In 2011, SAP a major ERP and enterprise technology solutions vendor contributed their product offering known as SAP HANA. HANA is a High-Performance Analytic Appliance which is an in-memory platform for processing high volumes of transactional and operational data in real time. The in-memory technology provides instant responses to queries without any waiting time. This is considered a game changer in industry because the entire data base is stored on the server memory for real time analysis and processing as against data stored in disks where analysis is done in increments through repeated disk read-write activity.
In simple terms, HANA is a memory database which supports SQL standards along with multi-dimensional expressions (MDX). HANA provides columnar data storage and is compliant with ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability – guarantees the database transactions are processed reliably), an ISO standard which makes it a highly preferred platform by analysts and data scientists. In addition to these benefits, SAP HANA also has a programming component which helps the company’s IT unit to create custom applications on top of HANA database. The platform provides a suit for integrating multiple data sources and to perform various types of analytics (predictive, spatial, text, etc.). The appliance can run in parallel with SAP ERP software where analysts can access real-time transactional data instead of waiting to run daily or weekly reports.
According to SAP, customer adoption for HANA is constantly growing across multiple industries with already 6400+ customers using the platform and this number is likely to increase in the year as claimed by their CEO. Some of the key business drivers for SAP HANA adoption are explored, from the perspective of business.
Key business drivers for SAP HANA adoption
- Analytics, Dashboards and Operational Reporting: Businesses look for in-depth information, and it is much better when information is available in real-time. HANA allows data to be displayed dynamically without aggregation and can be visualized in different dimensions for decision making and verifying business progress. Analytics can be performed using real time or historical data with prebuilt predictive libraries.
- Data warehousing and data marts: This feature enables the streamlining of data in centralized store or in business departments for better management. SAP HANA offers predictive analytics to identify trends and decide on better business strategies. Data warehousing applications can be accelerated with on the fly aggregations and analysis. Analytics can be done using different types of data and also on streaming data.
- Business Operations are optimized: With HANA, the company is enabled to quickly respond to changing business requirements or market trends to be more competitive. The in-memory technology accelerates application performance, provide real time reporting, offer BI tools and can also run complex ERP or MRP applications to customize information using live data. This feature is beneficial compared to conventional enterprise applications and analytics tools.
- Support for big data: SAP HANA can acquire and process petascale data volumes from variety of sources containing different data formats. Big data analytics is sought by businesses to gain business insights and target customers with customized offerings. HANA suite offers big data development and analytics tools.
- Operational intelligence in real-time: SAP HANA supports real time business operational intelligence through which insights can be derived continuously.
- Automation and Simulations, Decision making: Advanced analytics feature in HANA can be leveraged to transform business insights into achievable actions. Decision support is offered by in-memory algorithms in SAP HANA which can simulate business scenarios and predict future outcomes, risks, all using real time and/or historical data.
Benefits realized from SAP HANA
The most notable business benefits derived from SAP HANA adoption include,
- Rapid forecasting and business strategy development without delays
- Business performance is better understood and monitored in real time
- Improved marketing campaigns through data analytics
- Prevent unplanned disruptions and avoid risks in business operations
- Accurate business decision making
Businesses have begun to recognize the potential of SAP HANA as in-memory computing is an emerging technology area preferred by CTOs and IT executives. SAP HANA enhances productivity in the company and offers significant cost savings in both maintenance and development. In a Forrester study titled Total Economic Impact: Cost saving with SAP HANA, it was found that enterprise companies while using SAP HANA, the software development costs reduced by almost 70%, administration costs were reduced by over 20% and hardware spending reduced by 15%. Therefore, SAP HANA is clearly proving to benefit organizations in both ways, i.e., business and in technology.