Bringing the world of computing up to speed
“This is amazing. In the past they would have to rent a slice of a Nasa super computer to do that calculation.”
On a lesser scale, Sikka cites the case of a water company in China that has been using the technology to route its trucks – the move has saved the firm 35 per cent on its transport costs.
The main reason is that now the firm can route trucks in real time. Before, the calculations would take more than 25 hours, using Hana it is cut to 700 milliseconds.
“That meant that you would send the trucks on to the routes based on information from yesterday,” says Sikka.
“With Hana, you can change the direction of the trucks as many times as you want during the course of a day based on the demand, based on traffic; you can reroute trucks and send them to different places and so forth.”
And it’s not the only one that has seen the benefit of the technology. Some 19 customers are members of what SAP calls its 10,000 club – where they can run something in Hana 10,000 times faster than on their previous system.
The system has been what Sikka describes as an “astonishing commercial success” for the company. Already it accounts for 10 per cent of SAP’s revenues, despite only launching to general availability in 2011.
On January 9th, SAP announced that its business suite would run on Hana. The move puts it into direct competition with partners Microsoft, Oracle and IBM, but Sikka is confident that it will not impact its business with these firms.
“It is a multi-faceted relationship with many of these companies,” he says.
Most importantly for customers, the introduction of Hana to the business suite is non-disruptive, meaning the suite continues to run on other databases from Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, etc but it also runs on Hana.
“So in that sense customers don’t have to disrupt their activities,” he says. “The same business suite processes continue to run, so there is no disruption involved in running business suite on Hana, but we can also completely rethink many of the business processes that are inside the business suite.”
It will be the customers’ choice what system their database will run on, and Sikka pledges that SAP will continue to support the rival technologies for its business suite, bringing all the optimisations that are offered to Hana customers to Microsoft, IBM and Oracle too.
However, the selling point for SAP will be the opportunities Hana opens up to customers, Sikka said, but it also opens up significantly more opportunities for SAP.
The company has been working to transform itself into a technology company, moving away from its traditional image as an applications firm.
“This means that the nature of applications, the nature of the appeal our products have to the market is different than it was when we were primarily an applications company,” he says.
“The shift has happened in the last three years. So that means we address where we’re going in a totally different way and think of ourselves much more as a platform company. We are working on a strategy that makes us an enterprise platform company, with Hana as the core of that platform. And that I think is the most significant part of our direction going forward.”