Global CIO: The Software Revolution: Can SAP Light The Fuse?
Three emerging technologies have sparked a new generation of incredibly fast enterprise apps with huge disruptive potential—and SAP plans to lead this revolution.
"This combination is what I can the 'new reality' in which we are now able to completely rethink applications to make them dramatically faster and dramatically simpler—since all of that application functionality that used to be done outside of the application in the database is no longer needed, the code that's required is smaller, simpler, and easier to manage," Sikka said.
"And so we will deliver a whole new family of dynamic applications—Strategic Workforce Planning was the first—and in addition, every single product within SAP will be transformed as well. Strategic Workforce Planning is available now, there will be another new set of transformed products rolled out this quarter, then many more later this year, and over time all of our products will be available with these new capabilities."
Sikka then offered a couple of tangible examples from among the 50 customers who've been "co-innovating" with SAP on Hana over the past several months.
Deutsche Bank said it wanted to accelerate the data-crunching time needed to determine the best candidates for cross-selling opportunities, and the bank's top IT executive said Hana has provided superb results: "Deutsche Bank has run a prototype with an early version of the in-memory technology," said Hermann-Josef Lamberti, Group COO and head of group technology and operations, in a statement given to SAP for use in a forthcoming book by company founder and chairman Hasso Plattner.
"In particular," Lamberti said, "we were able to speed up the data-analysis process to detect cross-selling opportunities in our customer database from previously 45 minutes to 5 seconds. In-memory is a powerful new dimension of applied compute power."
Let me just do a little arithmetic on that: from 2,700 seconds to 5 seconds: an improvement of 540x.
Sikka offered another example: "Just this morning, we got the results from one of our customers in healthcare, and they had given us 460 million records of clinical data on which they were running trials. They were able to reduce response time from 47 minutes to 5 seconds running on a 32-core machine on Hana," he said.
"I don't know how else to say it except that the results from customers are unbelievable." Sikka then recounted a Hana case study that he's mentioned in the past, but he added one very significant new detail: the cost of the old hardware versus the new hardware.
"We have a large CPG customer with 460 billion records, and in the past we've mentioned that Hana was able to deliver response-time improvements of 20x and more. What we haven't mentioned is that while the hardware we used to achieve that had a cost of about $530,000, the previous hardware this customer had been using to get the old, slow results before Hana had a list price of over $15,000,000."
And the hardware prices for Hana systems are declining, Sikka said, noting that the $530,000 machine cited above—10 blades, 32 cores each—could be purchased today for $405,000 due to declining prices in some key components.
Plus, he said, a 64-core machine would today have a price of just over $600,000—and, 80-core machines should be available in just a few months.
"Here's why this is so important for our customers: as Edison said, 'vision without execution is hallucination.' Well, we're not hallucinating. The need for speed today is so profound, that if you can take some process that used to take hours or even many minutes and turn that into seconds or subseconds, then the entire behavior and mindset of people changes as well," Sikka said.
"It's like with Google Instant: as you're typing your query in and you're not even finished, it starts to give you results or at least suggestions, and that type of speed and insight leads to changes in behavior," Sikka said.
"When you expose these apps on mobile devices at unbelievable speeds, people can make not just faster but better decisions than ever before. And from that we see that the nature of business is changing, and boardroom discussions are changing as they're rooted more about what's possible and what we can anticipate."
One final point: if you'd like to get a deeper sense of the technology dynamics involved with SAP's in-memory technology and its Hana analytics appliance, please be sure to check out my colleague Doug Henschen's superb piece from December called SAP Delivers Promised Analytic Appliance.
And for much more on SAP and its strategies and competitive challenges, please see our list below of related analyses.
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