Quark Summary: Does SAP HANA Change Your Database Strategy for SAP Apps?

Published on April 18, 2012 by R "Ray" Wang

Forward And Commentary

SAP’s made big claims about HANA and its capabilities today and into the future.  This Quark goes into the details and Constellation’s point of view.

A. Executive Summary

Both HANA as an architecture and database alternative indicate SAP’s future direction and next-generation approach. Consequently, numerous clients and SAP customers have inquired on whether or not they can replace their underlying Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) in their SAP Business Suite with HANA. Constellation believes SAP HANA is a critical technology that SAP customers should evaluate and understand as the roadmap reveals itself. This report primarily describes the role HANA will play for use with SAP Business Suite and in future SAP applications.

B. Research Findings

Since 2008, SAP has hinted at a real-time data platform approach to its middleware and application infrastructure based on the power of in-memory database (IMDB) technologies. IMDBs are a database management system that stores data directly onto the main memory of a computer. In an IMDB, the memory resident data has one minimum backup copy on disk, but the primary copy lives permanently in memory. Traditional on-disk databases cache data into main memory for access but the primary copy permanently lives in storage.

Thus, IMDBs have faster access times than disk-optimized systems that rely on cumbersome and slower input/output (I/O) calls. The result – the ability to provide real-time information in nanoseconds instead of milliseconds to the user or a downstream consumption feed. IMDBs play a key role as big data requires faster processing times and real-time streaming. More importantly, social, mobile, and machine-to-machine requirements require real-time and contextual right-time delivery of information.

The research shows four main themes:

  1. In-Memory Computing Is at the Heart of SAP’s HANA Roadmap and Architectural Vision
  2. HANA Puts SAP in Conflict with Key DB Partners but Is the Right Strategy for Next Gen Apps and Independence
  3. Currently HANA Is Not Available for Immediate RDBMS Replacement for SAP Business Suite
  4. However, HANA Is Already Playing a Growing Role in Non- SAP Business Suite Scenarios

Recommendations: Explore HANA for Analytics, BW Replacement but Not Yet for Database Replacement

The HANA vision represents SAP’s future platform. Constellation makes three recommendations in the report as SAP unfolds its mid-term and long-term strategy.

C. Report Links

The report is part of Constellation’s Unlimited Quark library and the individual report is available for purchase.

Your POV

Will you replace your database with SAP?  What’s the compelling business case and when would you do it?  Add your comments to the blog or send us a comment at R (at) SoftwareInsider (dot) org or R (at) ConstellationRG (dot) com

Please let us know if you need help with your enterprise apps strategy efforts.  Here’s how we can assist:

  • Reviewing your Apps Strategy
  • Vendor selection
  • Implementation partner selection
  • Connecting with other pioneers
  • Sharing best practices
  • Designing a next gen apps strategy
  • Providing contract negotiations and software licensing support
  • Demystifying software licensing

Related Research:

Wang, R “Ray.” “News Analysis: The Implications of Oracle’s Taleo Acquisition.” Software Insider. February 9th, 2012.

Wang, R “Ray.” “News Analysis: SAP Buys SuccessFactors for $3.4B Signals SAP’s Commitment To Cloud, HCM, and Social.” Software Insider. December 3rd, 2011.

Wang, R “Ray.” “Monday’s Musings: Balancing The Six S’s In Consumerization Of IT.” Software Insider. December 3rd, 2011.

Wang, R “Ray.” “Research Report: How The Five Pillars Of Consumer Tech Influence Enterprise Innovation.” Software Insider. October 4, 2010.

Wang, R “Ray.” “Research Report: The Upcoming Battle For The Largest Share Of The Technology Budget Part 1.” Software Insider. July 27, 2010.


Reprints can be purchased through Constellation Research, Inc. To request official reprints in PDF format, please contact Sales .


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* Not responsible for any factual errors or omissions.  However, happy to correct any errors upon email receipt.

Copyright © 2001 – 2012 R Wang and Insider Associates, LLC All rights reserved.
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  • Allan

    I agree w/ you. I think it’s been interesting to watch SAP market IMDB as if they invented it. TM1 and Times Ten have been around for more than a decade and serve as ancillary to core analytics. What do you think?


  • In-memory capabilities have been around since the mid-90s (think Kabira/Tibco, for example) but only recently have come into the mainstream, driven by the demands of Google, Facebook, and other SM players – not to mention the intelligence community. In theory, applying this technology to business analytics could provide powerful insights into consumer behavior, supply chain optimisation opportunities, etc.

    In reality, few companies will have sufficiently reliable data to ensure that the results of such near-real-time analysis are trustworthy. Most companies core business processes have gaps and omissions, most operational groups have their own work-arounds for reports that don’t match up with the data coming down from the top, and so forth. Throw this into a realtime in-memory analytics engine and the results are very predictable.

    So before we get too carried away with the potential of huge in-memory datastores, let’s remember that our operational practices have to be sufficiently good as to provide reliable data and act on any insights that might be generated. And I say this as a lifelong technology enthusiast, entrepreneur, and early creator of huge in-memory systems.

  • Sap HANA (High Performance Analytic Appliance) make use of the advantages of In-Memory computing that allows the processing of a number of quantities of real time data in the main memory of the server to give fast results.

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