Ever since Hasso Plattner’s appearance at SAPPHIRE NOW 2011 in Orlando, the term “SAP HANA” has been on everybody’s lips, at least in the world of SAP. But what actually is SAP HANA? Is it a new tool or an entire paradigm shift? The SAP users want clarity.

In his keynote at the Annual Congress of the German-speaking SAP User Group (DSAG) 2011 in Leipzig, SAP Co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe shed a little light on the matter: SAP HANA is a specific product – and it’s available today. According to Snabe, SAP is two years ahead of its competitors when it comes to in-memory technology.

Applications Based on SAP HANA

One example of a specific SAP HANA solution is SAP Smart Meter Analytics, Snabe explained. There are also plans for SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse to run on SAP HANA. Another SAP HANA solution will also hit the market soon: SAP Trade Promotion Management. And SAP Business One is also slated to run on SAP HANA in the future, too. In the end, everything should be based on in-memory technology – and SAP has made a start with its business intelligence solutions.

However, it will be a number of years before SAP Business Suite can run on SAP HANA. SAP is still in the development phase and is learning constantly, Snabe stressed. DSAG welcomes the new in-memory software, but demands clear road maps and small starter packs, so that the software is affordable for all customers.

Next page: A Glimpse of SAP HANA – Gerhard Oswald Gets More Specific

In-memory technology as the basis for all applications: Jim Hagemann Snabe talks about the goals for SAP HANA (photo: Christiane Stagge)
Snabe on goals for SAP HANA: The software will be the basis for all applications (photo: Christiane Stagge)

On the second day of the event, Chief Operating Officer Gerhard Oswald became more specific in his keynote. SAP HANA is a combination of software and hardware, he explained. By hardware, Oswald is referring to servers from Dell, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, and Cisco. The application replicates data in the working memory, so that this data can become available at an amazing speed. This principle is especially useful in business intelligence applications that are used for analyses and forecasts. It enables customers to track changes in business activities in real time.

Expect to See SDK for SAP HANA

SAP HANA is currently deployed with business intelligence solutions. According to Oswald, however, starting in November, SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3 will also run on SAP HANA, although initially only as a ramp-up version. Oswald explained that SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator will then no longer be necessary. It is important to keep in mind that SAP HANA supplements SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse and does not replace it. But that’s far from all: As Snabe explained, SAP HANA should soon run on SAP Business One and SAP Business Suite. This would speed up the SAP Business Suite functions and also bring new opportunities for use, such as for calculation and planning.

The SAP In-Memory Computing software development kit (SDK) is designed to enable customers and partners to develop their own applications based on SAP HANA. And even companies that don’t deploy SAP should be able to benefit from this. We took a closer look at one of those applications.

Next page: Product Demo: SAP BusinessObjects Explorer on SAP HANA

IBM displays its servers for SAP HANA (photo: Christiane Stagge)
IBM displays its servers for SAP HANA (photo: Christiane Stagge)
Simulating earnings and margins in real time – SAP HANA makes it possible (screenshot: Gicom)
Simulating earnings and margins in real time – SAP HANA makes it possible (screenshot: Gicom)

Product Demo: SAP BusinessObjects Explorer on SAP HANA

Gicom, a software provider for contract and price management headquartered in Overath, Germany, gave us an exclusive first product demo of its SAP HANA-based solution at its booth. Gicom is one of the partners working together with SAP to develop new solutions based on SAP HANA. With the in-memory application and SAP BusinessObjects Explorer as the cornerstone, the company developed an application called “Simulation of changed earnings” to simulate earnings and margins. The program is aimed at the retail and consumer sector. The prototype is still in the test phase and will become available to customers with the new release of SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3.

With the software, you can play through all kinds of imaginable scenarios and calculate earnings. Although forecasts and “what-if” scenarios were already possible before with business intelligence solutions, they weren’t based on an entire data record. The Gicom application processes 180 million records in just 360 milliseconds. What used to take companies three days with conventional software takes just a couple of seconds using SAP HANA.

If you’d like to find out more, you can follow Gicom’s SAP HANA developments on Twitter. Check out @gicom_hana to get all the latest news.

The Gicom application uses SAP BusinessObjects Explorer and SAP HANA.

Next Page: A look around the exhibition area

Customers were able to try out SAP solutions directly in the demo centers (photo: Christiane Stagge)
Customers were able to try out SAP solutions directly in the demo centers (photo: Christiane Stagge)

New Products in the Exhibition Area

In addition to the keynotes, visitors had the opportunity to discover new products in the exhibition area. For example, FIS GmbH, headquartered in Grafenrheinfeld, Germany, which provides add-ons for updating master data, HCM and shop solutions, and automated paper document processing for vendor invoices, presented its new software FIS/crm.

WMD Vertrieb, headquartered in Ahrensburg, Germany, has completely revamped its xFlow Capture solution. The software enables companies to extract and validate invoice data. In addition, there are new functions for visualization and communication. Thanks to xFlow Orders, incoming orders can be identified easily using the xFlow incoming orders book. They can be approved and released at any time with SAP software, xFlow Web, and SAP NetWeaver Portal.

At the Deutsche Telekom booth, visitors had the opportunity to see how the company handles its purchasing processes using cuSmarText mobile document management from Circle Unlimited, based in Norderstedt, Germany. The software enables secure communication with the SAP system. Security is guaranteed through encrypted data exchange, device authentication in the company network, and digital certificates.

With the mobile software MAPO, Telekom managers responsible for purchasing are in a position to release urgent orders fast in several connected SAP systems.

Speech-enabled SAP System

Vocollect, a business unit of Intermac, based in Everett, Washington, develops voice solutions for SAP systems. With Vocollect Voice Direct ERP for use with SAP Extended Warehouse Management, warehouse employees can enter data and orders by voice into a special mobile device. The voice is translated using a special template, so that, in the end, only the data itself is available in the SAP WM or EWM modules. The software supports 43 voice options in more than 26 languages.

Umantis, provider of HR on-demand software headquartered in St. Gallen, Switzerland, now sells its recruiting management solution in the SAP Store. The solution enables companies to manage job advertisements in online portals and print. It also has an interface to media agencies, allows for applicants to be compared, evaluates responses, and offers functions for talent management, appointment management, branch-office management, and reminders. What’s more, a job newsletter can be managed using the software. Reports and documents can be exported, too.

DSAG Annual Congress 2011 in Leipzig (photo: Christiane Stagge)
DSAG Annual Congress 2011 in Leipzig, Germany (photo: Christiane Stagge)