SAP Pushing HANA, Visual Intelligence at Sapphire Now

SAP is betting big that you want those results delivered in the next 0.0001 second.

SAP is using the week’s Sapphire Now conference in Orlando, Fla., to highlight HANA, its in-memory database technology.

HANA is capable of aggregating massive amounts of data, executing parallel searches, and rapidly delivering answers to queries. SAP has invested a good deal of capital in pushing the platform to businesses, betting its ultimate success on a rising need for data analytics. SAP executives claim that proprietary products such as HANA can help customers to access and deliver information at speeds “100,000 times faster than before.”

Whether or not that benchmark is accurate, it’s indisputable that SAP is aiming for the capability to store and process data in real time. “The SAP real-time data platform delivers an information value chain that uncovers and harnesses the right information at the right moment by moving data among SAP HANA, SAP Sybase IQ and Hadoop file systems,” Steve Lucas, global executive vice president and general manager for SAP’s Database & Technology, wrote in a May 16 statement.

In addition to the market for companies that want the data equivalent of a million phone books crunched very, very quickly, SAP is also making deeper forays into the data visualization market.

SAP Visual Intelligence software also relies on HANA. It includes the flexibility to pull multiple streams of data from across an organization (via an automated routine, if necessary), and then plot those streams visually. The emphasis here is on self-service analysis. In theory, such capabilities can give a business much greater insight into what’s working within an organization.

Research firm Gartner recently named SAP the top B.I., analytics and performance-management (PM) software vendor in 2011, with 23.6 percent market-share based on revenue. Oracle came in second, with 15.6 percent, followed by SAS Institute with 12.6 percent, IBM with 12.1 percent, Microsoft with 8.7 percent, and “Other Vendors” with 27.5 percent.

That seems like a pretty commanding lead, but the rising interest in business intelligence has led to SAP’s rivals pouring more and more effort into their own products. Oracle, Microsoft, IBM and other vendors—none of which reached enormous size by acting like the corporate equivalent of wallflowers—have adopted a thoroughly gung-ho attitude about building and improving B.I. products, all but ensuring the space will continue to heat up in quarters ahead.