Innovation and Liberation: With SAP HANA, you get both! (Part one of a two part blog)

Steve Lucas

Posted by Steve Lucas on October 1, 2014

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That was my original title for this blog…but after hearing some of the quips from Oracle Openworld this week, I have a new one: “When you clearly don’t understand something, always compare it to Dairy Queen”. (See Oracle quote here) and what’s with all the animosity towards Dairy Queen coming out of #OOW14 anyway? Frankly if SAP could buy Dairy Queen I think we should…we could have free Butterfinger Blizzard Thursdays. I LOVE Dairy Queen and I bet Berkshire Hathaway (parent company) does too!


I do get the general playbook of Oracle though: First deny something exists, then try and copy it to preserve lock-in.

Ok now back to things a little closer to reality. This week the IT world received a full dose (officially an overdose) of rhetoric from Oracle about their latest raft of products including their retreaded database offering 12c, which has been dubbed “in-memory” capable. The company’s now former CEO even said “cloud” quite a bit in his keynote, which is amazing given he feigned ignorance as to what cloud computing was a few years ago. Now just to be clear, I am not attempting to deny Oracle its day in the sun (pun intended), I just want their customers to know there is a better, simpler enterprise architecture available to them with SAP HANA before anyone should trot down the precarious and expensive 12c path.

I do find the sudden buzzword compliance in their speeches on cloud amusing, especially when Oracle uses the word “only” in conjunction with their commentary. How can Oracle be the only end-to-end anything in the cloud? Really? Given the wide range of thoughts I have on Oracle’s topics related to “cloud”, I think the hashtag #irrelevantcloud sums up my sentiment nicely. There are a lot of companies, SAP included who take issue with Oracle’s proclamations this week. With our managed cloud based data center service, HANA Enterprise Cloud as well as our multi-tenant Platform as a service, HANA Cloud Platform (hcp.sap.com) we offer comprehensive, end-to-end cloud solutions today that are built on HANA and best in class.

Speaking of feigning ignorance, I haven’t forgotten Oracle’s proclamation regarding in-memory technology cited in an Economist article from 2010 where the mere idea of HANA was referred to as “wacko”. My point is not to dredge up inexplicably bad predictions from the past (since there’s an amazing 4,000+ HANA customers now and over 1,300 Business Suite on HANA), but rather to point out that a company must believe in what they are doing in order to fully transform, or more to the point fully liberate a market…and THAT is what we intend to do…liberate the market from the dictates of Oracle. Why? Well as Oracle so adeptly pointed out this week, the applications for some of the cloud companies SAP has recently purchased run on Oracle (and some don’t) and we have experienced first hand the limitations of their legacy architecture; so to some degree we’ve experienced the pain of Oracle’s customers. That’s the reason the code name for our migration projects to get these solutions off Oracle and on to HANA is “CHFE” (Can’t Happen Fast Enough).

And while I am on the topic, I just want to be clear that ALL of SAP’s cloud solutions are being moved to HANA in earnest. Why? Because cloud apps flat out run better on HANA in every test we perform. Improved transaction performance as well as analytic performance and most importantly a better business result all come from running on HANA. Now you may ask SAP why is it taking time to port these applications? Try ridiculously complex and unnecessary PL/SQL, aka a lock-in language for Oracle. Oracle if anything are a smart bunch and there’s clearly no incentive for them to get their products closer to industry standards or simplify their landscape…that would make them less money. In contrast to that, I think it’s fair to say we’ve worked very hard to build a broad range of industry standards and compatibility into HANA, making it a much more open platform technology.

It’s safe to say that after all the saber rattling that went on at #OOW14 this week, the one quote Ellison made in his keynote regarding HANA which I DO agree with is “he doesn’t get it”. I don’t think Oracle gets it at all. We don’t see in-memory as a data management “feature”, an after-thought or an add-on option; we think it’s a whole new design center for modern applications. We believe in-memory databases and in our case, an in-memory platform will usher in a new era of in-memory grids, networks and the like, where the data that matters in the moment will solely exist in-memory and be processed thousands of times faster than what Oracle offers.

At SAP, our mission is not just to innovate with HANA, but to liberate the market from Oracle and help businesses transform using real-time as well as instantly respond to market shifts. SAP championed enterprise grade, high scale in-memory in the market with HANA, which fundamentally liberates the market to redefine business, enables the impossible and dissolves layers of complex technology. In contrast to that, there’s plenty of evidence baked into Oracle’s latest 12c release, indicating that innovation was not exactly top of mind for them. Their recent in-memory (again, term used loosely here) enabled version of 12c has what I can best describe as “hints” of optional in-memory capabilities with “caching” in columnar format to speed up analysis. However, I think this strategy will lead to slower response times as queries get more complex, ultimately requiring significantly more working space in-memory than what a full in-memory database would need (i.e. waaaaaay more expensive than HANA). Furthermore there are additional license fee triggers aplenty in 12c that Oracle customers seem to be lamenting – which to me has the trappings of a lock-in strategy, not a liberation/innovation plan.

SAP HANA is the broadest, fastest and most comprehensive in-memory platform on the market. Period. Note I didn’t say “database”…I said platform. This is the point we’ve been emphasizing at SAP for years with HANA. The HANA platform offers a SINGLE data store capability as well as advanced processing engines from transaction to analytics to planning activities such as forecasting and predictive analysis as well as text, geospatial and graph processing on the same single copy of your enterprise data…and while this is compelling, it’s not even the biggest benefit of HANA!

And that’s a great spot to wrap up part one of my blog…look for part two tomorrow!

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