Continuous and Customer-Driven Innovation with SAP HANA

As the business data platform for the intelligent enterprise, SAP HANA is constantly being improved and updated to deliver the very best in data management and processing capabilities. Continuous innovation is in our DNA; it’s what led us to SAP HANA and continues to lead us as we further expand upon our data and database management portfolio with, for example, the SAP HANA Data Management Suite.

On April 6, SAP released the latest support package stack (SPS) for SAP HANA. Once again, we’ve brought new features and innovations to the market that transform data management, analytical intelligence, and application development.

Data Privacy in Focus

With the enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on May 25 and several high-profile data breaches in the media, the topic of data protection is currently very much in the spotlight.

Failure to comply with the European Union’s new regulation can result in huge fines — up to €20 million or four percent of an enterprise’s annual global turnover of the preceding financial year, whichever is greater. But for many companies, ensuring compliance with data privacy regulations around the world remains a challenge on two fronts: On the one hand, they must make sure their processes meet all the new legal requirements. And on the other, stricter legislation about what is — and what is not — possible with regards to data collection and processing means that these organizations can also come up against innovation hurdles.

How can companies identify trends and developments, fully understand their customers, and accurately plot their course for the future if they face restrictions to the way they can collect, analyze, and use their data?

These challenges are felt on a global scale. In addition to complying with legislation and data privacy models of their own country or region, organizations based outside the EU also need to meet the requirements of the GDPR if they collect or process personal data of individuals located inside the EU. In short, regardless of their industry, size, and location, organizations around the world need the tools and applications that can help them be — and remain — compliant.

Data anonymization is a key element of the solution. Since it removes all possible links to the data subject, data anonymization lets an organization gain analytic insights from data while still protecting individuals’ privacy. SAP HANA is the first business data platform to provide built-in, real-time data anonymization that enables data to be anonymized. Using the dynamic anonymization views in SAP HANA, customers can access anonymized data without changing the original data set. With SPS 03, these anonymization capabilities are implemented directly in the database kernel in SAP HANA.

Data Management Transformed

SPS 03 also brings with it substantially enhanced business continuity features, including invisible takeover and multi-target replication to help customers run their systems with even greater reliability.

Until now, all open requests were aborted if a takeover from the primary to the secondary host occurred in a high-availability scenario. With invisible take over, read transactions are being seamlessly transferred to the secondary host in case the primary host fails. Similarly, instead of only being able to build a single chain of high-availability and disaster recovery hosts, SAP now allows several multi-tier chains of secondary hosts.

SAP HANA 2.0 SPS03 also is the first major database platform to support Intel® Optane DC persistent memory.* Persistent memory support will transform the current data storage hierarchy providing a combination of higher capacity, affordability, and persistence. This will enable customers to process more data in real time while driving a lower total cost of ownership and improving business continuity with drastically faster startup times for SAP HANA.

Optimal performance has always been a key focus point for the SAP HANA development team and this remains true for this latest release. We have invested heavily in developing significant improvements in areas across the board, from mixed workload scenarios like OLTP and OLAP, to several enhancements, to our performance management tools.

We also have exciting news from the SAP Enterprise Architecture Designer Web application front, with the designer now available as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) on SAP Cloud Platform. This new SaaS offering provides customers with greater flexibility in terms of both the deployment and the acquisition of SAP HANA, enabling them to start working on the architecture and design even before the SAP HANA system is up and running.

At SAPPHIRE NOW this week, we also made another exciting announcement about SAP HANA and its integration with SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain service. I’m very proud to announce that SAP HANA is the first database to allow customers to easily consume blockchain data using the SQL interface. Previously, developers had to have an in-depth understanding of blockchain concepts to achieve this level of integration. By removing this barrier, we have made the development of applications that use blockchain much easier. More information will be mad available at a June 18 webinar, “SAP HANA Goes Blockchain – Bringing Together Business and Blockchain Data.”

Analytical Intelligence Transformed: Machine Learning on Live Data

Within SAP HANA, application functions for a particular functional area are grouped into an application function library (AFL), one of which is the predictive analysis library (PAL) for predictive functions and machine learning. With SAP HANA SPS03, we’ve been working hard on machine learning with PAL to provide the best performance for the training and scoring of data stored in SAP HANA. As an example of the great work done in this area, the logistic regression algorithm now needs three times less memory and can boost eight times the performance for model training compared to a leading python machine learning library.

SAP Cloud Platform, SAP HANA Service

Finally, one of my personal highlights of SAPPHIRE NOW this year came with the announcement of our new Database-as-a-Service offering, SAP HANA as a Service. To harness the power of data, businesses are increasingly embracing data management in the cloud to achieve greater innovation agility and lower costs. Fully managed by SAP and with instant provisioning, consumption-based pricing, and elastic scalability, this is exactly what SAP HANA as a Service offers.  The renewed SAP HANA as a Service is part of SAP Cloud Platform. With new versions delivered every four weeks, customers can consume our latest innovations instantly and benefit from the efficiency that comes from avoiding the time and cost of physical provisioning and maintaining new DB environments.

We are also happy to announce the first release of SAP HANA spatial services. Spatial services help customers build location-aware business applications faster by providing global surface information of the planet from satellites, providing best-of-breed industry models for risk prediction, anomaly detection, and classification, and providing predefined machine learning models for use with customer data. These powerful services mean that you can quit spending time processing satellite and drone imagery — we do it for you. Also, you can better manage the cost and scale with these spatial services available in the cloud.

Of course, these are just some of the highlights of SAP HANA platform SPS03. For a full overview, see: What’s New in SAP HANA 2.0 SPS 03 by the SAP HANA Academy.

Without doubt, the common denominator throughout all of these new capabilities and features is our customers. In every example listed above, customer feedback has played a critical role in its development. As technology advances, consumers’ expectations evolve, and regulations change, so do the challenges our customers face. And because it continuously reimagines what the role and functionality of the database platform for the intelligent enterprise should be, SAP HANA remains a stable and constant feature at the heart of our customers’ strategies.

Daniel Schneiss is senior vice president of SAP HANA Platform and Databases.

*Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory is available today for early adoption testing and production shipping to select customers later this year, with broad availability in 2019