By Lakna Paranamanna
“Software is like rivers; the world has been transformed by software, flowing and connecting, much like the rivers that have acted as great connectors of society,” says premier Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions provider - SAP AG’s Executive Board Member (Products and Innovations), Dr. Vishal Sikka.
This philosophical comparison of technology and nature was made by Dr. Sikka at this year’s SAP Teched conference in Whitefield, Bangalore that hosted another successful event, which brought together stakeholders from education, business and technology sectors, laying out a platform for them to experience and be part of SAP’s cutting edge innovations that have simplified the world of technology to its end users.
SAP HANA combines database, data processing, and application platform capabilities in-memory. The platform provides libraries for predictive, planning, text processing, spatial, and business analytics.
This new architecture enables converged OLTP and OLAP data processing within a single in-memory column-based data store with ACID compliance, while eliminating data redundancy and latency. By providing advanced capabilities, such as predictive text analytics, spatial processing, data virtualization, on the same architecture, it further simplifies application development and processing across big data sources and structures. This makes SAP HANA the most suitable platform for building and deploying next-generation, real-time applications and analytics. (saphana.com)
“For centuries technology has empowered men to develop their capabilities and achieve more. The transformation of this technology should be to make the end-user more powerful,” Dr. Sikka says adding that it is only then people’s lives can be touched and amplified through technology. It was such far-sighted vision that led to the creation of SAP’s in-memory, column-oriented, relational database management system – HANA (High Performance Analytic Appliance) that was launched exactly three years ago in Bangalore. “HANA has made our goal of empowering and amplifying people’s lives through technology, a reality,” Dr. Sikka said, during his keynote address at the 2013 SAP Teched conference.
The HANA effect
SAP HANA was and continues to be developed on the principal of timelessness - a concept of Dr. Sikka which represents the renewal of products without disruption to customer environments. “Enterprise landscapes should evolve but they should also occur non-disruptively; this as the base behind HANA,” he explained.
HANA – a platform that processes data real-time, thus incurring lower costs and Dr. Sikka said it has opened opportunities to ‘simplify the existing landscape’. “For example, look at the city of Varanasi. It has withstood hundreds of centuries and it still continues to sustain life until this modern day,” he pointed out. SAP HANA is far more than a database. It offers application services, middleware services as well as various other integrations. “Instead of being a bottleneck, it operates as an aggregation point. In short, it has enabled a dramatically simpler landscape,” Dr. Sikka explained, proudly.
HANA operates under three fundamental imperatives – reimagining the platform and applications as well as pursuing new frontiers. “HANA has presented us with a straightforward opportunity to domestically simplify the landscape,” he says, pointing to the fact that in just three years, the real-time data platform has accommodated over 24000 customers, 1300+ implementations and over 20,000 HANA developers tirelessly working towards transforming the technology to reach greater heights.
“HANA has enabled us to go into completely new frontiers that had never been possible before. It has enabled a integration of applications – to sense data from relevant sources and direct them into the right spaces.”
At present, HANA has branched out into several resources, its power underpinning the various applications. Among one such application is SAP FIORI – the literal translation in Italian meaning ‘flowers’. It is a collection of applications with a simple, user-friendly, google-like used to experience SAP software functions in all devices ranging from desktops, to tablets and even smartphones. “It is not simply about the outlook, “says Dr. Sikka, “but also about deeply understanding the end users’ needs and supporting the line of businesses,” he added
Commitment to developer community
During this year’s SAP TechEd conference in Bangalore, they also announced their extended and deeper commitment towards the developer community with the launch of several key open source contributions - a real time development experience for SAP HANA ad the publication of a new unified developer license that would help developers get started with SAP technologies.
Among the new contributions is the Open UI5 framework for the developer community that operates on GitHub under an Apache Version 2.0 license. SAP has developed its different themes, framework features and control libraries to help provide a consistent experience and foster reuse to connect to SAP HANA. The other contributions also include new node.js connector for SAP HANA and a new beta version for SAP PowerBuilder.
“We have even invited competitors to come try out the open source software. There were doubts even from our technology partners but we decided it was the right course of action since we believe it is a great testimonial of our strategy,” SAP AG Board Member, Bernard Leukert who also spoke at the TechEd conference in Bangalore said.
He says the launch of HANA three years ago was the start of the key road map they had articulated, which by now has developed into a complete business suite “We are an open environment and everyone is open to join us. It is an attempt to rethink software development experience and to make it open to everyone. The try outs are still in a very early stage but we consider but we consider its launch a great privilege on our part.”
Among the several end users who spoke at the 2013 SAP TechEd conference in Bangalore on the use of HANA and the impacts its technology has made, was Founder/ CEO of Infosys, S.D. Shibulal. His business is responsible of sustaining the jobs of some 4000 workers in one particular sector. “We had to print 15,000 electricity bills during each evening which would usually take about four hours. If we failed, 4000 would not have work the next day. But upon using the HANA platform, we have realized that the printing can now be completed within a matter of minutes, thanks to its ability to process thousands of data.”
Speaking further he shared another success story – an experience with a US based utility establishment. “During the power outages resulted by the natural disasters in November 2011, the prediction of restoration lines to the customers became tough, which led to disappointment among them. This crsis shed light on the need for a technology that would help collect and analyze data, which gave birth to an app using SAP HANA that not only keeps track of the storms or any other natural disaster in each state but also better estimates the restoration time, thus helping secure their client base,” he said.
Leading industrial revolution
The visionaries at SAP AG believe that the world is in the brink of an industrial revolution led by software and code. “Revolutionary inventions such as HANA has helped data processing, analysis and other requirements of enterprises and business representing all sectors including banking, manufacturing, retails, oil and gas as well as healthcare and wellbeing,” they add.
Ganges – reaching grassroot levels
One of the highlights of the 2013 SAP TechEd conference was the launch of SAP Ganges – a network that is to connect millions of CPGs with SMEs and banks. “It is exciting for us to be here and pursue new opportunities. We already have about seven/eight CPGs who have expressed their interest in being part of this program,” Dr. Sikka said.
Ganges is a network with a purpose. Powered by HANA, it is a fine example of the rethinking and reimagining landscapes promoted by Dr. Sikka in SAP’s innovations.
As its natural equivalent, the journey of Ganges starts in India and is due to make a significant impact particularly on the kirana shop owners. “Ganges is designed to address the lack of communication among the stakeholders. We build applications based on personas; which is why the creators of this application travelled to the farthest corners of India and obtained up-close observations of the manner in which businesses operate in the grassroot levels. Rural India has vast spending power and it is important to harness this power in the right direction,” Dr. Sikka added.
India’s fast moving consumer goods sector that consists of personal care, household care and food products was valued at 36.8 billion USD in 2011- 12. SAP believes that Ganges would be a great tool to tap the vast resources in the small and medium enterprises sectors. The network is set to obtain data from the PCOs which will be given to the stakeholders of the program, created by the SAP Ganges team at an affordable rate.
Aspirations for the future
By 2015, SAP is planning to focus on five main markets - applications, analytics, mobile, cloud services and database technology. “Presently, we are still in the midway of our journey. During the past couple of years, we developed a completely new category of in-memory computing and databases ad at present, we are globally ranked at number four in database technology. Even when it comes to analytics, the innovative tools we have introduced such as HANA has placed us in the pinnacle of the relative markets. The applications developed by SAP for Sybase mobile applications have been a vast success,” says Chief Operating Officer (SAP India and Sub-continent), Deb Deep Senguptha.
SAP’s clients include some of the most high profile business enterprises in the world as well as SMEs and governments of various countries.