Published on Feb 13,2015
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Imagine you own a retail store that wants to treat its loyal customers by offering them discounts on their next purchase. A customer just bought something and passed her credit card to the retail executive.
Just at the time the retail executive swipes her credit card, the internal system immediately gives him the information that last time she bought black shoes at your store. You instantly offered her a discount on a black dress she might be interested in, that will go well with her black shoes!

This is the power of real-time data analysis and decision making to improve business performances manifolds!

Let’s get into the insights of SAP HANA and why SAP HANA is gaining so much popularity:

SAP HANA is the Next-Gen platform or database for real-time analytics and applications.
It helps various businesses and organizations to analyze business operations which are based on Big Data (huge volume of data) in real-time at the speed of lightning, even sub-seconds!

Why Use SAP HANA?

SAP HANA has several incredible features that set it apart from traditional databases. Let’s delve into these and find out why SAP HANA is getting so popular:

1.  Columnar Data Storage:

Row & Column Store in SAP-HANA

How data is shown in traditional databases?  In the form of a table showing rows and columns! But, SAP HANA has come up with a unique feature, that is…Columnar data storage. This feature allows linear structuring of computer memory in contrast to the two-dimensional data structure which is organized in rows and columns. Thus, in SAP HANA, a table can be illustrated either in row-order or in column-order. A row-order orientation stores a table as a sequence of records, whereas, a column-order orientation stores the entries in the neighbouring memory locations.

What is so great about this approach? Columnar data storage enables run-length encoding, cluster coding and dictionary coding which are highly competent compression techniques. This approach also eliminates the need for additional index structures as once we store data in columns it is just like creating a built-in index for every column. Once we eliminate additional indexes, operations become simple and there is no need for defining and maintaining metadata. This further accelerates the column scanning speed manifolds and allows read operations efficiently.

2. In-Memory Database System:

An in-memory database system (IMDS) stores data fully 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 it is much faster to work with data in memory than writing to and reading from a file system. An in-memory system is the only way to handle a real-time-data future that consist of new data types such as social media monitoring and Web-automated sensors and meter readings. SAP HANA gives the programmer the creativity to develop applications that incorporate business control logic at the database layer. It eliminates the waiting time for data models to change or time required to load the redundant data storage required by traditional business warehouse solutions.

3.  Parallel Processing:

SAP HANA allows parallel processing which is the core of efficient data analysis. This is how it works…we know that SAP HANA facilitates Columnar Data Storage in which operations such as searching for a specific data or aggregating the data are done in loops over an array in adjacent memory locations. In contrast to this, in traditional row-oriented approach, such operations tend to be very slow as data belonging to the same column is spread across the memory. Column based storage also facilitates fast data loading into the CPU cache. As data is already vertically divided in column based approach, parallel processing is possible using multiple processing cores. Also, if more than one column is required to be searched or aggregated, each of these tasks can be allocated to diverse processor core. Further, to quicken the process, operations on one column can be parallelized by dividing the column into various parts, each of which can be processed by different processor cores. This facilitates parallel processing!

4.  SAP HANA provides Real-time Analytics:

Real-time analytics means that there is no BW (business warehouse) phase required for generating reports. It makes use of tools like Business Objects Explorer or pivot tables in excel for data analysis. SAP HANA blends online analytical and transactional processing into a single database. With real-time, in-memory analytics, things that were possible in days are now possible in seconds! Decision –making becomes faster, smarter and accurate in the fast-changing market scenarios. SAP HANA provides a 360-degree view of business operations by integrating and modelling data from various data sources. SAP HANA is capable of aggregating as well as updating huge data sets in near real-time! For instance, an insurance company can now find out whether south-west regions are more lucrative for its insurance policies as compared to the central regions within a matter of a few seconds with SAP HANA!

