Innovation of Business Applications with SAP HANA
In this installment of our blog series, I will be discussing “How ISVs can adopt SAP HANA into their environment”. SAP HANA is more than a database technology; it is the platform for digital transformation with the leading hybrid transactions analytical platform (HTAP) at its core. Our customers are not only asking us to make our applications cloud ready but much more automated and intelligent too.
Figure 1 – The Translytics continuum
With artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) becoming a reality, enabling business applications to become intelligent is a realizable goal. When I mean intelligent, I don’t mean automating a process, aka teaching a computer to do something in the same way a human does but creating a business application that can learn and react based on the environment around it. This type of application requires a fundamentally different platform that can handle the volume, variety, and velocity of data that machines can then learn from and react to. This dynamically responds to the business application requests. If we apply traditional thinking, we create complexity by splitting up the stacks into transactional and analytical workloads and then integrating the results the analytical solutions produce back into the core transactional database for execution. SAP HANA gives ISVs the opportunity to simplify the platform environment into a single OLTP/OLAP platform, that can handle the volume, variety, and velocity that is required by these next generation Business Applications.
It is a journey that we at SAP have embarked on with SAP (R1, R2, R3, ECC 6) and now delivering S4/HANA that other ISVs and business applications can learn from.
In this blog, I am not going to focus on specific business drivers for SAP HANA, but rather how to get there once these drivers have been agreed on, in 2 sections:
- How ISVs can adopt SAP HANA into their business application landscape (SaaS and on premise).
- How SAP “Sybase” SAP Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) ISVs can seamlessly adopt SAP HANA.
I am separating these two sections as SAP has released unique integration technology called the SAP HANA Accelerator for ASE (A4A), that allows the seamless integration and synchronization of SAP ASE with SAP HANA that is virtually transparent to the client application in a side-car approach.
The strategies I outline in this blog can be equally applied to cloud based applications and traditional on-premise applications. For example, you may use SAP HANA in the cloud to accelerate reporting for an existing application or you may design a new application to run in the cloud, leveraging the unique properties of SAP HANA or anywhere in between. SAP HANA is designed for the cloud and on premise transformation journey.
Let the journey begin.
SAP HANA Adoption – Strategy to Realization – the WHY, a 4 step process?
Before embarking on any journey, the Why always needs to be in place. Make sure the question of “Why we are adopting SAP HANA?” is clearly articulated in your business plan. This will influence the most effective roadmap to monetization for your business application – identifying the key capabilities that are required and what approach to adopt SAP HANA to start with, either as a side-car or a fully integrated platform.
Let me be a little more specific. If your customer’s problem is slow reporting, then implementing the spatial capabilities that immediate priority and a simple side-car accelerator may be sufficient in the first phase. If your application is trying to predict service outages in an area based on incoming live data streams and hotspots, SAP HANA with Spatial and Predictive capabilities are required. You may even decide that the core transactional application also needs to reside on SAP HANA for simplicity. It is important to have a 3 to 5 Year vision of where you would like the Business Application, as this will clearly outline the best place to begin adopting SAP HANA, that I will cover in the next section.
To help guide the SAP adoption journey, we have created a 4-step process as outlined below. For this blog, I will be focusing on building the high-level roadmap.
Figure 2 – The 4 step process to SAP HANA adoption
SAP HANA Adoption roadmap
Once an inventory of business drivers, architecture considerations etc. in place, the roadmap planning to adopt SAP HANA can begin. The first decision that will need to be made is what paradigm to use and what features are required as outlined below:
- Side-Car Analytics Accelerator
- Either an OLTP or OLAP Database (separate OLTP / OLAP)
- As an HTAP Engine (single OLTP / OLAP Store)
- Design for or adapt to natively adopt SAP HANA (taking advantage of the native power of SAP HANA and specialist engines)
The decision of where to start is not final and the SAP HANA adoption can evolve over time to a higher level of sophistication – for both transactional and analytical applications.
As depicted in the diagram below there are multiple entry points to the adoption of SAP HANA and the benefits each adoption start point may have, delivered on a cloud ready platform.
