Follow @ASUG365 for all the latest news from ASUG.
Data Point: 5,250 customers have adopted SAP’s platform-as-a-service HANA Cloud Platform (HCP), along with 525 partners, according to figures SAP shared publicly in early November 2016
Of Note: 2016 was the year when organizations started to ramp up their use of HCP, if you compare the above early November adoption figures with those SAP supplied two months earlier in September, which had HCP customers at over 4,000 and partners at 500
Quotable Quote #1: “HANA Express brings the flexibility needed for successful development and the assurance that the integration in a production environment will be seamless,” says Jean Safar, chief architect with software vendor Calypso Technology, an early adopter of HANA, express edition, a free, streamlined and downable version of the SAP platform
Quotable Quote #2: “Our goal is to provide every business unit with a flexible self-service analytical platform where they are able to understand how their business is performing without the need to go to IT for answers,” says Diego Lombardini, head of finance systems at Fairfax Media and an early adopter of SAP’s BW/4HANA, on his ultimate goal for his company’s data warehouse, analysis and reporting
Cool Use of Technology: Reinsurance company Munich Re is using HANA, spatial edition, in combination with earth observation data from the European Space Agency and other information to analyze geographic areas which are prone to wildfires. The goal of the project is not only to accurately track the footprint and progress of an individual fire but to also start to predict where such wildfires might occur in future
2016 in Review
How best to describe HANA, SAP’s core in-memory technology? The platform powers or is set to fuel SAP’s current and future software, from analytics to data warehousing to business software including enterprise resource planning (ERP) as well as line-of-business cloud applications. Think of HANA as the vendor’s beating heart sitting at the center (or core!) of all SAP development endeavors. In the last twelve months, particularly during the fall, we’ve seen SAP debut more HANA-flavored offerings than ever before including HANA 2, HANA, express edition, and BW/4HANA.
So, let’s look back at the Year in HANA. Please note, we felt that S/4HANA deserved an article of its own, so we won’t chronicle here what 2016 was like for SAP’s HANA-centric business suite.
HANA: The Sequel?
One strategy drum SAP banged loudly for 2016 was a call for ASUG members and other SAP customers to adopt digital transformation as an approach to deal with the multiple waves of change impacting their companies and their industries. Throughout the year, we heard plenty of positioning from SAP of S/4HANA as a key enabler of digital transformation and then in November came the announcement of HANA 2, a new version of the HANA platform.
“HANA 2 is the digital foundation to transform any business, to continue to evolve data management and application development,” Bernd Leukert, SAP’s products chief, told attendees of the vendor’s TechEd developer conference in Barcelona. New in HANA 2 are additional data and database management capabilities along with more analytics algorithms and options for application development, and microservices. SAP executives posited that organizations might use HANA 2 as a rapid, more experimental testing ground for potential new functionality, while continuing to run an earlier version of the platform to support ‘business-as-usual,’ the never-ending optimization of existing business processes.
The arrival of HANA 2 also brought welcome news for ASUG members, a much-requested feature, a widening of the HANA maintenance window giving them more time between platform upgrades. For instance, for HANA Support Package Stack (SPS) 12, the most recent version prior to HANA 2, SAP will provide maintenance until May 2019.
HANA in a Box
In September, SAP released HANA, express edition, a free-of-charge streamlined, downloadable version of the in-memory platform for rapid application development. The idea is to attract more developers to HANA by making it possible for them to run and then experiment with the SAP platform on the device of their choice—laptop, desktop or in the cloud—and in the development environment of their choosing.
As Marie Goodell, vice president of SAP HANA platform product marketing, told us at the time, “One of our goals with HANA is to make it available or ubiquitous in many ways.” ASUG members and other SAP customers could equip their developers with HANA, express edition, to ensure they’re already familiar with the platform before organizations embark on major HANA-based projects.
Trading and risk management software vendor and SAP partner Calypso Technologies is using HANA, express edition in precisely that way to enable its developers to more quickly gain hands-on experience with the SAP in-memory platform.
“The ability to have the development infrastructure on a virtual machine is key for us and our clients,” Jean Safar, Calypso’s chief architect, said in an email interview. “Calypso has an extensive library of APIs [application programming interfaces] that allow our users to easily customize the application, and working in a portable, virtual environment makes the development process much easier.”
HANA for Data Warehouse Enthusiasts
The massive amounts of data available today creates a mega headache for many ASUG members and other organizations. That headache is how to analyze all of the information regardless of its location. SAP posited a solution to that conundrum at the end of August with the launch of BW/4HANA. The software aims to provide customers with an in-memory-centric data warehousing platform able to handle data held within or outside of a company or in ‘data lakes,’ storage repositories of massive amounts of raw information or the data generated by Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
“Our intent is to enable real-time, logical data warehousing,” Ken Tsai, VP and head of cloud platform and data management, product marketing at SAP, told us at the time of the announcement. “What we want to do is completely pivot towards an in-memory-centric architecture.” BW/4HANA only runs on HANA, with the goal of making it easier for ASUG members and other SAP customers to build data warehouses and model data and take advantage of the platform’s capabilities to optimize performance across data loading, querying and analysis.
Fairfax Media, one of the largest media companies in Australia and New Zealand, is an early adopter of BW/4HANA, running the data warehousing software on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
“Our most urgent requirement was to be able to provide a complete view of our procure-to-pay process to understand how we were buying and paying across our organization,” Diego Lombardini, head of finance systems at Fairfax Media, told us in an email interview. He advises peers looking to embark on similar projects to pay particular attention to how they size and map their systems based on lessons his organization learned through the deployment of BW/4HANA on AWS.
HANA Cloud Platform Moves Further Center Stage
2016 was a year when ASUG members heard a lot more about HANA Cloud Platform (HCP), SAP’s platform-as-a-service, which the vendor is positioning as the extension and integration platform set to become common across all SAP software. Announced in November, the latest raft of integration and business services coming in HCP included support for virtual machines, beta workflows and business rules services, data quality microservices, smart data streaming and predictive services. The idea is to broaden the audience HCP looks to appeal to, so beyond developers and to also encompass business users.
“We’re now really delivering an enterprise platform,” Dan Lahl, SVP of product marketing for HCP at SAP, told us at the time. “HCP is going to be a platform where you’ll see customers doing innovation and integration work across SAP and non-SAP apps.”
Adoption-wise, HCP is growing steadily, with the latest stats, as of early November, putting the customer count at 5,250 and partners at 525 as compared with figures two months previously in early September of over 4,000 customers and 500 partners.
As we head into 2017, expect to hear even more from SAP on HCP as well as how its platform integrates with those of third parties. A clear trend this year, which is set to continue, is for customers and partners to want to use a variety of platforms to underpin their development and integration projects. This means business software vendors such as SAP must both tout and deliver on the openness of their own platform, while also demonstrating that platform’s specific user benefits and functionality.
Tune into our ASUG Research webcast on January 11 to hear the results of our 2016 HANA adoption survey, which polled ASUG members on their attitudes towards and use of HCP as well as their investments in S/4HANA.
Start your week with the Top 5 insights from ASUG. Sign up for the First Five.