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SAP Unleashes Major Hana Upgrade

SAP Hana Service Pack 9 adds multi-tenancy, data tiering, and streaming analysis, while answering a longstanding cost complaint.

SAP does "service pack" updates rather than point releases of its Hana in-memory platform. But make no mistake: Hana Service Pack 9, detailed at this week's TechEd event in Las Vegas, is a major upgrade.

The long list of improvements in Service Pack 9 (SP9), expected by year end, includes support for tiered data storage, multi-tenancy, streaming-data analysis, data integration, and graph analysis. In some cases SAP is adapting assets from elsewhere in its portfolio, like data-integration from BusinessObjects. And in some cases the new capabilities -- like tiered storage and stream processing from Sybase -- are optional, extra-cost features as offered through Hana.

Whether optional or not, the new features bring a lot to Hana. And in at least one case, SAP has addressed a longstanding Hana complaint -- the requirement to store all data in memory. With the Dynamic Tiering feature introduced in SP9, Hana can now store "warm" tables of data on conventional (lower-cost) spinning disks. Only the hot data needed for speedy analysis remains in memory.

[ Want more on SAP's latest results? Read SAP Cloud Plan On Track, Says McDermott. ]

"There has been a lot of commentary about the cost of Hana servers, so we've added the ability to manage on a cost- or performance-basis to determine what data should reside where," said Michael Eacrett, SAP's VP of product management for Hana, in a phone interview with InformationWeek. "You can put the warm data on cheaper storage and have much more relaxed hardware specifications for that tier of storage."

New customers can choose servers with the desired mix of memory and hard-drive capacity. Existing Hana customers wishing to exploit this feature can add attached disk storage or separate new servers to a current deployment, Eacrett said.

To developers, disk-based tables look like any other table, and they're managed within the same database, not separate bolt-on infrastructure. All features of Hana -- security, replication, backup, high-availability, and so on -- apply to both storage tiers, Eacrett insists. Examples of data likely to move to disk include documents and textual data that don't change, like warranties or invoices, raw streaming data from logs or sensors, and other forms of big data.

"This is still active data that you can write to, delete, and update, as on any database, and it's brought into memory as needed," Eacrett explained. It's an ACID-compliant, transactional approach, as opposed to something for analytics only or read-only access to archives.

This depiction of the Hana Cloud Platform platform-as-a-service offering reveals why SAP is building so much into the underlying database platform.
This depiction of the Hana Cloud Platform platform-as-a-service offering reveals why SAP is building so much into the underlying database platform.

Adding Multi-Tenancy
The addition of Multi-tenant Database Containers in Hana SP9 will sound familiar to many because it's very similar to the multi-tenancy move Oracle

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Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of ... View Full Bio

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D. Henschen
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
10/24/2014 | 12:59:25 PM
Oracle charges for in-memory; SAP charges to go to disk
Keen-eyed analyst Tony Baer of Ovum tweeted about this story, noting "While Oracle charges extra for in-memory option, SAP charges more for Hana to spill to disk. Yin meets yan."

It's a funny and ironic observation, but I should point out that those with enterprise licenses to Hana will get everything without extra charges.
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