At TechEd 2011, SAP again touts in-memory

At its annual technical conference, SAP once again emphasizes HANA and in-memory technology.

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LAS VEGAS -- SAP executives took the stage at the annual TechEd conference Tuesday to announce progress on a range of existing technologies and products centering on in-memory analytics and mobile technology.  

Although that might have disappointed some who were hoping SAP would use the opportunity to announce new products altogether -- especially around high-speed analytics -- it didn’t bother customers who were just there to learn. 

“It was all very general in my opinion, but that was OK. I’m here to figure out what’s currently going on with SAP,” said Roy Orosz, a senior ABAP programmer with Seneca Foods based in Marion, N.Y. HANA, SAP’s in-memory database appliance, is something his company could use in the future, he said.

“It’s about faster processing speeds,” he said. “Who wouldn’t be interested in that?”

In many ways, the SAP TechEd 2011 keynote address was a pared-down rerun of the one SAP put on in the spring at its SapphireNow convention in Orlando, Fla. In both cases, SAP sought to pique the interest of potential customers by talking about the “transformational” nature of the technology and how early adopters were using it.

In his speech, SAP Chief Technology Officer Vishal Sikka compared HANA with industrial and technical triumphs throughout the decades that removed barriers between people and information, a process that began with the invention of the Gutenberg press, in the 15th century.

“Value is being created by dissolving layers and structures,” Sikka said.

Sybase Unwired Platform and BOBJ 4.0
SAP did announce that it would be rolling out the 2.1 version of its Sybase Unwired Platform by the end of the year. The revised platform will include a much-anticipated software development kit (SDK) to give developers tools to develop mobile applications across a range of platforms, including iOS, BlackBerry, Android and Windows Mobile, the company said. SAP also said that the new platform will also support SAP NetWeaver Gateway, an open standards-based framework that developers can use to more easily to access SAP applications from mobile devices.  

Customers running the Afaria mobile device management platform would be able to purchase mobile applications from Apple’s App Store in large volumes and deploy them using Afaria, SAP said.

SAP also announced that BusinessObjects 4.0 would be generally available Friday.

SAP Business Warehouse 7.3 on SAP HANA
During the keynote address, Sikka reiterated some of SAP’s plans around HANA, including the release of service packs due out this fall that will allow Business Warehouse 7.3 to run directly on top of HANA as a data layer, for example.

More SAP in-memory applications are on the way, Sikka said, including SAP’s smart meter analytics application, due out this month. The tool will allow utility companies to analyze smart meter readings to forecast demand, analyze profitability of customer segments and develop new products.

Sikka said that the in-memory version of SAP’s cash and liquidity management application is also due out this year. That application will allow businesses to predict incoming and outgoing cash flows as well as activities like collections, risk management and short-term borrowing, all in real time.

Receptive customers 
Those messages, along with a video by one Chinese company that was running database queries 200 to 300 times faster than it could with Oracle databases resonated with Carole Charbonneau, an enterprise architect with the Montreal-based National Bank Financial, even if it didn’t apply to what she had come to the conference to learn.

Charbonneau said she came to pick up more ways her company could get its ERP system up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible, as well as learn some best practices for change management.

While she didn’t hear anything during the keynote address that might help on any of those fronts, she too thought her company might have a use for HANA on down the road. “For sure,” she said. “HANA is something we’ll have to look at.”

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