SAP HANA: A Unified In-Memory Data Platform

SAP has introduced its in-memory database platform in several steps, from analytics to business transactions:
2011 – SAP HANA
was introduced primarily for real-time analytics.
2012 – SAP HANA
powers the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse as enterprise data warehouse.
2013 – SAP HANA
powers the SAP Business Suite for real-time business.

SAP HANA is not just a database. It’s an application-execution platform that offers integrated in-memory database management and application management, designed to run together in a way that optimizes performance. It handles both analytical and transactional workloads so users may deploy online transaction processing (OLTP) and online analytical processing (OLAP) applications in the same environment. It runs on a cluster, which gives it scalability via the ability to add nodes when needed. It can also act as a SQL database for applications that do not run within the SAP HANA platform.

What this means is that the moment a business event takes place, its data is available for analysis, driving immediate in-process decisions, thus unifying systems of record and decision. If, for example, a sales order is placed, the details about that order will be included in the next analytical query regarding today’s sales, even if the order happened only a millisecond ago. It also means that analytical results can inform the application as it runs, enabling it to run “smarter." For instance, that same sales application might advise up-selling the customer with an additional offer while the sale is still underway, because the sale in question fits a particular pattern that suggests that this customer might be interested in an additional product that was also ordered by customers whose orders fit the same pattern.

SAP HANA can now also be used as the platform for SAP Business Suite applications (although configurations based on other database products will continue to be fully supported), and it includes a host of analytic capabilities as well. As such, it is designed to optimize the various business process tasks of the application suite while also presenting relevant real-time analytics data for enhanced decision making. This results in an application system that is not only much faster than before, but also much smarter, enabling business users to better understand and take charge of situations as they develop in real time.

real-time analysis & business decisions

The resulting system also integrates well with the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse as the enterprise data warehouse, and is powered by SAP HANA.

Sample Use Cases Involving the Unified Workload Approach

The following are examples of use cases and their benefits arising from the use of SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA:

Insight-driven service. Most enterprises find it difficult to analyze large volumes of service data to identify root causes of product failure and to detect potentially fraudulent warranty claims. They need to collect and organize information from the field in real time and connect the associated assets with statistical analyses of historical data in order to make smarter decisions. They also need real-time monitoring of product usage to which they can apply predictive analysis to build better service business models. SAP HANA provides fast access and analysis of real-time service data from multiple sources, and supports the use of predictive analysis on sensor data from connected assets, enabling real-time monitoring of service operations, service levels, and field resource utilization. The result: new business models leveraging machine data from sold devices, real-time scheduling of field resources, and early information about potential product failures.

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Real-time material planning. Often, material planning decisions are driven by outdated information from scheduled materials requirement planning (MRP) reports. Also, it is generally not possible to change plans in response to rapidly changing business conditions, and holistic production planning across productions sites is usually not possible. With SAP HANA, MRP runtimes are cut significantly. Stored procedures are used to accelerate calculations such as the “stock requirements list” and the “where used list.” The system can instantly update the supply network collaboration with the latest demand information. These improvements result in faster re-planning and allow more frequent MRP runs in shorter cycles. They also enable “what if” scenarios in real time, and they better synchronize demand and supply data for global cross-plant planning, which reduces the so-called “bullwhip effect.”

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Insight-driven marketing. At present, it is simply not possible to achieve a 360-degree view of the customer in real time; there’s just too much data in too many sources to bring together at any given time. Making matters worse, customer connectivity through mobile devices and social networks has led to an explosion of data at speeds and volumes impossible for current systems to capture and leverage. What’s needed is the ability to capture such data and discover market opportunities as they occur, responding at just the right moment as demand shifts. SAP HANA provides a central location for collecting all customer data from various sources and delivers the flexibility to slice and dice that detailed data. It also enables new analytical data mining capabilities on Big Data. The result is near-real-time monitoring and reporting on marketing performance, rule-based and event-triggered marketing automation that can orchestrate inbound and outbound activities, and precision marketing that can personalize every interaction with every customer.

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