SAP HANA in action – learning lessons from early adopters

SAP HANA in action – learning lessons from early adopters

What do the early adopters think of the technology? We find out what lessons they have learned and the benefits they are achieving.

Forward-thinking businesses that want to exploit big data and analytics to gain valuable insights are considering SAP’s HANA in-memory database solution to combat complexity and increase agility.

Organizations that aim to become real-time data driven enterprises want the range of business benefits enjoyed by early adopters of SAP HANA.

They include cutting total cost of ownership; shortened innovation cycles with a rapidly deployed solution supporting infrastructure standardization; and a dramatic reduction in query execution times from minutes to seconds in some cases.

The goal is that SAP HANA delivers faster load and activation performance, helping to support next generation analytics apps.

However, the reality is that many organizations are faced with a complex IT landscape with legacy systems that creates silos of information and delays that hamper agility and innovation.

As digital information continues to grow exponentially, the challenge of transforming data into actionable insights grows, but most organizations are struggling with their current IT environment.

“In a typical IT landscape there are a lot of application services and each application comes with its own application logic and each application comes with its own data, so in the end all these application services are silos because they are not really connected. From a business view you see only partial business data and you won’t get the complete view from a single system,” says Christoph Bautz, SAP senior developer, products and innovation, HANA platform core.

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Unlocking siloed data
Early adopters are finding that implementing SAP HANA helps unlocks data in silos to deliver better insights to the business.

Data is turned into real-time information and no database tuning is required for complex and ad hoc queries, while transactions and analytics are run together on one system and one copy of data.

Charles King, analyst at Pund-IT, says that SAP HANA compresses data assets and stores them within the memory of a system or cluster, which is attractive to early adopters of the technology.

“Doing so eliminates physical bottlenecks, like network latency and storage read/write limitations from the equation and speeds analytics performance by an order of magnitude or more,” he says.

“IBM customers will be able to use existing Power7+ and new Power8 processor -based systems to support both existing SAP applications and new big data workloads. That should result in big benefits being available to and captured by a growing number of organizations.”

Businesses are keen to gain a real-time view of data but are often faced with a level of complexity that creates barriers against effective decision-making.

SAP’s Bautz says that a common organizational scenario is various systems processing the same data creating multiple copies of that data. This level of complexity with data having to be synchronized and moved between systems creates delays in data processing which prevents the business having a real-time view to inform decision-making.

The result is that most effort spent on IT is on keeping systems running instead of driving business innovation, but early adopters of SAP HANA are turning to the platform because they realize they can’t endlessly add systems to transform data.

“They need a radical new approach which has to be simple to give the opportunity to drive business innovation,” says Bautz.

SAP HANA allow a business to unify all data from all applications into a single copy in order to use the same data and gain a complete business view from every application, as the same data is available to all.

King adds: “IBM Power Systems also offer increased memory bandwidth and faster I/O performance, meaning that data can usually be ingested, moved and accessed faster than it can in competing in-memory systems.”


Heavy data crunching
SAP HANA’s analytical horsepower attracted Chicago-based Prescient to develop a travel risk management application, Prescient Traveler, which sends real-time alerts to business and government employees that are travelling for their job to dangerous areas. The company relies on SAP HANA to do heavy data crunching analysis of travel scenarios.

Its speed and ability to handle large amounts of structured and unstructured data allows the company’s data analysts to assess threats and send out alerts to the traveler’s mobile devices in real-time.

Mike Bishop, Prescient’s chief systems architect, says the company decided to implement SAP HANA after research showed that only HANA had the capacity and scalability to handle the workloads required.

“I determined that there would be no faster way to reach the fidelity of analytic product that we can through HANA,” he says.

“On the mobile app I can say that if I’m within 200 meters I want to get a heads up, and that notification is actually being generated by calculations in HANA.”

SAP HANA can also revolutionize analytics for consumers by enhancing interactions at sporting events by using its real-time data processing capabilities. This was proved when the SAP HANA cloud platform provided the technology backbone for the Super Bowl Fan Energy Zone earlier this year. It was also used to power an app that managed 5,000 volunteers at the event.

“Through our partnership with SAP, we have been able to leverage technology that not only provides a powerful solution for our operations but also gives us unique insights to provide the best experience possible for our guests and our volunteers,” says Keith Bruce, CEO of the Host Committee.

Another benefit for early adopters is they can choose the SAP HANA platform that is the best fit for their organization because it is available for cloud, hybrid or on-premise deployment.

Pund-IT’s King believes the uptake of SAP HANA will grow as it appeals beyond early adopters, and especially to those businesses that don’t want to risk being locked into proprietary technology.

“Big data and analytics consumes the time and attention of every sort of business organization. But as the IT industry and vendors progress further into the big data era, it is all too easy for customers to be confused by the sheer number of available options. As a result, we believe that it is critically important for organizations to recognize the difference between technologies that support and preserve customer choice and those designed to lock businesses into proprietary platforms. SAP’s HANA solution is a superb example of the former approach, offering big data- and analytics-minded customers numerous options for the vendors and hardware platforms they engage,” he says.

However, he recommends that businesses should evaluate IBM’s Power architecture for SAP HANA if they are seeking to maximize analytics performance due to the notable price/performance benefits.