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It has been a privilege to bring to market a transformative platform like SAP HANA and witness its massive and real growth. The results are not hype as one of the financial analysts has stated, but a direct result of the unbelievable demand and customer value we see. Here is my point of view.

 

While most of the industry was chasing trends like big data on database architectures that are either quite outdated, or only partially serve the needs of modern data processing, SAP was setting its own trend by fundamentally transforming data processing with SAP HANA.  From June 2011 to Dec 2012, in 18 short months, it had over a 1000+ customers and EUR 550M+ in revenue to become the fastest growing product in SAP history. Here are my thoughts on why I think it’s a real success and why Geoffrey Moore has said that SAP HANA has crossed the chasm that many technologies fail to cross.

 

 

1) It Has Disrupted The Existing Database Market

SAP HANA was a fundamental change from the 30 year status quo in the database market. We challenged all the traditional divides that existed in enterprise software such as - between structured and unstructured data, between transactions and analytics and even between databases and application servers - all at once. We brought to market a new database that was completely in-memory (vs. disk), columnar (vs. row), massively parallel / scalable (vs. single node) and most importantly simpler (no aggregates or tuning) to run than competing databases in the market. We could simultaneously do deep analysis while capturing fresh transactions, with interactive speeds that kept pace with the human brain and did it across a broad number of data types. Most competitors are still struggling to provide an answer to SAP HANA and we have had the first mover advantage for the last 2 years in the market. It provides a significant jump in performance, with an average customer running their processes 100-1000x faster and 20+ of them more than 10,000x faster than before. This step jump in performance is the core reason why SAP HANA has seen the steep growth in adoption across a wide range of use cases.

 

2) It Is Building a New customer Base for SAP

Savvy CEOs and COOs as well as CTOs/CIOs recognize an innovation when they see one and more importantly they know the competitive edge “velocity” can give to their business. Technology enthusiasts and early adopters flocked to this new technology. The majority of the first 100 customers came from non-traditional use cases, far removed from our traditional application and analytics installed base. I still remember our first go-live customer did real-time ad placement on television based on content and viewer data collected in real-time from millions of digital video recorders and the next one mined customer complaints on medical devices to make sense of fault patterns. We had not only expanded our addressable market to now include databases, but also added new customers to SAP due to HANA. This trend has continued with breakthrough use cases from deep sea drilling, to real-time rerouting of passengers and airline crew to providing retail store associates with 360 view of their loyal customers on an iPad with data mined on SAP HANA. What is interesting about these use cases is that they are standalone SAP HANA implementations on front of the house processes for which lines of businesses are willing to pay to get competitive advantage.

 

3) Broad-based Adoption Across a Number of Industries

Industries like retail, consumer products and banking typically lead new technology adoption in data management. However, our experience has shown that the adoption of SAP HANA is broad based across 25 industry verticals, including Life Sciences (e.g. Genomics), Mining (e.g. Predictive Maintenance), Automotive (targeting promotions by dealership for instance) and our newest vertical – Sports and Entertainment (player scouting, and fan experience). This shows that the business value of SAP HANA came from use cases that gave our customers the edge in their industry and hence drove the adoption of SAP HANA. Moreover, in many of these engagements – instead of SAP telling our customer what the best practice business process was – we led with design thinking methods to co-create and iterate on use cases that provided breakthrough results providing value to customers and revenue to SAP.

 

4) Availability Across a Wide Range of Price Points, Partners and Business Models

SAP HANA is available in a very broad range of price points by market segment. For example, for startups and customers working on starter projects we have SAP HANA available at 99 cents / hour on AWS (additional AWS fees apply for infrastructure costs), it’s under $10K for small customers (SAP Business One), its available as a % of application price for SAP applications (very similar price points and business model to other database providers) and also available by size of data in main memory in the 100K – 15 M+ range for platform use cases. It’s available on hardware from 8 different hardware providers from small to large systems that fit every use case in the market. These price points, supportive partner networks and range of business models (direct/indirect/self service) make SAP HANA more widely available than the general perception in the market. For instance, SAP HANA on AWS already has more than 500 customers since launch in 150 days. Another example is the big success of the SAP Startup Focus program. It was launched to work with startups that are creating the next generation of applications without the burden of older generation applications and databases. Today we have 200+ startups in our development accelerator, most of them on use cases outside the traditional SAP applications.

