Make no mistake, SAP is betting the farm on its HANA in-memory database technology.
"Let's be clear on HANA," SAP CEO Bill McDermott said in a keynote Tuesday at the company's Sapphire conference in Orlando. "HANA not only represents the intellectual renewal of SAP, it is now the platform for every single thing the SAP company will do going forward.
"We knew big data would be big business for you," McDermott continued, speaking before the 20,000 customers, partners and vendor allies at the conference and another 80,000 watching online.
"And that's why we invented HANA, to give you intelligent data at the speed of thought. The SAP Business Suite on HANA is at least 2,000 times faster than any other product on the market today. And, SAP HANA has become the fastest growing software product in the world," he said.
SAP has been active in such fast-growing areas as mobility and cloud computing, and in his speech, McDermott highlighted the company's mobile application and security platform, as well as the cloud versions of the company's applications. But, HANA is clearly the company's top technology initiative right now.
McDermott promoted the use of HANA for both faster data processing and business analytics applications. "It's no longer about analyzing the past. We're now in the era of where you have to predict the future," he said.
Most data business store today goes unused, which McDermott referred to as dark data. "SAP HANA can extract this dark data and see patterns that are invisible to you today, but powerful for results," he said. HANA can work with structured data and unstructured information like video and social media, McDermott said, and for the growing volumes of machine-to-machine data.
Some SAP partners have expressed concerns that SAP's focus on new products like HANA and cloud computing are diverting the company's attention from its core ERP, CRM and other business applications.
But, Sylvana Coche, CEO at Gravity Pro Consulting, a San Clemente, Calif.-based SAP partner, thinks the vendor is moving in the right direction, especially with HANA. Gravity Pro is an SAP gold partner and certified to work with the HANA technology.
"The thing I like is that [SAP partners] now have a platform, a true platform," Coche said, noting that partners can now sell more complete SAP systems to their vertical-industry customers rather than just SAP applications on technologies from other vendors. "It's best-of-breed, but it's SAP best-of-breed now. That's a big change for partners."
Solution provider Logicalis launched Tuesday a business analytics marketing initiative built around its HANA-based appliances running on IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Cisco hardware.
Market researcher IDC has calculated that HANA generated $4.2 billion in revenue for SAP channel partners last year and projected that number will climb to $10.5 billion by 2017.
During his keynote McDermott brought on stage Adam Silver, deputy commissioner and chief operating officer of the National Basketball Association, who described a HANA-based NBA system that takes 60 years of NBA basketball statistics and makes it available to fans through NBA.com. "We had a lot of dark data," Silver said, picking up on McDermott's earlier comments. "That's now available to anyone, anywhere."
PUBLISHED MAY 14, 2013
This story was updated on May 14, 2013, at 3:36 p.m. PST, to include IDC research on HANA.