AT A GLANCE
SAP didn’t invent in-memory data stores, but over the last five years it has done lots to focus attention on the benefits and possibilities of the technology given advances in compute capacity and RAM affordability. Its HANA data store started out as an in-memory database, but has morphed into a development platform with a built-in application server.
SAP built HANA from the ground up, including research from the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, the acquisition of the IP from the p*Time database, the TREX search engine, BWA in-memory appliance and MaxDB relational database. It has been extended with intellectual property from the Business Objects and Sybase acquisitions with products like Sybase IQ and Business Objects Data Federator.
SAP also offers a Platform-As-A-Service (PAAS) offering (called the HANA Cloud Platform) which offers multi-tenant database services.
SAP claims its new data store has become the “fastest-growing database platform at scale,” with 2,000 startups building on the database and more than 6,000 customers overall. Most recently Hana became the foundation for Business Suite 4 SAP Hana (or S/4Hana), the vendor’s latest generation of ERP applications. The app data model is simplified thanks to in-memory advantages including the ability to eliminate separate transactional and analytical environments and associated aggregates, indexes, and other unnecessary copies of data. Granular data can be instantly analyzed in myriad virtual views.
HANA stores all data in columnar format and compressed. Sums, indexes, materialized views and aggregates are not required, and this can reduce the database footprint by 95%. Everything is calculated on-demand, on the fly, in main memory. This makes it possible for companies to run OLTP and analytics applications on the same instance at the same time, and to allow for any type of real-time, ad hoc queries and analyses. On top of this SAP built solutions to all the problems of columnar databases, like concurrency (HANA uses MVCC) and row-level insert and update performance (HANA uses various mechanisms like a delta store).
- virtual OLAP functionality, data virtualization, text analysis, search, geospatial, graph and web
- supports open standards: REST, JSON, ODBO, MDX, ODBC and JDBC
- none yet
The first HANA deployments were all analytical use cases like Datamarts and Data Warehouses. EDWs like SAP BW run faster with a simple database swap.
With a transactional application like Finance or Supply Chain, most things run a little better from a simple database swap (SAP claims 50% faster for their own core finance). The real benefits come when logic from the applications are optimized and pushed down to the database level, from simplification of the apps (SAP is building a simplified version of their Business Suite), or from ancillary benefits like real-time operational reporting, real-time supply chain management or real-time offer management.