 

5) Existing SAP Customers Found an Evolutionary Path to Adopt

Disruptive technology does not need to disrupt existing SAP customers. Many early adopters, came for the technology, but found their second, third and fourth use cases on SAP HANA due to its evolutionary path. The early majority, i.e. the next 1000 customers, was pragmatists and wanted to know the map for the “Road to HANA”. SAP HANA’s roadmap provided an incremental path with frequent releases. First, we provided data-marts side by side to existing databases to do real-time analytics, and then we became the primary database underneath our data warehouse and then finally became the database for both transactional and analytical workloads in one powering real-time business. This path proved to be a way to crawl, walk and run. Enterprise Systems live for long periods of time and SAP had to timelessly renew these landscapes with minimal disruption. Often SAP HANA would be the lynchpin why customers, who have stable SAP application instances would consider buying or upgrading their systems to the latest releases of the product. For example, we believe that a real-time MRP system powered by SAP HANA will fundamentally change how every-thing you see around you, from the clothes we wear to the cars we drive and the smartphones we love is manufactured, shipped and purchased. SAP applications run 70% of the world trade, imagine impacting world commerce and reducing costs at that scale if customers can adopt this technology.

 

In Summary

SAP HANA is the cornerstone of SAP’s innovation agenda and the heart of our platform. It is a platform upon which a universe of next-generation applications will be built, some by SAP itself, some by startups and by an ecosystem of customers’ own IT teams, independent software vendors and systems integrators. The value of the platform is driven by the breakthrough technology it provides, the new use cases it makes possible across a broad range of industries that were not fathomable before and existing customers who can now non-disruptively adopt this technology. The financial numbers follow the real growth story of SAP HANA and not the other way round.

Understand the Broad Scope of SAP HANA: One of my favorite blogs for those wanting to learn more about SAP HANA is the "What is SAP HANA"  blog posted in September 2012.  This blog has an excellent overview of the breadth of SAP HANA.  SAP and its partner eco-system invest heavily in SAP HANA technology.  Sometimes it is hard to keep up with all the announcements and added enhancements.  I’ve also noticed lately, that some are trying to compare a small sub segment of in-memory analytics capabilities to SAP and claiming that they are doing the same. There is an inherent fallacy in this approach as they aren’t really comparing ‘apples to apples.’  With SAP HANA, in-memory processing has greatly shifted away from pure OLTP or OLAP, and has evolved into a converged platform that transforms information processing and energizes application development.  This blog serves as an extension of the "What is SAP HANA" blog by highlighting key SAP HANA enhancements and announcements that have taken place since last September.  These two blogs combine to provide an overview on the full scope of the SAP HANA Platform.  An overview that can be referenced when one is trying to make informed decisions.

SAP adds extended platform capabilities for supporting diverse mission-critical applications to SAP HANA. SAP HANA now collapses the architectural layers between application and data processing and converges database and application services in a single in-memory-based architecture. SAP HANA also supports large-scale data center deployments with high availability, disaster recovery and security.  Some key enhancements include:


  • Natural language-based text analytics: By expanding advanced text search with natural language processing, organizations can process various levels of text analysis across 31 languages. Click here for additional details.  .
  • Expanded predictive analytics for SAP HANA: We were very pleased to see Forrester Research Inc. position SAP as a leader in "The Forrester Wave: Big Data Predictive Analytics Solutions, Q1 2013." SAP was named a leader for its strong architecture and strategy, and cited as differentiating itself from competitors by putting the SAP HANA platform at the center of the offering.  SAP HANA will continue to expand on embedded predictive algorithms to enable enterprises to perform segmentation and clustering analyses to identify and retain profitable customers, improve upsell opportunities and detect fraud. Predictive analysis library functions recently added with SAP HANA SPS5 include classification, clustering, outlier detection and data preparation algorithms. In addition, SAP HANA also supports predictive model markup language (PMML) Export (with PMML Import functionality coming soon) for the integration and sharing of predictive models.
  • Expanded application services for SAP HANA: SAP HANA now includes native application and web server capabilities as a service that help developers quickly develop modern applications directly within the SAP HANA platform using HTLM5, JavaScript, SQLScript, ODATA, JSON, XML and Restful Web Services.  Additionally, these services can be exposed for consumption by device-based applications or by other application servers. Developers can build from an integrated development environment application by using SQLScript for data processing, JavaScript for logic control and HTML5 for the user interface (UI) representation in the same tooling.   
      • Enhanced business rules management: Business rules management in SAP HANA is a core component of the extended application services built into SAP HANA. Developers can easily add business rules to their applications without embedding these directly within software codes. These rules are designed to be easily maintained by end users without writing code and through a simple intuitive interface. It has the ability to simulate, mine for trends and patterns and modify physical data based on actions.
      • Application functional library framework: Developers can easily access embedded algorithms, business functions (Business Function Libraries) and Predictive algorithms (Predictive Analytic Libraries) through extended application service capabilities via SQLScript or JavaScript. This new level of support makes it easier for developers to build applications that embed advanced analytics.



