought up a topic that Snabe also emphasized yesteday: the open ecosystem. A hallmark of SAP software is the ability of to integrate any application with any other application, database, or platform, either from within SAP or the ecosystem. This openness is integral to SAP HANA as well.

Since the software was first announced, SAP has partnered with several companies that provide the type of servers required for in-memory computing. Intel, IBM, HP, Dell, Fujitsu, Cisco, Lenovo, and now Hitachi all offer customers the hardware they need to run SAP HANA.

For those who want to learn more about SAP HANA and experience it live, the Experience SAP HANA web site is the ultimate resource on all things HANA. Check it out here.

Customers discussed their experiences with the deployment and usage of SAP HANA. (Photo: Christiane Stagge)

Customers discussed their experiences with the deployment and usage of SAP HANA. (Photo: Christiane Stagge)

Roadmap: SAP Technology Platform

The SAP technology platform is quite comprehensive. For now, we’ll just give an overview of the planned and future capabilities of some of the most important platform components. In general, the capabilities described as “planned” are currently in development and are expected to be available in 12-18 months. The capabilities described as “future” are still being considered and there is no delivery date attached.

  • SAP NetWeaver Gateway: the planned enhancements include embedded integration and support for more solutions. Future plans are to support third party solution development.
  • SAP NetWeaver Landscape Virtualization Management: SAP is working on improvements such as landscape monitoring and support for dashboards and reporting. In the future, virtual appliances will be supported.
  • SAP Solution Manager: the plan is to support SAP HANA and mobile applications in the next year or so. In the future, Solution Manager will run on the SAP HANA database.
  • SAP HANA: planned innovations are to accelerate Business Suite data analysis and to become the primary persistence layer for SAP Business Warehouse. Future features will include transactional capabilities and SAP HANA as the primary persistence layer for SAP Business Suite.
  • SAP NetWeaver technology platform: the plan for the upcoming months is to converge all NetWeaver releases to a single release for on-premise deployment and to improve TCO. Future plans include running NetWeaver completely on SAP HANA for both on-premise and on-demand deployments.
  • OnDemand technology platform: planned capabilities for this platform include offering a full development platform-as-a-service for SAP customers and partners to develop applications. In the future, customers will be able to deploy a private cloud and the platform will become available in a non-SAP cloud environment.

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