For Hasso’s benefit, I am happy to share with him that yes, in-memory database technology delivers on all the promises he describes in the video. How do I know? Since the founding of Workday in 2005, all our applications have been built using a pure in-memory database architecture that has done away with the relational model. We have been using this technology for more than 5 years, and have been in production with global, Fortune 500 customers with it for the past 3 years
I guess this is an example of just how far behind the legacy providers like SAP are in terms of innovation. I wait, with baited breath, for the next installment of “Hasso on Hasso.” Might it be “The iPhone: the Next Big Thing?”.
Welcome to the present, Mr. Plattner. If you really want a glimpse into the future, I invite you to stop by Workday’s offices :-).
Note: See this more recent blog from Brian Sommer for a comparison of how Workday and SAP use InMemory technology.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about Bhusri’s statement and have been trying to figure out why HANA and SAP’s InMemory technology is so important.
Although the media focus is often on the technology itself, it is more important to look at HANA and InMemory technology in the specific context of the general SAP ecosystem and the market for enterprise software. In my opinion, a critical aspect is the ability of SAP to tap into its existing customer base and provide this technology to a very broad base of potential users.
OK – Workday has been using InMemory technology since 2005 but how many customers does Workday currently have. Based on the latest count, they have 123 customers. SAP has 172,000. Regardless of the fact that Workday is viewed as a threat by some in the SAP ecosystem (see the Why Workday is a Major Threat to SAPfrom fellow SAP Mentor Jarret Pazahanick for a lively discussion on this topic), the number of users impacted by Workday’s use of InMemory technology is still less than that of SAP’s potential customer base.
Some pundits may suggest that I’m comparing apples and oranges: Workday’s InMemory technology is already available and being used by all of its customers. SAP’s HANA just went into GA and the number of productive users of HANA is still limited. First, SAP has other InMemory solutions (for example, BWA and SAP Enterprise Search) that are already productive. As suggested by the relative youth of HANA and the wide-reaching plans of SAP for its InMemory technology, the real impact of this technology will occur in upcoming years. As I stated above, it is this potential / the future impact that is the more important consideration.
Although the large number of existing customers provides a myriad of sales opportunities for this technology, it is also presents SAP with various challenges. The understandable desire of SAP to bring HANA into the landscapes of as many existing customers as possible forces SAP to consider an almost unlimited number of potential use cases for this technology. Since this customer base spans different industries and contains multinational companies of various sizes with different characteristics, the associated HANA-related scenarios are equally diverse. Realtime analytics is a general benefit that is welcomed by most customers but the greater benefits (and those that are the most interesting in my opinion) are usually associated with industry-specific scenarios which are usually more difficult to define. A recent list of potential use cases demonstrates the diversity of such scenarios.
When it comes to industry-specific use cases, sustainability could be the area where HANA makes the biggest impact, according to Adrian Bowles, VP and principal analyst with the Constellation Research Group. Energy meters collecting masses of consumption data hold the keys to managing energy demand. But analyzing those volumes of data has been extremely difficult. Effectively analyzing those energy use patterns could help companies or utilities decide when to shift energy loads for maximum efficiency.
In addition, Bowles says, SAP’s inroads in the energy and carbon management sector (in terms of customers and products) make this area a natural target for HANA.
“High-speed analytics will be the differentiator here,” Bowles says. “The analytics power that HANA will bring will allow us to not only identify what certain patterns in that energy data mean in terms of sustainability but do it early enough that we have time to do something about it.” [SOURCE]
As evidenced by the innovative demos seen in this year’s The HANA InnoJams prior DKOM 2011, SAP’s industry experts and developers can identify such scenarios. The challenge for SAP will be to 1) convince customers of the importance / relevance of such scenarios and 2) standardize such industry-specific solutions so that the associated implementation efforts remain low.
The Process rules – Some things never change
Tieing back into the process. Once you’re this far – it makes sense to tie it back into regular business process. So you could make it reorder product, if it is out of stock – or penalise the retailer in our example for not making promotions. SAP HANA then becomes the centre of a real-time decision engine.
When I read this statement, I was automatically reminded about past discussions about integrating collaboration / Web 2.0 tools into existing processes. Every time some new technology / trend emerges, there is the apparent need to include this technology into the existing process structures. I have to admit that Thoughts on the Application of InMemory Technology to Process Environments. For me, this tendency once again proves the longevity and importance of the Process in Enterprise IT – The Great Debate – People vs Process in SAP’s OnDemand offerings – and the continued importance of the BusinessSuite with its set of time-tested processes in SAP’s long-term strategy. The apparent failure of collaborative software to successfully achieve this interaction (see Dennis Howlett’s discussion of the recent Jive’s S1 filing for more details) demonstrates the difficulty in accomplishing this goal. Thus, the intent to integrate HANA into processes is commendable but its success is in no way a given.