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SAP: In-memory now 'a reality'

HANA and the in-memory technology promised at last year’s conference is now an intractable part of the IT landscape, senior SAP executives argued at the annual Sapphire conference.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- SAP is making good on goals it laid out at last year’s Sapphire conference, especially when it comes to HANA and its in-memory technology, senior executives said at the closing keynote address yesterday.

From testimonials by a Russian oil and gas company that was using HANA to pull together and process large amounts of data from disparate parts of Russia, to a Japanese research company that used HANA to plot traffic trends with the help of GPS-enabled taxis, SAP did its best to convince attendees that HANA was here -- and early users were taking advantage its capabilities to change the way they did business.  

"Last year it was theory; this year it is reality,” said Hasso Plattner, chairman of the supervisory board and co-founder of SAP.

‘We can leverage that kind of technology’

While some attendees have been skeptical of the need for in-memory computing, Wednesday’s presentation only further reinforced the sense for some that the technology has a place in their organizations.

“I think it’s a major breakthrough,” Thomas Wirth, the director of ERP technology for DealerTrack, said after the keynote speeches.

DealerTrack collects and analyzes large amounts of data for car manufacturers and importers to be used in calculating what kinds of cars people are buying, the values of those cars after years of use, and what lease rates should be, depending on the make and model. In other words, lots and lots of data.

“We can really leverage that technology,” Wirth said, adding that he plans to have a meeting with his CEO and chief information officer after he returns to the company’s Lake Success, N.Y., headquarters.  HANA and in-memory would be at the top of the agenda, he said.

HANA in the cloud

HANA applications will not be limited to on-premises applications, according to SAP Chief Technology Officer Vishal Sikka, but will be on demand in the future as well.

Hasso Plattner
SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner (photo courtesy of SAP)

One example was demoed by Glen deVries, the CEO of Medidata Solutions Worldwide, a company that creates applications that let biotech companies run drug trials in the cloud. Other examples would come in the coming months, Sikka said.

“We expect many, many applications will be offered on the HANA cloud,” Sikka said, but he gave few details -- architectural or otherwise -- on what those applications would look like. 


SAP also announced that it is launching SAP NetWeaver Gateway, an open standards-based framework that developers can use to more easily connect non-SAP applications to SAP applications. It also makes it easier to access SAP applications from mobile devices.  

Developers can also use the new framework to create new applications using other development languages, such as Microsoft’s .NET development framework.

Gateway would also allow users to extend applications without having to change them, according to independent SAP analyst Cindy Jutras, which would allow them to get more value out of their software.

“This could be a game changer for a lot of companies,” Jutras said.

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