SAP offering customers 'simpler' way to buy its Hana in-memory platform

It's one thing to announce and another to deliver, one Hana expert says

SAP is hoping a new set of programs, services and policies will help rev up sales of its Hana in-memory database and computing platform.

While the new Simpler Choice campaign also includes perks for customers who adopt SAP's Adaptive Server and IQ databases, SAP is placing the most emphasis on getting companies onto Hana, a technology that sits at the center of its new product development efforts both for on-premises software and the cloud.

Simpler Choice's features include services aimed at determining how much money customers could save by moving to Hana from other database platforms; services for evaluating whether moving applications to SAP's Hana Enterprise Cloud makes sense; and trial versions of Hana for both cloud and on-premises deployments.

SAP has also simplified its licensing terms to allow for "mix and match" data management product scenarios, although more details of this weren't immediately available.

In addition, SAP will give customers credit for previous database purchases when they buy Hana licenses, and waive maintenance fees during the first year as they migrate over, according to a statement on its website.

There are now more than 4,100 Hana customers and more than 1,450 customers for SAP's Business Suite on Hana product, SAP said Monday during its third-quarter earnings announcement. In addition, more than 1,600 startups are using Hana to build applications, SAP said.

Those numbers show continued momentum for Hana, although SAP no longer breaks out the revenue total for it. That's because Hana "is attached to everything we have," CEO Bill McDermott said in an interview with IDG News Service earlier this year.

While SAP has long resold rival databases such as Oracle's to its application customers, the goal now is to move as many as possible over to Hana, albeit while still offering them a choice.

"Anything which cuts deployment time and increases time to value is a good thing," said John Appleby, global head of SAP Hana at consulting firm Bluefin Solutions and an SAP Mentor, the name given to especially involved members of the SAP user and partner community.

Now, it just remains to be seen how well SAP executes on its plans with customers, he added.

SAP will need to work "extremely hard" in order to achieve the promise of shorter deployment times for Hana, given the legal, licensing and corporate culture changes that are involved, Appleby said.

"It seems like they get that and achieved some chips off that block today, but it's a long journey we should benchmark at Sapphire," SAP's upcoming conference in May, he added.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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