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With the explosion of data all over the world & the way Information Technology is getting used by enterprise users as well as individuals (thanks to mobile phone revolution) , there is an acute need for extreme performance, low latency (response time) & which has led the focus on ‘In-Memory Database Platforms’. 

SAP’s keen focus on in-memory database technology is seen through its offering of SAP HANA. It is an in-memory, column-oriented, relational database management system (RDBMS) that’s designed to support

transactions and complex query processing on the same data set.

SAP HANA is a full transactional, ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) compliant relational database, designed to cost-effectively run transactions and analytics on a single copy of data, with maximum performance.

What makes SAP HANA sizzle?

  • Real Time Analytics

Thanks to in-memory architecture of SAP HANA, we can do OLTP (On Line Transaction Processing) & OLAP (On Line Analytical Processing) at ease, enabling operational analytics. SAP HANA provides on-the-fly analysis so you can make real-time decisions. SAP HANA permits OLTP & OLAP workloads on the same platform by storing data in high-speed memory, organizing it in columns, partitioning and distributing it among multiple servers. This delivers faster queries that aggregate data more efficiently yet avoids costly full-table scans and single column indexes. There is paradigm shift for developers in HANA, since it allows all the data intensive logic down in the database as SQL, SQL script & HANA views, thereby ensuring the best application performance.

  • Massive Speed

SAP tested the scan speed of an SAP HANA database across a variety of Intel CPU processors. These tests achieved results of 3.19 billion symbol scans per second per core. The early use cases with SAP HANA address a conventional pain point by accelerating analytics, and hence insights, on massive volumes of detailed data. Hence, end users can not only get answers faster (e.g., CO-PA reports that used to take hours can now run within seconds) without disruption, but also are now empowered to ask any question without requiring additional investment of IT’s time or resources to pre-define queries, pre-aggregate data into tables or cubes, or to generate indexes and materialized views.

  • Radical Efficiency

By porting the data from a classic database to SAP HANA, eliminating unnecessary index and aggregate tables, and enabling operational reporting directly within SAP HANA, the data footprint was reduced by a factor of 37 in a test conducted at customer environments.

  • Extreme Scale

SAP, with its partners, set a new record for the world’s largest data warehouse using the SAP HANA platform and SAP IQ software. The data warehouse is 12.1 PB of data, which is four times larger than the prior record.

  • Lower Cost

Providing a dual OLTP-OLAP architecture reduces the data footprint, which saves on storage costs. Eliminating the need for data extraction and transfer from OLTP to OLAP saves time and resources. Forrester projected 37% cost savings over four years when customers migrate to SAP Business Warehouse (BW) powered by SAP HANA in year one, SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) powered by SAP HANA in year two and start using SAP HANA platform for custom application in year three.

  • Big Data capabilities

SAP HANA is an ideal big data analytics platform, capable of efficiently loading and rapidly analyzing multiple data types in both structured and unstructured forms. With SAP Data Services, traditional sources of structured data, such as point-of-sale, transactions, customer records, etc., as well as non-traditional, unstructured sources, such as website logs, social media, email, videos, etc., can be loaded into SAP HANA for seamless modeling and analysis. One can crunch even Petabytes of data for quick, accurate answers to sophisticated business problems.

  • Predictive, Spatial and Text Analysis

A powerful suite of predictive, spatial and text analytics libraries can run across multiple data sources.

  • An Open Platform

SAP HANA is an open platform that runs thousands of third-party applications on nine industry-leading partners’ hardware. Its cloud offerings are provided by external hosting and management partners.

SAP HANA – The journey so far

SAP introduced HANA in 2011; it enabled SAP BW powered by HANA in 2012. In 2013, it launched SAP Business suite powered by HANA. SAP Simple Financed powered by HANA was launched in 2014. It launched SAP S/4 HANA in 2015.

SAP S/4HANA

SAP S/4HANA is the short form for SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA. It brings the next big wave of innovation to SAP customers, similar to the transition from SAP R/2 to SAP R/3.

SAP S/4HANA is the next-generation business suite. It is a new product fully built on the most advanced in-memory platform today – SAP HANA – and modern design principles with the SAP Fiori user experience (UX). SAP S/4HANA delivers massive simplifications (customer adoption, data model, user experience, decision making, business processes, and models) and innovations (Internet of Things, Big Data, business networks, and mobile-first) to help businesses run simple in the digital economy.

