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Author's profile photo Irfan Khan

Crush Conventional Wisdom: Run OLTP and OLAP Together

The biggest hurdle to competitive advantage can be conventional wisdom. Organizations too often conclude that because something has “always been done this way” that it is by definition the best way, maybe even the only way to do it. Sometimes that’s true, but more often it’s simply conventional thinking.

Even in enterprise IT, where change is rampant and open mindedness a must, people fall prey to conventional wisdom. A few decades ago, for example, many companies were slow to adopt networked PCs for business users, insisting, instead, on adding extra mainframe capacity or installing another minicomputer, anything except to put a real computer in users’ hands. More recently, tablets were considered mere “toys” for business by some, while others quickly turned them into innovative enterprise tools for a mobile workforce.

Today, there is an entrenched notion that combining OLTP and OLAP on a single platform “never works.” DBAs seem to be particularly encumbered with the conventional wisdom against running both transactional and analytic workloads on a single system. And those organizations that do combine them on one platform apparently only run OLAP at night when the OLTP operations are off.

SAP HANA undermines that aging bit of data center conventional wisdom. With its pure in-memory, columnar and row architecture, SAP HANA is ideally suited for both tasks. On the OLTP side, as Robert Klopp noted in a recent blog post, it “performs writes as fast or faster than disk-based systems.” Plus, it can handle simultaneous analytic queries faster than dedicated OLAP systems with little or no impact on operations, even if the query demands real-time transactional data.

While most people see SAP HANA as the platform of choice for Big Data analytics applications, SAP sees it as cost-effective solution for OLTP environments as well. That’s why new releases of the SAP applications will be able to take advantage of native in-memory and multi core parallelism for transactional operations running on SAP HANA.

Hasso Plattner has led research on the subject and has concluded that delivering real-time data and analytics on a single platform will revolutionize the way business leaders make decisions. He says, “that the impact on management of companies will be huge, probably like the impact of Internet search engines on all of us.”

Upending the conventional wisdom about running OLTP and OLAP together has an additional benefit. It saves money, which, according to IDG Research is the number one goal of CIOs when it comes to managing transactional systems. That’s because with SAP HANA as your single OLTP and OLAP platform you won’t need a secondary database; you will have less hardware to manage; and your labor costs will be lower.

It’s understandable to go slow when you first encounter disruptive technology such as networked PCs, tablets, and SAP HANA. These technologies upend long-held, commonplace beliefs. But if you go too slow in adopting these technologies, you let your competitors race ahead, potentially leaving your conventional wisdom and, worse, your organization in the dust.

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