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SAP, HANA and the Cloud
We knew Big Data would be big business for you and that’s why we invented HANA: McDermott

SAP, the third-largest software company in the world after Microsoft and Oracle, says it’s moving all data into main memory and all systems to the cloud.

The company’s newly announced HANA Cloud Platform is going to be the foundation of its whole cloud portfolio, creating a single point for its cloud-based technology, including application development and integration services, database and analytics services.

“With SAP HANA Cloud Platform as the underpinning,” it said, “customers will be able to rely on maximum scale for all cloud-based SAP solutions, including line-of-business cloud applications, cloud-enabled business network and social collaboration solutions, and a managed cloud environment for SAP HANA.”

The strategy puts HANA, its in-memory database, at the center of SAP’s future.

“Let’s be clear on HANA,” co-CEO Bill McDermott said in a keynote this week at the company’s Sapphire Now conference in Orlando, Florida, “HANA not only represents the intellectual renewal of SAP, it is now the platform for every single thing the SAP company will do going forward.”

It’ll probably take a year or two for SAP to pull off its unified cloud strategy and have HANA fully integrated with its cloud products.

Its cloud portfolio now includes recent acquisitions such as SuccessFactors and Ariba as well as the renamed SAP Cloud for Financials and SAP Cloud for Travel. The company is also looking for new widgetry that can exploit HANA’s analytic and predictive potential.

McDermott claimed, “We knew Big Data would be big business for you and that’s why we invented HANA, to give you intelligent data at the speed of thought. The SAP Business Suite on HANA is at least 2,000 times faster than any other product on the market today. And SAP HANA has become the fastest-growing software product in the world.”

Last week the company announced the HANA Enterprise Cloud, which will make HANA into a subscription service that customers can use to run the company’s flagship ERP, CRM and NetWeaver Business Warehouse programs as a pay-by-the-month Software-as-a-Service.

It’ll save them the bother of tussling with complex in-house deployments.

The HANA Enterprise Cloud, which won’t be out until sometime in the second half, is supposed to support petabyte-scale instances of SAP’s software and will be offered by SAP as well as third-party managed service providers from their data centers or multiple data centers.

SAP has seven data centers around the globe to support the gambit, and will reportedly begin by deploying 30,000 computers for the cause. It claims to have more than 29 million users already in the cloud today running other widgetry so it’s supposed to have experience.

Offering HANA as a third-party managed cloud service is a switch from peddling it for real-time analysis of both structured and unstructured data – and what McDermott calls dark data, the data companies store but goes unused – but SAP lately discovered that ERP, CRM and SCM run fine on the in-memory database and in January announced its widely used Business Suite apps on HANA so customers will be able run transactions and analytics in near-real-time.

SuccessFactors and Ariba were already using HANA for analytics and the performance gains were reportedly palpable.

SAP hasn’t indicated what the monthly fees for HANA Enterprise Cloud might be – although they will obviously vary by company size and scale of data – but its new fascination with the cloud is a way for it to deal with the rising chorus of user complaints about the high price of enterprise licenses that companies like Oracle and SAP charge. Users will still need software licenses for the cloud but at least they won’t have to buy and maintain the hardware infrastructure.

The HANA Cloud Platform is supposed to give users multiple deployment choices — whether in their data center, the public cloud, the managed cloud or a hybrid environment.

SAP has already moved HANA to Amazon and it’s supposed to go up on IBM’s SmartCloud. Meanwhile on Thursday SAP said it means to more than double its indirect investments in early-stage software ventures that could give its in-memory database a leg up. Its HANA Real-Time Fund, formed a year ago, will have $405 million to spread around other investment funds, up from $155 million. That’s in addition to the $353 million SAP Ventures has got to invest directly.

About Maureen O'Gara
Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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