SAP HANA: Powering Next-Generation Real-Time Analytics

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-04-25 Print this article Print

Tell me about your "timeless software" philosophy and what you have done to integrate that into your innovation efforts?

Timeless systems live across the effects of change, whether the change comes from business, society or technology. A city is timeless, for example. A city like London or New York is new and old at the same time because they transcend the effects of business, society or technology change. They evolve, but they remain. So when you talk about timeless software, you are talking about a system that is designed to withstand technology and business shifts. You are protecting investments you made in the past while also enhancing as new things evolve.

One of the most important aspects of timeless software is the concept of content and containers. Think about ancient history, which was passed by generation to generation in oral form. Then it was written down on palm leaves, and then published in books and now in digital form. What happened was that the content itself has remained consistent, but the containers evolved. The content can seamlessly move between containers in the format preferred by the consumer. You don't need an open-heart surgery every time there is a disruption in technology or an innovation. The flexibility to change is baked-in. Conversely, if you tie the content and container together very tightly, you lose the content when the container changes.

You may have heard me talk about "design thinking," which is a key element in timeless software. Design thinking is the championing of the consumer point of view, and thinking about content from the perspective of the end user and how they want it. Companies have lost sight of what the end consumer wants. If you notice that consumers want the same content but on a different container, you can design systems to be timeless.

HANA is designed to be timeless. It will remain constant as the world around it evolves. For example, when Intel comes up with a faster processor, HANA becomes faster. Today Intel processing has eight threads; then, they'll have 10, then 16, 32 then 64. HANA software doesn't need to change; it'll run that much faster on 64 threads when that is invented. I said right out of the gate that HANA will not have release numbers. It is a timeless product, which means that when you buy it, you don't have to upgrade, ever.

Can you talk a little bit about overall innovation at SAP? What are some examples?

There are so many aspects to this within SAP. We are literally innovating in every corner of the company, with HANA as the foundation. As mentioned earlier, we are bringing innovation to our existing products and bringing innovation in entirely new products that weren't even possible before. This comes to life in different ways, but the focus is always on empowering the user and on taking away layers and complexity that aren't necessary.

Specifically, one of the most important interesting areas where I see innovation taking shape inside SAP is around what I call purposeful work or purposeful business. I believe strongly that technology can solve the biggest challenges of our time. This can only come through breakthrough innovation, that totally rethinks our existing assumptions about what is possible and what is not possible. It is our imperative as a software company and as leaders to drive innovation that positively impacts human life, that improves the human condition, that solves the most challenging things we face—things like extreme poverty, access to education and health care, eliminating diseases, improving the environment.

I will give an example. One of my main focuses is in the area of personalized medicine. We want to enable cancer patients to walk out of their initial diagnosis with a personalized treatment plan in 20 minutes based on a real-time DNA genome analysis run by HANA. This is possible today with HANA, and there are so many other aspects to personalized medicine that can be completely rethought. There is no reason why it should take days and weeks to analyze the details of a person's illness, wasting critical time that could be used toward treatment.

Other examples are in our consumer applications space, things like the Recalls Plus app for parents to track recalls on their children's products or Care Circles for families, caregivers and health professionals to do truly collaborative care or Charitra, which connects volunteers, nonprofit organizations and corporations to work together for social causes. These are just the beginning. There are so many more things we can do—direct to consumers and with our customers and partners.



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