— Andy Steer, Director Business Analytics, itelligence UK —
«We are excited by the HANA technology, but what do we do next?» This completely valid and totally understandable question is one that I hear time and again from customers and prospects who are being bombarded with articles, webinars, tweets and videos about SAP’s latest and greatest technology innovation. This question got me thinking and resulted in a presentation I gave at the recent SAP Forum event held in St Albans in the UK.
I tried to tackle the question head on. I didn’t not want to talk about the challenges of classic data warehousing, the theory of column databases, the fact that hardware had evolved to such a point that huge in memory databases were now practical or that HANA was a revolutionary technology. No, what I wanted to talk about was what on earth you can do with such an innovative technology, I wanted to talk about the applications that are available to help you deliver value to your business, or your customers, or your suppliers. I wanted to talk about HANA and her daughters…
You could be forgiven for wondering what on earth I am talking about, so let me be clear. Since the ramp up and GA of the core HANA technology, SAP have been working on a number of solutions, applications and accelerators which can deliver incredible benefits to businesses, it is these «children of HANA» that I feel represent huge opportunities for forward thinking organisations all around the world. SAP are even encouraging the Partner eco-system to develop their own solutions, I have great hopes that this cottage industry can really push HANA into the mainstream above and beyond customers with existing investments in SAP technology.
I want to introduce you to some of the children that are already available. It should not be surprising to hear that a large percentage of the initial SAP HANA solutions are targeted at organizations with existing ERP implementations, so I want to talk about 3 of these; the accelerator for CO-PA, the Rapid Deployment Solution for Operational Reporting and BW on HANA.
The CO-PA Accelerator
Cost and Profitability analysis is one of the most commonly utilised yet heavily complained about features of the SAP ERP solution. I regularly speak to finance teams who are beholden to ABAP reports that take several hours to run. The SAP HANA Accelerator for CO-PA removes this reporting bottleneck by introducing realtime replication of the core CO-PA tables to HANA where they can be analysed immediately in great detail. This so-called “side car” implementation is non invasive in that you continue to use the existing tools in the same way but experience a huge increase in reporting performance and therefore your own operational effectiveness.
Rapid Deployment Solution for Operational Reporting
As with the CO-PA accelerator the RDP for operational reporting replicates key functional tables such as product, sales, materials, customer and finance to HANA. The real power of the Operational Reporting RDS comes when you combine it with an implementation of the BusinessObjects 4.0 Business Intelligence platform thereby giving simple straightforward access to key business insights that were previously locked away in ERP.
BW on HANA
Business Warehouse is an amazing idea, a fully featured, highly functional, infinitely scalable, pre-modelled enterprise data warehouse designed to work with the inherent complexities of the SAP ERP data structures. Unfortunately for many businesses I speak to, this utopia seems a long way away as they struggle with challenges ranging from data volumes and refresh durations to query performance and timeliness of data. The newly released BW powered by HANA solution aims to tackle these issues head on by replacing the traditional relational database underneath BW with an in-memory HANA datastore. This can be considered as the next logical step on from the historical solution offered by BW Accelerator. It is not an overstatement to say that BW Powered by HANA can be revolutionary, Red Bull migrated to the new platform in 10 days and experienced phenomenal improvements with some queries running up to 10,000 times faster than before.
I hope this has helped to give you an appreciation of some of the solutions that are already available. As always feel free to comment or get in touch if you want to know more.