If SAP's Hana in-memory database is to succeed, SAP will need more
than just a product to win over customers. That's why the company
highlighted a bevy of partnerships at this week's SAPPHIRE event in
Orlando, Fla., including closer ties with hardware, software, and
On the hardware front, SAP announced on Wednesday that it has taken
its 15-year-old partnership with Intel a level deeper with jointly
developed support and optimization for scale-out, multi-node
deployments of Hana on Intel servers. Scale-out architecture will
enable customers to handle multi-terabyte data sets by adding more
SAP and Intel announced that they themselves have brought the
architecture to the extreme with a 100-terabyte system running on
Intel Xeon E7 servers that will serve as the foundation of what
they described as a petabyte-scale cloud platform.
"With a farm of such systems around the world, we believe that we
can run every single ERP system that we have today," said SAP CTO
Vishal Sikka during his keynote presentation on Wednesday.
f customers want to keep their deployments on-premises but run them
on Hana, they'll need new hardware, specifically Intel X86-based
servers. Sikka noted that Hana-certified servers are now offered by
more than half of the server manufacturers that use Intel
processors, including Cisco, Fujitsu, HP, and IBM. Sikka and SAP
chairman Hasso Plattner singled out IBM, in particular, for close
cooperation in offering Hana-ready hardware--perhaps easing the
pain of DB2 licenses displaced by SAP's new database.
The option to scale out opens the door to big-data analytic
processing, and on that front SAP also announced the released
Service Pack 4 for Hana, which introduces text searching on
unstructured and structured data, interoperability with the R
open-source statistical language, and in-database predictive and
The Service Pack 4 announcement might satisfy critics such as Wells
Fargo software analyst Jason Maynard, who wrote in an April
research note that "SAP should be targeting new areas where Hana's
in-memory technology has a real advantage, rather than trying to
replace existing relational database workloads."
Wells Fargo downgraded SAP's stock to "market perform" from
"outperform" late last month in part because Maynard doesn't see
infrastructure (meaning databases) as SAP's strength. He wants to
see more big-data apps built on Hana.
Opera Solutions, one of many software vendors partnering with SAP
on Hana, announced this week that it's now running its Signal Hub
analytic applications on Hana. Signal Hubs tap into large and
varied data sets to perform predictive analyses and support
decisions on areas such as marketing, spend management, and credit
risk. During his keynote, Sikka said Morgan Stanley is a joint
customer where Opera has been delivering predictive investment
advice using its machine-learning techniques.
"This process used to run on traditional infrastructure, but with
Hana it will become dramatically more real-time while also
integrating historical trading information," Sikka said.
SAP is turning to systems integrators for help in selling and
implementing Hana, and on that front the vendor announced that
Accenture is expanding its SAP practice to promote SAP's database
offerings and particularly Hana. Accenture has committed to adding
1,000 new employees skilled in SAP databases and related
applications by the end of 2012, and it also will develop a
dedicated research and development capability around Hana.
"We're seeing the uptake [of Hana] with customers, so we're
doubling down on our investment and we already have a development
factory for SAP BW on Hana up and running in our India delivery
center," Mark Willford, global managing director of SAP Business at
Accenture, told InformationWeek.
On the development front, Sikka got a hearty round of applause
during his keynote when he announced that SAP is making Hana
developer licenses available for free. The company also is opening
up access to the platform by making developer instances of Hana
available on Amazon Web Services. Enterprise applications and SAP
expert Dennis Howlett wrote that the moves "put all developers
large, small and anywhere in between onto a level playing