Attendees at SAPPHIRENOW have heard several announcements as the company looks to accelerate its move into the cloud marketplace. The latest is a new release of SAP HANA its in-memory database. Rather than insist on companies fully adopting the cloud, SAP has taken the sensible route of delivering management capabilities for a hybrid cloud environment as well as some interesting analytics capabilities.
The new release; SPS12 includes several new features that are explained further in a blog by Michael Eacrett, VP Product Mangement. There are several highlights that will please customers and possibly attract new ones.
SAP have hardened security in the new release including the expansion of monitoring capabilities, improved authorization troubleshooting, and simplified key management. There is little detail on this and one might have expected more information around the key management especially. They have also simplified administration delivering some changes that will ease the burden on operations teams.
For businesses that support multi-tenant operations, system replication has been improved to the point that tenant clones and moves can be accomplished with near zero downtime. Frustratingly what “near zero” means is not elaborated on. This is achieved by using system replication and this functionality has also increased the number of sync/async combinations between the different replication tiers. It claims that this delivers a more flexible solution for those managing their systems.
There are also improvements to SAP HANA Cockpit. The web-based administration tool now allows administrators to schedule all backup jobs with support for some third party tools included. Monitoring has also been improved and DBA’s will be pleased that this includes immediate visibility of blocking occurrences.
Improved analytics including graphing.
Graphing analytics is the latest thing in analytics, with DataStax recently launching DataStax Enterprise (DSE) Graph. SAP is clearly aware of this trend and is already looking to address it.
SAP HANA graph data processing is now fully available. It consists of built-in graph algorithms including: neighbourhood search, shortest path, strongly connected components and pattern matching. The solution also has a new graph viewer tool that allows viewers to display graph data in a real-time view. A graph modeller has been provided that is integrated with the SAP Web IDE for SAP HANA to enable customers to create and consume graphs visually rather than requiring the use of SQL or SQL script.
Graphing is not the only new analytics capability though and SAP has made available the text mining index as a system table for data scientists to take advantage of. There is also greater support for spatial analytics with support for third party tools such as GeoTools (geoserver, uDig, e.t.c.), ESRI ArcGIS, and Hexagon Geo-spatial.
Improving flexibility of SAP HANA
Additional flexibility in its maintenance offerings is another new announcement. Businesses can now opt between a consistent maintenance of their SAP HANA software environment for up to three years or adopting the latest SAP HANA platform innovations twice a year. One wonders whether this is due to pressure from larger customers with bespoke solutions who do not wish to upgrade so regularly.
There is also a beta program for the delivery of hybrid data management services. The hybrid model allows customers to deploy solutions that span across cloud and on-premises. The first announced feature within the beta program delivers a capture and replay capability. It enables customers to capture live workloads and replay them on a target system. This creates a better test environment where the impact of changes to the live SAP HANA environment can be mapped more accurately. As analytics solutions become more complex this will help avoid system upgrades that fail. It will also help to foster innovation as riskier, but potentially more insightful solutions can be tested in a safer environment.
Daniel Schneiss, senior vice president and global head, SAP HANA Platform and Databases, SAP commented: “Our new beta program breaks down the traditional silos of on-premise and cloud, allowing customers to freely use both approaches for greater agility. The true hybrid model allows organizations to test the impact of IT system change requirements in the cloud before committing the upgrades to an on-premise environment — ultimately promoting cost-effective IT management. We designed the program in close collaboration with our customers to shape the next wave of data management services in the cloud.”
Attacking the SME market with SAP HANA Edge
An advanced version of SAP HANA, Edge edition with a low entry price point for SMEs has been announced. The new edition supports a 32GB database and 128GB of dynamic tiering. Furthermore data can be migrated from the more expensive in-memory data storage to lower cost storages as required. The new version is packaged with SAP predictive analytics software and provides an opportunity for companies to experiment with data analytics. The solution is available through SAP channel partners.
These are some substantial upgrades from a database platform that can now be seen as maturing and it will be interesting to see how much of the market it will claim over the next year. SAP have come out attacking on all fronts with SAP HANA. They have enhanced the solution, delivered partnerships with hardware vendors and have a growing channel partner ecosystem.
Carl Olofson, research vice president, Application Development and Deployment, IDC commented: “The SAP HANA platform has successfully become a proven mainstay data management solution, supporting the full range of analytic and transactional software from SAP, both in the data center and in the cloud.
“The latest release of SAP HANA and expanded maintenance program offer customers innovative features for powerful analytics and smarter, more cost-effective IT system management, and make it an attractive platform for an even wider variety of applications for engaging in the digital transformation of the enterprise. Enhancements like these ease that transformation, where future business growth opportunity is to be found.”