It always amuses me to hear our CTO, Vishal Sikka, talking about SAP HANA as his “little girl”. His paternal pride has been evident as he’s referred to her “riding on the Hadoop elephant” and “becoming quite a trouble-maker for our competition”.
In the last couple of years, I’ve come to talk about SAP’s real-time capability so often that my wife jokes ‘HANA’ is the other woman in my life. But at the risk of sounding like one of those huskily narrated adverts for gourmet ready meals, SAP HANA is not just a database. It’s an application-execution platform that combines in-memory database management and application management. Crucially, it unifies systems of record and decision, and handles both analytical and transactional workloads with ease.
What this means is that the moment a business event takes place, its data is available for analysis to support immediate in-process decisions. So for instance, if a sales order is placed, the details of that order will be included in the next analytical query on today’s sales, even if the order happened only a moment ago. It also means that analytical results can inform the application in real-time so it runs smarter. An eCommerce portal might up-sell or cross-sell to a customer while an online purchase is in progress. I’ve often succumbed to a suggestion of “customers who bought X also looked at Y and Z” and hit the ‘one-click’ button.
However, what makes the whole real-time phenomenon exciting to me is the number of use cases that don’t just enable innovation for commercial gain, but for making great strides in scientific and medical discovery. For example, the causes of cancer – which currently claims nearly eight million lives around the world each year – are hidden within human DNA. Scientists at the Berlin university hospital Charité are using a new mobile healthcare (mHealth) application based on SAP HANA which analyses and compares cancer-related patient data. The "HANA Oncolyzer", as it’s known, supports the parallel analysis of millions of genome and mass medical data within seconds in the main memory. This breakthrough is enabling doctors and researchers to find faster and more effective cancer therapies that can offer better patient outcomes.
If you’re interested in how SAP HANA is touching the lives of people in unprecedented ways, you can read more inspirational stories like this at our World of Innovation page, and explore our heat map to find what innovations people are talking about the world over.