Kathy Gibson reports from SAP TechEd in Barcelona – While digital transformation is becoming pervasive, the underlying infrastructure is changing as well to enable new business models.
Irfan Khan, GM and global head, database and data management at SAP, explains that these changes start with processing. “The focus in the past was on speed and performance but now they are shifting gears. The requirement for customers now is that they have to have much more power efficiency,” he says.
This trend will be particularly for the modern new infrastructure around IoT and the myriad other devices in the home and in everyday use.
Storage is similarly seeing dramatic changes, Khan says. “We are now experimenting with cross-point memory, for storage that will be able to offer up to 1 000-times better performance, along with increased speed and the ability to store much more.”
A number of key innovations are happening in the network space, he adds. “For the last decade we have measured the network by ports and packets. But these have been superceded, with the intent now towards software and software-defined transformation.”
Most of the new innovation are being driven by the cloud, which is rapidly becoming the pervasive venue for compute, and SAP is making sure it leads in the cloud environment, driving innovation as well as buying cloud assets.
“Digital transformation is pervasive, and digital infrastructure lets us start innovating,” Khan says.
“As a platform provider we have to be able to integrate with many technologies that are in the customer landscapes. And to do that we needed to e able to digitally transform our own landscape.”
SAP originally developed HANA about five years ago, becoming the first vendor to successfully launch an enterprise platform for in-memory processing.
Setting HANA apart was its ability to perform analytics in the same environment as the transaction processing, using its table architecture to maintain transaction integrity without compromising analytics.
“It also plays to the modern computing platform with high levels of elasticity and parallelism,” Khan adds. “Our approach was to take the foundation steps to create a first class in-memory platform that achieves high levels of innovation.”
HANA has come a long way in the last five years. The platform supports SAP’s substantial cloud businesses as well as the S/4 HANA application, the VORA Framework and the BusinessObjects Cloud.
But IT departments need to get serious about digital transformation, Khan says. IT is still spending more time and energy on keeping the lights on than on enabling new innovation within their organisations, and this needs to change quickly.
“But is can be a real challenge if the infrastructure is not there; and we need to provide an innovation platform.”
This is the backdrop to the launch on HANA 2, which Khan describes as a next-generation platform that builds on the foundation that is already in place.
“This is a seminal release for us, to take digital business to a new level,” he says. “HANA 2 is optimised for continuous innovation while maintaining stability. It allows companies to deliver modern IT will agility and stability.”
The new HANA 2 platform is built on three pillars of innovation, says Khan.
The first is simplifying database management to streamline utilisation and lower TCO.
The second is to transform applications with analytical intelligence in order to uncover insights that were not possible before.
The third is to streamline application development to build state of the art innovation applications. “This brings developers into the foreground and lets them participate in a high degree of innovation,” Khan says.
The upgrade path from SAP HANA to HANA 2 has been simplified, he adds, and no database migration is anticipated.
Data management is underpinned by the concept of active-active for read-enabled environment, which increases system utilisation by delegating analytics workloads to run on a secondary HANA instance. Khan points out that this serves to lowers TCO and increase the horsepower available for analytics.
In addition, dynamic storage tiering has been enhanced to offer lower costs with new flexibility to partition large multi-store table data across in-memory and dynamic tier. Khan explains that this offers higher availability with improved synchronisation and backup across in-memory and dynamic tier; in turn, this results in optimised performance with enhanced data movement rules.
HANA 2 includes new and enhanced advanced analytics for spatial, text and predictive data, offering better predictions with new predictive algorithms; machine learning for faster and more accurate results; and an optimised user experience.
Application development has been enhanced with application server and tools that allow for faster developer adoption with support for any language or runtime in SAP HANA XSA.
The development of modern apps is also simplified with the ability to model text, graphs and spatial data directly in Web IDE for SAP HANA. SAP has also improved code management leveraging advanced Git capabilities.
“This lays the foundations for analytical insights,” Khan says.
Going further, SAP wanted to empower more developers.
SAP HANA Express Edition was launched earlier this year and have already been downloaded by 9 000 developers. This tool will be based on HANA 2 going forward; and will give developers 32Gb of storage to run their applications against.
Khan explains that SAP has also extended its HANA micro services, allowing developers enhance their existing applications with text or spatial insights.
“For developers, these announcements mean they can embrace HANA and also consume services independent of HANA,” says Khan. “And this will open up HANA to a broader audience.”
Innovation at your own pace
Organisations using HANA can adopt HANA 2 while keeping their existing applications running.
SAP HANA SPS12 will let HANA users run applications without maintenance upgrade disruptions. Although there will be no more support package stacks, there will be maintenance revisions for SAP HANA SPS12 until May 2019, allowing users to maintain a consistent runtime environment until them.
Meanwhile, there will be new features for SAP HANA 2 every six months, which will let customers run and build next-generation apps using the latest innovation technology.
“This bimodal environment lets customers run their apps without upgrade disruptions on SPS12 but innovate using SAP HANA 2 at the same time,” says Khan. “And, when they want to upgrade, it is simple update with no database migration.”
SAP HANA 2 is underpinned by a few new products that allow users to add value through data analytics.
Among these is SAP BW/4 HANA, a next-generation data warehouse that users can run on-premise or in the cloud. It is a high-performance system, leveraging huge amounts of data in realtime, with algorithm pushdown into HANA.
In addition, it is open and can manage all types of data, both SAP and non-SAP, and access all data through a SQL interface.
“It has a modern new user interface that simplifies access for everyone, from administrators to modellers to users,” says Khan.
“And BW/4 HANA offers simplicity, allowing users to get up and running sooner; and reducing the development effort.
“It enables users to move to modern warehousing environments.”
SAP HANA VORA, meanwhile, is an enterprise-ready, easy-to-use in-memory distributed computing solution that helps organisations to uncover actionable insights from big data.
It builds on Apache Spark, runs on Hadoop and has seamless integration with SAP HANA
“IT has spent an inordinate amount of time focusing on first class data,” Khan explains. “But there is an economy class of data that doesn’t have much value as a single unit, but that can be incredibly valuable if you aggregate it.”