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SAP spells out vision for HANA-driven software architecture

Chris Kanaracus | Dec. 14, 2011
SAP executives provided new details about the company's plan to make the HANA in-memory database the focus of a sweeping reinvention of its software architecture during an event in Boston on Tuesday.

SAP hasn't decided whether it will also sell HANA as a standalone database, Sikka said in an interview.

In the meantime, SAP recently hit a milestone with HANA, topping US$100 million in sales, Sikka revealed during his keynote. HANA is being sold in appliance form by a number of hardware vendors. The $100 million figure refers solely to software license revenue going to SAP, Sikka said in the interview.

Another telling indication of HANA's success is the fact that customers in every region around the world have made second purchases of it, Sikka said.

CSC is in the process of implementing HANA, said David McCue, vice president and CIO, in an interview. The first production instance will involve about 1TB of data, but CSC is still figuring out exactly what types of jobs it plans to run, he added.

HANA is "a young product," but also a viable one, McCue said. CSC grew confident enough to buy in after it performed a number of implementations on behalf of clients, he said.

McCue offered a measured view of SAP's long-term plan for HANA. "If materially realized, it will have a very good return," he said. "Certainly [HANA] has demonstrated in its current version that it has enough substance to make it worth looking at. But like any visions that stretch over several years, events will occur that will cause tweaking of it as we go."

Also Tuesday, SAP touched upon its cloud software strategy, which was recently shaken up by its $3.4 billion purchase of SuccessFactors. The on-demand HCM (human capital management) vendor's CEO, Lars Dalgaard, will be put in charge of SAP's cloud business once the deal closes.

The acquisition came after SAP had spent a few years fine-tuning exactly how it wanted to approach cloud-based software. This is not a small task for vendors such as SAP, which are dependent on the on-premise software model and its predictable, lucrative perpetual-license-plus-annual-maintenance revenue stream, a construct upended by the subscription pricing common in the cloud.

But SAP still has time to figure it out, and SuccessFactors' experience will be a key asset, co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe said during a keynote address. "Eighty percent of large customers have not made up their minds about their cloud strategy, and they think in private cloud terms. You see only the edge applications outsourced to [public cloud services] for now."

"The combination of our assets and SuccessFactors moves us from a company that has been trying to get it right ... to one that will accelerate rapidly in this world," he added. "We're now going from a defensive mode to an offensive mode."


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