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The IT world is in the midst of a substantial transformation, one fueled by technology that enables the rapid processing and analysis of data in real time, resulting in smart applications that can make decisions based on live data, and in better informed people who can take actions and make adjustments during the business day based on that same live data. The foundation of this technological revolution is in-memory columnar compressed data that is processed in an optimal way using SIMD (single instruction, multiple data) applied to processor cache data for very rapid results.

A number of software firms are offering DBMS technology with these capabilities. They vary in terms of the levels of optimization since, for the most part, their operations must be harmonized with architectural elements inherited from their legacy, in order to ensure backward compatibility.

SAP has taken the bold step of offering a new database technology, packaged not just as a stand-alone RDBMS but as an advanced analytics and application development platform, designed to optimize application interaction with the data for the best possible performance outcomes. This platform is called the SAP HANA platform, and it forms the basis for all future offerings from SAP.

SAP HANA is a memory-optimized DBMS designed to deliver high throughput rates for transactions and very fast query performance. It does this by managing live data in memory using an optimized column-oriented structure that is managed with in a way that supports fast transactions as well as very rapid columnar lookups to deliver much better performance than classic disk-based, row oriented structures. Its design yields the ability to perform analytic queries in-line with transaction processing on live, transactional data; a capability called analytic transaction processing (ATP). This means, not only that an ETL step (with its associated latency) is not necessary to move operational data to an analytic database for such queries, but that analytic queries can be used to modify transaction processing based on the state of the data. Even sophisticated analyses, such as predictive, spatial, text analytics, time series, graph processing can be performed on live transactional data without compromising performance or the ACID (atomicity, consistency, isolation, durability) properties of the database.

IDC interviewed ten organizations that have deployed SAP HANA as their in-memory database platform. Interviews with these organizations – which were large enterprises (30,800 employees on average, 19,000 median) – focused on understanding the qualitative and quantitative nature of their use cases, and ascertaining their future plans for innovating on the SAP HANA platform. These SAP customers represented a cross-section of industries from five countries in total, providing an overview of how varied organizations are achieving value with the SAP HANA Platform.

Most interviewed organizations deployed SAP HANA after concluding that their existing database platform did not provide sufficient levels of performance or even the capabilities to meet evolving business and operational demand. According to one organization: “The level of detail that we can enable for reports that drive our business is really at a level we didn’t have… we’ve gone from not being able to pull the reports to five seconds with SAP HANA.” Interviewed organizations are most commonly running SAP Business Warehouse powered by SAP HANA, with significant use of SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA and custom applications. On average, organizations have more than 3,000 employees who are using SAP HANA-driven data or analytics as a core part of their jobs, with several organizations supporting customers directly with SAP HANA. The size of these organizations’ SAP HANA in-memory environments varies, with an average of four TB and a median of about one TB.

While performance improvements were the main reason interviewed organizations initially considered SAP HANA, today, most of these organizations see SAP HANA as a strategic platform to innovate next generation applications that leverage Big Data, IoT and machine learning. SAP HANA enables these types of applications by supporting transactions and including the processing capabilities needed to gain deeper insights from live transactional data without data duplication and disk latency.

In one such next generation application use case, a customer leveraged the geospatial capabilities of SAP HANA to gain new insights on transactional data. According to that customer “SAP HANA has some very cutting-edge geospatial capabilities that are imbedded directly into the platform, so we can use SAP HANA’s horsepower without even moving the data. We can just crunch it right there, and this will help us make better decisions about costs and expenses that we incur.”

This IDC study shows that interviewed organizations are using the SAP HANA platform to create significant value through real-time analytical insights and delivering higher-value business applications and services. They are generating higher revenue and making significant numbers of employees much more productive by building innovative applications on the SAP HANA platform that translate real-time analytic insights into data-driven services, customer-targeted sales and marketing, and more efficient business operations. The business value result measured by interviews with these 10 organizations showed on average that organizations realized a 575% ROI measured over a 5 year period from the time of deployment. These interviews reflect a variety of innovative approaches being taken to translate data into value with the SAP HANA platform, and demonstrate the extent to which these organizations are meeting their objectives through higher revenue, operational efficiencies, and cost-effective in-memory database operations. For more information on this study, download the full White Paper at
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