Recently, I sat down with two SAP HANA evangelists – Mike Lampa, Global Practice Lead for Dell Services Business Intelligence practice and Jeffrey Word, Vice President of Product Strategy at SAP – to discuss how organizations can harness the power of in memory databases and analytics with joint solutions from Dell and SAP.

Below is part one of our discussion, and we’re chatting about in memory databases, SAP HANA and how it can dramatically alter organization responsiveness and performance.

Let’s talk a bit about SAP HANA and its power as an in-memory database.

Jeff:

SAP HANA is a database that is conceptually just like any other database. It’s just faster, better and cheaper.

It’s faster because it is in entirely resident in RAM. It’s not an accelerator; it’s not a cache; it’s not a turbo charger. It is a full-blown, ACID-compliant database. You never touch disk for any reason, except during backup. That’s one of the main reasons it’s faster.

It’s significantly better because SAP engineered the database from scratch to run in this new in-memory environment. The traditional way of doing things is to bring the data to the algorithm – suck data out of the database, condition it, aggregate it, and then use it in the app. With SAP HANA, we’ve pushed the algorithms deep into the database. They sit physically on the data, so instead of pulling data into the application for processing, the application just says “give me the answer.” The database does the calculations and spits out the result.

We’re not moving data around; we’re not making copies of it; and we’re not computing aggregates of it. We run those queries against the raw data. It’s not just that the processing is done in RAM. The processing is done in a much better, smarter, elegant way.

The cheaper aspect of it is the cost per terabyte of data per second – how fast you can get an answer from the database. It’s 10 million times faster to get a terabyte of data off of RAM that off disk. The disk has hit the wall as far as Moore’s Law, but RAM exceeds Moore’s Law.

How can this impact business strategy?

Jeff:

It completely changes the game for how people and applications interact with data and the database. SAP HANA provides both OLAP and OLTP capabilities. It does both incredibly well. SAP HANA changes the way that you architect solutions – for both transactional and analytical applications.

 

Mike:

And that’s cool because there are some important points of convergence.  We get excited about using SAP HANA for advanced predictive analysis to support macro decision-making. But with the enhanced capabilities offered by SAP HANA, it’s possible to add advanced analytics to help users make real-time transactional decisions.

Organizations can leverage SAP HANA beyond data regurgitation to drive business insights that exceed the capabilities of traditional data warehousing.

How does SAP HANA change the relationship between IT and business stakeholders?

Mike:

 

SAP HANA makes it a lot easier to add analytics to a new application installation. The level of effort out of IT required to respond to the work request is significantly shorter. Historically, data conditioning and aggregation has been done by IT architects to meet specific business objectives, but advanced analytics does not lend itself to answering a specific business request. It lends itself to the way a human thinks - which is why it needs to be very, very dynamic.

Fundamentally, it’s about how quickly we can respond to a request for data and/or analytics. When I look at how long it takes to design a solution that would perform anywhere near the level of SAP HANA – it takes a lot longer. You have to design the database, massage the data to make it perform responsively. In the past, it has taken me months to get applications built, but with SAP HANA I don’t have to build applications. I just need to install a new algorithm into the SAP HANA analytics engine. It’s running on the same data infrastructure that supports my OLTP application.

Jeff:

With SAP HANA, what would usually be a six month (or more) development process can now be done much more quickly. In a day or two you can roll these things out. It’s flexible by design. So, that really changes the way that companies provision data and technology capabilities to their users. You don’t have to pour it in concrete before you can hand it over to them; you just dump the data into the SAP HANA database and let the users go crazy with it.

 

Stay tuned for part two! Mike and Jeff also talked about implementation scenarios for SAP HANA and building a business case for migrating to an in memory solution.

Learn more about Dell’s SAP HANA solution at Dell.com/HANA.

Participant bios:

Mike Lampa is a Global Practice Lead for Dell Services Business Intelligence practice. Prior to joining Dell in 2008, Mike owned a data warehouse consulting practice for 14 years, providing BI and data warehousing solutions to Fortune 1000 companies in the high-tech manufacturing, telecommunications and financial services industries. Mike has over 30 years of practitioner’s experience and is a sought-after business leader, speaker and educator.

 

Jeffrey Word, Ph.D. is a Vice President at SAP. Dr. Word has more than 18 years experience in business and IT strategy working for Fortune 1000 companies. Over the last several years he has worked on technology strategy with focus on corporate process improvement initiatives and enterprise architecture design. His newest book, SAP HANA Essentials was released in spring 2012.