SAP ran a virtual and global press and analyst event last night to announce the latest enhancement to its in-memory platform HANA, this time launching SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. The name of the offering pretty much sums it up, but in a nutshell SAP is giving customers the option of running a cloud-based version of HANA together with the applications that run on top of it such as SAP Business suite, SAP BW or other purpose built analytic applications.
As we have spoken or blogged about before, the use cases for HANA have evolved gradually since it was first released around two years ago. As a reminder, it initially started out as an operational reporting accelerator, before its use case widened to incorporate SAP BW (its data warehousing platform), and then earlier this year the company announced SAP HANA would underpin the entire SAP Business Suite. In our view this announcement isn’t in as big or disruptive as these previous developments; instead we believe it’s more about getting HANA and the applications that run on top of it, recognised as a cloud-based (as well as on-premise) offering. The longer term aim, we believe, is to use HANA as the underpinning in-memory platform for all of the company applications—both SaaS and on-premise—enabling it to compete more effectively with the likes of Salesforce and Oracle, who both have cloud versions of their enterprise applications.
For customers, HANA Enterprise Cloud provides more flexibility in how they deploy the in-memory platform. Being in the cloud means, for example, that customers can hand over some of the more mundane tasks associated with HANA’s set up and configuration such as provisioning hardware and disaster recovery whilst also being able to utilise the cloud’s elasticity to scale up resources as needed. In other words it has the potential to speed up the time to value of a HANA implementation.
That said (according to what I’ve read) customers still need to go through some sort of assessment service with SAP Services to determine which of their applications would benefit most from the HANA cloud deployment option. Similarly, whether this cloud deployment model is more cost effective for customers—compared with an on-premise installation—is unknown at this stage since SAP hasn’t released any detailed licensing information. Whatever the pricing arrangements turn out to be, customers will still need to factor in the time, effort and the cost of migrating and on-boarding SAP HANA to the enterprise cloud since SAP is employing a bring your own license model. This means that customers really need to have a license for HANA already (as well as for Business Suite and Business Warehouse) before considering Enterprise Cloud. Once in the cloud, however, customers will pay a monthly subscription for SAP HANA that is priced according to the size, scale of data and applications used.
In terms of how this impacts SAP’s Big Data strategy, it doesn’t radically change things; instead it simply adds to the deployment options available for SAP HANA. That said, this announcement does re-emphasise SAP’s resolute focus on managing real-time data as opposed to processing data in batch like other Big Data technologies such as Hadoop. The platform has been designed with this function in mind as it blends together an in-memory processing engine, data replication, and compression algorithms in a scalable and parallelised multi-core architecture. The benefit for customers here is that they can turbo-charge their SAP Business Suite applications and data warehouses by processing and querying data in real time, enabling them to react and respond to operations and changing business conditions in faster and faster timescales.
SAP is due to release more details of SAP Enterprise Cloud at next week’s Sapphire conference in Orlando.