SAP Rolls out New In-memory Applications for HANA

The family of specialized applications for SAP's HANA (High-Performance Analytic Appliance) in-memory computing engine is growing, with a new application that allows utilities to crunch information from smart meters, and another that companies can use to run sophisticated profitability analyses on financial data, SAP said Tuesday at the Tech Ed conference in Las Vegas.

HANA, which was first announced last year, is available in appliance form on hardware from a number of vendors. Built in part upon existing products at SAP, HANA places data to be processed in RAM, versus reading it off disks, which provides a performance boost.

While HANA so far is positioned primarily for analytic workloads, SAP has long-term designs of porting its flagship Business Suite to the platform, a move that would provide an alternative for SAP customers currently running their transactional systems on databases from Oracle or IBM.

SAP had previously released a Strategic Workforce Planning application for HANA, which allows companies to analyze the effect of changes to their employee base. The new Smart Meter Analytics product will help utilities probe smart meter data for deep insights into customer energy usage patterns, allowing for improved system load forecasting, specialized marketing programs and other benefits, SAP said.

The profitability analysis offering for HANA will be delivered as one of SAP's RDS (rapid deployment solutions), which are a line of pre-packaged software and services delivered by SAP consultants or partners.

It will enable customers to run real-time reports on profitability against large volumes of data, as well as give them the ability to slice-and-dice the information on the fly for insights, according to SAP.

SAP has promoted HANA heavily during the past year as one of three main new product initiatives along with mobility and cloud-based applications. The vendor has claimed rampant interest from the customer base, saying HANA has the fastest-growing "pipeline," or list of sales leads, in SAP's history.

But based on some reports from early users, HANA still has the types of rough edges reflective of new software.

SAP executive board member and technology chief Vishal Sikka acknowledged the issue, in an interview prior to Tech Ed.

"In any major technology that you introduce, there are these kinds of issues," he said. "So we are working on them in a very modern, transparent way."

For one, SAP is planning to roll out a HANA "watering hole," where developers and administrators can "share their experiences, especially the negative ones, so we can get rid of them," he said.

SAP executives are expected to discuss HANA in further detail during presentations at Tech Ed this week. Topics could include a cloud-based version of the platform that Sikka alluded to at the Sapphire conference in May.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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