Road Map: SAP HANA

Daten auf Speed: SAP HANA beschleunigt die Datenauswertung. (Foto: Fotolia)
SAP HANA: the "better, faster, cheaper" alternative that actually delivers. (photo: Fotolia)

Twitter, Facebook, and the like have shown how it’s done: Users upload images, comment on them, and exchange messages. It’s as if they were communicating face-to-face – or, you might say, in real time.

Real-time data processing is playing an increasingly important role in the world of business, as well, and the amounts of information involved are growing along with it.

Luckily, hardware and software technology has also continued to advance in recent years – blade servers featuring multicore architecture and RAM-based storage solutions encompassing two terabytes or more being just a few examples. On the software side, column-oriented storage now offers a new way to compress and partition data. Users can apply this method to reduce large data volumes from 2.75TB to 600GB, to name a simplified example.

In-memory technology, meanwhile, makes it possible to process data at a speed of 100GB per second. It does so by storing information not on conventional, significantly slower hard drives, but in main memory (RAM), where it can be accessed directly on the motherboard. In-memory computing thus enables users to perform analyses and obtain the results almost instantaneously.

SAP HANA is preconfigured in-memory software that users can implement in combination with corresponding server hardware from providers such as HP, IBM, Cisco, Dell and Fujitsu. The solution comes pre-loaded from the hardware partner with SAP HANA and SUSE Linux, ready to go.

For more on SAP HANA current capabilities, check out these articles:

SAP HANA: Family-Size Data at Two-Seater Speed
SAP HANA Surges Ahead
Hasso + HANA = Speed

What’s ahead for SAP HANA

SAP HANA brings in-memory technology to other SAP products, such as SAP Business One, SAP Customer Relationship Management, and SAP ERP.

Thanks to its ability to analyze data in real time and process large amounts of information at significantly greater speeds, SAP HANA is ideally suited to any organization or industry that is comprised of many branches and relies heavily on product and process simulations.

No matter whether SAP ERP, SAP CRM, or another offering is involved, users simply select the data they want SAP HANA to aggregate and start crunching. The software can also analyze information from a wide variety of non-SAP systems.

SAP HANA became generally available to customers on June 20, 2011. As was evident at SAPPHIRE NOW 2011 and again at SAP TechEd 2011, the response from SAP’s ramp up customers has been consistently positive.

Colgate, for example, is using SAP HANA for cost analysis, and the software is helping the computer manufacturer Lenovo perform its own real-time analyses in SAP CRM. SAP HANA is also enabling the construction hardware company Hilti to supply its sales employees with customer information on their iPads in real time.

SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse, is the next SAP solution to get the “HANA” treatment.  An upcoming service pack for SAP HANA will be released soon that enables SAP BW to be run entirely on SAP HANA as its primary database, providing the incredible speed of in-memory processing for the entire enterprise data warehouse.

Companies will continue to operate their SAP BW systems without any changes to the application itself. The migration to SAP BW on SAP HANA is simply a database migration under the application.

The Future Evolution of SAP HANA

The first iteration of SAP HANA is all about delivering real-time analytics. The solution takes data from databases and SAP or non-SAP applications, replicates it in-memory, making it available for immediate, real-time analysis.

The second iteration of  SAP HANA can be used as the database and accelerator for SAP NetWeaver BW. This simplifies the SAP BW architecture significantly and provides a massive native performance boost to the entire data warehouse.

Further down the road, all of SAP’s applications – from SAP Business One to the entire SAP Business Suite to SAP’s on-demand offerings  – will run on SAP HANA. This will result in real-time handling of transactions, transformations, and processes, as well as any analysis performed in these applications.

SAP applications will have a highly optimized, incredibly fast database, built specifically for their needs.  At the same time, SAP’s applications will be renovated to take advantage of this new database to increase their native performance and streamline their underlying application architectures.

You can see these application-specific benefits in some of the SAP applications that have been written from scratch to take advantage of SAP HANA.  SAP has already delivered the SAP HANA appliance and the first SAP HANA-based application, SAP BusinessObjects Strategic Workforce Planning. The following SAP HANA-based products are planned for 2011:

  • SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse on SAP HANA
  • SAP Smart Meter Analytics, powered by SAP HANA
  • SAP Dynamic Cash Management, powered by SAP HANA
  • SAP Controlling Profitability Analysis (COPA) Accelerator

Disruptive innovation creates an opportunity to eliminate costly and inefficient layers of a solution in favor of a “better, faster, cheaper” alternative. SAP HANA actually delivers that alternative.