Simplicity – The Critical Foundation for Massive Transformation Experience

Ken Tsai

Posted by Ken Tsai on November 22, 2013

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SAP HANA has already been on a 2-year journey to radically simplify data processing, application development and system management experiences to help re-invent our customers’ real-time business. I have been fortunate enough being the first-hand witness to some of these radical changes when the fundamentals of what we thought of a DBMS system and application platform is massively simplified.


It is trying to get people to understand the simplicities HANA offers that can be truly complicated. Speed, which many people know SAP HANA for, is not its true hallmark or differentiator; the way SAP HANA simplifies data processing by supporting OLTP+OLAP with one copy of data managed in-memory columnar format has always been its secret sauce and core IP.

SAP HANA affords simplicity in a number of ways:

  • It simplifies the data footprint. Porting from a traditional data base to SAP HANA can have definite advantages on its own, but a redesigned financial application optimized for the SAP HANA platform has demonstrated a whooping 37x reduction in the necessary data footprint. And SAP’s own financial accounting department who use ERP, CRM and BW on HANA note a reduction of over 400 hours compared to the same systems on a traditions database.
  • It simplifies data processing. SAP HANA is a true in memory database and as such can manage a mixed workload of transactional and analytical activities on a single instance of the data. OLTP, OLAP, Text Search, Natural Language Processing, spatial an predictive analytics using SQLscript can all run against a single copy of the data. Further data replication, smart data access (an advanced form of query federation) and ETL/ELT can easily be provisioned and managed simply within one modeling environment.
  • It simplifies application development. SAP, which owns the market for business applications, has been driving as much as possible of these re-usable business functions back down into the database. SAP HANA has built-in application server, web server, rules and planning engine. Simplifying things to one place and bringing the compute to the data. Further, HANA has built-in application function libraries (reusable business functions, predictive algorithms, text mining libraries, data quality libraries) all in one place to meet diverse needs.
  • It simplifies IT infrastructure. Due to its nature SAP HANA in a single server replaces the multiple separate servers (transactional, analytic, application, predictive, etc) needed to provide what companies need to accomplish. This simplifies setup, administration and operations as all data processing and data processing workloads are consolidated into a single server.
  • And most importantly it creates transformational simplicity for new app innovations. SAP HANA is a complete redesign, a paradigm shift, purpose built. Not the complexity of additional bolt-ons and add-ons to existing systems to try to accomplish new things or efficiencies. But rather a SAP HANA is simple, purposeful and transformation by its very nature and design.

In the coming weeks we will be introducing the “SAP HANA Difference” webinar series to share more about the technical insights and learning directly from implementers and application developers who are building their applications on HANA. I hope you will join us in this learning experience.

I will end my blog with a simple personal story. There have been several well-known examples of massively simple products that have completely transformed our experiences. I still vaguely remembers the world when mp3, photo, email, phone, GPS capabilities are separated in different platforms. Last 6 months my family has been a happy owner of Tesla Model S and we couldn’t stop raving about the driving experience. But I am more impressed by the fact that Tesla completely re-thought the automotive power train and eliminated the transmission altogether – the secret sauce of Tesla’s massive torque and amazing acceleration that rivaled the best of the exotic sports car. It is this philosophy of radically simplifying the automotive design that won over my wife vs. a hybrid vehicle, a design that actually added complexity by combining combustion and electric engines. We see the future of driving experiences being shaped by companies like Tesla, and we’ve jumped onto the bandwagon of happy Tesla owners, a decision also shared by Consumer Report who recognized Tesla as their best car EVER tested.

Sometimes we expect or want things to be complicated even when they are not, and on occasion may find it hard to see or accept the simplicity. SAP HANA is revolutionary – not just because it is a true in-memory platform, but more because of the transformational changes the simplicity it affords toward how we think, approach and implement data processing projects going forward.

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