Even several years after its initial launch, I still find people who think SAP HANA is primarily a fast, expensive database — a “luxury” that they don’t need and can’t afford.
But from the very start, HANA wasn’t about “speed” — it was about how rapidly-falling technical barriers would let us get much closer to the age-old vision of seamless, simplified management information systems.
It’s already been six years since Hasso Plattner’s SIGMOD paper that pointed out that existing relational database systems had failed to deliver on their promises:
“Relational database systems have been the backbone of business applications for more than 20 years. We promised to provide companies with a management information system that covers the core applications, including financials, sales, order fulfillment, manufacturing, as well as human resources, which run from planning through business processes to individually defined analytics. However, we fell short of achieving this goal.”
After explaining the benefits of in-memory columnar systems, the paper went on to predict a new generation of management information systems:
[We] predict enterprise systems … where all business transactions, queries, including unrestricted aggregations and time-based sequences, can be answered in just a couple of seconds… We expect that the impact on management of companies will be huge, probably like the impact of Internet search engines on all of us. [The illustration below] shows a future management meeting with information finally at your fingertips without any restriction.
Thankfully, there’s no longer as much need to debate the technical merits of HANA — we can now “simply” talk about the benefits delivered by real-world deployments.
You can read more detailed examples of Unilever’s real-world experience in this case study from The Business Transformation Journal: “Implementing the Real-Time Digital Enterprise to Unlock Value and Enable Business Growth“