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1/15/2013
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SAP Sweetens Hana Deal With Free Sybase Database

Not everything demands in-memory performance, so SAP is bundling a conventional database for customers licensing SAP BusinessSuite to run on Hana.

Almost all the talk at last week's SAP Business Suite Powered By Hana announcement was about "reinventing enterprise systems." It's SAP's vision that companies will drop conventional databases from the likes of Oracle, IBM or Microsoft and switch to its Hana in-memory database in order to dramatically improve the performance of critical systems like ERP. But SAP has also quietly acknowledged, both at the event and in a follow-up interview, that its execs know that not everything will move to Hana right away.

The most obvious sign of this admission is a dual-database deal whereby SAP is including the Sybase ASE transactional database -- meaning it's a free add-on -- when customers license SAP Business Suite Powered by Hana. SAP executives explained the offer in a follow-up interview with InformationWeek last week.

"Customers could choose to deploy ASE or Hana in whatever mix of configurations they want," explained Prakash Darji, SAP's global VP for data warehouse solutions & SAP Hana platform. SAP customers could use Hana to accelerate certain Business Suite processes while leaving other processes on ASE.

There are two reasons why this move to bundle Sybase ASE along with Hana makes sense.

[ Want more on SAP's big move? Read SAP Moves Core Applications To Hana In-Memory Platform. ]

First, not all Business Suite applications are capable of running on Hana as yet. Major ones including ERP, CRM and supply chain management are, but some apps, like supplier relationship management, are not. Thus, customers will obviously continue to need a conventional relational database. Including ASE -- which SAP touts as an alternative to Oracle, IBM DB2 or Microsoft SQL Server for transactional (OLTP) workloads -- is a lure (or a consolation, depending on your perspective) to companies that would otherwise balk at having to license two databases -- meaning Hana, plus whatever they're currently using.

Second, even if SAP reaches its goal of moving all of its software onto Hana fairly quickly, customers may still be selective about which applications they choose to accelerate or reinvent by moving them onto Hana.

Hana's appeal is extreme in-memory performance whereby transactional and analytic applications can run far faster than on conventional databases. In some cases the performance is such that entirely new applications are envisioned, ones that were never attempted because they would simply take too long. At last week's announcement, for example, BusinessSuite on Hana beta customer John Deere said it's testing financial close and manufacturing resource planning applications that will execute within minutes on Hana, where they used to take many hours or days running on conventional databases.

But in other cases customers either don't see value in dramatically speeding up an application, or they just aren't ready to move it over to Hana. In those cases, they can license only selected apps to run on Hana.

"We would love to see every customer consolidate everything on Hana and not go to a hybrid deployment model, but the reason we've included ASE is that some customers are saying, 'Do I really need an in-memory database for, say, a portal?'" Darji said.

[Editor's note: In a follow-up interview, SAP execs said there are compelling reasons to support real-time personalized dashboards on portals using Hana, and that a payroll app would be a better example of a not-so-critical application where in-memory performance is concerned.]

Why not run everything on Hana? For one thing, there is a price for performance. Hana runs on different, memory-intensive hardware than conventional databases, and the database itself is also licensed based on the volumes of data managed. Hardware prices have come down, but memory is still more expensive than spinning disks. Despite all SAP's promises of being able to deliver "innovation without disruption," its ASE giveaway policy seems like a realistic recognition that it may only be in mission-critical spots -- at least initially -- where companies will want to innovate with Hana.

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D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
1/15/2013 | 7:00:23 PM
re: SAP Sweetens Hana Deal With Free Sybase Database
SAP execs acknowledged that this free ASE deal "wasn't exactly disscussed at a formal level" during last week's BusinessSuite-on-Hana announcement. That leads me to believe there's internal debate at SAP over how to sell customers on Hana and what benefits they should realistically be told to expect. "Reinventing enterprise systems" is a big promise.
lac01
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lac01,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/16/2013 | 4:45:50 PM
re: SAP Sweetens Hana Deal With Free Sybase Database
Hi Doug, I'm not sure if Oracle Exalytics runs on SAP applications. As I know, Exalytics accelerates on cache tables, not applications. So if you want to cacheing some SAP ERP process, you need know which tables are involved. Correct me if i'm wrong.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
1/16/2013 | 5:18:24 PM
re: SAP Sweetens Hana Deal With Free Sybase Database
SAP apps are certified to run on Exadata. If you're using Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition, you can then use Exalytics to provide cache acceleration of analytics/calculations involving SAP apps data. You are correct that apps don't "run" on Exadata -- app-related analytics are accelerated by Exalytics.
amitsinha
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amitsinha,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/19/2013 | 12:49:52 AM
re: SAP Sweetens Hana Deal With Free Sybase Database
Doug - thanks for listening to our point of view. Appreciate that.

I factually checked the "free" comment from the pricing colleagues. ASE is not free with HANA. What we have done is HANA + ASE + MaxDB is offered as a bundle of databases at one price point as a % of application value. Hence HANA and ASE both have attributed value to them and one cannot say ASE or HANA is free with the other. We did this bundle to support customers that typically have large and mixed landscapes - HANA runs the latest releases of SAP Business Suite, however, a customer may have older releases of our products or specific industry solutions that are corner cases that do not / will not run on HANA. In such a case customers can use this bundle for their end to end database needs and not need multiple licenses. Hence "free" is technically incorrect assumption.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
1/22/2013 | 8:30:59 PM
re: SAP Sweetens Hana Deal With Free Sybase Database
Hmmm... Hana + ASE + MaxDB in all one inclusive price, and it's the only way you buy Hana, right? "Bundle" says it all, even if you don't use the word "free."
LoriV01
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LoriV01,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/4/2013 | 7:31:12 PM
re: SAP Sweetens Hana Deal With Free Sybase Database
Hi Doug -

A bundle is not the only option. A customer on the SAP HANA Enterprise License can run SAP Business Suite on it.
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