SAP Announces SAP HANA 2 at SAP TechEd in Barcelona
SAP says SAP HANA 2 will reshape IT to advance digital transformation. PHOTO: Henrik Wagner on Twitter

BARCELONA — There's not much time to think in a world where machines make decisions. Whether we're talking about massive engines in industrial factories or sensors that set off alarms when the forest floor gets too warm, signaling that conditions are ripe for a fire, we have a constant flow of data.

The challenge is making sense of that data quick enough to take meaningful action.

Enter SAP HANA. The in-memory, column-oriented, relational database management system that powers the SAP HANA platform is the most rapidly growing product in the German software company's 44-year-history.

SAP TechEd Reveals

This week at SAP TechEd, the software vendor's technically-oriented user conference, attendees got a first look at the SAP HANA 2 platform, the next generation of SAP HANA optimized for digital transformation. They also learned about SAP hybris-as-a-Service (YaaS), a microservices ecosystem helping businesses to expand and build new, flexible solutions.

These are (some) of the tools that will power the fourth Industrial Revolution, Bernd Leukert, member of the executive board of SAP SE Products and Innovation told the computer architects, engineers gathered here this week during a conference keynote. "Processing data is not enough, it must be transformed. You are the kingmakers," he said.

The three-day TechEd conference ended today.

SAP HANA 2 is planned to be released Nov. 30. The (free) express edition of SAP HANA 2 will be available for delivery shortly after general availability.

SAP HANA 2 Gets Smarter

SAP TechEd is less about selling business solutions to end users and more about sparking the imaginations of software engineers through new products and product capabilities.

Take analytical intelligence, a new feature of SAP HANA 2 that is designed to make it easier for developers to embed rich insights directly into applications with enhanced analytical processing engines for text, spatial, graph and streaming data. 

It includes new algorithms for classification, association, time series and regression, which are embedded into the predictive analytics library. The goal is to empower data scientists to discover new patterns and incorporate machine learning into custom applications, including those associated with the Internet of Things (IoT).

"Machines can crunch IoT, text, spatial and other data over and over again to detect patterns we might not see," Marie Goodell, vice president of marketing SAP told CMSWire. 

One application that leverages some of these capabilities uses data gathered in satellite images to help predict natural disasters. “It scans deeply, not just the surface but layers beneath soil, water and fissures, and it updates them every 30 minutes,” she said. 

Another feature, Enterprise Architecture Designer, is a web-based solution that allows IT organizations to know exactly where their data originates, whether from applications, sensors or text.

Some of these capabilities are available as microservices, which you can use as you need and pay for as you use.

SAP's other tools include BYOL (Bring Your Own Language), a new file processor API that makes it easy to extract text or metadata from documents, entity extraction, fact extraction, linguistic analysis and more. It is available in the YaaS marketplace.

HANA's Growth

SAP HANA first shipped in 2010, so it goes without saying that it is still a relatively new database. According to all reports its adoption is booming. But how well is it being accepted in the enterprise?

Constellation Research analyst Holger Mueller pointed to SAP's announcement, noting that the software giant will now offer two code lines for HANA. Companies can opt for the newest release, SAP HANA 2 or can stay on SAP HANA 1 for a while. 

Not trying to force all of its customers to immediately upgrade is an indication of SAP's progress in customer adoption, Mueller told CMSWire. SAP has so many customers using HANA 1 that it needs to maintain the codebase to support them and also needs to keep developing and innovating on HANA 2 for competitive purposes.

This is not only a good problem for a software company to have, but one SAP is solving by giving its customers and its developers options.

Visualized Analytics

SAP also unveiled a whole new slew of analytics capabilities across its broad portfolio. 

What was once called SAP Analytics is now SAP Business Objects. Leveraging SAP HANA's data-crunching powers it provides data workers with more advanced tools with which to prepare and model data. It leverages machine leaning to suggest visualizations and makes it simple to use data services to inform insights about things like problems in sales pipelines.

These and many other capabilities can be leveraged via the SAP Digital Boardroom, which gives corporate executives a look at their business in real-time. It also provides an ability to zero-in on sales pipelines, movement of finished goods and such. 

External industry specific data and content can also be brought in via applications created by SAP and SAP partners for industries such as consumer products, chemicals, engineering, construction and operations, public sector, human resources, finance and marketing.

Capetown, South Africa offers an interesting application of SAP BusinessObjects analytics. The city of 4 million receives 3 million visitors each year which could, at times, challenge its infrastructure. Getting the right help and just the right amount of help from fire, ambulance, police and other services routed in the best possible was is essential, Nic Smith global vice president, product marketing for cloud analytics at SAP told CMSWire.

SAP BusinessObjects analytics provided it.

'Run the World Better'

SAP's mission is "to help the world run better and improve lives," Leukert told the crowd. When it was founded, SAP built enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems for these purposes. 

Six years ago SAP ventured into the database business, delivering HANA to the world.

The road has not always been easy to navigate, Leukert said during the keynote. Many questioned SAP's move into the database business. "Some said our engineers were on drugs, that our chairman had drunk red wine," he said.

They are not saying that anymore.