Kathy Gibson reports from SAP TechEd in Barcelona – SAP has launched a new version of its iconic HANA platform; and made access to application development in HANA 2 free. It has also launched a wealth of applications and services around the new platform to help companies gather, manage and analyse data to create more value for the business.

SAP Hana 2, which will be launched at the end of November, is being touted as the platform for any company to transform IT to focus on innovation, says Bernd Leukert, member of the executive board at SAP.

With HANA 2 we will deliver many new innovations: around database management, data management, analytical intelligence and application development.

“It helps you to free IT from the constraints of the platform,” says Leukert.

SAP HANA 2 helps IT to access and leverage data from anywhere, but is also helps to deliver insights. Analytics can now be embedded in any application rather than having to extract data to run analytics.

“So HANA 2 provides these capabilities enhanced by improved search capabilities,” says Leukert.

HANA 2 also allows IT to build applications taking advantage of HANA capabilities.

And, for the first time, SAP has made the platform accessible for anyone. SAP HANA Express Edition is easy to access, enhanced for application development and running on any device or infrastructure.

“And it is free. Yes, we have lowered the entry barrier to free for developers,” says Leukert.

SAP’s Björn Goerke says that today’s announcements can be summed up as the platform that enables improved innovation throughout the data centre and into the cloud.

A key feature of HANA 2 is that analytics are deeply embedded in the platform, he says. Also important are new capabilities to develop applications directly in HANA, with the ability to use things like geolocation, text mining and advanced programming within the database extended.

Importantly, these new applications can be developed in the developer’s language of choice and connected directly into HANA. These same applications, developed for on-premise use, can be moved into the HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) as well. “This opens up the platform, making it easy to redeploy on-premise applications within HCP in an elastic fashion. So you gain elasticity and agility.”

An important trend in the future will be the distribution of raw data. “Organisations have to think about how the orchestration of all this data will work for big data systems.”

To help companies to manage disparate data sources, SAP has set up Hadoop as a service on top of HANA Cloud services, allowing for an end to end offering for big data.

“And we are able to operate it for you, make sense out of the data, and integrate it into the company’s system.”

Bringing the intelligence into the corporate world, the company offers SAP BusinessObjects Cloud with the SAP Digital Boardroom, which allows for visual consumption of the data.

“Utilising BusinessObjects Cloud as the visualisation layer helps companies to plan and strategies for the future,” says Leukert. Meanwhile SAP S/4 Hana allows companies to build digital boardrooms that help to steer and control the company.

All of this information has limited usefulness if users can’t access it and use it to improve their own jobs.

Leukert says SAP will embed artificial intelligence in all of its applications. With SAP S/4 HANA as the digital core, all processes are integrated, and allow organisations to connect their legacy systems to the new digitalised environment.

New data will come from users, from customers and from a myriad of devices, so the digital core has to be able to manage them all.

The digital core has evolved, Leukert says, and there are already 4 500 customers for SAP S/4 HANA.

Along with SAP HANA 2, SAP has announced a number of solutions that embrace bimodal IT. “With SAP S/4 and our line of business solutions rock solid IT that is ready to embrace transformation,” Goerke explains.

“With HCP as the agile layer on top, most of the services are about easily building new solutions and connecting them back into the core SAP and line of business solutions.

SAP’s user interface Fiori has also evolved, enhancing the user experience and helping to better connect the user with all the other sources of information.

“To ensure a harmonised, continuous browser interface, we have listened to customers and, in SAP HANA 2, Fiori coverage is now available across the whole on-premise or cloud system.”

The number of workloads the companies are running in the cloud is increasing all the time, and many of these are completely new applications.

Goerke says that it’s difficult to put a number on the percentage of cloud versus on-premise instances, largely because so many cloud use cases tend to be new workloads supporting new solutions.

“SAP and its customers are moving massively into the cloud,” he says. “Cloud is always a big topic when we talk to customers, and we see them embracing it in a big way.”

These cloud solutions are typically infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software as a service (SaaS), Goerke adds.

The biggest stumbling block is that, even when they embrace SaaS, users often want to make their own tweaks to the software. By providing HANA as a platform as a service (PaaS) solution, SAP allows users to innovate on top of the platform and extend their SaaS environments.