Extended Deployment and Licensing options:

  • SAP HANA Platform for Large-Scale Data Center DeploymentSAP HANA has expanded support for SAP HANA deployments in enterprise data centers for 24/7 operation. To illustrate the readiness of SAP HANA for large scale out deployment, SAP published a white paper, SAP HANA Petabyte  Performance.”   SAP HANA has shown extreme scalability with one of the world's largest in-memory clusters, capable of handling large data sets with fast real-time responses.  This system is comprised of one petabyte of raw uncompressed data representing 1.2 trillion records. One hundred nodes of IBM x5 servers, each with 1 TB DRAM and 40 cores. In a petascale performance test of SAP HANA in-memory cluster, 1 PB of raw data was loaded onto 95 active nodes, five were used as standby nodes for failover.  This data size represents approximately 10 years of transactions for a large company with an average of 328 million transactions per day. Performance tests on this "big data" shows a fast response time of 0.43 to 0.50 seconds for ad-hoc sales and distribution queries and 1.2 to 3.1 seconds for more complex year-over-year trending data over different time periods.
  • SAP HANA in the Private CloudPortugal Telecom and SAVVIS are two of the first companies to host SAP HANA with a “pay-as-you-go” model.   These subscription-based hosting services offer customers the opportunity to use SAP HANA with no initial hardware investment and to scale out when/as needed by the customer.



SAP to Join Forces With Intel on Breakthrough “Big Data” Solutions to Improve Competitiveness and Agility of Businesses:  SAP and Intel plan to build and bring to market a breakthrough “big data” solution for enterprise customers centered on the SAP HANA platform and Intel Distribution for Apache Hadoop software. The combination will bring enterprise performance, security, and governance to big data problems.  The combined solution will integrate innovations and software technologies from SAP, Intel and the open source community to store and analyze in real-time large volumes of structured and unstructured data from across the enterprise. SAP plans to leverage the in-memory technology innovations in SAP HANA as well as Intel’s innovations in security, connectivity and management tools for Apache Hadoop to bring a unique solution to market. The planned major technology components of the solution include integrated parts of the SAP Real-time Data Platform (RTDP) along with Intel Hadoop software.  SAP’s Real-Time Data Platform (RTDP) includes a portfolio of products that are tightly optimized to work together to solve modern-day data management challenges including data processing across  massive  volumes  of  data  storage,  high  velocity  streaming  data,  automated  data movement, and data visualization. To learn more about the SAP Real-time Data Platform click here.


Free Knowledge Sharing of In-Memory Expertise With SAP HANA Academy
SAP HANA Academy is a free online resource of high-quality technical instruction to empower anyone to learn how to operate the SAP HANA platform. It provides online instructional videos and live and recorded webinars, as well as virtual access to on-site training sessions as outreach channels. Technical content is contributed by SAP and the ecosystem community. Videos are divided into two sections, "Projects" and "How-To's" — projects are designed to help users learn SAP HANA by performing a task, while how-to videos teach a particular function or feature.  We are continuously updating content in the SAP HANA Academy so be sure to visit the site regularly.


The last (but not least) item that I’ll highlight is that SAP is proud to be cited as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for data warehouse database management systems 2013 for both its “completeness of vision” and “ability to execute.”


I’ve focused this blog on the core SAP HANA technology as an extension to the original “What is SAP HANA blog.”  I hope you find this summary to be insightful and useful as you explore what SAP HANA means to you.  There is also much activity for the SAP Business Suite on SAP HANA, new applications and rapid-deployment solutions that have been released on SAP HANA, start-up company activity with SAP HANA, etc. Please visit www.saphana.com for additional details. 

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