SAP ports HANA in-memory database to its financial planning app

Its the latest move by SAP to seed HANA throughout its product portfolio.

SAP on Tuesday further expanded the reach of its HANA in-memory database, announcing that HANA now supports the 10.0 version of its BusinessObjects financial planning and consolidation application running on NetWeaver.

HANA entered general availability last June and has quickly become a focal point for SAP's entire forward-looking technology strategy. The system holds data to be processed in RAM instead of reading it off of traditional disks, providing a performance boost that SAP has described as remarkable.

Over time, the company plans to port HANA to all of its applications, and officials have predicted the technology will inspire many entirely new types of software as well.

Now, "one of the killer use cases for HANA is planning and consolidation," said Sanjay Poonen, president of global solutions at SAP, in an interview.

SAP's BusinessObjects planning software gives companies a unified way to run financial forecasts, create budgets and plans, and meet financial reporting requirements.

Rivals like Oracle and IBM offer similar capabilities in the form of Hyperion and Cognos software, respectively. But the new HANA support gives SAP an edge over those vendors, Poonen claimed.

"Obviously, we have not done competitive benchmarks [against rival offerings], but we think it's screamingly fast," he said. "Every CFO who wants the next generation of planning will need to have it." SAP has migration tools at the ready to help customers using other products make the move to HANA, he added.

SAP's announcement hints at its broader goals for HANA, one of which is the intention to port its transactional ERP (enterprise resource planning) software to the database. HANA was originally aimed at analytic workloads, but performance management straddles those two worlds.

"All traditional BI [business intelligence] is pretty much read-only, versus with consolidation, planning and budgeting, you have to create transactions," said Forrester Research analyst Boris Evelson.

This latest move by SAP represents "the next logical step" after analytic applications and porting its Business Warehouse platform to HANA, Evelson said.

SAP has said it will have some core modules of its Business Suite running on HANA by the end of the year.

"It would be very interesting to see if [HANA] starts displacing Oracle as the main transactional database," Evelson said. "That's SAP's ultimate goal, obviously."

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

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