SAP has launched its in-memory HANA technology as a fully-fledged database that is capable of running the software giant’s world-leading ERP system, Business Suite, which has been re-engineered and launched to take full advantage of HANA.

Chairman and co-founder Hasso Plattner outlined the design thinking that went into the HANA concept, and why the announcement is significant for both SAP and the tens of thousands of companies that run its ERP software.

Although SAP Business Suite is now available on the HANA platform, Plattner stresses that it will still run seamlessly on other database management systems.

“Thanks to the power of SQL, there will be only one version of Business Suite going forward. We will still support Oracle, DB2 and the other databae vendors that have carried us forward over the last 20 years. The important thing is that customers have a choice.”

Significantly, all future SAP developments will be built on HANA, he adds. And, although HANA is much more than an SQL database, it can still function as a relational database for those companies requiring that functionality.

With HANA, all OLTP and OLTP-related reporting is now back in one system, which offers customers enormous cost savings.

In addition, it offers analytics of 10 to 1 000 times faster than is currently available, which will have a significant impact on the business.

Plattner adds that Business Suite on HANA means there will be no more need for batch programs since HANA allows companies to run programs in seconds that used to take hours.

“This leads to dramatic landscape simplification, allowing customers to be more functional with less code. Even tools like MRP, TPM, Dunning and rescheduling now become interactive tools.”

Plattner believes the significance of this announcement cannot be over-estimated.

“If we change something by factor of this magnitude, business will be changed,” he says. “We still have to learn what the real potential of this is, but I’m sure it is as big a change as R/3 was 20 years ago.”

From the user’s perspective and the trend to mobile computing, Business Suite on HANA will allow business to serve their business applications to all users, regardless of the device they are using.

“With the change to mobile, users want information but they don’t want to wait for it.”

Businesses will be able to deliver their business applications to the mobile users who need them the most; and future iterations of the suite will also include new user interfaces that will be suited to specific users in particular industries.

Plattner concludes that the launch of Business Suite on HANA is a new direction – and a new lease on life – for SAP.

“I am very happy to say that I see a clear future for SAP for the next five to 10 years – and it’s a brilliant future,” he says. “We have made a major change which enables us to go forward at a much higher speed than last 10 years.”