SAP Launches Attack On Database, Mobile App Markets

Pricing the Hana in-memory database to sell and kicking in cash incentives for migrations, SAP vows it will become the fastest-growing database vendor.
12 Top Big Data Analytics Players
12 Top Big Data Analytics Players
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SAP running on Oracle, for instance, will require one license for the transactional database, a separate license for the data warehouse database, and a third if the customer opts for Oracle Exalytics, touted as the company's Hana killer, which is essentially a giant cache. Transactional data is copied into the data warehouse, and if it's needed quickly, a third copy is created in Exalytics. Each copy creates more storage, processing, and power demands.

With Hana there's just one license; the extra copies aren't needed because the data is all in memory, ready for instant transactional or analytic use. The approach also does away with indexes, aggregates, and cubes, which create yet more data redundancies.

The huge caveat here is that these are mostly still claims. We're just beginning to see BW deployments, and we won't see full-blown "radical simplification" until SAP's big enterprise apps suite can run on Hana, thus combining transactional and analytic roles. Hana currently serves both roles as the database behind the Business ByDesign cloud-based apps suite. But what SAP's biggest customers really want to see is before-and-after proof of performance gains and simplification without big cost increases.

SAP executive Steve Lucas pointed out that applications create the need for databases, not the other way around. So he reasoned that SAP has an opportunity to win back a database market it helped create. Given that it has more than 170,000 customers, SAP could make a sizeable dent.

On the mobile front, SAP's big message was it's now eying business-to-consumer as well as business-to-employee applications. To bolster its development environment, SAP announced partnerships with three leading mobile players: Adobe, Appcelerator, and Sencha.

SAP bolstered its mobile push two years ago by acquiring Sybase and its Sybase Unwired development platform, Afaria 7.0 device-management software, Sybase 365 messaging infrastructure, and Sybase SQL Anywhere database. The vendor has since developed dozens of mobile applications on Sybase Unwired and it's sharing a software development kit (SDK) with partners to promote third-party app development.

The partnerships will open promote development of consumer-facing apps as well as more internal corporate apps. Adobe's PhoneGap is a popular Web applications runtime environment that lets developers author native mobile apps with current technologies such as HTML5. The partnership with SAP will bring the access that Adobe offers to native-device app programming interfaces together with SAP's access to the enterprise. Appcelerator has an Eclipse-based development environment, SDK, and library of connectors, and it reportedly has 300,000 mobile app developer customers. Sencha's Touch 2 HTML5 mobile app development framework lets developers build apps that work on iOS, Android, Blackberry, Kindle Fire and other platforms.

SAP has also bolstered its existing business-to-employee portfolio by acquiring Syclo, which offers specialized mobile enterprise asset management and field service applications in industries such as utilities, oil and gas, life sciences, and manufacturing. The apps typically run on ruggedized devices and the software works in conjunction with SAP and IBM Maximal software. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

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