Without going into a history of inaccurate and inconsistent statements about SAP HANA made by Oracle and Larry Ellison himself, I just want to use this opportunity to set the record straight on something that they continue to cause confusion about. In the Oracle earnings call on June 20, 2012, this is what Larry had to say (http://seekingalpha.com/article/670061-oracle-management-discusses-q4-2012-results-earnings-call-transcript) about Exalytics and SAP HANA:
“….And Exalytics, our in-memory analytics competitor to SAP’s HANA, is ramping faster ….. and we’re not seeing much competition from HANA.”
Here is a summary of what the market literature tells us about Oracle’s Exalytics:
It is meant to be an analytics appliance constructed by adding multiple technologies and duplicate engines into one box for different use (e.g., Essbase for planning, and TimesTen for caching, and other technologies such as OBIEE). Also, it is clear from public documentation that there is a 1 TB limit on Oracle Exalytics, and from all indications it appears that only about 400 GB of this is actually available for in-memory data since a significant portion is to be used for working memory for the components (e.g., Essbase, TimesTen, OBIEE) that have been put together. It is clear that data needs to be curated (ranging from pre-selection to pre-aggregation) before it can be used for meaningful analytics operations.
So yes, indeed it does provide a limited in-memory experience, and, yes, if you are using pre-fabricated data then it does provide a fast response. That’s where the similarities end. SAP HANA is more than an analytics engine. SAP HANA provides a full-blown in-memory experience that is unrestricted by how much or what data you use. It can be used for both analytical and transactional data. There is no data caching involved and there is no requirement for any tuning, or for pre-aggregating or otherwise pre-fabricating the data. As the growing number of apps and solutions on SAP HANA, and the success of BW on SAP HANA prove, this is much more than a mere analytics appliance.
Hence, while Exalytics can seek to compete on a limited number of aspects, it is by no means a “competitor” for SAP HANA. For Oracle to present something that is a true competitor for HANA, they will need to find something that can scale out to 500TB of raw data stored in main memory and deliver real-time results without manipulating the data first!
While all these limitations of Exalytics (vis-à-vis SAP HANA) might not hurt a customer in certain scenarios, they are certainly a drag in many other cases. Hence Exalytics as it stands today can never address the comprehensive scenarios that SAP HANA can.
One solid measure of a solution’s true worth is the growth of its customer base. Since its introduction a year ago, SAP HANA has 354 customers, and counting!
P.S. You can follow my other blog posts at: Café Innovation Blog on the SAP Community Network (SCN)