SAPPHIRE_NOW_Orlando_2013Larry Ellison must have woken up mighty early this morning (like 5 am PT) to hear what SAP Chairman Hasso Plattner was going to say about SAP HANA, which is being called “the fastest in memory database of all time.” 

Plattner is keynoting at SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP’s annual user conference in Orlando, Florida. To be honest, we don’t know exactly where Larry is -- maybe on the Hawaiian Island he owns or one of his “trophy homes” in Malibu, San Francisco, Japan, Woodside, California … feel free to add to the list.

For anyone who isn’t into “tech operas,” it might help to know that Ellison and Plattner have been throwing jabs at each other for ages -- perhaps because they’re so alike and like the same things: not only are they both billionaires and widely acknowledged to be technology gurus (Ellison founded Oracle and Plattner is a co-founder of SAP), but they also share what Wikipedia calls “an unusual passion: racing transoceanic yachts around the world.” Plattner, reportedly, once dropped his pants and mooned the support crew of Ellison’s racing yacht Sayonara, after they failed to offer assistance when his bow broke.

But enough about that. We do have news to share.

We were offered a preview of what Plattner and his team are going to say about HANA (HANA is short for HAsso's New Architecture) today.

A Quick Brief on HANA

For those unfamiliar with HANA, it’s an in-memory database which slices and dices data entirely in-memory and produces results in seconds rather than in the hours or days needed by traditional databases. When SAP first released HANA, it disrupted the database market (especially Oracle); it did so again when it announced that could easily bring Hadoop data in for in-memory processing; and again when it proclaimed that it could process both analytical data and transactional data (SAP ERP and the like) in-memory.

SAP challenged Oracle’s “we can do it all -- we don’t need you” philosophy when it announced that it was partnering with a gamut of best of breed vendors “right down to the silicon.” Experts say that SAP has disrupted the Enterprise software space in a non-disruptive way. (It would make for a good case study.)

Look What Capabilities HANA SP6 Introduces

Smarter Data Virtualization for Heterogeneous Data Sources

Data lives in heterogeneous systems throughout the Enterprise and processing it, in real-time, at lightning speeds can be not only challenging, but also quite costly. Suppose, for example, that you’re a shoe store who wants to offer a shopper the right deal before she leaves the store -- figuring out whether you should email her a coupon for sneakers, sandals or wedges could be difficult.

Some of the data you’d need might reside in Hadoop, another set in a Teradata warehouse, and still another in Sybase IQ. Pulling it all in for real-time processing, as recently as yesterday, was difficult, but not anymore. Leveraging HANA’s Smarter Data Virtualization for Heterogeneous Data Sources, the retailer might now be able to figure out where you live, how you “talk,” who your friends are (and what kind of shoes they buy), what you’ve purchased in the past and using that information, get the exact right offer to you.

Spatial Data Processing for Richer Insights

SAP HANA already offers in-memory analytical processing (OLAP), transactional processing (OLTP), text search and mining capabilities; today it adds spatial data processing capabilities with two and three dimensional analysis to its repertoire. By combining geospatial data with business data, real-time business efficiencies can be achieved.

Need an example of how this works? Suppose you want to open a smart watch store. In order to figure out where to open it, you’ll need to figure out who your likely customers are, where they live, where they like to shop and hangout, what they “like” and how much non-discretionary cash they typically have. By combining Social data, OLAP and OLTP, with Geospatial data not only do you have them pegged, but the “X” that marks the spot for your store.

This is only one example. “The use cases for geospatial data are endless, “says David Jonker, Director of Big Data, SAP. And they’ll keep growing, he adds, especially as machine-to-machine conversations begin to be tagged.

Maybe Larry’s celebrity realtor will use HANA to help him find his next house.

Open Architecture for Tailored Integration into Customer’s Data Centers

Today SAP HANA launches SAP HANA Open Initiative, a support and certification program for targeting third party BI, ETL and Backup & Recovery tools to work with HANA. “Customers are invested in different kinds of software and hardware," explains Jonker, "and SAP wants to make sure that their stacks meet their needs and allow them to take full advantage of HANA."

“This simplifies and reduces costs,” says Jonker, “and allows customers to leverage what they’ve got, rather than buying new software and hardware."

Additionally, SAP is introducing a new open appliance architecture to support tailored integration with customers’ existing enterprise storage solutions. Typical appliance architectures restrict the use of best-of-breed components making it impossible for companies to take advantage of the latest hardware innovations which customers have already deployed -- SAP HANA allows customers to leverage their existing enterprise network storage systems to reduce total cost of ownership.

Though this is generous on SAP’s behalf, it is also smart business and part of a trend among forward-thinking vendors.

Simply Irresistible

These announcements are indicative of SAP taking another step forward toward becoming the database of computing’s third generation. HANA allows for the processing of structured, unstructured and social data at lightning speeds giving customers a clear competitive advantage. It’s Big Data at its best.

“You can either sit at the table or you can be on the table (and be eaten alive),” an SAP exec was overheard saying this week. Needless to say “at the table” is where you want to be and HANA pulls out a chair for its (and Oracle and DB 2’s) customers to sit on.