SAP, Dell Hook Up on Cloud, In-Memory Computing

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2011-05-25

SAP, Dell Hook Up on Cloud, In-Memory Computing

A recently announced deal between longtime partners Dell and SAP involving a new in-memory application and storage appliance could turn out to be a significant landmark in the data center business.

As a result of this partnership, announced last week at SAP's Sapphire conference in Orlando, Fla., SAP's customers will be able to deploy their applications optimally on Dell's new VIS Next-Generation Datacenter Platform, which will deliver new cloud and in-memory computing options.

In-memory applications, run on in-memory blade servers, use a large amount of DRAM (dynamic random access memory) for database operations and a NAND flash solid-state drive for data storage and persistency of the logs.

In-memory computing enables customers to analyze massive amounts of data in real time, allowing for faster decision making and identifying business insights that can be acted upon immediately. This type of performance is nirvana for enterprises that deal with high-intensity workloads, such as financial services, scientific research, high-end media and others.

In-memory blades, the demand for which is expected to trend up in the next 12 to 18 months because of their outstanding processing performance, can hold a combination of 1 to 2 terabytes of DRAM and NAND flash to do this job. No spinning disks are used here, although for other purposes they can be connected to slower adjunct storage systems using Serial ATA disks.

Because cloud-delivery models are becoming a top priority for many corporate IT departments due to their quick deployments, cost-effectiveness and overall flexibility, SAP and Dell aim to satisfy this need with their new joint in-memory systems.

Dells New Hardware Ready for In-Memory Computing


Dell, which continues to reinvent itself into the all-purpose data center systems business, has prepared its new products-including its PowerEdge R910 server, which also is certified for SAP's new in-memory software-in recent months via new-wave IT from acquisitions. These buyouts include storage-optimization specialist Ocarina Networks, cloud-integration provider Boomi, application accelerator KACE and server-provisioning provider Scalent.

SAP's been working on this real-time-processing project for more than a decade. Its in-memory software line is called HANA.

"SAP's been doing in-memory computing for quite some time now in different flavors," Aiaz Kazi, SAP's head of technology and innovation platform marketing, told eWEEK. "For the past 10 years, we've been doing in-memory work with SAP liveCache, and with BusinessObjects Explorer [business intelligence], as well as our internal search engine.

"What we're talking about now is all our new technology that leverages all of this: HANA. We believe this will cause a radical shift in the way; it's something we don't believe anybody else in the market is doing."

Kazi offered an analogy about the difference between in-memory computing and standard disk-based computing.

"Think of this as going to a water cooler," Kazi said. "In-memory is like walking down the hall to get a drink; disk-based is like going to the moon to get a drink."

Well, considering there isn't a lot of water on the moon to begin with, the water image is a bit of a stretch. Nonetheless, the idea is clear: Speed is paramount, and in-memory supplies it.

HANA Going into Entire SAP Lineup


HANA-there's no particular meaning for the name-is now being applied to SAP's entire software architecture, Kazi said. SAP's HANA hardware partners in this venture include not only Dell, but also Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Cisco, Fujitsu and Intel, he said.

Beta testing on the new HANA software is being conducted at the Charmer Sunbelt Group, U.S. distributors of fine wines and beer.

"Real-time analytics and new applications advanced by in-memory computing technology will allow us to analyze massive quantities of data in local memory, quickly and easily," said Paul Fipps, CIO and vice president, Business Services, The Charmer Sunbelt Group. "We expect that business decisions can be executed without delay in mission-critical processes and reports, such as profitability analysis and customer segmentation on complex and detailed data."

Meanwhile, the University of Kentucky is moving its SAP implementation to a Dell-managed cloud. Other beta testing will get into action over the next few months.

Additionally, Dell Services will provide support of SAP HANA applications, helping customers deploy the in-memory IT alongside SAP's enterprise resource planning and BusinessObjects analytics applications.

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