SAP HANA is a data warehouse appliance for processing high volumes of operational and transactional data in real-time. HANA uses in-memory analytics, an approach that queries data stored in random access memory (RAM) instead of on hard disk or flash storage.
A HANA appliance uses an SAP Sybase replication server to copy and synchronize data from an SAP data warehouse or enterprise resource planning (ERP) application in real-time. By running in parallel to the source SAP ERP application, HANA allows business users to query large volumes of data in real-time without having to wait for scheduled reports to run.
HANA supports industry standards such as structured query language (SQL) and multi-dimensional eXpressions (MDX). It also includes a programming component that allows a company's IT department to create and run customized applications on top of HANA. According to SAP, HANA has the ability to scan 500 billion point of sale (POS) records in seconds. SAP HANA was previously called SAP High-Performance Analytic Appliance.
SAP board member Vishal Sikka explains why the company feels HANA is so important.