The new SAP HANA Cloud vector engine enables businesses to combine the power of large language models (LLMs) with company-specific, real-time data and business process know-how, all integrated in one multi-model database: SAP HANA Cloud. With the latest quarterly release, the vector engine is now generally available.

SAP HANA Cloud is a market-leading database-as-a-service enabling intelligent data applications and is one of the most adopted services within SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) internally at SAP. As of today, more than 180 different applications and services use SAP HANA Cloud with its multi-model capabilities.

Now, SAP HANA Cloud is also a leader in the generative AI age.

At SAP, we work with various LLMs such as GPT-4, Llama2, Falcon-40b, and Claude2. While these models offer amazing opportunities, they also have limitations. For example, LLMs may rely on outdated training data and lack company-specific data and business process context.

As an example, imagine having an LLM as a colleague. This colleague would be very intelligent, able to program, pass exams, or have arguments – but this colleague would not know anything about what happened in the world in the past year, nor have any idea about internal processes of your company or any of your systems. Even worse, after every conversation you have, this colleague would forget what you just talked about. Working with such a lack of memory would be of limited value. This shortcoming is why an LLM cannot answer easy questions like “What do you think about the offer from our most important supplier last week?” An LLM can only work with the initial training data – all other data must be provided as context.

Supplementing this lack of information is where SAP HANA Cloud vector engine can assist. The engine can provide LLMs with all the relevant data of an organization through a process called “retrieval-augmented generation.”

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A Game-Changing Feature

So how does the vector engine work? It is a new addition to SAP HANA Cloud’s multi-model engines, enabling customers to utilize the similarity between two or more vectors to solve business problems. With the integration of AI-focused technology, SAP HANA Cloud can now empower businesses to combine intuition along with data-driven insights to solve even the most complex of problems.

Some key benefits and features of the vector engine include:

  • Multi-model: Users can unify all types of data into a single database to build innovative applications using an efficient data architecture and in-memory performance. By adding vector storage and processing to the same database already storing relational, graph, spatial, and even JSON data, application developers can create next-generation solutions that interact more naturally with the user.
  • Enhanced search and analysis: Businesses can now apply semantic and similarity search to business processes using documents like contracts, design specifications, and even service call notes.
  • Personalized recommendations: Users can benefit from an improved overall experience with more accurate and personalized suggestions.
  • Optimized large language models: The output of LLMs is augmented with more effective and contextual data.

The Database Foundation of SAP’s Generative AI Strategy

The addition of the vector engine establishes SAP HANA Cloud as the default database in SAP’s generative AI solution strategy. Customers can create the next level of user experiences along with other services within SAP BTP. As an example, SAP BTP can provide centralized access to SaaS-based LLMs from multiple vendors as well as host LLMs from open-source models or third parties. The generative AI hub in SAP AI Core, a capability that facilitates the use of generative AI capabilities, will soon rely on SAP HANA Cloud as the primary vector storage. One function of the generative AI hub feature is to help provide a process for creating embeddings and storing the resulting vectors in SAP HANA Cloud. Customers building intelligent data applications can use both services together to augment LLM queries with relevant context for meaningful answers.

SAP is working on foundation models that are specific for SAP-related industry and process knowledge.

The Database for Innovation

SAP HANA Cloud continues to lead the market by storing and processing different types of relevant business data – all within the same database. The new vector engine, combined with other multi-model capabilities, opens a world of possibilities for applications to help enhance the execution of business processes. Whether improving search capabilities, gaining deeper insights for informed decisions, or optimizing LLMs, SAP HANA Cloud enables the type of applications that can elevate the expertise and effectiveness of every user.

To learn more, sign up for an introductory webinar on April 4. Do you already have a use case for SAP HANA Cloud vector engine in mind? If so, consider registering for the SAP Early Adopter Care program.

Juergen Mueller is CTO and member of the Executive Board of SAP SE, Technology & Innovation.
Stefan Baeuerle is head of Database, SAP HANA Database, & Analytics for Technology & Innovation at SAP.

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