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I couldn’t resist writing another post on ‘Understanding HANA‘. I got some good critical feedback with my last blog entry and I deemed it wise to write again quickly.


Update on SAP HANA

So as we read last time, HANA is a database and information processing platform. What I missed mentioning was – “HANA” is just a name, not an acronym for High Performance ANalytic Appliance. I was also asked to speak about a little about databases – but I decided not to. Instead we’ll talk about the competition around this aspect. It will help with slowly outlying the strategy in the future posts.

In-Memory as we said earlier is the storage of information in the random access memory (RAM)  rather than on disk drives. This means information retrieval is very fast. “Very fast” compared to the traditional way, where data is stored on hard disk.

This is a really good presentation on the Architecture and Technology in HANA you can read about. Now, HANA has certain components to it. Broadly it is – the Database, Studio, Appliance, Cloud (I classify everything – HANA One, Enterprise Cloud, HANA Cloud, NetWeaver Cloud etc under this)

As the database – it is the technology itself. HANA Studio is the tool used by developers to develop applications and by administrators to manage the database. The HANA Database is deployed and delivered only on special hardware designed specifically for this database. This is the as an appliance. So, in short, Appliance = Specialized Hardware + The Software.
The cloud component is pretty smart work from SAP. It’s not just on-premise. Of course it can be installed on the desktop, but it is also available on the cloud. SAP HANA One is the deployment of HANA on Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud for use. Basically, you get access to the database-as-a-service, without worrying about acquiring and maintaining specialized hardware.
SAP HANA Application Cloud refers to the cloud based infrastructure for delivery of applications.
The infrastructure layer is the SAP Private cloud, the cloud you can use from AWS, or from the SAP hosting partners. On top of the infrastructure layer is the Platform layer which called the SAP HANA Could platform. The HANA Cloud platform is designed to extend functionality of the HANA Enterprise Cloud solution, so developers can build new and extend current applications.

We spoke about “transaction process” in the last post. What I forgot to mention is that there are two types of applications – OLTP – Online Transaction Processing System, and, OLAP – Online Analytical Processing System. OLTP systems typically capture large amounts of ongoing transactions. OLAP systems focus on running queries and reports on large amount data. Users of OLTP systems are those who use it for day to day transactions. OLAP system users are typically the management who need deep analysis. Hence for “processing speed” OLTP matters most for real-time. OLAP is more about batch processing. HANA is unique cause it can be used for both OLTP as well as OLAP systems – and – at the same time. This means, everything is getting updated and running instantly.

Now this is where I want to talk about Databases. HANA is not the only database SAP has to offer (although now it might change). They have Sybase for instance from their own side. Of course, for long years they’ve had to tolerate all the ridicule from Oracle for obvious reasons. Although, Microsoft SQL Server and DB2 from IBM are the other databases from vendors that have supported SAP applications till now.
But this is not the only competition they have. Entering the Appliance space, they have competition most notably from Microsoft (Parallel Data Warehouse), Teradata (Enterprise Data Warehouse), Exalytics from Oracle, EMC, Netezza from IBM and Vertica from HP.
They are again not the only in-memory player. A number of them exist but I shall name the usual suspect of Microsoft (SQL Server), Oracle (TimesTen), IBM (solidDB), VMware and I will list TIBCO because I like their BI tool of Spotfire – which is irrelevant to our current topic!

I’ll stop now in hope that it was filling the gaps from the last post and make things a little more clear. In the next post we dive deeper into the Use-Cases, Fiori etc etc etc!