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6 SAP Hana Customers Share Early Lessons

SAP Hana deployment patterns, payoffs emerge in Burberry, Bangkok Airways, ConAgra, John Deere, Mercedes AMG, and Spirit Aerosystems details shared at Sapphire conference.

Deere's second, Internet-of-Things-style project has apparently taken precedence, as it was the only one discussed this week by Larry Brewer, Deere's director of global IT. In a recently completed co-innovation, Brewer said Deere loaded "hundreds of millions" of data points into Hana, including telematics data from connected equipment, warranty claims data, and textual service information captured by dealers. Using analytics, mathematical models, and an exploratory interface developed by SAP, Deere engineers can analyze, slice, dice, and drill down on the data to get at "insights never before available, in seconds," Brewer said.

The business benefit? "We expect to be able to detect problems with equipment much more quickly -- two to three months faster than we could previously," he said. "We'll also resolve problems more quickly with root-cause analysis, and that will mean less downtime and a much happier customer."

Mercedes AMG: This performance division of the luxury car maker has roughly 1,100 employees. It took SAP Business Suite live on Hana six weeks ago, and CIO Reinhard Breyer said he has had "very positive" feedback from the financial and accounting departments about their first financial close on Hana. The real innovation will come in a next phase of the project, Breyer said, as sales and service analytics are developed to run against live transactional data instead of batch-loading copies of data into a separate data warehouse.

"We're hoping that we can avoid doing a separate system by doing real-time analysis on Hana," Breyer said.

[Want more on the news from Sapphire? Read SAP Hana Supports Personalized Medicine.]

Looking out even further, Breyer said Mercedes AMG is considering simplification of the hundreds of systems the company uses to engineer, sell, and service cars to run on a single, in-memory platform powered by Hana.

Spirit Aerosystems: This global manufacturer of fuselages and engine nacelles for the likes of Boeing and Airbus has more than 16,000 employees. It's using Hana to run the SAP Business Warehouse and analytical applications used to optimize the company's production assembly lines. This tracking used to require lots of manual, duplicative effort, but with detailed data on completed work steps held in memory, Spirit is now reporting on progress much more quickly and it can do more accurate and more long-range planning and forecasting.

"It used to take us six hours to plot out the status of all our production lines, but now we can generate that in less than 50 seconds, and we can do that every 10 minutes, every hour, or as frequently as we would like, said Jim Cocca, Spirit's CIO. "That has given our managers better tools to plan and run their business, unit by unit, production line by production line, and employee by employee."

Deployment patterns emerge
As these examples reveal, smaller companies with fewer than 5,000 employees and operating a single instance are migrating to Business Suite on Hana within about a year, but that seems to be just the first step toward innovation and simplification of an SAP landscape. The larger companies here are clearly starting with analytical use cases, and these projects, too, are measured in many months if not years. SAP itself remains the largest deployment reference on Business Suite that we have heard about in detail.

Building blocks for large Hana deployments are just now emerging, with hardware providers (including HP and SGI) introducing appliances for large-scale transactional deployments at Sapphire. SAP also announced that Hana has just been certified on Red Hat Linux, which is used extensively by financial services companies. And Hana has also been certified to run for the first time on VMware vSphere, but it's still limited to single-instance deployments; multi-instance virtualization is on the road map.

Think of SAP and its customer base as a super tanker. The company started turning the wheel toward in-memory four years ago, but it will take time for dependent technologies and customer deployments to follow the new course. SAP says 1,000 customers have committed to move their entire Business Suite to Hana, but that's a tiny fraction of the total customer base. It's clearly not as simple as swapping out a database or moving everything to the cloud.

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