Published on Feb 11,2015
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As business scenarios are getting more and more complex and competitive day by day, there is an acute need for real-time decision making. Decision making today is impossible without data, hence an organization’s success depends upon how the huge amount of enterprise data can be harnessed for accurate decision making. Organizations need to be  pro-active and agile in its approach  for remaining competitive in the market. However, traditional business intelligence solutions are not capable of managing real-time analytics on a large data set. For instance, if an software product development company uses a solution  to identify customer count  in terms of its product usage globally at a given period , it will  help the company to be more strategic in identifying the sweet spots. The organization can segment customers, customize marketing and better manage cross sales and up sales using the existing enterprise data.

SAP HANA is the fastest growing SAP platform both for analytics as well as transactional usage. SAP HANA uses in memory computing techniques for real time analytics on a very large data set. Right now all SAP products namely ERP, CRM, SRM, BPC etc run on top of HANA. Not only analytics powered by SAP HANA but business processes are getting executed in a blink of a second with SAP HANA!

What is SAP HANA (High-Performance Analytic Appliance)?

SAP HANA is an in-memory database that enables business users to analyse large data sets in real-time. It is deployable in premise or in the cloud. SAP HANA is a result of software innovations from SAP and hardware innovations from SAP partners. It aims at enhancing application performance, reducing cost of ownership, and finding solutions to the problems that couldn’t be resolved earlier. In fact, SAP HANA is already believed to be – the next generation of SAP’s in-memory computing technology!

In-memory Computing has finally arrived!

Though the concept of in-memory is not novel, but it is with SAP HANA that it’s true potential has been realized! In-memory computing has the power to transform existing business models into Real-time enterprises due to tremendously improved hardware and dynamic innovations in software!

An In-memory Database System (IMDS) stores data entirely in the main memory, unlike traditional or on-disk database management systems that store data in a disk storage mechanism. In-memory database systems are getting a lot of popularity today because they are much faster to work with data in memory instead of writing to and reading from a file system. With a simpler design, in-memory database systems also require much lower memory and CPU requirements as compared to on-disk databases. SAP HANA gives the programmer the creativity to develop applications that incorporate business control logic and the database layer with unparalleled results.

Finally, we have left on-disk databases behind and have started storing the entire data inside the physical location of RAM. SAP customers can now just apply HANA to their existing databases and get instant performance improvements in their businesses. For instance, if you run a pharmaceutical company, SAP HANA can open endless possibilities for you in tracking at what point of time, which products are highest in demand and need immediate supply, at an incredible speed and accuracy! Thus, In-memory is a break-through innovation that makes things happen at the speed of lightning!

Some of the examples of In-Memory Applications are:

  • Supply Chain Networking
  • Point-of-sale at Retail Department
  • Multi-Chain pricing at a Manufacturing company
  • Product Life Cycle of an IT company

Why SAP HANA is called An Appliance?

It will be wrong to consider SAP HANA as just a hardware or just a software. In fact, SAP HANA is a smart blend of latest hardware technologies and innovative softwares! Therefore, SAP HANA is known as an appliance, just like your household appliances which are pre-integrated and even pre-configured before delivering to the customer!

Appliance = hardware + software

The SAP HANA (High-Performance Analytic Appliance) consists of:

  • Data integration services to retrieve and process information from any data source.
  • A High-performance, In-memory and powerful computing and calculating engine.
  • Real-time replication service to retrieve and duplicate data from SAP ERP.
  • Highly-tuned integration of SAP HANA with SAP BusinessObjects BI solutions for in-depth Analytics.
  • MDX ans SQl interfaces to access third- party applications.
  • A well-knit design environment with information modeling.

SAP HANA Database:

Traditional RDBMS were developed on the premise of optimizing performance on hardware with limited main memory. In these, the major constraint was the Disk I/O, as the concentration was on optimizing ‘Disk access’, instead of focusing on the main memory. In sharp contrast to this, SAP HANA’s database is designed on the premise that the main memory is available abundantly without any limitations with regards to the I/O access to the hard disk. It is assumed that around 18 billion gigabytes or 18 exabytes of capacity is available in the memory for 64-bit systems! SAP HANA, which is a massively parallel distributed system, can run entirely in the main memory and optimize memory access  between the CPU cache and the main memory.

Another striking characteristic of HANA database is that it handles data in a multi-core architecture for data distribution across all cores in order to enhance RAM locality using two functionalities – scale-up (vertically) and scale-out (horizontally).

Apart from the above, SAP HANA database also supports open interfaces, such as for Microsoft Excel. SAP HANA consists of SAP BusinessObjects BI suite for all analytical operations.
SAP BusinessObjects BI suite is optimized to retrieve data on SAP HANA and facilitates instant access and split-second response time to queries on huge data!

Let’s peak into some of the key features of SAP HANA:

  • SAP HANA is based on Columnar Data Storage, where a table can be illustrated either in row-order or in column-order. This feature eliminates the need for additional index structures, column scanning speed manifolds and allows read operations efficiently.
  • On technical side of it, HANA stores information in electronic memory, which is believed to be 50x faster than traditional RDBMS! Traditional RDBMS technologies place the information on spinning plates of iron, also known as hard disks from which the information is accessed. Most of the SAP systems have their databases on one system and a calculation engine on another one and data is transferred through these two systems. However, with SAP HANA, all these operations take place within a single machine.
  • SAP HANA has the power to aggregate and update huge volumes of data in near real-time. Companies using SAP HANA have experienced hundreds of billions of records of data being aggregated in a matter of a few seconds.

Got a question for us? Please mention them in the comments section and we will get back to you.

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Gaurav Shankhdhar
Published on Feb 11,2015

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