Glossary: SAP HANA

A lexicon of the most important SAP HANA terms. (Graphic: grasundsterne)

When SAP unveiled its in-memory platform SAP HANA for the first time at SAP TechEd 2010, a veritable explosion of innovation was sure to follow. SAP HANA is based on in-memory technology, which enables the platform to analyze even large volumes of data in seconds flat by storing it directly in server memory, instead of on hard drives like more conventional applications do. One look at the list of our five most popular articles is enough to see that this has generated a great deal of interest in SAP HANA.

There are now plenty of products that bear the SAP HANA name, from SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse 7.3 and other applications to the SAP HANA database itself. Essentially, SAP HANA is an overarching term for a series of applications and other products categorized according to the following integral elements:

  • SAP HANA platform, the basis for developing applications that run on SAP HANA
  • SAP HANA appliance software, which includes the SAP HANA database
  • SAP HANA database (formerly known as IMDB or NewDB)
  • SAP HANA studio, a toolset for admins

Another source of quality insight on all SAP HANA products and frequently asked questions concerning in-memory technology is the blog maintained by Bluefin Solutions, which deals with the business performance of SAP’s offerings.

Next Page: Terminology explained: From SAP HANA appliance to the platform

The SAP HANA appliance

When people talk about SAP HANA, they’re usually referring to the SAP HANA appliance software, which also includes certified hardware and an in-memory database. Versions 1.0, 1.2, and 1.5 of SAP HANA have been released thus far, and the third support package is already in its ramp-up phase.


SAP HANA 1.0 SP02, which comprises the SAP HANA appliance software and database, has been officially available since mid-2011. Users can import data into the appliance software from virtually anywhere, including systems from both SAP and other providers. Right now, SAP HANA 1.0 functions in tandem with various SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 solutions, such as SAP BusinessObjects Explorer and SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for Microsoft Office. SP02 additionally integrates SAP Event Insight and Sybase Unwired Platform.

SAP HANA 1.2, 1.5, and SP03

After entering their ramp-up phase on November 11, 2011, SAP HANA 1.0 SP03 and the SAP HANA-powered version of SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW) are now set for official release in mid-2012.

This means that anyone already using SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3 for data warehousing will be able to migrate to SAP HANA. By moving to SP03 and taking advantage of its accelerated calculations and planning, users can look forward to even faster analyses.

SAP HANA database

As the term suggests, in-memory database systems store data directly in server memory rather than on hard drives.

The SAP HANA appliance software for both BI (SAP HANA 1.0) and data warehousing with SAP NetWeaver BW (SAP HANA 1.0 SP03) run on the SAP HANA database. This consists of a full database management system (DBMS) that offers a standard SQL interface and transaction isolation and recovery (ACID). Support for OpenSQL is also included.

At the moment, SAP HANA is seeing use mainly in the field of business analytics. Here, users load large volumes of data into their servers’ main memory, where it is immediately available for analysis.

All this notwithstanding, SAP is just getting warmed up: It plans on enabling additional applications to run on SAP HANA in the future. Among them is SAP Business One – one of the company’s offerings for small businesses and midsize companies – which is to start running analytics on the SAP HANA database later this year.

The SAP HANA platform

The SAP HANA platform serves as a foundation for new business applications that support in-memory technology. It facilitates real-time online analytical processing (OLAP) based on an online transaction processing (OLTP) data structure.

A number of applications are already available on the SAP HANA platform, including:

  • SAP Sales and Operations Planning for employees in sales
  • SAP Smart Meter Analytics, which assesses data on energy consumption
  • SAP Accelerated Trade Promotion Planning for marketing
  • SAP Cash and Liquidity Management for financial departments