Figure 3 – SAP HANA adoption scenarios for ISV’s
For example, applications can evolve from running a side-car by accelerating specific pieces of logic to incorporate the real-time next generation business features that SAP HANA offers. SAP itself has chosen this transformation journey: we first accelerated the ERP through side-cars for existing customers (e.g. Cost and Profitability Analysis), next we refactored the suite to run on SAP HANA and other databases –Suite on HANA, then we integrated SAP HANA directly into our applications to build the next generation of real-time business applications – S4/HANA.
Lift and Shift Adoption of SAP HANA?
One question I am often asked is, “Does it make sense to lift and shift my existing application to the SAP HANA platform?” and “What benefit is there of doing this, the cloud is a major topic?” In the software business, I believe we always need 2 defensive plays and 1 strong offensive play. Customers will not move all their business applications to the cloud overnight and continue to maintain hybrid architectures for the foreseeable future. Ask yourself the following question, “How many banks are still running the IBM AS 400 mainframe systems that were supposed to be killed off by 1st Client Server and 2nd 3 Tier systems for core processing?” Companies need to continue to “Run” their business and with SAP HANA, SAP is offering them the ability to innovate their legacy business and create net-new business opportunities for ISVs in modernizing their application stacks and incorporate some leading paradigms and technologies. This innovation can be delivered, while the cloud plans are unfolding.
SAP HANA Adoption by “Sybase” SAP ASE ISVs – SAP HANA Accelerator for ASE (A4A Side-Car)
SAP has long standing strategic relationships with market-leading ISVs, running on SAP ASE. Customers are looking to incorporate the real-time aspects of SAP HANA into their estate. To address this market, SAP has released unique technology that easily integrates SAP HANA with SAP Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) using a side-car architecture for analytical acceleration. The master guide for the technology is available at the following link.
Using this technology, ISVs can accelerate existing reporting and analytical scenarios with little-to-no code change in their TSQL application. It enables the push-down of logic stored procedures and queries to SAP HANA as well as the synchronization of data between the two systems.
The diagram below details the high-level architecture of the accelerator. An ISV application is classified as an SAP ASE Client. It is important to observe the blue connection lines and that the existing ASE Client (ISV App) does not need to connect to the SAP HANA system, but rather to an SAP ASE Server. This allows the client to speak traditional T-SQL and this is translated into SAP HANA SQL script by an SAP ASE Server. This new SAP HANA system can also now be accessed by other reporting and analytical client applications, without affecting the performance of the transactional system – all of this with little-to-no code changes.
Figure 4 – SAP HANA Accelerator for ASE
SAP HANA brings some amazing transformation capabilities for our customers. In this blog, I covered a high-level overview of how ISV’s can adopt SAP HANA, listing out different approaches and where to start:
- Side-Car, including SAP HANA Accelerator for ASE
- Real Time Business
In future blogs, we will be delving into more details on this topic.
We understand that every ISVs application is unique and has their own set of opportunities. As such, SAP offers multiple ways of partnering on the digital transformation journey and offers services and tooling to help ISVs understand what would be required to adopt SAP HANA and the potential joint business impact.
The time is now to understand how an SAP HANA partnership can drive your transformation to the digital core! To engage with SAP, please either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- OLTP – Online Transaction Processing, an application optimized for handling lots of concurrent transactions, underlying DB platform really good at handling concurrent transactions but not at doing complex reporting. Implemented using Row Based technology. e.g. Ordering. Link
- OLAP – Online Analytical Processing, an application with a DB optimized for reporting and complex reporting, underlying DB really good at handling reporting and analytics. Implemented using columnar based technology. e.g Data warehousing, data marts, business intelligence, predictive, AI, Machine Learning, dashboarding etc. Link
- HTAP – Hybrid Transaction/Analytical – Gartner – Hybrid transaction/analytical processing (HTAP) is an emerging application architecture that “breaks the wall” between transaction processing and analytics. It enables more informed and “in business real time” decision making. Link
- SAP HANA Side-Car – In a master slave relationship, SAP HANA acts as the slave to accelerate the analytical capabilities of a transactional application, with little to no impact to the existing code, with data being replicated into SAP HANA. The SAP HANA Instance can then be scaled out or accessed by other tools, applications, and reporting / analytical infrastructures. As an example, ISV’s can enable spatial and predictive capabilities directly into their business application, through an SAP HANA Side-Car.
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