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IDC analyst likes cloud, app advances in SAP HANA in-memory technology

SAP has made significant strides in building out its SAP HANA in-memory technology and cloud tools thanks to a new managed cloud option and a growing collection of business applications that run in the cloud. That's the opinion of Henry Morris, IDC's senior vice president for worldwide software and services research, in comments recorded at SapphireNow 2013, the SAP conference held in Orlando, Fla.

"We're learning more about both the HANA Enterprise Cloud where SAP will host the applications for you on the Business Suite that runs on HANA, and then also the HANA cloud platform -- their Platform as a Service," Morris said. "We're hearing that a number of the applications, such as Ariba, SuccessFactors [and] the line-of-business applications, but not the Business Suite, will move to this public cloud platform. That's something to look forward to."

Morris advised companies to do more planning for integrating HANA and offered tips on doing so. "What are the workloads that make the most sense to move to HANA? I think it really does start with analytics. Getting rid of some of the things that are IT artifacts that they had to do -- setting an operational data store to do operational reporting. Why not just do that in the database where HANA is running?"

Read the transcript below.

We're talking to Henry Morris of IDC at Sapphire Now, the 2013 conference by SAP. Henry, you have some thoughts on where HANA stands right now in this evolution. Can you share some of those with our listeners?

Henry Morris: Sure. We've learned a lot more things about HANA. We've seen all of the applications coming out both by SAP and their partners. Learning more about the HANA enterprise cloud, where SAP will post the applications for you on business suite that run on HANA, and also the HANA cloud platform, their Platform as a Service.

And we're hearing that a number of the applications -- such as Ariba, SuccessFactors -- and a lot of business applications but not the business suite, will be moved to this public cloud platform -- that's something to look forward to.

At the same time I think that it's interesting to see more information that will help organizations figure out how they can plan their journey to HANA if they want to do that. What are the workloads that make the most sense to move to HANA? And I think it really does start with analytics. Getting rid of some of the things that are IT artifacts that they had to do, setting an operational data store to do operational reporting -- why not just do that in the database where HANA is running?

Or cubes: Why have to aggregate things in advance; why don't you make this something that can be virtually calculated on the fly? All those are sensible. I do think organizations need to be thinking about planning these steps if they want to go to HANA; SAP's offering more options. There's also a data federation thing that's worth looking at. And ultimately to figure out 'What do I do first, what do I do after that?' in this kind of gradual way. It will all have to be on-premises; some could be off-premises. Some of the applications based on what I said before could be on the cloud.

How do I set up the whole data architecture that makes sense? Would what I have now where I need to go? That's the area that I think SAP customers will be looking at now. And we're getting a little more information to help make that process a little more straightforward.

I assume that IDC has some clients amongst early adopters of HANA. What are you hearing from them in terms of their concerns or any of the challenges they're facing?

Morris: Well, I've been talking to some people here, especially [inaudible] what I've been doing here is talked to a number of the SAP partners who were telling me about the experiences of their customers. And basically some of the most common use cases still for HANA is around HANA, around analytics either BW-accelerated or BW [Business Warehouse]. That's really weird if you think about it, where HANA makes the most sense as a first step. Because again, instead of the prebuilt aggregates to be able to do this on the fly, fresher data, more granular data and so forth.

Not a lot of experience yet with people running the transactional applications on HANA. A few more examples of a CRM [customer relationship management] than business suite. So that's something we're still looking to get more information about how that's working, but I think certainly as a first step it's still the case that for BW users that has the place to look at for making your first [inaudible].

Well Henry, thanks very much for your time today.

Morris: Thank you.

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