HANA emerged as a commercial product last year after a long gestation in SAP's labs, with the DNA of previously released technologies. Available in appliance form from a variety of hardware vendors, HANA places data into RAM for processing, instead of reading it continuously off a disk or other storage medium, providing a performance boost that SAP has claimed is nothing short of remarkable. Actions performed in RAM are committed to physical storage on an ongoing basis to ensure database recovery in the event of a hardware failure.
SAP first held up HANA as a way to highly accelerate the speed of analytical processing jobs but has since also pivoted it toward the transactional workloads of the ERP (enterprise resource planning) software the company is best known for, with an eye on eventually stealing the supporting roles now commonly held by Oracle's database and IBM's DB2 in its customers' IT landscapes.
More engineering work remains to be done before HANA is ready to handle SAP's flagship Business Suite, although the company claims early support will be ready this year. In the meantime, SAP's Sybase division is positioning the Adaptive Server Enterprise database as a potential Oracle replacement now, with HANA coming later.
HANA delivered €160 million in software license revenue for SAP in its first six months of availability, a sum both the company and market observers have deemed significant given the product's newness. This year has seen SAP leadership grow increasingly sensitive to any suggestion that HANA isn't yet to be taken seriously as a viable database platform, particularly by rival Oracle. That vendor sells the Exadata and Exalytics appliances, which are HANA competitors.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com.
Correction: This article as originally posted contained an improper characterization of the hardware used in a database cluster set up by SAP. The story has been amended.