I am currently recovering from the annual trip to SAP TechEd in Las Vegas.
As always it was great to catch up with lots of friends in the SAP ecosystem – and to make some new ones. The show is a highlight for the SAP techie community and this year they celebrated the 20th SAP TechEd in North America.
Generally speaking those going to their first or second TechEd thought the show was great. Those with more TechEd experience were less enthusiastic – the best adjective I can come up with to describe the show is “subdued”.
In evaluating the success of TechEd 2016 there are many facets that need to be considered – but there are two obvious issues that changed the feel of the event.
Firstly, the exhibition was down in the basement of the Sands Convention Centre. Apparently SAP lost their priority at the venue for a couple of years and this forced this change and also the move to earlier in the calendar. This meant a longer transit from break-out rooms to exhibition, but the biggest impact was on noise levels. The lower ceiling meant that the acoustics on the exhibition floor was awful. The worst of this was borne by the presenters in the Expert Networking booths where they had to fight to be heard over those at the adjacent booth. Attendees tended to group around the nearest loud speaker to hear what was happening and it was almost impossible to hear questions being asked. I spent a lot of time in the Mentor room, which was located on the show floor, and it was pretty bad there too. We also had the additional noise from the catering staff on the other side of a thin partition as well.
The second issue was that SAP TechEd coincided with Oracle Open World in San Francisco. This meant that SAP have held back most announcements until SAP TechEd Barcelona in November. The usual members of the press and analyst community were not in Las Vegas and their presence was missed.
One announcement that was made was the availability of SAP HANA Express Edition – press release here. This is a downloadable version of the HANA in-memory platform that can be installed pretty much anywhere you want to install it. See developers.sap.com for details.
There is a binary installation package you can install on commodity hardware, desktops, laptops or on IaaS virtual machines such as those provided by Amazon, Microsoft & others.
There is also a platform independent version delivered as a VMware image you can install on your Windows or Mac machine. This is the simplest install for most people.
SAP have positioned SAP HANA Express Edition to provide developers with “ubiquitous access to the SAP HANA platform to build applications free of charge on a laptop or desktop, or in the cloud”.
That’s right – free of charge. You can use SAP HANA Express Edition to develop and deploy production applications for free that use up to 32 GB of memory. If you need to go beyond that you need to start paying – but 32 GB is a significant size in the HANA in-memory world where database compression reduces database size significantly. In one of the TechEd keynotes Lenovo told us how they took a 33 TB database and compressed it to 4 TB on a HANA database.
There are also some other restrictions around the data source you use – you cannot use “SAP data”. I take this to mean you can’t grab your ERP data and use that – but you can certainly take one of your existing datasets and go nuts with it.
The version of SAP HANA that comes with Express Edition is “streamlined” which means it doesn’t contain all HANA features – but it does contain most of them. As you would expect with a license that limits DB size things like clustering, data replication, data tiering and many integration services – including Hadoop – are excluded. But there is still plenty there to build meaningful applications with.
While SAP have targeted this product at the developer community I think this is welcome news for the system administration people as well. Now you have a HANA package you can install, patch, start, stop, backup, restore, stress test, etc. Many system administrators know HANA is on their roadmap but up until now have not been able to get access to a sandbox system to update their skills and experience. SAP HANA Express addresses this need.
So a subdued TechEd also meant a subdued announcement of SAP HANA Express Edition. But developers and system administrators should take notice.