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Why SAP HANA Also Fits Java Environments

Feature Article | June 14, 2017 by Andreas Schmitz

SAP HANA works with non-SAP applications, too. The problem is, not enough people know it. Here we present three example scenarios.

As managing enterprise architect of the independent IT service provider and consulting agency Capgemini, Roman Bartlog is all too familiar with the customer’s dilemma: tons of data that’s not always up-to-date. “The data is copied back and forth for so long that it’s already obsolete by the time it’s finally analyzed,” he says.

In Bartlog’s experience, around 60% to 70% of an enterprise’s data is redundant, mostly the result of this multiple copying. “We have to make this data footprint smaller,” he says.

In other words, we need to evolve from the concept of Big Data to Right Data, and strip sheer data volumes down to only that information that is of true value. Which means eliminating data silos and bundling to a central instance. The advantages? Cost savings, faster data analysis, and better decision making.

Single Source of Truth: Right Data instead of Big Data

But how do we do this? The typical company IT landscape is heterogeneous, made up of SAP and/or third-party systems, databases from Oracle, SQL from Microsoft, or DB2 from IBM. Not to mention enhancements and custom developments.

Meanwhile, SAP forged a pure-SAP approach that fulfilled all enterprise requirements. Based on the SAP HANA platform, the SAP S/4HANA business suite did away with aggregates, merged the analytical and transactional elements and, in essence, created a ‘single source of truth.’

“If SAP HANA can do that for SAP,” Bartlog reasons, “Then this must be possible in the non-SAP world as well.”

SAP HANA in Non-SAP Landscapes: First Piloted in Automotive Industry

SAP HANA for Java applications? “The customers had a hard time getting that idea into their heads,” recalls Bartlog.

One car maker that traditionally operated a large, non-SAP landscape ultimately decided to give SAP HANA a try for one of its applications.

“In this case, we had the advantage of knowing the coding because we had actually developed part of the application,” admits Bartlog. The SAP HANA database reacted very slowly at first, due to issues with the parameterization.

“The system probably wasn’t expecting this kind of data,” surmises Bartlog.  A single patch was all it took to fix the problem. After that, the system picked up the kind of processing speed the experts had expected from in-memory technology.

Bartlog describes the main advantage of SAP HANA like this: “It’s currently the only database technology around that can function without data copies,” which in turn is key to the central instance envisaged by the concept.

SAP HANA in Java Environments: Three Examples

The “Right Data” modus operandi is currently being tested in three different scenarios. The companies involved in these scenarios wish to remain anonymous, for one main reason: “They see a huge competitive advantage with this new approach, which they’d prefer not to let the competition in on right away,” explains Bartlog. In some cases, the companies set up so-called Site Cars, which initially ran SAP HANA alongside their usual operations.

1. Automobile manufacturer: Car repairs process in after-sales systems
Because the systems are now able to process larger data volumes much faster, call center agents can now call up and handle customer data and individual histories much more quickly and efficiently. “This can minimize idle times in repair shops,” affirms Bartlog, who sees increased customer satisfaction as a nice side effect of this.

In addition, system availability has gone up. The car maker used to deploy more than 20 databases, making consistent backups next to impossible, especially when considering that the manufacturer had to cull data from over 60 different systems including development, test, and production environments.

“When a system went down, it had a domino affect on the surrounding system landscape,” notes Bartlog, who points to faster release cycles and simpler interface population as further key advantages of SAP HANA.

2. Media: Press archives
A public media company had built up its archives over many decades on an Oracle database that by today’s standards would be considered obsolete. “Response times were in the hundreds of seconds,” recalls Bartlog. What’s more, just maintaining and developing the database further was a full-time job for two employees.

When Capgemini suggested the company switch to an SAP HANA database instead, the company was skeptical: After all, it said, they were using Java applications, and that had nothing to do with SAP, did it?

Ultimately, the company did opt for SAP HANA. Bartlog attributes this to the fact that SAP’s in-memory technology is “not just a database, it’s a brain, too.” For example, SAP HANA is capable of performing a wide variety of analyses, including text sentiment analysis. Now even complex searches or keywords with particularly high hit rates such as “Angela Merkel” have response times of under 10 seconds.

3. Logistics: Transportation management
A logistics company that has never deployed any SAP solutions before is considering implementing SAP HANA as its “data management platform of the future.” It first tested the offering on its transportation management system. As it turned out, SAP HANA fit instantly, perfectly, into the company’s traditional Oracle landscape.

“The benefits of SAP HANA will really become apparent when the data silos are consolidated,” says Bartlog, referencing the nearly 100 data buckets the company currently relies on. A further benefit: today, analysis of sensor and IoT data such as from containers take hours to finish on account of the multitude of databases in use. “Once they have SAP HANA, the results will be instantaneous,” he boasts.

“As such, we’ve successfully debunked the myth that SAP HANA is too expensive and doesn’t work in non-SAP environments,” says Bartlog. Indeed, he sees a billion-euro-market globally in the approach, which Capgemini has coined “UNLIMITED.” The first customer, the logistics company, plans to go live with SAP HANA at the end of this year.

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