The message that came out of SAPPHIRE last week is that SAP remains all in on HANA, and that the future is making it cloud-native.
Future of SAP HANA-While the recently closed acquisition of Qualtrics provided many of the headlines at SAPPHIRE last week, the fact that SAP remains fully committed to HANA had the most immediate significance. The future of SAP HANA was very much the spotlight of SAP chairman Hasso Plattner’s day two keynote.
Normally, a speech about HANA would not make headlines. But in the wake of major staff restructuring last winter that lead to considerable sturm und drang about the future of HANA, it was important for SAP to reaffirm that it was staying the course.
As Larry Dignan reported last week, HANA is the underpinning of the bevy of new services that SAP is releasing on its cloud platform. And SAP, like most of its enterprise technology brethren, is now adopting a cloud-first game plan for HANA development – where new features get introduced first to the cloud version before they trickle down to the on-premise editions. And it is backing it up with a new Embrace program encompassing reference architectures and jumpstart roadmaps and services offered by SAP in conjunction with its public cloud partners.
SAP has been professing its allegiance to the cloud for the last 3 – 4 years, but the changes beneath the hood that were announced this year make the strategy sustainable, both technically and economically.
It starts with the most important underlying change: refactoring the HANA database to separate storage from compute. That’s the first step that any database platform must take to exploit the horizontal scale and elasticity of the cloud. That allows more flexibility, both in the way applications are deployed and how access is priced.
While the benefits of elasticity are more obvious for applications or use cases with volatile traffic patterns – think online gaming – enterprise transaction systems can have their own unique peaks and valleys. Just go to any accounting departments when they’re busy churning out end of period reporting or retailers on Black Friday. And as next-generation ERP systems embed operational analytics to support real-time decisions, or integrate with IoT to support those decisions, resource usage will become less predictable.
The next step is containerization, which allows the cloud provider to manage and direct resources far more economically, and for opening the way to operate in a private or hybrid cloud that would allow SAP clients bound by policies or regulations to keep data on premises, to take advantage of modern deployment practices.