5.  Working on Aggregates efficiently:

In order to enhance their performances, traditional databases and applications frequently use materialized aggregates. These materialized aggregates are worked out and stored either at pre-decided times or after every write operation on the aggregated data. These materialized aggregates are read by read operations instead of calculating them every time they are required. In contrast to this, SAP HANA calculates aggregates on huge amount of data on-the-fly with great efficiency due to its scanning speed of numerous gigabytes per millisecond. This automatically eradicates the requirements for materialized aggregates in many cases. Also, materialized aggregates used in traditional databases are usually updated only at scheduled times but on-the-fly aggregates are always show the latest information.

6.  SAP HANA provides Integrated Development Environment (IDE):

An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is a software application that provides wide-ranging facilities to computer programmers for software development. An IDE usually consists of a source code editor, build automation tools, a debugger and a graphical user interface (GUI) builder. Even SAP HANA provides the integrated development environment (IDE) for developing and delivering SAP HANA applications, making them simple and easy to develop. SAP HANA IDE is based on the Eclipse-based SAP HANA studio and it facilitates several useful features like integrated and collective development, server-side JavaScript for control, debugging, deployment of applications that are based on native database procedures for data processing, and an HTML5 SDK for the development of user interface. There is a SAP HANA repository taht stores and handles all the design time objects of SAP HANA.

7. Innovations are possible With SAP HANA:

Innovations in SAP HANA

Several SAP HANA developers have made significant innovations in IT and in business models. Because of its in-memory approach, SAP HANA enables both hardware and software innovations which are unparalleled, replacing traditional databases in many spheres of business world! On the hardware side, SAP HANA facilitates Multi-Core Architecture (8×8 core CPU per blade), huge parallel scaling with several blades, 64 bit address space – 2 TB in current servers, data throughput as high as 100 GB/s, cost effectiveness and so on. On the software side, SAP HANA enables columnar data storage, partitioning, compression, eliminating aggregate tables, to name a few.

The SAP NetWeaver® Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW) component, which is a known enterprise data warehouse solution, has pioneered in migrating the existing databases into a SAP HANA database. Also, the SAP HANA database can be connected to the SAP ERP application in the form of a secondary database. Thus, endless innovations are possible with SAP HANA, what is required is a deep dive into the HANA world!

8.  SAP HANA Appliance Software:

SAP HANA appliance software is a very flexible, versatile, in-memory appliance that competently blends SAP software components optimized on hardware provided and delivered by well-known SAP technology partners, such as HP, IBM, Fujitsu, Dell and Cisco. The SAP HANA appliance consists of several integrated SAP software components, such as the SAP HANA studio, an easy-to-use data modeling and administration tool, the SAP HANA database, support for multiple interfaces based on industry standards and lifecycle management applications. The beauty of SAP HANA software appliance is that it can be connected into your landscape to speed up the data warehousing and operational reporting without troubling the existing IT landscape. Also, SAP HANA manages today’s ever-increasing BIG DATA, computing speed, latency in information and additional data aggregation in data marts.

9.  Improving Existing SAP Applications:

Traditional database management systems work on limited main memory to maximize performance on hardware. They focus on optimizing disk access, where disk I/O is the main constraint in itself. They aim at reducing the number of disk pages to be read into the main memory while processing. In contrast to this, the main idea behind SAP HANA is to work on plenty of memory! So, instead of optimizing I/O hard disk access, SAP HANA optimizes memory access between the CPU cache and main memory. SAP HANA has a lot of scope in developing future in-memory analytic and transactional applications.
With greater possibilities, existing SAP applications using Open SQL can run on SAP HANA without alterations. This can immensely help in improving the existing SAP applications using SAP HANA.

Also, the dynamic and powerful SAP HANA applications have huge potential in improving business performances and analytics manifolds. As these applications are developed and optimized for parallel in-memory processing, businesses can make full use of advanced hardware technologies and new enterprise data management.

So, whether an insurance company wants to calculate the premium amount on various policies or a hospital requires data of all the heart surgeries taken place in the last quarter or a Real estate wants quick access to its database to follow-up with a client, SAP HANA can do all these with the kind of features it is blessed with! Characteristics like no aggregate tables, strong computation power with built-in multitenancy, flexible modelling, large memory footprint, no data duplication and fast data loads leads to immediate access to huge volume of data, in turn leading to quick and efficient decision making.

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 13,2015

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