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SAP's tech chief affirms ERP on HANA database by year-end, touts momentum

The company is preparing to celebrate the in-memory database's first anniversary after its release last year

SAP technology chief Vishal Sikka has reaffirmed that the company will have its core ERP (enterprise resource planning) software running on the HANA in-memory database by the end of this year.

Sikka first made the claim in a January interview with IDG News Service, and repeated it during another conversation this week on the eve of HANA's one-year anniversary since becoming generally available.

The port to SAP Business Suite's core ERP modules is "on track" with an RTC (release to customers) planned to arrive this year, Sikka said. RTC is a stage short of general availability, however, with a controlled group of initial customers.

Eventually, SAP hopes to lure customers now running Oracle's database over to HANA.

SAP's ERP software "is deliberately not optimized for a particular data store and makes little use of stored procedures, according to a FAQ document written by HANA expert John Appleby head of business analytics and technology at SAP consulting firm Bluefin Solutions. "However, to optimise ERP on HANA it is necessary to push the logic down into the database and make use of the SAP HANA stored procedure language SQLScript," he wrote.

Although the technical hurdles for the HANA-Business Suite port don't seem insurmountable, any effort by SAP to poach Oracle database customers will no doubt result in fierce tactical resistance and counter-marketing from Oracle. It also could take years for SAP to build a critical mass of high-profile reference customers who make the switch, something crucial to selling the idea of HANA to the bulk of its user base.

In the meantime, the company is planning to tout HANA's initial success during an event on Monday, where Sikka will appear.

HANA now has more than 350 customers, according to Sikka. Among those customers, about 150 have completed implementations with the rest undergoing pilot projects and other earlier-stage activities, he said.

Some 2,000 people around the world have also been trained on HANA, Sikka said.

The grassroots development community is warming up rapidly to HANA as well, according to Sikka. During the Sapphire conference in mid-May, SAP announced the availability of Amazon Web Services HANA instances for developers. Since then, more than 200 HANA instances have gone up on AWS, he said.

These successes have come at significant cost and effort to SAP, however. The vendor has made HANA hype a key ingredient of its public events, positioning it as the eventual future convergence point for all of its technologies.

SAP has HANA development teams in six locations across the globe, who work around the clock in "follow the sun" fashion, Sikka said.

In April, SAP announced the creation of a US$155 million venture capital fund for startups that build applications on the HANA platform.

Overall, by this time next year there will be "lots and lots" of partner-built applications based on HANA, Sikka predicted.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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