It's the realization of a dream to "reinvent enterprise systems," said SAP chairman Hasso Plattner during a global launch event, with video feeds from Frankfurt, Germany; New York; and Palo Alto, Calif. Running Business Suite on Hana, customers will be able to hold all active transactional data in memory and exploit massively parallel processing to deliver real-time performance, the company said. The move will also enable customers to simplify their IT landscapes and eliminate data redundancies by removing the separation between transactional and business intelligence infrastructure.
"No aggregates, no cubes, no OLAP -- everything is replaced by the dynamic use of transactional data," Plattner said.
The business payoff, a battery of SAP executives promised, will include interactive forecasting, planning and analysis with up-to-the-second data, as well as real-time execution of trade promotion planning, manufacturing requirements planning (MRP), dunning and other processes. SAP customer Derek Dyer, director of global SAP services at manufacturer John Deere, backed up that claim, noting that his company has tested and is currently rolling out Business Suite on Hana.
[ Learn more about SAP's cloud computing strategy, and what its CEO thinks about Oracle's criticisms. See SAP CEO Tackles Tough Cloud Questions . ]
"We look at it as a way to run our business in a revolutionary way because we'll be able to do things like simulate our financial close and run MRP processes within minutes," Dyer said. He also envisioned processing huge volumes of real-time information streaming from mobile-connected Deere farm and construction equipment in the field so the company can help customers with repairs, parts ordering and preventative maintenance suggestions in real time.
Moving Business Suite to Hana will be non-disruptive for customers because it's simply a matter of swapping out the underlying database, said SAP CTO and executive board member Vishal Sikka. It's not quite that simple, in that Hana requires in-memory hardware that will replace the conventional servers in use.
If customers aren't ready to move to Hana, they can continue to run Business Suite on current database choices including Oracle, IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server and Sybase ASE. There was some concern during a question-and-answer session whether a separate version of SAP Business Suite will be required to run on Hana, but Plattner insisted that the core Business Suite code will be the same for any database, with only minor differences in certain stored procedures.
Asked whether customers can be assured of mission-critical application performance on Hana, Sikka insisted that all requirements around high availability and disaster recovery have been satisfied. And executives said that SQL-savvy database administrators should be able to quickly get up to speed on Hana administrative requirements.
"If anything, administrators will have less to do on Hana because they won't have to work on tuning and materialized views that are required on conventional databases," Sikka said.
In addition to SAP's 1,500 Hana-trained consultants, there are more than 70 partners worldwide that employ another 1,000 trained consultants, according to SAP. That means deployments can get rolling right away, though technically SAP Business Suite Powered by Hana remains in ramp-up release (SAP's parlance for beta stage). Using a Rapid Deployment Solution set for release in February, customers will be able to get Business Suite up and running on Hana in fewer than six months, SAP said.
SAP customers will undoubtedly get a clearer picture of the status of Business Suite on Hana at SAP's annual Sapphire event in May. Hopefully by then we'll have a hard date on the general release and more than one customer speaking from experience on the power of the combination.