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HANA, huh, what is it good for? (Quite a lot, actually)

By Guest blogger Doug Janes, Technical Marketing, HP Converged Systems

 

This is the first blog in a series that could be called SAP HANA 101. I will try to provide all of the information and resources that you need to understand SAP HANA – what it is, what it does and what HP has to offer. Along the way, I hope that you will weigh in with your questions or observations, and I will incorporate them.

 

At its most basic, SAP HANA is an in-memory database. Its main claim to fame is speed – even when handling large volumes of data. It functions very differently than traditional, disk-based databases, which use memory as a working / caching area only. Whereas traditional databases try to store the most frequently used data in memory, leaving most of the data on disk, SAP HANA stores all of the data in memory. This completely eliminates the need to read from disk, which can make HANA thousands of times faster right from the start. However, traditional databases also have a lot of complicated logic and spend a lot of time figuring out whether the data they want is already in memory or whether it has to be read from disk. HANA can eliminate much of this as well, further increasing its speed.

 

When HANA was first released, it did most of the things that you would expect from a database. It supported SQL commands and a variety of interfaces including ODBC, JDBC and MDX. It also supported a number of mechanisms to get data into the database, including Sybase Replication Server and BusinessObjects Data Services. However, it really didn’t offer anything in the way of ready-made solutions. This was almost its undoing, because customers were mostly uninterested in adopting a completely new database platform just so they could do all of the work to create their own applications from scratch.

 

To address this problem, SAP began releasing Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS) using input from charter customers on areas where their business didn’t operate as effectively as they would like, because they were having trouble getting useful data out of their business management systems. These were built on a standalone data mart model where selected data would be copied into HANA and then a specific analytics, reporting or acceleration scenario would be created that could run alongside the existing business applications as a “sidecar”.

 

Over the next three years, SAP moved aggressively to realize their vision of a centralized data management system that customers could use to run all of their business applications. The next year, they updated Business Warehouse – their enterprise data warehouse solution – so that it could run on top of HANA. The year after that, they did the same for several of their most popular Business Suite applications – ERP, CRM, Supply Chain Management and Supplier Relationship Management. Along the way, they also opened the door for independent developers to create their own HANA applications by releasing a programming API and creating a marketplace very similar in concept to Apple’s iTunes or the Google Play Store.

 

Customers are on a journey to use the benefits of in-memory computing to operate their businesses more effectively. The journey has stops at analytics and reporting, enterprise data warehousing and running business applications. HP has a portfolio of ConvergedSystem models specifically designed for SAP HANA, to help you no matter where you are on this journey. HP Converged Systems are pre-integrated and pre-built systems that are workload optimized for Big Data, including SAP HANA, virtualization and cloud. Integration across server, storage and networking make these systems easy to buy, deploy and manage and ultimately reduce costs and risks for faster time-to-value. I will talk more about the HP ConvergedSystem portfolio for SAP HANA in future blogs and provide some guidance to help you figure out which of the HP ConvergedSystem models are the best fit depending upon where you or your customer is on the journey. Stay tuned.

 

Doug

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About the Author
Technology marketing professional with over 25 years of experience in energy, semiconductor and IT industries.
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