SAP is betting even more on HANA, its in-memory database technology. Built to reduce latency and infrastructure associated with data analysis, HANA has become an integral part of SAP’s product portfolio—appearing in everything from its CRM software to its cloud offerings.
Now SAP’s taking HANA yet another level up: the technology will now power SAP Business Suite, the company’s flagship ERP offering. SAP is touting the move as a chance for customers to strengthen their business processes—including reporting, analysis, and planning—with real-time data, thanks to HANA’s ability to blend transaction processing and analytics on the same platform. In theory, that erases at least some of the delays that occur when a business attempts to wrangle information in parallel across multiple systems.
“In 2010, our founder and chairman of the SAP Supervisory Board, Dr. Hasso Plattner, laid out a bold vision that SAP HANA will be at the heart of SAP’s intellectual renewal and that it would transform both existing and new applications,” Vishal Sikka, a member of the SAP Executive Board for Technology and Innovation, wrote in a Jan. 11 statement.
While an inflow of real-time data could certainly help supply-chain management, materials-requirement planning and other business tasks, SAP’s deep reliance on HANA comes with certain risks—the company’s rivals are eyeing in-memory database technology for their own products, which could negative SAP’s competitive differentiator.
Microsoft, for example, recently announced its “Hekaton” project, which will layer in-memory technology into its next major SQL Server release. Other competitors, including IBM and Oracle, are also intent on challenging SAP’s technology with various business-related platforms of their own, many of which store and analyze data in a granular fashion.
But SAP is making some aggressive moves of its own. It recently introduced SAP Jam, an enterprise-centric social platform that gives businesses the ability to set up a Facebook-like social network for employees—a clear shot across the bows of Salesforce and other companies that traffic in the same sort of social networks for businesses.
In a recent research note, Forrester called out SAP as a “leader” in the predictive analytics field along with IBM and SAS, citing HANA as the “glue” binding together various analytics applications.