PALO ALTO, Calif.—SAP has been making a lot of news lately, and it's all in the database and cloud IT sectors. For a company that built its global reputation with on-premises, server-bound enterprise applications, this is a major direction change that has made SAP relevant again in new ways.
In December 2010, SAP changed the course of its business by launching its high-speed in-memory database, HANA, which stands for high-performance analytical appliance. One year later, the company bought SuccessFactors for $3.4 billion, and then integrated that functionality into HANA.
In January 2013, SAP rejiggered all its standard enterprise software to run as an option in HANA deployments.
In February 2013, SAP partnered with Ericsson on using HANA features in mobile devices.
In its latest news, the Germany-based enterprise software company announced May 7 that it has put all that functionality into its own cloud service model. One doesn't even have to buy a server on which to run the fast analytics package—although many enterprises will want to house it on a physical appliance anyway for a slew of different (read that regulatory) reasons.
SAP Already Had AWS Deployments Available
This is interesting on a couple of levels, one of which is that SAP has had cloud-enabled HANA analytics since October 2012 via the Amazon Web Services. So the May 7 announcement wasn't necessarily a ground-breaking news story. The only difference now is the cloud instance: Amazon's or SAP's, take your pick.
"SAP needed HANA to be back on the track to innovation," company co-founder Hasso Plattner (pictured at left, with SAP Technology Senior Vice President Vishal Sikka) said at the press conference, held at the company's U.S. headquarters in the Palo Alto hills above Stanford University. "A HANA-based system has a much smaller footprint in the data storage than the conventional systems. We can expect, from data compression, that a HANA-based system only needs one-fifth of the storage capacity (of competitors).
"We envision not running only IT systems on the HANA platform; we think people can run their entire businesses on HANA."
Plattner then took an opportunity to poke a key competitor, SAS founder and CEO Jim Goodnight, for statements Goodnight made recently about HANA.
"SAP will sell HANA to lots of current SAP customers. They’ll tell them this is the future, and you’ve got to buy it," Goodnight told the audience at last week's SAS Summit in San Francisco. “But HANA is just a SQL database. It doesn’t change anything except it goes faster.”
Plattner took umbrage at that statement on May 7. "Sorry, Mr. Goodnight; HANA is more than just fast SQL—it also has predictive analytics," Plattner told press conference attendees.