It inherits all the benefits of HANA mentioned earlier plus there are some additional benefits, as explained below.

  • SAP Fiori UX

It enables business users leverage a simple and role-based user experience based on modern design principles which minimizes training efforts while increases productivity.

SAP S/4HANA is natively designed with SAP Fiori UX offering, an integrated user experience with modern usability and instant insight on any device (role-based, three steps max to get the job done, mobile-first, consistent experience across lines of business) . With SAP Fiori, you can provide instant value to any user in any role, in any line of business. All business users can enjoy the simplicity to get the job done across line of businesses with a personalized, responsive, and simple user experience available on any device. It is seen as the user experience (UX) paradigm with unified cross-application user experience (web-based or all mobile devices). In plain words, Fiori works as an app, executing pre-designed queries/reports with app-like user interface.

All SAP S/4HANA innovations are intended to be delivered with SAP Fiori UX providing the same experience on all devices. However, a customer using SAP S/4HANA, on-premise edition is planned to still be able to consume the traditional user interfaces.

  • IOT

SAP S/4HANA is natively connected to the Internet of Things and business networks for real-time collaboration (planned: machine-to-machine, Ariba Network, Concur) in the networked economy

  • Cloud Platform

The open platform (SAP HANA Cloud Platform) to drive advanced applications – for example, predicting, recommending, and simulating – while protecting existing investments. SAP S/4HANA is natively born for easy adoption (guided, configuration, and easy onboarding, from the discovery of the solution through cloud trials to deployment with preconfigured best practices)

  • Choice of deployment

SAP S/4HANA is natively engineered for providing choice of deployment (on premise, cloud and hybrid) to customers to drive quick time-to-value. SAP S/4HANA also gives customers the option to fully leverage the new HANA multi-tenancy functionality as provided by the SAP HANA platform (currently support package 9) for the cloud. Cloud-based deployments are ideal for smaller-scale deployments, start-ups and independent software vendors (ISVs), and for situations where a pay-as-you-go model is preferred over larger capital expenditure.  (Going for Opex instead of Capex)

  • Reduced data foot print

Organizations can now reduce their data footprint and work with larger data sets in one system (for example, ERP, CRM, SRM, SCM, PLM co-deployed) to save hardware costs, operational costs, and time. SAP S/4 HANA enables drastic compression in database size. In one of the tests conducted, Production Database (any database other than HANA & running ERP) size of 7.1 TB got crunched to 0.5 TB with SAP S/4 HANA

  • Higher throughput

Compared to ERP of any database, SAP S/4 HANA gives 3-7x higher thoughput.

Roadmap of SAP S/4 HANA

Moving to SAP S/4HANA for a typical existing SAP ERP 6.0 customer will require a move to the latest enhancement package, followed by a database migration from any DB to SAP HANA combined with the deployment of the exchange innovation (new code). From an execution perspective, these steps can be executed in sequence or as a combined step. Moving to SAP S/4HANA for an existing SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA customer is even faster as only the deployment of the exchange innovation (new code) is required.

The roadmap of SAP S/4 HANA is evolving pretty fast.

SAP Simple Finance (which provides personalized information for end users with granular drill down, simpler, faster and does away with total/indexes/aggregation) as a part of S/4 HANA suite, is already making waves.

SAP Simple Logistics launch is scheduled in the near term.

SuccessFactors is the default HR solution for S/4 HANA to run HR processes. Migration from SAP HCM to Successfactors is available. (Integration of SA HCM with S/4 HANA is possible running as separated instance)

SAP S/4HANA is planning to integrate with SAP’s existing cloud portfolio offerings, like Ariba, Concur & Hybris. These offerings remain offered under separate license/subscription.

Forrester assessment

As per the Forrester assessment of 11 vendors (Aerospike, DataStax, IBM, Kognitio, MemSQL, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Starcounter, Teradata, and VoltDB) with offering of In-Memory Database, SAP emerged as a clear Leader  (with Oracle at a distant second position) as per in Forrester Wave Q3’15 report.

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