The story of SAP HANA: from buzzword to reality

Nov 06, 2014

Don’t panic. The purpose of this blog post is not to explain how, let’s say, column storage is different from row storage. This will not be a presentation of all technical details of SAP HANA. Instead, you will discover what HANA can mean to you.

As not all of you might have the same level of understanding of HANA, let’s just start with a small recap of what it is all about.


H(igh – Performance) AN (alytic) A(ppliance) is an in-memorycolumn-orientedrelational database management system developed and marketed by SAP.

It all started when Hasso Plattner and his SAP colleagues realized that, over time, more and more information and data is generated and gathered. Information that, up till some years, could not be used in the best possible way. The data was too massive to analyze and the information technology didn’t allow fast ‘ad hoc/real-time’ processing. This resulted in suboptimal “business critical” decision making.

The first HANA version was officially released in 2010. It continues to evolve in the sense that SAP products are, one by one, being ‘HANA optimized’. It is not just a replacement of the current database platform: more and more functionality is added.

Some – and let’s be honest, most customers and consultants – have the idea that HANA is a costly hype that is not ready for productive use yet. But as a true HANA believer, I am convinced we should not be blind to what the future will bring and is already bringing.

HANA is happening RIGHT NOW!

We already have a couple of projects running on this innovative technology at Delaware Consulting. More and more customers and prospects are approaching us to find out what HANA is all about. The SAP evangelization of the HANA solution, fully supported by efforts on our side, is paying off.

What has changed in the mind-set of customers to even consider HANA?

HANA is becoming an affordable platform in terms of license and hardware. In-memory solutions are becoming a commodity. On top of that, SAP opened its certification program to multiple hardware vendors, which has definitely played an important role in pushing the appliance prices down.

SAP already showed a strong focus and commitment to deliver. New functionalities and tools are becoming HANA based only, such as self-service tools (e.g. Lumira) and Fiori Apps. HANA is no longer only seen as a database platform to replace e.g. Oracle. It has become THE development platform of the future and therefore brings added value to our customers. HANA is delivered with detailed migration paths and tools (such as Rapid Deployment Solutions). This simplifies the migration to this new technology which is an extra win for both customers and consultants.

The right information: anytime, anywhere

Bottom line, what is important for you, our customers, and where do they see the added value HANA can bring? In short:

 “The right information @ anytime, anywhere

End customer focus is key in the “fast changing” market we live in. If a company fails to deliver on the promise it has made, it will struggle to survive. Here are some ‘retail’ examples of the processes that require such agility:

  • accurate/adequate store replenishment :
    • critical to keep ‘lost/missed sales’ to a minimum
    • minimize logistic effort and related costs. ‘Worldwide’ competition continues to put prices under pressure.
    • based on ‘near’ real-time sales information
  • flexible/fast material requirements planning. Having what it takes to fulfil customer demand
  • product lifecycles that require even faster follow-up and this, amongst others, to avoid or reduce obsolete stocks
  • mixed distribution channels scenarios, resulting in disparate information spread across a multitude of different systems, e.g.:
    • customers buying on the internet but collecting in local stores
    • from producer to end customer directly

So far, the above mentioned examples only address how to analyze data available at the moment for ad hoc analysis purposes. But what about predictive analytics that takes things a step further: making predictions based on available data?

Predictive analytics

Imagine integrating the weather forecast to make sure that e.g. an apparel or footwear company can optimize its store replenishment process of ski boots or bathing suits according to such a forecast in a specific region. Or think about using predictive analysis to perform ‘upfront’ maintenance activities avoiding costly repairs, etc… We could even imagine new business models and services originating from these new ‘data capabilities’.

Interested in hearing more? Feel free to contact me.


Enjoy HANA!


Author: Bart Van Peteghem. You can connect with Bart on LinkedIn