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7/10/2012
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SAP Boosts Hana Database With Partner Incentive Programs

SAP service partners, resellers, and customers get credits aimed at accelerating adoption of the vendor's in-memory database.

It's been just more than a year since the general release of SAP's Hana in-memory database, and the product has been purchased by more than 400 customers, deployed on-premises by more than 190, and invoked as a cloud-based database service on Amazon Web Services to the tune of more than 4,000 developer instances.

To build on the momentum, SAP on Monday announced "migration credit" programs for systems integrator (SI) partners and value-added resellers (VARs) to help customers get their SAP Business Warehouse (BW) deployments up and running on Hana. SAP also announced on Monday new Hana support opportunities and wider availability of Hana database editions for resale by VARs.

All four initiatives are aimed at building up partner expertise around Hana, a fairly new product in a technology segment that is also new to SAP, notwithstanding its 2010 acquisition of the Sybase database business. In short, SAP needs more feet on the street, not just in terms of positioning and selling Hana, but also in implementing and supporting deployments after the sale.

"Hana is a new technology, so we were very selective in the beginning, working with just a few partners," explained Bobby Vetter, Senior VP, Ecosystem & Channels, at SAP, in a conference call with the press on Monday. "Now that the product has had a year in the market we can scale and open up to the partner base."

[ How does SAP Hana stack up against Oracle Exalytics? Read SAP's Hype Versus Oracle's FUD. ]

In the case of the systems integrator program, migration credits will be issued to customers who buy Hana software directly from SAP when qualified integrator partners--such as IBM, Accenture, and Deloitte--are involved with the project from the start. Customers can use the credits to pay for related services from those partners to ensure that Hana is deployed on time and in line with predefined project goals. To qualify, the service partner has to have certified expertise on both Hana and BW.

In the case of the VAR program, resellers will receive credits that can be applied to building up their ranks of Hana-certified sales and implementation professionals. The SI and VAR credits will be based on a percentage of the total cost of the sale, though SAP won't reveal exact details until the program is introduced in mid-July.

Hana support options are also being opened up to VARs so they can service customers even if they purchased the database directly from SAP. The vendor says the certification program is designed to give resellers first-hand implementation experience, including opportunities on large and challenging customer engagements, so they can become experts on SAP Hana support processes.

On the sales front, SAP has opened up all editions of Hana to resellers, including enterprise and platform editions, a database edition for BW, and a new low-cost runtime edition for limited use with predefined applications and content. VARs were already reselling a Hana Edge Edition geared to SMBs, but that product has been upgraded from 32-gigabyte to 64-gigabyte memory, so it can address higher-scale deployments.

The key selling point for Hana is the promise of lightning fast in-memory querying for analytical applications, even those dealing with huge volumes of transactional history. But Vetter said on Monday that Hana's performance is not only suitable for large enterprises. He noted that some 40 small companies have signed on to run the small business-focused SAP BusinessOne application suite on Hana, with 17 already live on that combination.

Given that at least 16,000 SAP customers run BW, migrating those data warehouses to run on Hana is the biggest and most immediate opportunity for SIs and VARs. But SAP also has announced its intention to run entire ERP application suites on Hana by the end of this year--at least in ramp-up (beta) deployment mode. That's a step toward opening up Hana for use by the vast majority of SAP's more than 200,000 customers, though the company will need many more Hana-certified partners to fulfill its vision.

To make headway in the database business, SAP will have to displace deployments of rival databases including Oracle database, IBM DB2, and Microsoft SQL Server, all of which have robust and entrenched distribution and support channels.

SAP announced in May a series of new partnerships and commitments from existing partners to support Hana deployments. Accenture, for one, announced it will add 1,000 Hana-certified professionals by the end of this year. SAP is making Hana developer licenses available for free, and the availability of developer instances on Amazon Web Services is aimed at boosting experimentation and proof-of-concept projects.

At this year's InformationWeek 500 Conference, C-level execs will gather to discuss how they're rewriting the old IT rulebook and accelerating business execution. At the St. Regis Monarch Beach, Dana Point, Calif., Sept. 9-11.

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