HANA – Next Generation Data Management?

HANA stands for High Performance Analytic Appliance. HANA, is what is called an in-memory appliance, which means HANA loads substantial amounts of data from traditional disk storage into real computer memory, which allows the data retrieval and logical processing within memory at light speeds. In-memory computing holds data in RAM instead of being read from disks, providing a performance boost. HANA, which SAP launched last year, can tap data from both SAP and other sources, and the company has also started rolling out a series of specialized applications aimed at specific business problems. HANA is now available in appliance form. Hardware from Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and IBM, among others, has been certified to run HANA.

This appliance is usually made up of blade processing systems with large amounts of memory. This technology is not new, and has in fact been around for years in various forms. SAP has been using memory appliances for years with their BW accelerator offering.

The main difference with HANA is that SAP is building the HANA appliances with specific logic, based on the SAP solution it is supporting. HANA is released for certain business processes, the appliance can literally be plugged into the network, identified to the correspondingSAP solution, and turned loose!  The appliance will run side-by-side with the traditional SAP solution, allowing amazing speed increases for typical business processes. We are talking hours to seconds here.

HANA entered ramp-up in the fourth quarter of 2010 and continues there today. According to SAP, General Availability (GA) is targeted for the first half of 2011. SAP is also listing the HANA solutions expected to come out first, most likely in Q3 or Q4 of this year as per following schedule.

  • Strategic workforce planning (out now)
  • Sales and operations planning (Q3, 2011)
  • Cash and liquidity management (Q3, 2011)
  • Trade promo management (Q4, 2011)
  • Smart meter analysis (Q4, 2011)
  • Profitability engine (Q4, 2011)
  • Customer revenue performance management (Q4, 2011)
  • Merchandising and assortment management (Q4, 2011)
  • Energy management for utility customers (Q4, 2011)
  • Customer-specific pricing (Q4, 2011)
  • Intelligent Payment Broker (Q4, 2011)
  • SAP BW on HANA (Service Pack release in 2011)

Back to the technology, the benchmark numbers being reported so far are very promising. For example SAP ran benchmarks with IBM on real-world ERP business scenarios and was able to run more than 10,000 queries an hour against 1.3 terabytes of data made up of SAP ERP sales data tables. The query response time was literally seconds. Some other numbers now being published include reading and processing 460 billion records in less than 60 seconds on a 3 terabyte machine. Tests on massive reports are also showing latency being reduced from 2 hours to 5 seconds. These are very impressive results. Also remember that each HANA appliance release has targeted algorithms based on the solution it is supporting, or in other words the HANA appliance is somewhat intelligent in that when matched with theSAP solution, it will target the correct database tables and views for memory so as to provide that massive performance lift.

The benefits to the SAP customer base for HANA are significant. HANA will allow real-time decision making in areas never possible. An example given is the CEO of a big company like SAP can get any information about any SAP sales pursuit in any part of globe or product almost in real time (in seconds) on his iPad.

Even with the additional hardware needed to support the HANA solution, there should be a TCO play based on the business value that HANA will bring. There are also some challenges that need to be addressed around overall landscape design, sizing, tuning, and disaster recovery, but these challenges should be flushed out quickly and would not impede, in any way, the value of moving quickly to this new technology platform as your business demands.

About JA
Expedien has built a reputation as the company to engage for Enterprise Information Management and Business Intelligence projects. Consistently assisting clients in all phases of project life cycle, we engage with clients who are beginning their Information Management projects or “Rescuing” projects that are in trouble. As the largest internally staffed EIM & BI practice in North America, we continue to build upon our core delivery of Data Warehousing, Data Migration, Data Integration, Data Quality, MDM, Big Data and Business Intelligence by leveraging a team of professionals with over 1500 years of deep experience. We have specialists dedicated to improving organizational and operational performance within specific industry segments. By blending these multi-disciplinary skill sets, Expedien is ready and able to create and deliver Enterprise Information Management, Big Data Analytics services that meet our clients' need to collect and analyze internal and external data to generate knowledge and value for the organization.

One Response to HANA – Next Generation Data Management?

  1. Dominik Tylczyński says:

    I wonder how HANA compares to liveCache – another SAP technology of in-memory processing utilized in APO for instance.

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