Turbo-charge your Processes with SAP HANA

Acceleration, the act or process of moving faster or happening more quickly: the act or process of accelerating in physics is the rate at which the velocity of an object changes over time. An object’s acceleration is the net result of any and all forces acting on the object, as described by Newton’s Second Law. SAP HANA, short for “High-Performance Analytic Appliance” is an in-memory, column-oriented, relational database management system developed and marketed by SAP AG.

SAP HANA Enterprise 1.0 is an in-memory computing appliance that combines SAP database software with pre-tuned server, storage, and networking hardware from one of several SAP hardware partners. It is designed to support real-time analytic and transactional processing.

SAP HANA is designed to replicate and ingest structured data from SAP and non-SAP relational databases, applications, and other systems quickly. One of three styles of data replication – trigger-based, ETL-based, or log-based – is used depending on the source system and desired use-case. The replicated data is then stored in RAM rather than loaded onto disk, the traditional form of application data storage. Because the data is stored in-memory, it can be accessed in near real-time by analytic and transactional applications that sit on top of HANA.

We know that enterprises in Zimbabwe and indeed the world-over collect large volumes of structured data via legacy ERP, CRM, and other systems. Most of these enterprises struggle to make use of the data while spending large sums to store and protect it. One option to make use of this data is to extract, transform and load subsets into a traditional enterprise data warehouse for analysis. This process is time-consuming and requires significant investment in related proprietary hardware or data centre servers. The result is often an expensive, bloated Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) that provides little more than a historic view of company data.

SAP HANA offers enterprises a new approach to harnessing the value of all that corporate data. As demonstrated earlier, HANA runs on inexpensive commodity hardware from any of several SAP partners, including IBM, Dell, and HP. Its data replication and integration capabilities vastly speed-up the process of loading data into the database. And because it uses in-memory storage, applications on top of HANA can access data in near-real time, meaning end-users can gain meaningful insight while there is still time to take meaningful action. HANA can also perform predictive analytics to help organisations plan for future market developments.

Real-time analytics, as supported by SAP HANA have numerous potential use cases including:

  • Profitability reporting and forecasting,
  • Retail merchandising and supply-chain optimisation,
  • Security and fraud detection,
  • Energy use monitoring and optimisation, and,
  • Telecommunications network monitoring and optimisation.

More and more, enterprises in Africa are increasingly demanding real-time analytic and transactional processing capabilities from business applications. HANA puts SAP in a good position to deliver such functionality for its customer-base of traditional enterprises. However, SAP must balance innovation in the form of HANA and related applications with continuing support for its legacy back-office ERP and other business applications that form the backbone of many enterprise IT environments in Zimbabwe, as unstructured data processing and analytics becomes more commonplace at traditional enterprises.

Current SAP customers should strongly consider deploying SAP HANA to add real-time analytic and transactional processing capabilities on top of existing SAP ERP and other business systems deployments. Non-SAP customers unsatisfied with their current EDW environment should also evaluate HANA, weighing the benefits of adding near real-time analytic capabilities against the cost of migrating to a new system and new vendor. It is also important to evaluate where real-time analytics will most benefit your enterprise. Not all business problems can be solved via real-time analytics, and systems such as HANA should only be deployed where significant business value can be achieved.

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