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SAP's HANA in-memory analytics engine now available

Chris Kanaracus | June 20, 2011
SAP's HANA (high performance analytic appliance) in-memory computing engine is now available to customers worldwide.

He declined to say how much CSG is paying for the HANA system. "But relatively speaking, if HANA does what it's supposed to do, I think it will be well worth the price," Fipps said.

Right now, "several" customers have HANA running in production, according to Sikka. Many others are live, "meaning they have an instance running actively and are using for their business, but the IT department doesn't consider it a production system," he added.

But the fact that SAP is putting HANA into general availability roughly a year after it was first announced and before a wide range of customer case studies has been made public may cause some to wonder whether the technology isn't being rushed along a little.

Sikka mostly dismissed the idea.

"You have to understand, we are riding on the coattails of 3,000 production installations of MaxDB ... and more than 1,000 installations of TREX," he said, referring to some of the technologies HANA is based upon. "This is the team that has built [HANA]. I am behind it. Hasso is behind it," he said, referring to company co-founder Hasso Plattner.

Having said that, "we're coming out of a period of time where SAP was not innovating," he added. "So yes, we are in a little bit of a hurry to show we are innovating."

HANA is going to serve as the basis for an "intellectual renewal" at SAP, according to Sikka. "It's at the heart of everything we do in the future. Every team is impacted by it. We are all either transforming our products on the basis of HANA or right now building the road map to do so."

Between 250 and 300 engineers distributed across the globe are working full-time on HANA around the clock, Sikka said.

SAP will provide more details in September on HANA-related product road maps, including the HANA AppCloud, which got a brief mention at the recent Sapphire conference.

Over time, SAP plans to open four data centers for the HANA AppCloud around the world, managing some itself and co-locating with partner-owned facilities for others, he said.

Like other cloud platforms, the AppCloud will involve server farms coupled with a software fabric for elastic resource provisioning. HANA will run on top, allowing customers and ISVs to run analytics or build applications, he said.

For now, HANA is available in appliance form from a range of different hardware partners -- including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Fujitsu, Cisco and IBM -- giving customers ample choice of vendors. SAP has also constrained hardware support in one sense, as HANA currently only supports Intel x86 processors. That move was made to speed up HANA development, since only one platform needs to be supported.


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