SAP Extends Reach and Scope of HANA Ambitions

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    At the SAP TechEd 2016 Barcelona conference today, SAP filled in some of the gaps in an evolving strategy for processing and managing data that spans several distributed sources.

    While the SAP HANA in-memory computing platform continues to be the database at the core of the company’s strategy, SAP is making it simpler to work with data that can be pulled from other data sources into HANA or processed using a variety of complementary processing engines, including SAP’s Vora implementation of the Apache Spark in-memory computing framework and a SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) that is based on the open source Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment.

    To further advance that strategy, SAP today unveiled SAP HANA 2, which embeds a broader range of analytics, algorithms and application programming interfaces (APIs) into the core in-memory computing platform. In addition, SAP is making available a free express edition of SAP HANA 2 that developers can deploy themselves to build applications using the services embedded in SAP HANA 2. New analytics capabilities embedded in SAP HANA 2 include a SAP Hybris as a Service (YaaS) as well as enhancements to existing processing engines for text, spatial, graph and streaming data.

    Bernd Leukert, member of executive board for SAP for products and innovation, says rather than forcing IT organizations to move data into an external platform such as IBM Watson to take advantage of advanced analytics, machine learning algorithms, and other forms of artificial intelligence, SAP is bringing the engines that enable those functions to where the data is already stored. That approach, says Leukert, not only reduces latency, it eliminates much of the overhead associated with employing a framework that operates outside of the place where the data was originally created.

    “We don’t think you should force people to move their data into another platform,” says Leukert.

    SAP, with the release of SAP HANA 2, is also improving database management by adding an ability to offload read-intensive data for processing outside of the core SAP HANA 2 database as well as tools that make it simpler to visualize complex data structures.

    Th latest version of SAP HANA also includes a new file processor API that enables developers to extract text and metadata from documents and a SAP HANA extended application services, advanced model engine through which developers can add support for additional programming languages and run times.

    Finally, SAP is making available external services in the cloud that can be invoked using microservices. Those services include text analytics, extraction and linguistic analytics capabilities, and an earth observation application developed in conjunction with the European Space Agency. Those microservices are based on the native container technologies that SAP developed for HANA. Leukert says SAP is still studying the level of support it might provide for other container technologies such as Docker.

    SAP, says Leukert, is in no way planning to force customers to upgrade to SAP HANA 2. The company has adapted its maintenance contracts to make it feasible for IT organizations to continue to use the first edition of SAP HANA for some time to come.

    But Leukert did make it clear that SAP intends to control the flow of data across an extended enterprise that now spans everything from public clouds to endpoints on the Internet of Things (IoT).  As such, IT organizations should take note of the fact that a battle between SAP and its rivals for control of the center of the modern data universe around which applications and services will ultimately orbit is now under way in earnest.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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