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HANA: The long road from promise to product

by Davin Wilfrid

May 18, 2011

by Davin Wilfrd, insiderRESEARCH

In the past year, expectations for SAP's breakthrough in-memory computing technology have loomed ever larger. What was once a promise is now a product, and the pressure is on SAP to convince companies they need the power to analyze millions of rows of data in a fraction of a second. 

At this year's SAPPHIRE conference, SAP spent a considerable amount of time showing off business cases for HANA. The goal is to illustrate ways companies can leverage HANA to drive their business forward. 

A good example is Colgate-Palmolive, which is using HANA to do customer sales and profitability analytics for a large subsidiary. The company sells products in more than 200 countries, so understanding trends requires huge volumes of data. Analyzing sales data of specific brands at the local and regional level quickly gives Colgate-Palmolive the ability to adjust strategies and promotions on the fly. 

Akihiko Nakamura, SVP of Nomura Research Institute, gives HANA high marks for speed. His company used HANA to analyze more than 360 million records in a fraction of the time previously required. "We had heard that SAP HANA enabled extremely strong performance, but to actually see and experience the speed and high performance firsthand is simply amazing. Now and in the future, speed is the key to adapting to an ever-changing business environment. The speed SAP HANA enables is sudden and significant, and has the potential to transform entire business models."

Of course HANA doesn't come cheap. Not only are there licenses involved, but getting those breakneck speeds will typically require investment in high-end hardware (Intel is, of course, qu ite supportive of HANA). And that's not to mention the effort involved in structuring data correctly within HANA to support those lightning fast operations.

However, as the cost of hardware and processing continues to fall, and more business cases emerge from the real world, look for the promise of HANA to materialize into a peak performer for SAP. Why? Because, as they say in athletics, you can't teach speed. 


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