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SAP HANA 2 features cloud microservices, geospatial analytics

SAP HANA 2 includes enhancements for cloud microservices, data warehousing, support for agile IT development; SAP partners with European Space Agency for geospatial analytics.

SAP HANA is getting smaller. Well, it's at least going to be available to consume in more digestible chunks.

The latest version of the HANA in-memory database platform, SAP HANA 2, was unveiled at SAP TechEd in Barcelona this week. SAP HANA 2 includes new enhancements, such as cloud microservices and data warehousing, that make the platform available for any users who want to take advantage of the HANA in-memory technology, according to Ken Tsai, SAP vice president and head of cloud platform and data management product marketing.

"We are looking to optimize HANA to make innovation easier for the users, specifically innovations for non-SAP application use," Tsai said. "HANA was not just developed as a platform for S/4HANA or BW [Business Warehouse] but very specifically for customers to build new applications, so there are increased capabilities for database administration, data management, application development and more machine learning embedded directly in the platform itself."

One of the main ways that users can take advantage of HANA 2 in more digestible bits is through cloud microservices that are available via subscription through SAP hybris as a service (referred to as YaaS). These can allow developers to embed HANA-driven insights into applications, Tsai said. 

A service that's available now is Earth Observation Analysis, developed by SAP and the European Space Agency, which provides a standard interface to consume, analyze and derive insights from global satellite images and historical data. One of the first customers to take advantage of this is the reinsurance company Munich Re, which is using the Earth Observation Analysis service to analyze wildfire incidents around forests and urban areas to gain a better understanding of the risks posed by the incidents.

There are also cloud microservices for text data analysis like entity extraction, fact extraction, and linguistic analysis that can be embedded into applications to process and analyze unstructured text in documents.

"These are some of the things that you needed to rely on humans to read through. Now you can rely on HANA to do that for you," Tsai said. "But you don't have to implement HANA, you can make this as an API call directly in the cloud."

Data warehousing is another area where HANA 2 has been enhanced to appeal to non-SAP users as well as SAP users, according to Tsai.

"SAP recently announced BW/4HANA, which is the packaged data warehousing offering on the BW side, and the application development tools were very harmonized with the HANA core technology," Tsai said. "SAP HANA 2 extends that vision further because we've added a sophisticated SQL analyzer, workflow analyzer and workflow management. So a customer who doesn't want to use BW can freely choose the full native HANA capabilities to build custom data warehousing."

To better support agile IT development, HANA 2 will be on a schedule to deliver new technology enhancements twice a year and has extended the software maintenance cycle from six months to a three-year period, Tsai said. Customers can run a bimodal environment where they can run mission-critical applications on HANA, but don't have to go through a forced upgrade to take advantage of new enhancements as they are released every six months.

"They can completely stabilize their application environment with the HANA environment underneath it," Tsai said. "They can run HANA 2 side by side, they can run HANA 2 in different departments, or they can choose to whenever they want to migrate to HANA 2 for free and now their maintenance window is extended to three years."

HANA 2 represents a continuation of technology innovation by SAP, and is designed to enable organizations to address the fast-changing aspects of digital business, said Carl Olofson, IDC research vice president, in a statement. "SAP HANA 2 features new and enhanced functions that can enhance data management and accelerate application development for digital transformation," Olofson said. "In addition, new SAP HANA cloud microservices, accessible through SAP hybris as a service, are expected to increase innovation of insight-driven applications to deliver competitive advantage for SAP customers."

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