SAP Big Blue Rides Hana

May 25, 2012

The University of Kentucky‘s business intelligence team has had to make some adjustments after the school implemented SAP‘s HANA system. ComputerWorld declares, “For Univ. of Kentucky, SAP’s HANA is ‘Disruptive’.” Writer Patrick Thibodeau, punning on the term “disruptive technology,” notes that the University is (purposely) using HANA to restructure its BI system to better analyze student retention.

The new in-memory systems like HANA pull data from RAM instead of from hard disks. Speed and relative simplicity are the advantages, but these systems do require a hardware investment. In this case, Dell provided the hardware and developed the school’s student retention data models.

HANA is only a year old, and questions about its longevity are still in the air. Part of the issue is the hardware question—should organizations deploy on the tried and true x86 system or go with an engineered system, like IBM’s new PureSystems. Thibodeau writes:

“Engineered systems offer performance gains, meaning faster time to realize value and ‘less cumbersome’ management, said Alys Woodward, a research director at IDC. On the other hand, ‘software on commodity hardware reduces vendor lock-in and enables the use of cheaper components,’ said Woodward.

“How SAP HANA ‘will play in the broader marketplace — outside SAP’s core install base — against Oracle Exadata and IBM engineered systems, depends to some extent on how these two opposing concepts will play out,’ said Woodward.”

So, x86 or engineered, take your pick. If you are considering HANA, though, the write up notes that you should make sure it will do what you want before buying the pricey software. It will not, for example, make up for poor data quality. It is also more worth the cost and effort someplace where business requirements change frequently than for an organization with a more static environment.

Cynthia Murrell, May 25, 2012

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