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Exclusive: SAP-Oracle Tussle Alters Hana Appliance Plan

SAP is rolling out its Hana in-memory appliance all right, but a hitch could lead to a different data-integration approach for customers running Oracle database.
Gartner analyst Donald Feinberg confirmed that he, too, had heard about the Oracle-Hana holdup from SAP customers. His contacts at Oracle told him the issue relates to how SAP's Sybase Replication Server reads data from the Oracle database.

The Replication Server is the real-time integration component that copies data as it's generated in application databases. Without the server, Hana could still query with split-second, in-memory performance, but the ability to query up-to-the-minute transactional information could be compromised.

So what's at issue? "If Sybase Replication Server is reading the database log by tapping an unpublished, non-public API, then Oracle might have a [legitimate complaint]," Feinberg speculated. "Otherwise, what right does Oracle have to limit how customers access their own data?"

Despite my plea to clear up the facts, Oracle responded with the following statement: "SAP Business Objects Data Services 4.0 can be used to load data from SAP R3 ERP and CRM databases running on Oracle into HANA using the business content extractors for ERP and CRM."

That's a non-answer that doesn't address use of the real-time-capable Sybase Replication Server. Data Services 4.0 is a conventional, batch-oriented data-integration tool. You can use it to bring yesterday's data into Hana, but from my understanding of the product, it's not really built to move data from one hour ago, let alone one second ago.

Not every application requires or could be transformed by real, real-time performance, but that's the "business-in-the-moment" vision SAP executives are selling here at Sapphire.

As noted earlier, SAP said there are no licensing issues. "SAP can sell HANA to all Oracle database customers (as well as Microsoft SQL Server and IBM DB2 customers) whether they acquired the license through SAP or directly," the company responded in a statement.

The rest of the story is that SAP is "not yet ready to comment" on the use of the Sybase Replication Server in Oracle/Hana deployments, according to Sanjay Poonen, President of Global Solutions at SAP.

So there appears to be a dispute, for the moment anyway, where the use of the Sybase Replication Server is concerned. Until this week, the Replication Server has been the integration tool SAP has touted as the "real, real-time" data-delivery mechanism.

Poonen said Business Objects Data Services is now the product that will be used -- at least where Oracle customers are concerned -- and he noted that it can be adapted to handle low-latency data-integration down to a matter of seconds. That's not typical for batch-oriented data integration tools, and brochures for the product make no mention of low-latency integration.

The other twist in this story is Oracle Exadata, a product that has yet to be certified to run SAP applications. SAP is the largest third-party software supplier to Oracle database customers. Oracle would obviously love to try to sell Exadata to those companies.

I asked, and SAP said Exadata certification would be completed soon. I, for one, would not be surprised to see the mystery about use of the Sybase Replication Server magically go away the moment that happens.