I’ve been keeping a quiet eye on SAP HANA for a while now… and I thought I’d showcase a few predictions for SAP HANA in 2014. 2014 will, presumably, contain a further two releases of SAP HANA, SP08 and SP09, which will as usual contain a raft of new functionality and apps. Here are some of my favorites. None of this is official product strategy!
[Update June 2014] I’ve updated this blog with how close my predictions are so far!
SAP River is a new, descriptive, development language based on SAP HANA. I’ve been using it and it is a fabulous way to build next-generation business applications: it is fast, simple and easy to use and I can build apps in minutes rather than days.
It was released with HANA SP07 into an early adopter program and from what I can see, it is likely to be released formally with HANA SP08. We will see some new features, performance improvements and there will be a big focus on usability. If you are considering building apps in 2014 then I highly recommend looking at the River platform.
[Update June 2014] River made it into HANA SPS08 but it isn’t officially GA. You can go live with it, but you have to go into an Early Adopter program.
Lumira on HANA
SAP Lumira was born as Visual Intelligence in January of 2012, and was renamed to Lumira in 2013 and completely rewritten to have a responsive design, which translates to being able to produce dashboards and visualizations that work on any device that supports HTML5.
The kicker is this: SAP Lumira Server is on its way, and this will be a version of Lumira that runs inside SAP HANA, as an app. It looks like it will allow for information exploration, like SAP Explorer, plus the ability to publish dashboards and visualizations into the HANA appliance, which will then run in-memory, on any device.
Lumira isn’t formally tied to the HANA release schedule so I hope to see an early release in Q1, with a proper release later in the year.
[Update June 2014] Lumira Server is now out there, and Lumira Desktop will come with the SP17 release.
HANA Graph Engine
Research papers have been written about the HANA Graph Engine and my guess is that the Graph Engine already exists in HANA, but it is disabled by default. The Graph Engine is the main missing piece in the HANA story – with this, you will be able to build almost any app.
My guess is that it will be used in the next generation APO Engine, because a Graph Engine is well suited to solving approximations of the Traveling salesman problem. I’m looking forward to this but I don’t expect to see it until SP09.
[Update June 2014] I’m continuing to hear whispers about the HANA Graph Engine!
HANA Complex Event Processing
SAP have a market-leading CEP Engine called the Event Stream Processor (ESP), which integrates into SAP HANA. However, this causes one serious business problem, which is how do I react to events based on information that happened in the past. Currently this requires a call-out to SAP HANA via a network socket, which is (relatively) inefficient.
I believe that SAP will write a CEP Engine based on ESP integrated directly into the HANA Appliance – this will completely differentiate SAP from everyone else in the Complex Event Processing market. I don’t think we will see this until at least SP09.
[Update June 2014] Nothing from this yet, though I hear that the teams are trying to figure how this will work
Web Development Platform
There is a basic Web-based IDE in SAP HANA SP06, which has been enhanced in SAP HANA SP07. However, for serious HANA development it is currently necessary to use the Eclipse workbench, for which SAP built a plugin called HANA Studio. For HANA to become a serious application platform, it needs a web-based development platform on which you can build apps, including SAP River apps.
I believe that a first revision of this will come in HANA SP08, and it will be further refined in SP09.
[Update June 2014] This has been released into Beta as the SAP River RDE – Enablement Overview (previously WATT)
Back to apps again for a moment. There was a blog written quietly last year about a project called SAP Magnet. This is an awesome project that consumes contextual information from your email and calendar, news sites, and pastes them within the Fiori Launchpad. So, you open up your iPad and it shows you your next meeting, your recent interactions with that person, their stock results and information from the Business Suite like outstanding invoices.
I doubt we will see a release of Magnet until late 2014 or early 2015.
[Update June 2014] I spoke on this topic at the SAPPHIRE and ASUG annual conference. We are currently looking at custom development opportunities for contextual awareness.
Other Business Applications
What I hope to see in 2014 is a small collection of business applications based on the SAP HANA Platform. We have yet to see the capabilities of HANA to transform industries, like SAP R/3 transformed industry in the 1980s and 1990s.
Some of this will be based on SAP Business Suite on HANA and the existing apps being ported to HANA, but the platform is mature enough for very complex industry specific applications to be built, solving some of the world’s hardest problems. I hope SAP put sufficient focus on this.
[Update June 2014] This has started to happen with Simplified Financials, and SAP is rewriting the “S” Business Suite.
HANA as a Cloud Application Platform
All of this leads to the big ticket item – the Cloud Application Platform. SAP will sell variants of this – Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, on-premise, SAP Cloud, Partner Cloud. It will consume the existing HANA Cloud Platform, HANA Enterprise Cloud, it will be purchasable on demand and on a subscription basis or via a perpetual license (Bring Your Own License). It will allow web-based application development and delivery and will be awesome.
If SAP manage to do this in 2014 then I will be incredibly impressed. They have all of the components to do it and make it a success.
[Update June 2014] This has been mostly completed with the HANA Cloud.
I suspect that SAP will take the KXEN Infinite Insight app and build it directly into SAP HANA, like they have done with Lumira. They will hopefully then integrate this into HANA Live for application scenarios for line of business, and industry, within the SAP Business Suite.
I’d expect this to be a high priority and we may see a first version in the SP08 codebase, with major refinements in the SP09 release.
[Update June 2014] This is coming in the Lumira SP17 release
It’s worth a major note – 2014 is the year when the competitors will arrive to the party. This will come from the traditional RDBMS vendors like Oracle, IBM and Microsoft. Anyone who reads my content will know that I believe that they fundamentally don’t understand the point of SAP HANA, and have missed the mark with their offerings, but the power of their install base shouldn’t be underestimated, nor should the power of their sales and marketing teams.
It will come from the analytic vendors like Teradata, Qlikview and Tableau as they build out their in-memory offerings.
And, it will come from the new database and noSQL databases like VoltDB, Hadoop and MongoDB. These guys have realized that noSQL doesn’t work for high-performance apps and some are heading in a similar direction to HANA.
All of the other vendors are at least 2 years behind SAP HANA, but some of them have very deep R&D budgets. SAP is lucky that the very large vendors have big database revenue streams to protect, which means they face the innovators dilemma.
[Update June 2014] Amazingly the big vendors, whilst they are starting to write in-memory software, really don’t get it.
In my opinion, 2014 will be the defining year for SAP HANA. The platform is by now mature enough for use in any business scenario, it will be available in any conceivable way you want to consume it, and the new features and functionality differentiate it from what else is on the market.
However, there are the challenges of competition coming to the market, plus the mounting pressure of moving to a subscription-based license model. This will no doubt ensure that 2014 is a memorable year.
[Update June 2014] We will certainly remember 2014 as being the year when HANA became mainstream. Most of my predictions have already come true and the rest are coming. It’s very pleasing to watch, indeed.