A New Database Standard

Quentin Clark

Posted by Quentin Clark on March 2, 2015


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One of the questions I sometimes get while still being new to SAP is what do I think of HANA?

It’s a good question.  I’ve been in the database industry for a long time (longer than I care to admit) and before joining SAP was always curious how HANA came into existence and how it made traction so quickly in the market.

What I have learned since being here is that HANA is a new category of relational database.  By inception, it’s technology inherently supports tables that are designed to simultaneously handle Transaction Processing and Analytics – and it does this by it’s in-memory from the ground-up architecture.  The traditional databases support in-memory features – but the separation between TP and Data Warehousing/Analytics still exists, and a developer still needs to program across both worlds.  Not so with HANA – with HANA you can write programs that are doing TP and analytical queries that span what’s happening in the moment as well as what has happened.  It’s a complete paradigm shift – bringing forward entirely new performance dynamics.

SAP can see this even in our adoption numbers.  HANA is growing at an incredibly fast pace. Our customers are understanding the difference between a traditional database and the new capabilities and innovations that HANA represents.

The innovation of HANA benefits as applications are re-imagined to take advantage of it.  That is one of the major foundations of S/4HANA – SAP’s next-generation business software.  The application functionality, and the experiences through our Fiori work, are all transforming.  By eliminating things like aggregates, indexes, redundant data, etc. in the application data model due to the nature of HANA, we can build applications now that are real time.  The footprint massively shrinks, the performance dramatically increases, costs go down and new possibilities open up – gone will be the inventory system that is two days out of date, gone will be the human resource systems that take days to reflect organizational changes, gone will be the days it takes to do closing at the end of fiscal quarters and years.  And applications will be able to do more – have predictive models, provide visibility into more than just the LOB data, and scale to historical data like never before.

A new category of database requires a new class of benchmarks and with the new S/4HANA generation of the business applications and new generations of hardware, we collectively have the opportunity to re-think how we deploy our solutions and how we measure the application and database performance.  The existing benchmarks are no longer reflecting the business needs – from database performance benchmarks to even the planning and system sizing tools used today for deployments of the Suite.  SAP is investing in the tools, and it has opened-up a collaboration to define new benchmarks.  Today’s in-memory databases will be measured differently, and the new categories of databases will be measured differently.  We aren’t the only ones in the industry that think so.  It will be interesting to see how the landscape evolves as the software, hardware, system and storage vendors engage and then benefit from a new class of benchmarks. We are ready to define a new database standard. Please join us.

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